The Playoff Best and the Wurst: Giants at Packers – Wildcard

Aaron Rodgers

What more can you say about Aaron Rodgers right now? The Hail Mary King has thrown 22 TDs and 0 INTs in his past eight games. After coming out sluggish in the first quarter, Rodgers just blew by the Giants secondary. He’s playing at an unprecedented level right now.

Randall Cobb

Cobb had the biggest game of his career on Sunday night, finishing with 116 receiving yards and 3 TD receptions. What is even more amazing is that Cobb is far from feeling 100% after hurting his left ankle two weeks ago. After the Packers’ win against the Giants he stated that he didn’t even expect to suit up.

Julius Peppers

The Energizer Bunny of the Green Bay defense, Peppers just keeps making plays when the Packers need him the most. According to Pro Football Focus, Peppers finished the game with a sack, four QB pressures, and two batted passes. In a game where the Packers couldn’t generate very much pressure against an underrated New York offensive line, Peppers still helped the Packers get off the field and get the ball into Rodgers’ hands.

Jake Ryan

As the above list also shows, Jake Ryan had the best game of his young career. Ryan finished with 13 total sacks which was good enough to lead the team in that category. It was also a career high, topping his previous best of 11 total tackles against Indianapolis in Week 9. Ryan was flying all over the field and making plays. In fact, Ryan had 6 tackles more than Micah Hyde, who finished in second place on the evening with 7 total tackles. But Ryan played very well in pass protection too. He spent much of the game covering Giants’ tight end Will Tye very well. On one play in the second half, Ryan also dropped back about 10 yards into coverage, caught a sprinting Odell Beckham Jr., stuck with him pace-for-pace, and broke up a pass about 25 yards down the field. If you thought in 2015 that Jake Ryan would ever be capable of such a thing then you’re a liar (or perhaps Jake’s mom). He’s made some major improvements as a player.

Honorable Mentions

Micah Hyde got beat a few times in coverage but otherwise helped to fix a leaky Green Bay secondary and keep the Giants’ wide receivers in check.

Davante Adams looks like he has the makings of an elite wide receiver.

Christine Michael was rolling. He brought some serious energy to the offense. McCarthy needs to make sure that he gets his touches against Dallas. And Green Bay should resign him after the season is over.

 

1st Quarter Offense

Really, the Green Bay offense for the first 25 minutes of Sunday’s game looked like the pre-Run-the-Table catastrophe of midseason. None of that matters because Rodgers got locked in and unloaded his best stuff for the rest of the game. However, Dallas is a different beast than the New York Giants. Unless Dak Prescott, Tony Romo, Ezekiel Elliott, and the entire starting offensive line are abducted by aliens before the game, the Packers can’t expect to hold Dallas to just six points in one half. Green Bay clearly has all the firepower to match and exceed Dallas’ offense, but they need to play the whole game.

Odell Beckham Jr. 

Beckham was supposed to feast on the weak Green Bay secondary. That didn’t exactly happen. However, it wasn’t for lack of trying. OBJ was targeted a team high 11 times but he was only able to haul in 4 catches for a paltry 28 yards. Depending upon how you count them up, Beckham had about 3 or 4 drops. The frustration clearly got to him.

Speaking about the now infamous boat trip in Miami, Beckham also had this to say after the game. “There was nothing that could connect seven days ago to today and how we came out and played and executed. There’s just nothing in the world. That’s not realistic. I think it did a great job of creating distractions for us, and it’s just unfortunate for us. That’s just the way this world is.”

I think that what Beckham seems to be missing is that the plethora of pictures showing him with teammates partying on a boat in Miami with celebrities just days before a playoff matchup in Green Bay was never going to be a good idea. Maybe that’s unfair. As of right now, there’s no direct evidence that any Giants’ players did anything wrong in Miami. However, that the media ran with this story precisely as they did should not be a surprise to anyone, especially OBJ.

Maybe the media storm threw him off his game. Maybe it had nothing to do with his poor performance. Even the best players lay an egg every once and awhile. But if you’re going to do something that puts the entire team spotlight on yourself, you had better execute. ODJ didn’t do that. He needed to be the offensive mega-weapon and he turned out to be a dud.

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Taylor O\'Neill is a Packer fan born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He currently lives in Florida and is pursuing his PhD. Taylor is a writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TaylorONeill87 for more Packer news.

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  • James C. Drumheller III

    Julius Peppers wants a Super Bowl ring to enhance his retirement and HOF status and is playing like it!!!

  • shavager

    NOT hard to say it: RESIGN Christine Michael and let James Starks walk this offseason. Michael’s short time in GB has shown more promise than Starks’ has in past two seasons. Don’t know IF Packers will even resign Eddie Lacey but Michael deserves a new contract. Mike Pennel got cut–about time–any player who jeopardizes his team and mates with behavior problems, doesn’t belong and being suspended now with playoffs on the line proves he didn’t really care about TEAM! I hope Peppers brings it, Packers need DEFENSE more than ever to beat Cowboys and move to title game. DEFENSE is the weak link of this GB team, has been for SIX consecutive seasons. IF they don’t make SB this year, Peppers likely won’t be resigned by Thompson unless he’s on the cheap, cheap.

  • Nick Perry

    I’m sick of hearing about the boat trip, Beckham doesn’t play defense. Lets imagine he makes those catches for a TD or 1st down. Look what the Packers did in 4 plays after the Giants only TD when the Giants SHOULD have had the momentum. The Packers go down the field in 4 or 5 plays for a TD and never slowed down. People can speculate all they want about what might have been, should have been, could have been. The Packers beat the Giants in every phase of the game. PERIOD!!
    They also made the correct adjustments. with about 3 minutes left in the first half the Packers stopped throwing deep down the sidelines and attacked with a quick passing game. Yes they hit Adams down the sideline but it was the quick game that got them going and more importantly kept them going.

  • Two thoughts:

    Michael was my second-rated RB in that draft after Le’Veon Bell, but was known as a major head case, so I was happy the Packers took Lacy. It’s taken Michael a few years to get on track, but you can see the talent he possesses.

    I had to keep reminding myself all season why the Packers kept Julius Peppers and you just saw it. He comes up big in big games.

    • James C. Drumheller III

      Christine Michael was the next player taken in the draft after Eddie Lacy. Next year they’ll have both of them in the backfield. Should be exciting to watch. Please fix the backend of the defense with this year’s draft.Another pass rusher and ILB too!!!