I could sit here and tell you I saw this coming. Even though I did pick the Giants to upset the Packers, I didn’t imagine or even dream it would happen in such a dominating manner, but it did. The Packers will be forced to wonder what could have been. For the Giants, the win is a validation of all their struggles throughout this season. They’re right back where they want to be.
Now it’s time to give some credit where it’s due. The Giants’ coaches had their team ready to play. There’s no doubt about which team was better prepared to play. The Packers were incredibly inefficient and inconsistent all night, and the number of dropped passes has everyone baffled. In an admittedly imperfect analogy, I’d compare living and dying with Aaron Rodgers and his receivers to living and dying by the three pointer in basketball. When it’s on, it’s great. When it’s off, you’re sunk.
Part of the Packers’ problem was that they never got their running game going. They had well over 100 yards on the ground, but Aaron Rodgers accounted for nearly half of that with his 66 yards rushing. This isn’t a Denver style offense. They can’t run the ball that poorly and expect to win consistently.
Aaron Rodgers had an uncharacteristically low completion percentage as well. We’re all used to seeing him complete 70% of his passes with a 110 passer rating. Aside from the dropped passes, the Giants were all over Rodgers all night, sacking him 4 times.
Turnovers were a big issue for the Packers as well. Again, we’re used to seeing the Packers taking the football from their opponents. They were only able to force a single interception, all the while giving the football away four times including three fumbles. It just wasn’t their night.
On the other side of the field, the Giants were able to do whatever they wanted with the Packers’ defense. Eli Manning threw for 330 yards and had to react to virtually no pressure all night long. I don’t care who your starting quarterback is; he’s going to look fantastic if he doesn’t have to worry about the pass rush, and that was the case tonight.
As a compliment to the passing game, the Giants were able to run the ball when they needed to. The Giants really didn’t pound the ball all night long, but when it came time to kill the clock, they handed it to the Packers by scoring a touchdown on the ground. The way to win in the playoffs is by controlling the ball when the other team has to have it back, and the Giants were able to do just that tonight.
Eli Manning made a claim before the season that he believed he was an elite quarterback on the same level as Tom Brady. At the time, he was heavily criticized for his matter-of-fact attitude towards his level of play. Who’s laughing now? Certainly not the Green Bay Packers.