RUSHING OFFENSE: D — Rodgers also had to carry Green Bay's anemic run game, leading the team on the ground for the first time this season with 32 yards in four scrambles (long of 13). The loss of James Starks for the rest of the game with an aggravated ankle sprain in the second quarter exacerbated the woes. Not counting Rodgers' improvised output, the Packers managed all of 57 yards in 24 rushing attempts for a horrendous average of 2.4 yards. The committee of four backs had five runs for negative yards, three by starter Ryan Grant (13 carries, 29 yards). He ran into fullback John Kuhn on one play and tripped over the left leg of Newhouse on another — both resulting in losses. Green Bay struggled to generate anything outside the tackles, save for an 8-yard run by a patient Grant in the final quarter as he set up his blocks on the perimeter before turning back inside.
Hakeem Nicks scores against Sam Shields.
Al Bello/Getty Images
RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus — Green Bay allowed 100 rushing yards (this time on the nose) for the fourth straight game and the sixth time in the last seven outings. The Giants, buoyed by the return of lead back Ahmad Bradshaw after a lengthy absence because of a foot injury, averaged a solid 5.0 yards per carry. Bradshaw (11 carries, 38 yards) had some success early in the game. The imposing Jacobs came on late in the first quarter and inflicted the most damage with eight carries for 59 yards (7.4 average). He rumbled to runs of 11 and 14 yards his first two attempts — the latter had the makings of a 75-yard touchdown as Jacobs cleared the second level before Burnett reached in to make an ankle tackle. Jacobs also had an explosive run of 18 yards and scored from 1 yard out. Situational back D.J. Ware made it to the end zone with ease on a draw play up the middle out of shotgun formation for the two-point conversion that tied the score with the fateful 58 seconds left.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B — Crosby's 30-yard game-winner, his first since he kicked the Packers to a three-point win over Philadelphia in his pro debut on opening day 2007, made amends for the 43-yard attempt he pushed wide right on the final play of the first half Sunday. Crosby also made a tackle on Blackmon on one of a few sizable kickoff returns by the Giants. New York, however, didn't have any punt-return yards as Tim Masthay extended his recent stretch of tremendous punting. Masthay averaged 44.2 yards in five kicks (long of 55) and placed four inside the Giants' 20, including one that hit at the 5 and took a favorable bounce that Bush downed at the 1. Randall Cobb had a ho-hum day on returns for the Packers, averaging 25.3 yards on kickoffs and only 3.0 yards on punts. Yet, he heeded the instruction from the sideline to take a knee in the end zone on the Giants' kickoff after they tied the score and thus give the offense the full 58 seconds to drive most of the field and win the game in regulation.
COACHING: B-minus — Warts and all in this game, particularly the big plays allowed by the defense and the rash of dropped passes on offense, the Packers prevailed in their most challenging game to date. For that, they are NFC North champions for the first time in four years, heading back to the playoffs and on their unbeaten roll at 12-0. Head coach/play caller Mike McCarthy made a more concerted effort to run the football, but he should know that it's wishful thinking to get any kind of meaningful production from the collection of unspectacular backs on the roster. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers made do with a short-handed lineup, but not having inside linebackers Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk seemed to limit the pressure Capers probably would have liked to have put on Manning and possibly cut down on his frequent downfield opportunities.
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