The preview post I uploaded earlier today suggested that tonight’s game between the Giants and Packers was going to be a shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. Two dangerous offenses showing up at high noon, walking up to the center of town with their boots clinking and clanking, both offenses getting back to back, then walking ten paces, and shooting till one of the offenses blinked. Well, it didn’t end up being that at all. The New York Giants offense shot bullets that hit every part of the Green Bay defense, and the Packers offense…well…just shot themselves in the foot, multiple times, until they bled out and lost the battle. The New York Giants came out Sunday night and absolutely overwhelmed the Packers, offensively and defensively, and gave the Packers a good ol’ fashioned butt whooping 38-10. This morning on the preview post I constructed a best case and worst case scenario for tonight’s game with the Giants, and I’m pretty sure that the entire worst case scenario came true during tonight’s game.
The first five minutes of the game projected that the game was going to be the shoot-out that I predicted this morning. On the opening drive of the game, the Giants went 74 yards on 6 plays, ending the drive with an Andre Brown 2 yard touchdown rush. The Packers offense then responded with a 4 play, 77 yard drive that ended in a 61 yard touchdown strike from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson to tie the game. At that point, whether you are a Giants or Packers fan, you were thinking “get your abacus ready because there’s going to be some points scored tonight.” Well…there were points scored, just for the wrong team. From that point on, the Giants absolutely dominated both sides of the ball and the Packers looked at times that they weren’t even sure what was hitting them. I feel the momentum shifted when during the first quarter, when the Packers attempted and missed a 55 yard field goal when they could have attempted a 4th and 5 at the New York Giants 37 yard line. With the ease that the Giants moved the ball down the field on the first possession, and with the injuries on the defensive side of the ball, I think that Mike McCarthy should have gone for on 4th down to try and convert and keep his defense off the field. Instead, the field goal attempt by Mason Crosby was missed, and the flood gates were officially opened. From that point on, the Giants outscored the Packers 24-3 the rest of the half and put a stranglehold on the game that the Packers could never recover from.
Here is what I stated this morning would be the worst case scenario for the Packers: “Offense: Packers pass happy on offense, giving stellar defensive line for the Giants every opportunity to pound Aaron Rodgers. 2+ turnovers made by Packers offense. Defense: Allow Giants offense to control clock, keeping the Packers explosive offense off the field. Letting up touchdowns instead of field goals. Creating 2 or less than 2 turnover on Defense.” Well…that’s pretty much what happened. On offense, that Packers weren’t pass happy, they just couldn’t run the ball. The Packers ran for 116 yards during the game, but many of those yards came when the game was out of reach in the second half. During the first half, they couldn’t get anything going on the ground. This resulted in the Packers being one-dimensional on offense, and the Giants defensive line having every opportunity to beat the holy hell out of Aaron Rodgers. The Giants ended up sacking Aaron Rodgers a total of five times, and hitting him a bunch more. Packers Left Tackle Marshall Newhouse has struggled in his pass blocking all season, but he was really exposed during this game. Newhouse was responsible for three sacks allowed, including a strip sack by Giants D-Lineman Osi Umenyiora that was recovered by Giants Lineman Jason Pierre Paul and that led to another scoring drive by the Giants. The Packers offense had two costly turnovers; one was the previously mentioned strip sack by Umenyiora, and the other was a bad throw made by Aaron Rodgers that was picked off by Giants cornerback Corey Webster, who was beat badly on the Nelson touchdown catch in the first quarter. Rodgers stared at Randall Cobb for the entire route, and Webster completely left James Jones on the outside, and picked off Rodgers and took it inside the red zone for the Giants.
On defense, if last week the Packers defense had a “bend but don’t break” mentality, then this week they had a “let’s see how small of pieces of wood we can create by breaking so much” mentality. To quote John McKay, the first Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, regarding the execution of the Packers defense, “I’m in favor of it”. The cornerbacks for the Packers consistently let the Giants Wide Receivers leave the line of scrimmage without jamming them, leaving them free to run their routes friction free and beating the Packers corners consistently down the field. I can’t tell you how many times I saw a replay of a Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz catch where nobody touched them off the line of scrimmage. I also can’t tell you how many times I saw Ahmad Bradshaw or Andre Brown untouched running through the Packers defensive line. Bradshaw ended up with 119 yards of total offense (58 rushing and 61 receiving) and 1 touchdown and Andre Brown ended up with 64 yards rushing and 1 Touchdown. The Packers couldn’t stop anybody, and the Giants offense really toyed with them all night. Eli Manning definitely broke out of his “slump” tonight; going 16-30 for 249 yards and 3 TD’s and 0 INT. Manning had wide open windows to throw through all night, it was as simple as playing catch with his receivers. The Packers defense also didn’t even sniff one turnover tonight, officially completing the worst case scenario I constructed this morning.
Nobody on the Packers offense really did anything worth mentioning to be perfectly honest. But what I will say is that Randall Cobb was completely taken out of the game by Giants safety Antrele Rolle. Wherever Cobb was, in the slot, going in motion, or on the outside, Rolle was right in Cobb’s hip pocket and Cobb couldn’t do anything about it. Cobb ended the game with 4 catches for 39 yards and didn’t have an impact on the game at all. I’ll tell you what, when Antrel Rolle’s in the game for the Giants defense, they’re downright scary.
The Packers are still in the thick of things in the NFC Playoff Picture at 7-4, but this game would have been nice to have. The Giants might very well be a team that the Packers will see in January again. With an important division game against the Vikings next week, it’ll be very important for the Packers to get over this game very quickly. Get over the sting of the loss and start looking at game film to improve. Based upon tonight’s performance, there’s plenty of tape the Packers can look at collectively.