Pack Takes Giant Step Toward Undefeated SeasonPosted:Dec 5th, 2011 1:45 am
The Packers needed this. They needed to win a game with a final drive. In a historic-feeling season where they've never trailed in the fourth quarter, where the closest a team has come is a six point loss at the Metrodome, the Packers showed why they are better than everybody else in 2011.
With Charles Woodson out of the game with a head injury, Jarrett Bush was getting torched as usual, and the young inside linebackers looked gassed and a bit overmatched at times. When Eli Manning drove down for a quick score and then converted the two point play to tie it at 35-35 with a minute to go, we all said to ourselves, one minute--one timeout--own 20 yard line...okay, we've got this. Though the momentum favored the red, white and blue, Aaron Rodgers is at the top of his game. He lives for moments like these. First a 24 yarder down the right sideline to Jermichael Finley, then a beautiful arced pass under pressure that Jordy Nelson brought in for the catch of the game. Then Greg Jennings fights for extra yardage and it's all teed up for Mason Crosby to nail a 31-yarder on the game's final play.
Give the Giants a ton of credit. They were embarrassed the past two weeks against the Eagles and at New Orleans. The players played an inspired game on both sides of the ball. Bradshaw and Jacobs gave their running game a lift and Manning made a number of big plays to Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. As Rodgers said after the game, "Every team is going to give us our best shot."
For the first time this season, Rodgers' passer rating didn't reach 110. He finished at 107, thanks to a "where did that come from" interception and six drops, several by Finley, who had a nice six catch, 87 yards and a touchdown, just days after saying that the chemistry between Rodgers and him wasn't there.
Injury concerns after the game: it starts with Woodson who took a shot in the head and may have suffered a concussion. You know he wants to play against his former team next week. We'd all like to see him play, too. James Starks left the game early with an ankle injury. Brandon Saine and Ryan Grant made some nice plays in his absence, but the Packers are better with Starks back there. The worst injury appeared to be Andrew Quarless who looks like he suffered a significant knee injury. Good thing the Pack kept five tight ends.
Let the media wag their tongues and talk about an undefeated season. The players don't seem to care. They're saying all the right things: that the only important thing right now is getting to 13-0 and beating the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field next Sunday. With three of the final four at Lambeau, it appears we might be headed toward history. If it happens, it will make for the most anticipated post-season in all of our lives. 12 down, four to go.