Oh What A Mangled Webb We've Seen

Everything changed 90 minutes before kickoff when Christian Ponder was pronounced inactive and Joe Webb was inserted as the starter. I don't know about all of you, but I got nervous. Were we going to see the RGIII pistol offense unveiled as a secret surprise? Something the Packers had not seen nor prepared for?

Scratch that. I said the defense would be the story in this game and it was. The Packers contained Peterson after the opening drive, when he ran for 33 yards and Webb did damage with his legs as well and the Purple scored first. But after that, the defense was in lockdown mode. From Raji, to Walden to Matthews to Woodson to Shields, the defense gang tackled Peterson and contained Webb.

It was an undeniably difficult position to put Webb in and he wasn't prepared to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers. His first half numbers: 2-11 for 22 yards and zero first downs through the air. He was not prepared to make plays with his arm and was completely outmatched. Meanwhile #12 was 14-18 for 205 yards, torching the Vikes at the end of the half to take a 17-3 lead, which was pretty much insurmountable the way Minnesota's offense was operating.

The only gripe may be that the offense took its foot off the gas in the third quarter, after adding a score to make it 24-3. Rodgers mentioned it after the game: in the playoffs you have to stay sharp for 60 minutes and never relax.

Rodgers was absolutely surgical on the way to the 24-3 lead, spreading out passes to ten different receivers, relying early on dump offs to DuJuan Harris, who had a whale of game as the primary ball carrier. He caught five passes for 53 yards and adding 47 on the ground. The Pack had all of its offensive weapons for the first time in forever and Rodgers found all of them. Kudos to the offensive line, which kept the pass rushers at bay virtually all night, and giving Rodgers time on the key drives at the end of the first half and coming out in the third quarter.

We'll see who's available next week. Jermichael Finley left the game with a hamstring injury, so his availability is definitely in doubt. Nelson seemed to tweak his knee or ankle late, but was smiling on the sidelines so maybe he'll be good to go.

But as surgical as Rodgers was, this game belonged to the defense. They contained Peterson to 99 yards on 22 carries and Webb could get nothing going through the air until the game was decided late in the fourth quarter. You don't think this defense missed Charles Woodson? He was second on the team with six tackles, four solo, along with a tackle for loss. He gives the unit an edge and he will be needed next week in San Francisco.

Obviously, we have no idea what wold have been different had Ponder played. It will allow some Vikings fans to sleep easier, believing they would've won had #7 been under center. I expected Ponder to struggle in this one, but we'll never know. The defense played disciplined, playoff football, took the ball away twice and got a bit of their swagger back. They'll need it next weekend.

We'll close with a tip of the cap to the Purple, who rode a four game winning streak to close the regular season and earn an unlikely playoff spot. Though they fell quite a bit short against their hated rivals, they've given their fans hope that they're on the right track and a few players away from contending.

So Rodgers has his first playoff win at Lambeau. Next up: the 49ers. Am I the only one that looks in the crystal ball and sees a potential Seattle-Green Bay NFC title game at Lambeau, a k a "Fail Mary II?" The Pack will have their work cut out to advance. They're three point underdogs but will face an untested QB making his playoff debut. Gonna be a fun week. And won't it be fun to get back to work on Monday and chat with our Vikings fan buddies?

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