The New York Giants fell to the Green Bay Packers 13-38 in the NFC Wild-Card game on Sunday. The fans at Lambeau Field celebrated the Packers’ seventh straight win as they advance to the divisional round of the playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers' pre-game confidence set the stage for yet another dominant performance. Earlier this week, the Packers’ QB acknowledged the Giants’ premium defense, but was quick to dismiss any sense of inferiority.
“We respect all of our opponents,” Rodgers said, “but we fear none of them.”
And that’s exactly how the Packers played; they were fearless. The Packers looked more prepared than ever and with some half time adjustments, they came out blazing. While Big Blue’s premier players looked out of sorts, the Packers capitalized on every opportunity.
The first half was the Giants’ shining glory, despite some dropped passes from the receiving corps. Manning delivered a perfect pass to OBJ, who was open, but he failed to hold on. Shepard followed up with another dropped pass, this time with Hyde trailing him. A pair of field goals got the Giants on the board, but the derailment came right before the half. With six seconds left, Rodgers stunned the crowd with a Hail Mary TD pass to Randall Cobb. Landon Collins and Eli Apple were near the action, but failed to stop the play.
Although there was a spark from the Giants’ defense, the team lost all of their composure late in the game. Nothing could stop the Packers’ momentum in the second half despite an early injury from WR Jordy Nelson. Cobb remained an offensive threat, while the Packers’ offensive line gave Rodgers ample time to hit an open target. The Giants’ defense came alive in the third quarter with a big stop that led to a 41-yard TD from Tavarres King. However, The excitement was short lived with Rodgers once again taking over the game. In the fourth quarter, OBJ still struggled to catch the ball and the Packers’ offense continued to dominate. Aaron Rodgers everybody.
The bottom line is that some thrived under pressure, while others looked lost in the mayhem.
Despite five sacks from Big Blue, Rodgers remained unfazed and ready to lead his team to victory. Scrambling play after play, he found the open man every time and delivered a perfect pass, including a crowd favorite to end the first half. The Hail Mary pass to Randall Cobb would be one of the QB’s defining moments in the matchup. Rodgers finished the game with 25-of-40 passing for 362 yards, four TDs, and no interceptions. The Packers’ O-line could not be rocked, allowing Rodgers to go on a dangerous run out of the pocket. Giants’ rookie Romeo Okwara was no match for Bryan Bulaga, who dominated the offensive line.
Trevin Wade has struggled all season and the postseason is no different. Randall Cobb exposed his coverage deficiencies and cruised past the Giants’ CB. With one swift move past Wade, Cobb scored an easy TD in the third quarter to capp off a fiery run by the Packers. It would have normally been Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s job, but he left the game early with a bruised thigh. Although he returned, he could not continue playing at his optimum and was sidelined the rest of the game. With Wade taking over, the Packers capitalized in the second half and Rodgers began throwing the ball his way.
Toward the end of the game, it was the little things that destroyed any hope for the Giants, including a game-changing mistake from RB Bobby Rainey, who caught a kickoff going out of bounds at the 3-yard line. But one of the worst highlights came from Giants’ RB Paul Perkins late in the game. Clay Matthews knocked the ball out from Manning and then managed to wipe out Paul Perkins, forcing a fumble. Perkins did not realize it was a live ball and Matthews capitalized on the rookie’s moment of distress.
Odell Beckham Jr.. is a first-time goat, finding himself under scrutiny after dropping crucial passes. Following the loss, the star WR made it known that his partying in Miami had no effect on the way he played, but fans can’t help but wonder why he looked absent minded on Sunday. In fact, Shepard looked lost as well, leading others to once again conclude that the trip was to blame for the offensive struggles. The elite receiving corps that once defined the Giants failed to make plays despite ideal passes from Eli Manning. OBJ had two guys on him for most of the night, but even when he was left open, he could not catch a pass. His fun-filled day off may not have affected the game, but it will only add to the realm of criticism surrounding his first playoff appearance.