Packers XLV

Stark Reality: Pack Gets Rematch With Falcons

Posted January 10th, 2011 @ 01:01am

They made us sweat. Of course they did. Nothing's come easy all season and so we held our breath until the final 30 seconds, when Tramon Williams pulled in a Vick pass in the end zone to give the Pack their first road playoff win since San Francisco in '98.

There is one singular reason the Packers knocked off the Eagles 21-16. Well okay, two reasons: Pro Bowler David Akers missed two easy FGs, but the real reason was the commitment and effectiveness of the running game. James Starks had a coming out party and it was his performance that turned this game in the Packers' favor.

The Packers caught a break early when DeSean Jackson got hurt and was largely ineffective all game--catching his first pass in the fourth quarter. That took one playmaker off the field and the Pack didn't allow Vick to beat them with his feet; LeSean McCoy was also held in check. The Eagles are an even worse short yardage team than Green Bay and The Pack stuffed them for several key stops.

It's a credit to how far this team has come that they could win a road playoff game against a dynamic team, despite some key mental errors: McCarthy's poor clock management at the end of the half; Jones' drop on what could have been a 21-3 halftime lead, Rodgers' fumble early in the third quarter that led to a quick score, the inability of Greg Jennings to get involved.

Ultimately, it was something we've seen very little of this season: a balanced offense, that won this game. James Starks wiped my first Packer hero Travis Williams' name from the record book with 123 yards: the top playoff performance by a rookie in Packer history. It was a long time coming, but maybe the Pack has found the magic elixir to making a deep playoff run--at precisely the right time. He has six days to come down from the clouds and get ready for the NFC's top seed.

I remember the moments following the last second loss in Atlanta on Thanksgiving weekend, thinking that I would love another shot at those guys. They've since lost at home to the Saints, so the Georgia Dome mystique is fading. But the Packers match up well with the Falcons, who have trouble defending the pass.

Rodgers now has seven TD passes in his first two playoff starts--that's an NFL record. No more can critics say he hasn't won a big playoff game.

He can add an exclamation point next Saturday night in Atlanta.

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Comments (15):

Closed circuit to Mike McCarthy: how about play action on first down when EVERYONE in the stadium thinks you are going to try to run the clock out? You got a first down by running-great. Now, run play action and do a short pass on the next first down or second down, don't wait until you HAVE to throw it on third and long. Way too conservative and the Pack defense bailed you out. Packers bend/don't break defense is the difference and the ability to rush for over 100. Can the Pack run for 100 versus the Falcons...? I think the receivers will have to play a LOT better this week and the defense just needs to stay solid again. Go Pack! Packers 28 Falcons 21.

on January 10th, 2011 at 01:10pm

I wondered if there in the last 6 minutes, last possession of the Packers after the Eagles drew within 5 points, 1 score of the Packers, though Starks did run well there was a bit of the air of sitting on the lead and Green Bay were fortunate Philadelphia did not come back and truly, some other teams may have come back if they were in Philadelphia's position in their last set of downs, perhaps Philly should have been firing the ball at Jackson on those final plays. Anyway, bottom line, I'm not sure if running the ball was the best for the Packers to do at the end, maybe they should have been driving for another score to seal it. I guess the thought on GB's last drive was to waste as much time as possible with those runs but maybe they could have mixed in a pass since Philly could not stop Rodgers passing, sure, Green Bay passed the 3rd down of their last set of downs and did Rodgers get sacked on that one play? Maybe because it was such a forced play. Be careful of that situation against the Patriots, Ravens or Falcons or Seahawks. Hmmn, plenty of birds still in the playoffs.

on January 10th, 2011 at 01:33am

".lets open up against Atlanta and not go into a conservative approach if we get ahead. "- OSSG Exactly, Green Bay left the door open for Philly to get back into it. They indeed, did sit on the lead at the end.

on January 10th, 2011 at 01:36am

Schenyschen, if you want to go down that road of what if's; What if David Akers didn't miss two field goals he almost never misses? Then Aaron is still sitting without a playoff win and we are sitting at home for the offseason. He played an average game, he could of silenced the critics with leading the Pack down the field to seal the deal. Instead, he gave Vick another chance to steal the game. 21 points silences no one, especially when you go scoreless the last quarter and a half. Do I enjoy Aaron at QB absolutely but I need to see more this week before I will say he has "silenced" the critics.

on January 10th, 2011 at 06:31pm

Win feels great!! Very excited for next week.. Totally disagree with you Ralphie, I thought #12 played well.. he didn't put up the usual 300 yards because we ran the ball well. Also - don't forget that he put one in Jones' bread basket before the half.. (Seriously Jones owes the defense a nice dinner, he would be the goat if we don't win.) I have no complaints, we went into phili and won, phili is a good team and we beat them, I can't complain. On to Atlanta, I find myself more confident going into this one - I know I wasn't the only one who wanted to see us get another shot at the birds. Aaron will outperform ryan again and with the roll we are on (giants of '07-esque) I think pull it out. Question Mr. Dave, I will be in Europe for the rest of the playoffs, do you know anyway to get the game(s) on the radio?? Spencer Bold prediction: Packers will become the first team in NFL history to beat 4 species of birds en route to a Lombardi Trophy (eagles, falcons, seahawks, ravens)

on January 10th, 2011 at 10:03pm

I have two things to add. First, I love Clay Matthews, but his pass coverage on Sunday was not good enough. I'm sure he knows that and I hope he can fix it. Second, Starks really does seem coachable. If they can make him a player, I'll tip my hat to the running back coaches.

