Blizzard Marked Change in Teams' Directions

In Week 16 last season, the Packers started their 17-game win streak with a rousing victory over the Giants in a must-win game for both teams. While Green Bay has reached new heights, the Giants are an inconsistent bunch that can't seal the deal.

For the Green Bay Packers, their Week 16 victory over the New York Giants was a launching point to a Super Bowl championship and beyond.

For the Giants, well, getting stuck at the team hotel in Appleton until Tuesday because of a blizzard that blanketed the Northeast was just added insult.

"The game is the thing that I remember," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said during a conference call on Wednesday, nearly 11 months after his season was smothered beneath a green-and-gold blizzard in what amounted to a playoff-elimination game between the teams. "I remember that we didn't play as well as we expected to play and they certainly demonstrated their explosiveness."

The Packers won that game 45-17, and they haven't lost since, with their combined postseason and regular-season winning streak having reached 17 games. The Giants, on the other hand, are up and down like the stock markets on Wall Street.

After a Week 1 loss at Washington, the Giants emerged as the class of the NFC East by running off six wins in seven games. The final victory in that hot stretch was their stunning 24-20 victory at New England, where the Patriots hadn't lost a regular-season game in almost three years. Eli Manning rallied the Giants twice with two touchdown passes in the final 3:07.

Inexplicably, however, the Giants have fallen apart after what should have been a soaring victory. In a showdown between NFC heavyweights at San Francisco, the 49ers beat the Giants 27-20 when Manning's fourth-and-2 pass from the Niners' 10 was deflected at the line of scrimmage. Then came the real stunner, a 17-10 loss at home against Philadelphia. Vince Young, starting for injured Michael Vick, converted five third-down plays on the go-ahead touchdown drive, and Manning fumbled with the Giants having reached the Eagles' 21 in the final moments.

"Regardless of how I want to maneuver it, it's still not going to change," Coughlin said, lamenting those missed opportunities.

On Monday, the Giants suffered their third consecutive loss, 49-24, with their once-vaunted defense gutted to the tune of 577 yards. It was a shocking outcome considering Manning was one completion away from tying the NFL record with 21 consecutive completed passes.

"Obviously, we know we need to play better football," Manning said during his conference call. "That's what it comes down to. We've been close in two of those three games – this past week obviously got a little lopsided. We've been right there at the end of games. We've just got to find ways to win them (and) get a faster start. We know we're going against a good team but we feel if we play our caliber of football and play to our potential, we've got a good shot to win."

The Packers, on the other hand, seem to always make plays. That started against the Giants last season, with Green Bay turning a tie game late in the first half into a rout. Aaron Rodgers threw for four touchdowns and 404 yards while Eli Manning threw four interceptions.

"You definitely had that sense that, OK, we can definitely make it into the playoffs," receiver Greg Jennings said.

Added Clay Matthews: "We had to win two games in a row so we had to win that game and then the next game in Chicago. It was a great way to kick off what we wanted to resemble and be a part of. It was big for us. It was a big step in a six-step process to winning the Super Bowl."

While, the Packers look on course to make it back to the big game, the Giants have the toughest schedule among NFC playoff contenders, with the undefeated Packers kicking off a closing stretch in which four of their final five opponents have winning records. Even with two games against first-place Dallas on the schedule, the fate of the Giants' season probably will be decided on Sunday.

"The message is no different, really, than any message," Coughlin said. "We've been told many, many times that ‘we can't' in the years that I've been here. We know that the way that we play is in our hands. What I'm looking for is a team that's excited about this challenge and a team of individuals that gives great effort. As I've told them many times, if we can have an outstanding preparation and give a great effort, then I know that they've come and they've played and they've done exactly what we've planned on doing."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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