Wildcard Round - New York Giants

It was a great all-around win for the Green Bay Packers as they took down the visitors from New York City 38 - 31 in a very cold Lambeau Field.

Green Bay's defense played well through-out.  It's been a tough year for the guys on defense, especially in the defensive backfield.

Sunday, the defense held things together and the Giants to 6 points while the offense figured out how to crack one the toughest defenses in the National Football League.

The Packer offense which had been on a tear for six weeks was stuck in neutral most of the first half.  Just under four minutes to play in the first act the punt return team put Aaron & Company on the Giant 38 yard line.

Two pass completions to Davante Adams for 31 yards to the 7 and then the touchdown pass put the Pack up 7 - 6.

The game started to shift.  While New York dominated the preceding 26 minutes in every statistical measurement; all they had on the scoreboard was 6 points.

2:20 to play in the half.  Green Bay kicked off.  The defense forced the Giants to kick after just 3 plays.  Rodgers got the ball on the Packer 20 with approximately 90 seconds left.  Two running plays and a toss to Randall Cobb put Green Bay at midfield.  A screen play reached the Giant 42 with 6 seconds to play.

Rodgers arced the ball through the night sky as four Packer receivers ran to the goal line, five Giant defenders determined to knock down the ball.

Cobb traced a route down the sideline with a right turn along the back line of the goal.  The ball dropped over five jumping players into Cobb's outstretched hands.  He fell back to earth, tapping a foot and knees in bounds while cradling the ball to his chest.  Touchdown Green Bay.

In less than 2 and a half minutes, the Packers scored 14 points.

New York rallied to make it a one point game on a long pass to a wide open receiver.  5:16 to play in the third and the momentum was on the wrong sideline.

But not for long.  The ensuing Packer drive ended with a gorgeous 30 yard slant pass to Randall Cobb for his second score of the day and an 8 point advantage.  By the way, Cobb hadn't played the previous two weeks because of an injury.

Special teams were great yesterday.  Jeff Janis made an impact as a kick returner.  Micah Hyde did a solid job returning punts.  Packer punter Jake Schum did a great job pinning the Giants with his kicks.  It's tough kicking in the cold, but he didn't let it stop him.

Mason Crosby, with his kick to New York after Cobb's second score put in the corner of the field bounded by the end zone and the out of bounds line.  New York's Bobby Rainey decided to catch it instead of gambling it might go out of bounds.  He lost his balance and the Giants had to start at their 3 yard line.

After getting the ball back, Rodgers hit Cobb again for his third touchdown.  New York hadn't given up more than 30 points all season, and their offense had a difficult time all year scoring more than 20.

When Rodgers offered his thought Green Bay could "run the table" after their fourth straight loss, it seemed like the only thing he could say.  It seems he and the Coach saw something brewing inside four straight defeats.

For one, the Packer offense has found its mojo.  Even yesterday, when the team couldn't get the ball moving in the first quarter and much of the second, they stayed the course and eventually found some cracks in the Giants defensive shield.

In the fourth quarter, Clay Matthews showed why he has been called, "the Claymaker" as he sacked Eli Manning, knocking the ball forward out of his hand before Manning moved his arm forward.  It was a fumble, but only a couple of Packers realized it.  The whistles were silent.  Julius Peppers and Matthews pursued the ball and Matthews recovered it.  It was a fumble and Green Bay ball.

The Packers scored again on an Aaron Ripkowski touchdown plunge.  Damarious Randall, capping an excellent afternoon defending Giants receivers, picked off the final Manning pass in the end zone.

One kneel down later, the game ended 38 - 13.

Eight weeks ago, some Packer fans wanted Rodgers benched and the head coach fired.  Most of those fans are back on the bandwagon, having learned how quickly things can change.

Coaches all proclaim they want to win all three phases of the game - offense, defense, and special teams.  It doesn't happen often - it did for the Packers as they played their final home game of the year.

Experts who picked Green Bay for the Super Bowl before the season disavowed their choices when Green Bay was 4 - 6; now they are one of four teams with an opportunity to get there.

Green Bay's reward is a trip to Dallas next Sunday afternoon.  A victory there will send the Pack either to the second seeded Atlanta Falcons or 3rd seed Seattle Seahawks for the NFC title and a ticket to the Super Bowl.

Stranger things have happened.

The Packers have won 7 straight, let's make it 8!  Go Pack, Go!