12 + 17 + 55 + 91 = A Trip to the Title Game.

There’s so much to unpack from the Pack’s heart-pounding 28-23 playoff win over the Seahawks, but the one thing that stuck with me as I considered what I’d just seen: Matt LaFleur passed his first playoff test with flying colors.

Despite finding out 90 minutes before kickoff that he wouldn’t have the services of Bryan Bulaga, he trusted backup Jared Veldheer and stuck to his game plan, with a near 50-50 split of run vs. pass and dialing up great third down calls and letting his quarterback take it from there. Green Bay’s third down success won this game, and none were bigger than the completions to the last two, to Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham.

I was surprised when Pete Carroll elected to punt on his team’s final possession, as hot as Russell Wilson was in the second half and as uncertain he had to be that his defense would make one more stop. 4th and 10, 2:41 on the clock, I expect the aggressive Carroll to put it in his amazing QB’s hands, knowing that worst case they give up a field goal and get the ball back in a one possession game. And let’s not forget Preston’s Smith’s huge sack that set up the fourth down decision.

But he trusted his defense and LaFleur, Rodgers and company made them pay. The fade to Adams on third and long was the play of the game. What a night for Adams. We talked before the game about how Seattle ranks 31st against teams’ #1 receivers and that stat held true. This was the Adams we’ve come to know and love, his toe fully healed and his release and route running at an elite level.

And then there was the dagger to Jimmy Graham, who stepped up against his former team and delivered three big catches–none bigger than the last one, when he did just enough to move the chains, even after the ‘additional footage’ came in for the officials to look at. What the heck was that, by the way? I was ready to throw something when Clete Blackman started to explain it, expecting the call to be reversed at the last moment.

Give the Seahawks credit for bottling up Aaron Jones for most of the night, but give LaFleur additional credit for staying with the run. It set up a number of tough third down situations, the average yardage the Pack needed averaged more than six throughout the game, but Rodgers was as sharp as he’s been all season on third downs and Green Bay needed every one of them.

We’ve gotten used to seeing this team jump out to leads and hold on for dear life (though I’m not sure we can expect to see that in the title game). The defense was absolutely brilliant in the first half, stuffing the running game and for the most part keeping Wilson in the pocket. You figured they’d make some adjustments and turn Wilson loose in the second half. His brilliance almost pulled it off. He got on the same page as electric receiver Tyler Lockett and showed how difficult it can be to try to bring him down. Kevin King called him Houdini after the game, and that’s not far off. He provided the stiffest test this defense has faced all season and they ultimately passed it.

Leading the way, as usual were the Smiths, whose box scores were identical: two sacks each, a tackle for loss and four quarterback hits. They have transformed Mike Pettine’s defense and are the primary reason this team is playing for the NFC championship.

While we’re at it, let’s step back and consider the job Brian Gutekunst has done to remake this roster. Consider the two moves he made in the past month: signing returner/running back Tyler Ervin and tackle Jared Veldheer. Ervin has settled the return game situation, which was on an historically inept pace. He’s also provided a nice little complement in the run game, gaining 25 yards on two carries Sunday night. Veldheer provided Bulaga insurance–we all saw what happened to the line when he exited against the 49ers. Having his veteran presence to fill in against the Lions and then starting against the Seahawks patched up the biggest hole on this roster. I shudder to think what might have played out if Alex Light was playing right tackle.

So here the Packers sit, one win away from a trip to the Super Bowl, with a gigantic obstacle in their way on their quest to try to earn Rodgers his second ring. We’ll worry about the 49ers as the week progresses. For now, let’s appreciate what this team has accomplished: a team that a year ago hit rock bottom and many mused that Rodgers’ window had closed and it was time to start from scratch.

The Pack handed the keys to a young untested head coach, trusted and retained their defensive coordinator, brought in high priced defensive reinforcements, put the ball in Aaron Jones’ hands, trusted that their rookie guard was ready to step up and proceeded to sweep their division games, go 8-1 at home and finish 4-2 against teams with winning records.

And now they’re 60 minutes away from a trip to the Super Bowl. Sure, they’re big time underdogs to get there. But they’re in the NFC title game–and nobody not named Carl Gerbschmidt expected that.

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42 Responses to 12 + 17 + 55 + 91 = A Trip to the Title Game.

  1. Voice says:

    Dave, I heard your pessimistic take this morning with PA. I sort of feel the same way, but we’ll both see how things develop over the course of the coming week. BTW, closed-circuit message to Vikings fans who think Graham came up short…Kyle Rudolph pushed off, so put a cork in it. ;-)

  2. OLD SOUTH SIDE GUY says:

    Voice….I agree with your takes. My closed circuit to fans who think Graham came up short….the yellow first down mark you see on TV is a TV approximate of the first down. When the ref lined up the ball they use the first down stick as the official marker. And they were right on….first down…..GO PACK GO !!

