Between offense, defense and special teams, the Packers battled for 2,663 snaps during their 17 games. Four of those plays are why the only loud noise at Lambeau Field is coming from construction vehicles.
If you missed it: Part 1 — First-drive incompletion. And Part 2 — Hail Mary.
A couple plays, of course, are what big games between good teams boil down to more often than not. Just look at last year's Super Bowl. Where would the Packers have been without Howard Green's unexpected pass rush setting up Nick Collins' pick-six? Or without Clay Matthews' fumble-forcing tackle of Rashard Mendenhall? Or without Aaron Rodgers' clutch third-down completion to Greg Jennings in the fourth quarter?
Here is the third of the four plays, based on review of the game and with viewpoints from the players and coaches.
Third quarter: Strip-sack
Rodgers loses the ball on a strip by Umenyiora.
Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
And then Osi Umenyiora swatted the ball out of Rodgers' hand.
The Giants had all the momentum — not to mention a 20-10 halftime lead — after getting an unexpected seven points on a Hail Mary to end the first half. The Packers got the ball to start the third quarter, and Rodgers twice made something out of nothing to get the offense jump-started.
On third-and-10 from the Packers' 34-yard line, Rodgers saw nobody open and took off around right end, beating linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka around the corner and gaining 15 yards to move the chains. On third-and-5, left tackle Chad Clifton was beaten inside by former Packers draft pick Dave Tollefson, but Rodgers scrambled to his left and fired for 16 yards to Donald Driver for another first down to the Giants' 30.
Then came the play that will make Rodgers and the Packers sick for the rest of the offseason — and potentially will be Clifton's final play for the Packers.
Driver lined up in the right slot, Jordy Nelson was wide right and Greg Jennings was alone on the left, with John Kuhn and Ryan Grant in the backfield. Cornerback Aaron Ross lined up in press coverage but bailed at the snap. Jennings gave Ross a stutter move at about the 25-yard line. Ross bit hard, and Jennings took the route straight up the field. There's nobody within 10 yards of Jennings when he looks back toward Rodgers at about the 18. This is an easy touchdown.
Except Umenyiora is storming between Clifton and left guard T.J. Lang. Clifton needed to get inside and stop Umenyiora in his tracks. At worst, he needed to follow the teachings of offensive line coach James Campen and swat down Umenyiora's hands. As Umenyiora was getting past Clifton, he reached toward Rodgers but missed. Now past Clifton, he reached out again. The second time, of course, was the charm, as Umenyiora knocked the ball loose just as Rodgers was ready to make it 20-17.
"Something we were setting up there," Rodgers told ESPN Milwaukee's Jason Wilde, who graciously sent his transcription. "We wanted to run a little slant-and-go on Ross on the left side. The safety was on the far hash, they were coming down left. Actually ended up bringing the free safety off the left side. Bryan (Bulaga) went back and adjusted his protection. Did a nice job of picking him up. The weak-side linebacker was actually kind of tucked inside. I was unaware of the rush. I just came up to pump Ross. It's kind of a three-step, re-set back, throw footwork, and had a good feeling pre-snap, so was kind of looking down the middle. Took my three, came up to pump it, and he bought it hard. Greg ran a great route and was coming wide open. I re-set, it was just pump, re-set, and went to throw and the ball just got knocked out of my hands."
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.