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Monday Morning Aftermath: NFC Championship Edition

January 24, 2011

Good Teams Find Ways To Win

Aaron Rodgers started the game exactly where he left off in Atlanta. The Packers quarterback was 4-for-4 for 76 yards before running in a one-yard touchdown on the game’s opening drive. After running back James Starks scored his first career touchdown in the second quarter, putting his team up 14-0, Packers fans scrambled to book their tickets to Dallas, Texas for Super Bowl XLV.

However, with just over a minute to play in the first half, the momentum shifted to the Bears, and the Packers struggled to regain it the entire game. Rodgers and company were driving late in the first half, but a fluke bounce off of Donald Driver’s instep placed the ball directly into Bears’ linebacker Lance Briggs’ hands. Two plays later, Sam Shields intercepted a Jay Cutler pass to equalize the earlier turnover, and the Packers maintained their 14-point lead as the first half came to an end.

In the second half, the Bears cycled through three different quarterbacks before they finally found a rhythm. But third-year – and third-string – quarterback Caleb Hanie couldn’t find a way to break the stout Packers’ defense. Credit Chicago for never giving up, but ultimately, the Packers prevailed as the better team.

Most Valuable Player of The Game?

The easy answer is Sam Shields. The undrafted free agent out of the University of Miami chose an opportune time to have the biggest day of his young career. Shields’ finally tally was 4 tackles, 2 interceptions, and a sack, and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time since 1982 that a rookie had a sack and an interception in a postseason game. Not so bad for a guy who has only been playing on the defensive side of the ball for two seasons.

As great as Shields’ performance was, Packers’ punter Tim Masthay was equally as impressive. It may not seem logical to pick a punter for MVP, but Masthay made Devin Hester a non-factor in this game. Aside from booming a 65-yard punt, Masthay landed 5 of his 8 punts inside the 20-yard line, and held Hester to 16 punt return yards. Against the best punt returner to ever play the game, that stat line is deserving of MVP consideration.

The Freezer Gets His Touchdown

B.J. Raji was lined up at fullback on Aaron Rodgers’ one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, but it was not an offensive formation that landed Raji his first career touchdown. Late in the fourth quarter with his team up 14-7, the 337-pound nose tackle dropped into coverage, intercepted a Caleb Hanie pass, and returned it 19 yards for the score. To top off his hip-gyrating touchdown dance, B.J. “The Freezer” Raji eclipsed William “The Fridge” Perry for the biggest player ever to score a postseason touchdown. Raji’s mass outweighs Perry’s playing weight by 19 pounds.

Defense Wins Championships

With the NFC Championship already in the trophy case, the Packers will have their hands full with Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The domed stadium in Arlington, Texas should benefit Aaron Rodgers and his offense, but ultimately this game should come down to two fantastic defenses. The Steelers’ and Packers’ defenses – ranked #1 and #2, respectively – both have the ability to completely dominate a game. It should be a great matchup.

Will the Steelers win their sixth Super Bowl title or will it be Green Bay that brings the Lombardi Trophy back to Titletown? We’ll find out on Sunday, February 6th.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 20, 2011 10:03 pm

    You have more useful info than the British had clooneis pre-WWII.

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