on January 10th, 2011 at 10:28am

Think about this: If the defense doesn't stop the 2 point conversion, then the Eagle's would have been in position to tie the game and might not have tossed it up to the end zone. All I'm saying is that the defense stepped up and won this game when the offense had gone so conservative. I would have hated to have gone into OT with the offense coming off such conservative play calling.

on January 10th, 2011 at 12:05pm

The Pack win was tenuous at best. This is not the first time we have been in this situation over the years, usually with disastrous results. I cannot count the times we have watched conservative run plays to try and eat the clock with a close lead against high powered teams only to fail because our Defense was worn down in the fourth and gives up the big play. If the Packers want to take it to the next level, McCarthy needs to look at Belichick and rip a page from his book. He absolutely needs to instill the "killer instinct" and confidence to keep pushing for points. I appreciate the newly found run game however conservative play calling will quickly get us out of the Playoffs as it almost did in yesterday. Let’s hope McCarthy has a BFO or “Blinding Flash of the Obvious”

on January 10th, 2011 at 12:15pm

Ralphie, My "what-if" was specific to your point about Rodgers play. Not about the game as a whole. The fact is that a QB can not throw a more perfect ball. The result that it was dropped is the result of another players mistake, not Rodgers. Akers, on the other hand missed the kicks, fair and square. It was his personal mistake, not the hold or the snap, etc. --- I agree there were a couple throws that Rodgers could have made better in the 4th quarter, however, the playcalling was clearly geared toward winding down the clock. When a quarterback leads the team down on 3 long, impressive drives, the last of which is to answer a scoring drive by the opposition and happens to be the game winner, I have a hard time saying that player didn't do well. We'll just have to agree to disagree on that one. --I think by all accounts, everyone on the post feels that McCarthy went into a shell in the 4th quarter far too early. OSSG and others made some great points about the need to playaction pass on first down, rather than run, run, pass (incomplete), punt. -- Anyway, they won the game and have a tall task ahead of them. --Go Pack!

on January 11th, 2011 at 05:08am

It was a nice win for our squad today but I do not believe Aaron silenced any critics. He looked pretty pedestrian today. We need him to calm down a bit when the opposition blitzed and believe me the Falcons will bring it. I like our chances in the dome next week as long as Aaron can settle a bit. I believe he will only silence the critics with a win next week.

on January 9th, 2011 at 07:28pm

First off, I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I beleieve I mentioned a few days ago that Starks was due for a good day! So glad it panned out, especially that they did playaction with him the first play of the game. ---- Next, Davey won't say it so I will, "Ralphie is clearly smoking too much crack everybody!". To think that the critics have not been silenced and to call a 3 td game (which should have been 4 if jones doesn't drop a perfect ball) a pedestrian game is the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard. That's aside from the fact that last years playoff loss was not at all his fault (400 yards/4 td's and over 40 points on offense). Clearly in the 4th quarter, Rodgers got ruffled a little bit, I'll give you that. Game plan got a little more conservative as well. I wish they had pushed it a little bit more. --Defense mixed it up well and earned the team another victory. Got to love the key contributions from Shields (early deep ball) and Walden. Even Jarret Bush made a defensive tackle (yes, that Jarret Bush)! Go Pack!

on January 9th, 2011 at 08:43pm

ralphie, what do you guys want? #12 should have had 280 passing with 4 touchdowns if not for 4 drops, jones the big one. He had no interceptions. you must be a #4 lover yet. he was great. it's his 3rd year. Did u hear what he said when asked, what do u think of your 1st playoff win in his press conference? he said, this is not mine, not 1 player can win the game. This is all of ours. If vick would have led them back today it sure wouldn't have been #12 fault. ENJOY THE SEASON. They proved me wrong. Iam very happy with all the injuries they have had, this is amazing. GO PACK, larry

on January 9th, 2011 at 08:46pm

Schenyschen, we were writing almost the same thing to ralphie, That was a great call on starks. I mentioned shields this morning in my comments. I just wished they would have tried to throw on 1st down after they got the 1st 1st down with 3 min. left. The coach trusted his defense and took the time off the clock. that is his job to make those decisions and for all of us fans to 2nd guess. We have to stop 88 next week. we have had trouble all year with te's. he had big game earlier this year too. larry

on January 9th, 2011 at 08:55pm

BREAKING NEWS! The dead bird epidemic continues! This just in...53 eagles found dead in Philly!!!! Lets hope for the same next weekend...

on January 9th, 2011 at 10:20pm

Okay.....first for my two stats that I harp on every game....(1) turnover ratio....which was 2-1 for Philly for a plus 7 for them. Third down efficiency was 9-14 for the Pack while the defense held them to 5-14 counting the 4th down TD. Arod was solid given the game plan and Starks was superb. But.....before we start gloating....MM play calling is getting nerve raking....he got way too conservative when we jumped out 14-0. I realize Jones dropped a sure TD....but with Philly's weak secondary did we forget we have Greg Jennings ?? I realize we had a solid run game today but he will need to trust Rodger's more against Atlanta because of their defense especially at home. Arod is a solid QB who is getting rid of the ball quicker than last year.....lets open up against Atlanta and not go into a conservative approach if we get ahead. This was a great win .....but it should not have been this close. GO PACK GO !!

on January 9th, 2011 at 10:34pm

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