Report Card: Packers vs. Giants

If you're a glutton for punishment, here are the harsh grades from Green Bay's crushing playoff loss. It leads off with the passing offense, which was so good all season but miserable against the Giants.

 PASSING OFFENSE: D — Aaron Rodgers certainly wasn't beyond reproach in the Green Bay Packers' quick exit from the postseason. As wondrous as he was in a dominating regular season that likely merited league MVP honors, the quarterback turned in his worst performance in nearly a full calendar year with a lowly efficiency rating of 78.5. Rodgers completed 26-of-46 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns with his lone interception in the waning moments of the blowout defeat. Rodgers had a huge overthrow of wide-open Greg Jennings near the Giants' 5-yard line in Green Bay's first series, resulting in a field goal, and also arguably may have delivered a laser too far in front of crossing tight end Jermichael Finley on a critical third-down play in New York territory in the final quarter. Yet, even if Finley didn't ease up on his route, he and several of Rodgers' previously trusted receivers failed their leader time and again. To the subjective eye, the Packers had seven dropped passes, including one by Jennings in the back corner of the end zone in the third quarter that kept them from cutting the deficit to 20-17. Green Bay's preceding possession stalled in Giants territory when another would-be touchdown by Jennings, who broke open down the side on a double move against cornerback Aaron Ross, never materialized because of a strip-sack of Rodgers in the pocket by defensive end Osi Umenyiora. He busted through the combination block of left tackle Chad Clifton and left guard T.J. Lang. Running back Ryan Grant fumbled the ball away in the fourth quarter on a catch-and-run. Umenyiora and blitzing linebacker Michael Boley, at the expense of feeble blocks by backs James Starks and Brandon Saine, accounted for the Giants' four sacks of Rodgers with two apiece. Rodgers' longest pass play against tight downfield coverage was for a season-low 21 yards. Jennings led the lackluster receiving corps with four receptions for 40 yards, while big-yardage producer Jordy Nelson managed just 39 yards with three catches.

 RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus — The league's 27th-rated running attack in the regular season saved its best output in a frugal season for last. The Packers amassed 147 yards and needed only 23 rushing attempts to get there for a gaudy average of 6.4 yards. Nearly half of the production, however, was born out of the heady Rodgers' scrambling away from trouble seven times in passing situations and churning out a career-high 66 yards (9.4 average). Rodgers picked up first downs on all but one of his runs, highlighted by significant gains of 10 yards twice on third-and-9 and second-and-9, 15 yards on third-and-10 and 16 yards on second-and-10. Grant ran around right end for 19 yards on the team's first play from scrimmage but contributed 14 yards in his other seven carries the rest of the game. Starks ripped off a 29-yard run in the third quarter but had only 14 yards in his other five carries. Meanwhile, fullback John Kuhn's lone run resulted in a careless fumble the Giants recovered in the second quarter.

 PASS DEFENSE: D-minus — The Packers' season-long inability to generate substantial pressure on the quarterback and a proclivity to give up huge pass plays finally cost the team on a day when there would be no tomorrow for playing again. The lone sack of Giants quarterback Eli Manning, by outside linebacker Brad Jones, didn't come until the eight-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Manning's only interception, late in the second quarter, came on a hurried downfield pass picked by diving safety Morgan Burnett deep in Packers territory on a blitz by inside linebacker Desmond Bishop. Otherwise, the cumulative time Manning (21-of-33, 330 yards, three touchdowns, 114.5 rating) had to sit back in the pocket and wait for a receiver to get open with the Packers' rushing no more than three or four on the majority of his 33 passes easily exceeded a minute. Even having eight players back in coverage wasn't enough for the league's worst-rated pass defense to prevent the ignominy of allowing a 37-yard touchdown catch by Hakeem Nicks on a Hail Mary throw from Manning to close the first half and give the Giants a 20-10 lead. Safety Charlie Peprah, who in the first quarter had a horrendous tackle attempt on a catch by Nicks over the middle at midfield and allowed the wideout to break into the open for a 66-yard touchdown, was passive playing behind Nicks on the jump ball in the end zone. Nicks torched the porous secondary with seven catches for 165 yards (23.6 average). Victor Cruz (five catches, 74 yards) and Mario Manningham (three catches, 31 yards, touchdown) also came up with some clutch catches.

 RUSH DEFENSE: C — Green Bay held the Giants to 95 rushing yards, just above their league-worst regular-season average of 89 yards. Stops were aplenty in the early going, highlighted by Bishop's flying in to torpedo Brandon Jacobs for a 4-yard loss on second-and-goal from the Packers' 1 in a second-quarter drive that ended with a field goal for the Giants. The defense, though, let its guard down three times in the final 30 minutes, 15 seconds and gave up explosive runs that factored heavily into the lopsided outcome of the game. With 15 seconds left in the first half and the Giants' presumably content to run out the clock after the Packers called a timeout, Ahmad Bradshaw turned a toss play out to the left side all the way back across to the right side and out of bounds for a 23-yard run that set up the Hail Mary touchdown throw. Bradshaw (12 carries, 63 yards) also had a 24-yard run in the final four minutes of the game that allowed New York to chew up more clock as it nursed a 30-20 lead. Two plays later, the Green Bay defense was sucked in by a run from Jacobs (nine carries, 22 yards) to the left, and he maneuvered away from the crowd by reversing field and running in the clear for a decisive 14-yard touchdown.

 SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus — Brad Jones had the only significant play for the Packers' special teams units by shooting in across the middle to block a 40-yard field-goal attempt from Lawrence Tynes in the second quarter. A called fumble the Giants recovered on rookie Randall Cobb's kickoff return after New York scored points on the first series of the game was overturned by replay. Cobb's only punt return covered 16 yards, and he and Sam Shields averaged a pedestrian 23.5 yards in four kickoff runbacks. Mason Crosby made both of his field-goal tries (47 and 35 yards) in windy conditions and had three touchbacks. Both of Crosby's onside kicks were recovered by the Giants. Punter Tim Masthay's superb regular season didn't carry over to the postseason — he averaged only 39.5 gross yards and 29.5 net yards with his two punts. New York didn't have any punt-return yards, and Derrick Martin's 4-yard return on Crosby's surprise onside kick early in the second quarter was it for kickoffs.

 COACHING: D — The Packers' 15-1 regular season will forever be tarnished by the unsettling one-and-done exit in the playoffs as the No. 1 seed with home-field advantage in the NFC bracket. McCarthy instantly called himself out for not having the team in position to win Sunday and advance to the conference championship. Green Bay was run out of its stadium by a physical, well-coached Giants squad that exerted its will over the underwhelming Packers from the outset. The premature end to Green Bay's season comes mercifully for Dom Capers' defense, which never got its pass-coverage and pass-rush deficiencies rectified during the two-week lull at the start of the playoffs. The implosion by McCarthy's previously unstoppable offense, what with the season-high four turnovers and numerous drops, calls into question his decision to rest Rodgers and a few others for the final regular-season game. McCarthy's in-game decisions with the onside kick in the opening moments of the second quarter with the score tied 10-10 and keeping the offense on the field for what turned out be a failed fourth-and-5 play early in the final quarter with the Giants ahead just 20-13 were head scratchers.


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