They studied videotape, met with their respective position coordinators to go over the myriad possibilities of any given snap-play. They even tried to account for just about everything but that which no one could ever expect to prepare: the unpredictable bounce of a cold, oblong ball… and fate!
The Packers believed they were ready, physically and mentally, for their NFC divisional playoff game against the Giants at Lambeau Field, but after two weeks of structure and go, go, go, the final moments were tough as they watched their bid for the Super Bowl disappear.
Game day is here and over. And even though the season started with the NFL Lockout, these Green Bay Packers were set to host their first playoff game since 2007 when the New York Giants beat them in the NFC Championship Game. Well, the Giants did it again against the 15-1 Green Bay Packers again at Lambeau Field. The Packers’ offense was plagued with fumbles, dropped passes, and overthrows as the Giants eliminated them touchdown after touchdown. Eli Manning who was 21 of 33, with 330 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception, was sharper than Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and they simply could not overcome their three fumbles. Maybe rust was a factor, and Rodgers’ three week stay from playing was a very bad idea? After all, this wasn’t no Packers vs. Bears rivalry game, this was the playoffs!
Nevertheless, both the offense and defense were lethargic and the rest is history now. Although the Packers were driving to tie at the start of the fourth quarter, Rodgers simply couldn’t connect with tight end Jermichael Finley on third and 5 at the Giants’ 39. The next play Rodgers was sacked, and the Giants took over to put together a 10-play field goal drive to take a 23-13 lead. Not to mention playing against a Giants defense dead set on covering as many receivers as possible, Rodgers had a little running room and finished with 66 yards on seven scrambles.
Safety Morgan Burnett had an interception to thwart one drive, and Brad Jones blocked a field goal. And let’s not forget that veteran Donald Driver set the franchise record for postseason receptions. But despite these highlights, this was not the same Packers offense that drove the Packers to a 15-1 record. Rodgers missed throws, numerous receivers dropped passes, and the line was shaky with Green Bay using both Chad Clifton and Marshall Newhouse at left tackle.
The Giants covered very well and refused to give up the big play. The Packers had one pass play of 20 yards or more. All year, Dom Capers hasn’t been able to fluster quarterbacks without blitzing, and a comfortable Manning made plays all game. With 15 seconds left, the back-breaker came at the end of the first half when Ahmad Bradshaw – running diagonally across the field – scampered for 23 and managed to get out of bounds to set up Nicks’ 37-yard touchdown. That play was the impending blow that sent the Giants into halftime with all the momentum necessary to carry them to a victory.