The New York Giants Super Bowl hopes were quickly crushed by the Green Bay Packers last night as they routed the G-Men in Lambeau Field 38-13 to move on in the playoffs. Big Blue will now head home and prepare for the 2017 season.
Here is what we learned from the Wild Card Round in Green Bay yesterday:
OBJ Dropped the Ball…Literally
WR Odell Beckham Jr. probably wishes he could change everything about his first playoff experience after his overall performance last night. The star wideout was amped heading into this one, knowing that for the first time in his career he will have a shot at that Lombardi Trophy. Unfortunately, those dreams were cut short, and even worse, he had an atrocious game.
Beckham Jr. was targeted 11 times by QB Eli Manning and only converted on four of those attempts, his longest being an 11-yard grab. Not like OBJ fashion at all, he was dropping crucial passes especially in the first quarter. The Giants first drive looked to be a good one as they charged down the field thanks to catches from Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard. However, on a third and three situation, Beckham Jr. was targeted with separation, but couldn’t haul it in killing the drive. An even worse outcome came in the next possession when he had a clear shot to record the Giants’ first TD of the contest and he dropped the ball in the end zone.
There were no excuses for Beckham Jr.’s performance, so throw out any notion of the Miami boat trip or the cold weather. He dropped the ball in all aspects when his team needed him the most. The best he can do is use this performance to add some fuel to the fire next season.
Rodgers is Too Good
The biggest focal point for this Giants team last night was containing Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers, who finished the regular season on an absolute tear. The Big Blue defense did a fantastic job to start the game, flustering Rodgers and leaving the Pack with seven total yards in the first quarter. Everything was in the Giants’ favor, that is until a last second hail mary from Rodgers sparked a fire in the home team.
After WR Randall Cobb's miraculous grab to end the first half, the Packers offense kicked it up a notch. They outscored the Giants 24-7 in the second half thanks to Rodgers rolling out of the pocket and finding his trusty receivers like Cobb and Davante Adams. Overall, the Giants kept the Packers around by only kicking a couple field goals in the first half. They needed to put a touchdown up on the board, and could have if it wasn’t for two drops, one from Beckham Jr. and the other from Shepard late in the first. Instead, they kept Rodgers’ offense around and the veteran QB showed them why that was a mistake. Rodgers is just too good at the moment, and he displayed that in the second half.
Hold Heads High
Obviously, the 2016-17 season is over for the Giants after the loss. It certainly wasn’t the way they wanted to go out, losing in what became a blowout late in the game. However, players, coaches and fans shouldn’t be focusing on this one loss, at least not to define this season. Many positives graced the team this season.
The Giants made the playoffs for the first time in four years with a rookie head coach in Ben McAdoo. They finished 11-5, securing double-digit wins for the first time since 2010. The Giants defense did a complete 360 from last season as they finished the regular season second in points allowed in the NFL. Manning, who just turned 36 last week, threw for over 4,000 yards for the third straight season.
These are just some of the accolades that the Giants and their fans have witnessed together this season. To say the season was a failure because of last night would be erroneous. This season is evident that the Giants are back and they will certainly be contenders for years to come with a young, energetic team that has shown undeniable chemistry all season.
So, Giants players, coaches and fans: Hold your heads high knowing this was a successful season for the first time since 2011, and there is sure to be more positives when the new season rolls along in September.