  3. Lanes Rover says:

    Well put Voice and OssG,yellow first down line on tv was way off,you’d think grown up Vikings fans could see that but they never get a call and never admit own teams problems!!Pack will have there hands full with San Fran but I think this will be a better game than the last one with them,hard to get to the super bowl let alone win it and Vikings fans surely know that!!

  4. Tim says:

    What an exciting game. I doubt we have a chance next week but have been proven wrong all year. Expecting a loss and getting into the offseason, but stranger things have happened!

  5. shot says:

    The missed fumble call at the beginning of the game was huge. That was at minimum a TD or FG. Ask the Queen’s fans about that. While your at it, ask them why Minnesota leads the NFL in all time play off losses. Go Pack! Go!

  6. Randy says:

    @Voice … and the phantom offensive PI against the Vikings in week 2 (D. Cook) that took a TD off the board and the endless calls the Pack got against the Lions… the beat goes on…

  7. WendyfromWaseca says:

    Waa Waa Randy,we would choke it away anyway,we’re the big tough Vikings of the north made of wind and ice and rain and snow with a rich history and tradition who play in heated indoor pussy stadium!!!

  8. Brian says:

    Prepare to get boat raced again. But Dave will somehow put a positive spin on the hot mess.

  9. Purple troll says:

    Brian,Randy and Greg, typical whining Vikings fans,we’ll never catch the packers in championships so the envy,jealousy and hatred and whining will go on forever no matter what happens Sunday,have a nice life!!!

  10. Greg says:

    Randy, the Vikings had 3 offensive pass interference calls that game agains the Vikings. Why does everyone only talk about the Cook one? All 3 were bogus and wrong. Three in one game is historic, but then again we were playing in historic Lambeau field. LULZ The Viking, Lions, and other ref jobs got green bay a home game, but it will be over next week. This Green Bay team actually had a bye and home game. Think about that for a minute.

  11. Purple troll says:

    Greg how come nobody talks about the push off in New Orleans and the ass kicking packers gave us at home and how terrible Cousins and the offensive line is and the overrated defense,the packers have really got you worked up,think about that,oooooew the envy is leaking out of your empty head,oh yeah I forgot the childish LULZ !!!

  12. Purple troll says:

    Greg remember the ass kicking the eagles gave us in nfc championship,in your one sided mind I bet not,but if packers lose I’m sure an ignorant fat headed ass like you will let them know,And then we got the 84 million man,what a joke,just like you!!!

  13. WendyfromWaseca says:

    Most playoff losses in nfl history 30 chokes!! Beat that drum Greg!

  14. Tim says:

    Lots of talk about the reffing. Outside of the obvious missed fumble recovery by packers and questionable spot at end of the game. Refs missed a terrible block in the back on sulivan by lynch on Seattle’s first td drive, this kept Seattle’s drive alive. Also, Kenny clark was manhandled on a couple of Wilson’s scramble plays in the 3rd. Point is, if you watch closely on every play, you will find bad calls or missed calls. I saw all the missed calls on packers, people like Greg see all the other ones. It’s the nfl, bad officiating is part of it. Watch another sport if it bothers you

  15. Greg says:

    So the yellow line was off. That’s interesting, because the goal line must have been off too. Green Bay was short of a touchdown on 3rd and 1 at the goal line. All the lines in green bay seem to be off. LULZ

  16. Lynndickeyfan says:

    Let’s not let other dictate what we should be talking about, What a great game and season we have witnessed! We have been playing with house money and trying to figure out how bright the future is. I might need sunglasses. Kenny Clark played thru his back issues and has shown that he is a beast. I personally like to rave about Preson more than Z, because they make the poor guy cover tight ends sometimes and he still has matching sack numbers. I have no doubt though, that the sum is greater than the parts when is come to the d line. I hope Lancaster can return for the tough game ahead. Prop to Graham, whom I have doubted all year. The whole team played true playoff football and we will see if they can find another gear next week. This has been such a fun team to follow even they have won ugly. It’s been like a sled dog race. Half the dogs are old vets and the other half fresh faced puppies and they are still learning to run together. Nobody is really comfortable, but they are having more fun than they have had in quite some time. It nice to still be in the race!

  17. Bud Grant says:

    After reading all these posts it’s clear you’re the only thing that is off Greg,you’re head must be made of cement,it’s over, we’re done because we sucked!!not much to look forward to for Vikings,lots of overpaid players,terrible coaching and fans!!

  18. Bud Grant says:

    The goal line was way off for the Vikings,they didn’t get there much against good teams 😂😂😂😂😂,I’ll agree with you on that one cement head Greg!

  19. Voice says:

    And the silence you hear…….is US Bank Stadium. ;-)

  20. Voice says:

    The voices in my head are telling me the Packers are guaranteed to win the Superbowl ! (same thing they tell me every year ? ) Should I believe them ?

