Packers Wildcard Win: Unsung Heroes

The Green Bay Packers survived a frustrating first half to dominate the Giants for the final 33 minutes of the game. Of course Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, and Julius Peppers all shined in the win, but who were the other key contributors?

LaDarius Gunter – Gunter played a huge role in shutting Odell Beckham Jr. down. He was allowed to be physical at the line of scrimmage, and did a fantastic job in not letting receivers get over the top. His play has improved as much as anyone during the season. Who would have seen that coming?



Jared Cook – Cook didn’t look like he was playing in his first playoff game. I thought the adjustments at halftime, largely centered around using Cook to draw the Linebackers and Safeties attention, which freed up Cobb across the middle. Resigning him needs to be a major priority this offseason.

Jeff Janis – Janis tends to be a personal target of mine, but he was a huge contributor on Special Teams. The Packers dominated the Giants on ST all game, and Janis was a key on returns and as a gunner on punt coverage.

Jacob Schum – Speaking of punt coverage, Schum gave his guys plenty of time to get down the field. He had great hang time and distance, despite kicking a frozen rock most of the game. Schum outplaying Brad Wing was a big factor in the Packers staying in the game with the offense struggling in the first half.

Offensive Line – Going against one of the best d-lines in football, the Packers consistently gave Aaron Rodgers eons of time to throw. We’ll get to see the two best offensive lines in football next week in Dallas.

Dom Capers – I’ve been ripping Janis, Schum, and Capers all season, and they all shut me up (at least for one week). Capers game plan was great, and he got his players to play above their abilities. His number one CB is a guy who came into the season as the 5th guy on the depth chart, his 3rd CB was a Safety, his 4th was on the Practice Squad three weeks ago, and his 5th was a Wide Receiver. Yet they managed to shut down a Quarterback who’s won two Super Bowls and a top 5 WR. They also played well with lead in the 4th quarter, with a tighter zone than we typically see. I don’t know if this is Dom’s last season, but he will go down as one of the best D-Coordinators in NFL history (even if I’m a little hard on him now).


I was sitting at the 5 yard line in the North End Zone for the game. As the first half came to a close, Jared Cook dropped a pass that allowed the clock to stop and the Packers were clearly going to throw up a Hail Mary. I had a flashback to January 2012 when I sat in the same seats watching Eli Manning complete a Hail Mary just before halftime. If someone had a still photo of that pass you could have seen my soul break. I mentioned to the people around me, some my Lambeau friends and some I had known for an hour, that completing the pass would be the sweetest revenge the Packers could have. I could not cheer when Cobb caught the pass. I simply stood in stunned disbelief as everyone jumped around me. That play exorcised some playoff demons the Giants have represented for the Green and Gold. Playing in Dallas also brings back a lot of the 90s playoff angst. January 2017 could be the Packers Playoff Redemption Tour.


Go Pack Go!

Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig

9 thoughts on “Packers Wildcard Win: Unsung Heroes

  1. Every Dumb Capers defense, even back to the 2010 SB champs–were examples of POOR tackling and I remember McCarthy calling out defense for FIVE consecutive seasons. After some 60+ NEW defensive players drafted, signed as FA or street FA’s added in preseason–Capers has NOT put a defense on field that compares to the ’10 team. The telling factor is NO teams are contacting Packers about Capers as a coaching option for open jobs. They don’t think Capers can do the job, after FIVE consecutive playoff seasons ended by his defenses, I DON’T THINK HE GETS JOB DONE EITHER. Yeah, they stopped the Giants but you gotta admit–Eli Manning is a SHELL of his Super Bowl self and inconsistency on both sides of ball kept them them in a hole at Lambeau. Hawks and Packers faced two weakest teams from NFC, the next step determines IF Pack belongs in playoffs or not.

    1. Capers also has to deal with a defense that has been decimated by injury. No one is contacting him about job openings because he’s old, and he’s reached the point in his career where he just wants to be a D-Coordinator. Same thing happened with Dick LeBeau.

  2. I agree 100% with your feelings about the Hail Mary to end the half and the games in Dallas. The last time the Packers won a postseason game in Dallas was following the 1966 season. OL Dave Robinson pressured Cowboy QB Don Meredith into a poor throw that was picked off in the end zone preserving the win. I hope this time Julius Peppers pressures Dak into a poor throw that gets picked to preserve win. History repeats 50 years later!

    1. Dallas was such a nightmare for Packer fans in the 90s. Hopefully, Sunday changes that. Your situation sounds great, but I’d take another blowout 😉

  3. I agree with Andrew. But now comes Ezekiel and that scares me plenty.

    1. The run defense was downright dominant before the Cowboys shredded them earlier this season. They will have their work cut out for them against that line.

      1. I think Dallas runs more than anybody else. Why wouldn’t they with Zek and that dominant offensive line? I am hoping the Pack finds a way to stop Zek or Zek may stop the Packers dead on their tracks by extending the clock and keeping Aaron out of the game.

  4. Happy New Year Mr. Shavager. I will continue to see the glass half full.All your criticisms are valid to a point. This team is winning because of Aaron Rodgers and some overachievers.This year the OL has been outstanding and with backups like Tretter and Spriggs, who will be a starter someday have given the MVP of the league time to exploit the best of defenses.Manufacturing enough of a running game with The Ripper,TY, and Michael who right off the bench cold on Sunday created another spark on offense.I feel confident that the Pack can go into Dallas and leave a winner.Here’s why. Experience,Arod,and hopefully no TURNOVERS. Dallas will try to play keep away by long clock eating drives running the football. It only makes sense that the only way to beat a hot Packers team is to keep Arod on the sidelines.Our defense must get off the field every chance we get to stop Dallas in third and long situations.Knowing how you feel about Capers I think he’ll try the same thing with Dez Bryant that they did with Beckham.I must say I have a very good feeling about the Packers winning this Sunday. I’ll repeat TURNOVERS will decide the winner and The Packers had four last time at home I was there and that cost us the game and the secondary gave up too many big plays.Say it with me Mr. Shavager GO PACK GO!!! DOMINATE as Reggie would say!!!!

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