The Playoff Best and the Wurst: Packers at Cowboys – Divisional Round

Aaron Rodgers

It might feel a bit blasé to continue including Rodgers in this category every week but it’s imperative. There’s absolutely no way that the Packers win this game or any of the last eight without him. Rodgers is in a serious groove and is willing this offense to victory with some of the best passes that we’ve ever seen.

Jared Cook

What a free agent signing, eh? Cook does things that a guy of his size shouldn’t be able to do. His presence on the field was huge, especially given the loss of Rodgers’ favorite security blanket, Jordy Nelson. Cook was targeted a team high 11 times and led the Packers in receptions and receiving yards. None of that is to mention the seemingly miraculous sideline catch that set up the Crosby game-winner.

Mason Crosby

Kickers get made fun of until their service is required to win playoff games. The risk of keeping Crosby during his slide several seasons ago is paying dividends for Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy now. The temptation is to place the entirety of this win on Rodgers. While the Packers would be at home watching the playoffs without Rodgers, make no mistake about it: Mason Crosby kicked the Packers into the NFC Championship.

Micah Hyde

With a hobbled and shaky secondary, Hyde has continued to step up and make plays. Hyde is playing the best football of his career, and it could not have come at a better time. He finished the game with 4 tackles, 2 passes defensed, 1 sack, and 1 INT on an unbelievable read and break on the Dallas offense.

Honorable Mentions

Ty Montgomery, Nick Perry, Kenny Clark, and Kentrell Brice.

 

Clay Matthews

Matthews has been a bit of a let down this year. After moving back to outside linebacker, a lot of people expected him to return to the turnover forcing, sack machine of yesteryear. Unfortunately, Clay finished with only 5 sacks on the year and 1 forced fumble. For a 30 year old guy that should still be at the peak of his career, Matthews has certainly become a hot and cold player. Toward the end of the game, it certainly felt like Matthews would step up and make a play but he didn’t. In fact, the only statistical confirmation that Matthews played at all was a single tackle.

Matthews is certainly still capable of being a difference maker. Two weeks ago in the Wildcard matchup with the Giants, Matthews sacked Eli Manning and forced a fumble. But if the Packers are going to continue their push for another Lombardi Trophy, they’re going to need some more consistency out of one of their highest paid players.

Referees

I understanding wanting to let the corners and receivers duke it out a bit in the playoffs, but this officiating crew was allowing all kinds of defensive holding and pass interference yesterday. Some of the misses (particularly a couple of times when Davante Adams had his pads sticking out of his jersey) were atrocious.

 

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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

    Well this Sunday will be a rematch with Atlanta. At least with Dallas we played them both at home and on the road. The last game in Atlanta we lost by one point. Matty Ice should be MVP this season as he performed all year long. Being more consistent all season long should account for something,otherwise both Arod and Matt Ryan should be co-MVPs like Brett and Barry Sanders were in 1997.I love this match up. I hope Jordy will be available. Jordy plays we’ll win for sure. Everbody’s banged up this time of year you have to gut it out. Last team with a chance to score wins. Every tick of the clock will count. Enough said let’s get it on. GO PACK GO!!!

  • shavager

    Defense–Gunter got TORCHED by Dez Bryant and rookie QB. That’s DUMB Capers fault for not reacting quicker for double team or safety over top on Bryant’s side–no other WR was that effective. Clay Matthews was INVISIBLE except when Elliott made him WHIFF on national TV ’cause CLAY just WON’T fundamentally tackle–WHY is he attempting a shoulder grab–LEGS, LEGS, hit an RB in legs and WRAP UP–can’t run if LEGS DON’T!! Linebackers were almost invisible–didn’t see much production except clean up when Elliot broke the line. Pack’s secondary ranks 29th–it SHOWS–it wasn’t much better WITH Morgan Burnett on field ’cause Randall and Rollins ain’t really produced in 2nd year so far and Brice is a rookie. Sad to say I’m NOT convinced Sam Shields will play for GB again. Offense–can’t believe Christine Michael didn’t know he could’ve DOWNED BALL on his botched kick–but Rodgers and company bailed him out–he’s STILL a better resigning option than James Starks, especially IF Pack decides NOT to pay Lacy what he wants. Does anybody think Thompson should LET Jared Cook walk? Didn’t think so, he’s the best TE since Jermichael Finley, though Richard Rodgers is a dependable receiver for Rodgers. DEFENSE, Mike McCarthy’s NEW DEFENSE IS OFFENSE! He CAN’T win championships with this defense on the field–the ’14 version gave away a 16 point lead AND NFC title game. The ’16 version gave away an 18 point lead and nearly the game IF not for heroics of Rodgers to Cook, Lane Taylor and Mason Crosby. Message to McCarthy–PILE ON POINTS vs. Falcons, get BALL IN Aaron Rodgers hands late in fourth–LET RODGERS DEFEND THE LEAD, ’cause Capers defense CAN’T. Congrats to Mason Crosby–I agree–BEST GB kicker since Lombardi’s Don Chandler for composure and best leg in LOOONG distance!

  • Nick Perry

    In partial defense of Matthews, I was amazed at the number of times I watched him get held and no flag was thrown. I still think Matthews should be moved around, even lined up in the middle again and move Ryan outside from time to time.