  21. Voice says:

    OK, who’s the smartass posting stuff as me? Not cool. [Not my post: The voices in my head are telling me the Packers are guaranteed to win the Superbowl ! (same thing they tell me every year ? ) Should I believe them ?]

  22. Purple troll says:

    Voice it’s probably Greg,he’s very bitter and envious,the packers eat away at what’s left of his brain,why does someone like him spend so much time on a packers site for good packer fans,he’s unstable!!

  23. Greg says:

    I only post as Greg, and why would I be jealous of the packers. I have seen them win it twice. Are you jealous of the Minnesota Twins, whom have also one it twice? I’m thinking not. You people talk as if you are the Patriots or something.

  24. Elroy from Elroy says:

    Why would we be jealous of the twins Greg,they don’t play football and only have one more World Series win than the Milwaukee braves,packers have 13 championships,patriots have 6,oh that’s right you suck at math,idiot!

  25. Purple troll says:

    See Greg is right back on a packers site with a stupid response,he’s on the head cheese site more than anyone,yeah right he’s not envious or jealous!!

  26. Greg says:

    I try that same logic in football with the Badgers and Gophers, Elroy! The Gophs have 7 national championships to the Badgers 0. The Badger fans(packer fans) all laugh and say those were prehistoric championships. They don’t use that same logic with their pro teams. They are such frauds, as packer fans are. Elroy, the Gophers are a much better franchise than the Badgers, right? LULZ

  27. Elroy from Elroy says:

    Yes they are Greg,they have 7 national championships,but you’re always babbling about the twins and gophers,this is a professional football site for the packers who have 13 and Vikings 0 and that’s what bothers you,go on the Vikings site with you’re stupid posts,you’re always reaching,what’s wrong with that franchise,please tell us!!

  28. Lynndickeyfan says:

    Here is a question, so we might actually talk about the Packers…. Is it too late for Raven Greene to meaningfully contribute to this team? His size and speed would have seemed a good fit against a run heavy team with a brilliant tight end. He was inactive last week. Has Campbell just taken his spot or do you think he can contribute?

  29. (The Real) Voice says:

    LDF – to directly answer your question, it’s never too late. Injuries could change things and put him on the spot in a flash, so you never know.

  30. Greg says:

    I just boxed someone into saying the gopher franchise is better than the Badgers. LULZ I noticed no one else joined in on that. Where can I get entertainment like this anywhere else?

  31. Purple troll says:

    Why should they Greg,it’s a Green Bay packers site for Green Bay packers fans and for some reason you’re always on it,they like to chat about their team and make observations without other teams idiot fans chiming in and saying rotten things about them or their team,grow up idiot,oh and what does the childish LULZ mean,we’re not in junior high,or maybe you are idiot!!

  32. Greg says:

    Are you hearing this Davey? While Davey is whining that his show is not on KFAN, I’ve got someone whining that I’m posting here. Oh, the irony! LULZ We don’t seem to have the brightest bulbs on the tree posting with me here.

  33. Greg says:

    Just so I have this straight………..The supposed Minnesota Sports radio station let’s Davey have his packer show. But I shouldn’t be able to come over here and talk Vikings. Dam, you packer people are even a bigger deal than I thought. LULZ

  34. WendyfromWaseca says:

    When you’re 2-4 in the division and beat one team with a winning record,who the hell cares about a whining Vikings fan like you Greg,our beloved Minnesota Vikings have issues,you’re to stupid and blind to see that and will continue to get beat up on this site,Everyone here thinks you need therapy and I bet you have no friends because of your big mouth!!

  35. Elroy from Elroy says:

    Lot bigger deal than you and the Vikings Greg,what do you have to show for it.LULZ

  36. Gregstwinbrother says:

    I’d like to use the bathroom but Greg’s in there worrying about the packers all the time!!

  37. Greg says:

    If you are calling us 2-4 in the division, that means you are actually calling the game in green bay a win for green bay(3 pass interference calls). What’s next, you beat Detroit in Lambeau? LULZ

  38. WendyfromWaseca says:

    Exactly Greg,a win is a win,don’t forget the good ass kickings the Bears and the Packers gave us!!

  39. Voice says:

    Anyone who uses the refs as an excuse for their squad’s shortcomings is a loser. That’s “LOSER”, with a capital “L”. It should be tattooed on their forehead.

  40. Greg says:

    Hey voice, your fanbase whined about the terrell owens call every single day for 5 straight years. None of this has anything to do with the Vikings. You are still playing because of the smell of referees in Lambeau. You even wrote an article entitled, “I always like Zebras.” I still laugh at that one. Why are you writing articles called, “I always liked zebras.” Please explain!

  41. Elroy from Elroy says:

    Hey Greg Vikes fans are still whining about the Drew Pearson phantom push off just like the one Rudolph did against New Orleans,right on Voice!!

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