I’m sure glad Packers general manager Ted Thompson listened to some fans last week and fired coach Mike McCarthy after that loss to the Patriots.
Moving on, the Green Bay Packers walloped the New York Giants 45-17 Sunday to keep their playoff hopes very much alive. A win next week at home over the NFC North champion Chicago Bears and the Packers are in the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
There were a lot of highs and even a few lows in this game for Green Bay so let’s get to it.
QB Aaron Rodgers
Did that new helmet Rodgers was wearing come from the Bill Belichick line? Did he have the defensive signals of the Giants literally in his head?
All kidding aside, what a comeback for Rodgers. Any potential for rust was quickly done away on an 80 yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson and Rodgers rolled from there. Finishing the day with a career regular season high 404 yards and a career high tying 4 TD passes, Rodgers showed there were no lingering cobwebs from his two concussions this season.
Even more impressive was his ability to evade the Giants’ all-star pass rush. Even with rookie tackle Bryan Bulaga getting beat by Pro Bowler Justin Tuck on just about every pass play, Rodgers was able to make enough plays with his feet and his arm to make this game a blowout.
Coach Mike McCarthy
Over 500 yards of total offense. Four passing touchdowns. Two rushing touchdowns. A balanced (GASP) game plan.
If anyone this week is looking for a reason to fire McCarthy, you need a head exam.
Continuing with the balanced attack discovered last week against the Patriots, McCarthy dialed up a near flawless game plan and in a pleasant surprise twisted the dagger a bit after it had already been stabbed into the heart of the Giants.
It’s a killer instinct the Packers haven’t shown much of and I for one hope to see it continue.
FB John Kuuuuuuuuhn
It took long enough but the Green Bay Packers finally have discovered their own Mike Alstott.
Running through defenders instead of around them, Kuhn had two rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown. He showed enough that it seems like McCarthy finally feels comfortable enough to give him the ball outside goal line situations and Kuhn has been very productive in the screen game as well.
Kuhn’s effort to extend some runs played a key role too. His ability to keep his legs moving and pushing his powerful frame forward helped the Packers get a couple of key first downs early on when the game was still close.
It could be argued Kuhn’s production helped tip the scales heavily in the Packers’ favor.
WR James Jones
I’m going to steal a phrase here from ESPN’s Cris Carter:
Jones dropped quite few passes that he should have easily caught. Even in the cold weather, footballs bouncing out of your hand are unacceptable in the NFL and Jones as of late has developed a big case of the dropsies.
He has to make sure he catches the ball before thinking touchdown. That cost him at least two catches today and if he wants to be a legitimate number three receiver, he has get better in those areas.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin
OK, he isn’t on the Packers but his management of his challenges today is some of the worst I have ever seen and I just had to mention it here.
His challenge of an Ahmad Bradshaw fumble that should have been an obvious non-challenge came back to bite them as Sam Shields’ interception clearly should have been overturned but Coughlin was out of challenges and couldn’t make the officials take a second look.
Yes, Eli “Fredo” Manning was picked off four times. The Packers forced six turnovers on defense. That is all well and good.
Those positives were almost overruled by a tendency to give up the big play. Yes, Mario Manningham made a great move on Tramon Williams but Williams should not have been that far off the coverage on that touchdown play. The Giants seemed to only gain yards in big chunks.
It almost looked like the Arizona playoff game last year a bit, but thanks to the turnovers the game never got nearly that close. The big plays are definitely something that needs to be worked on as the Bears come to town next week.
In a 28 point victory, there are obviously many more positives than negatives but I’m only able to list a few here. Deserving mentions are Donald Driver’s incredible hands and the sudden emergence of B.J. Raji in the pass rush. The list could go on for quite a while.
So what are your “game balls” and “lame calls” for this game?——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke