Packers 26 Cowboys 21: Knee-Jerk Reaction

Mike McCarthy challenge flag

The Green Bay Packers emerged victorious for just the second time in the playoffs since they won Super Bowl XLV following the 2010 season.  The 26-21 win over the Dallas Cowboys earned the Packers a trip to Seattle to face the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game and a shot at another Super Bowl appearance.  The two teams will face off next Sunday, January 18th in the first of the two games left to determine each conference’s champion.

This game certainly didn’t lack personality.  Both the on-field action and the timelines on Twitter (yours truly’s included) certainly offered a lot in terms of what went on at Lambeau Field in front of a new record crowd of 79,000+.  Props to that crowd for creating as much noise as they could and for participating in the #GetLoudLambeau campaign.

As I did a few times during the season, I’m posting another knee-jerk reaction piece as the Packers begin to look forward to their game against the Seahawks and the daunting task of getting a win at CenturyLink Field in Seattle for a chance to win it all.  Let’s dive right in.

If Aaron Rodgers isn’t league MVP, he’s obviously the team’s – It was obvious early on today that Rodgers wasn’t going to have much mobility.  At first, it didn’t appear that he’d have any.  All he did, however, was throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.  He did lose a fumble.  But the man hasn’t thrown an interception at Lambeau Field in over two calendar years.  We talk about athletes having to use their smarts to make up for what time has taken away from their physical abilities.  Rodgers still has plenty of both but he showed that he can adjust and be just as effective on one leg as a quarterback can be.  Some throws sailed and the typical Rodgers-like accuracy wasn’t there early on but by game’s end, we saw the same methodical surgeon that we have come to expect from #12.  That touchdown throw to Richard Rodgers was probably his best single throw this season, if you ask me.  After the game, Rodgers said “I think I’ve got 120 minutes left in me” when asked about his injured calf and how it feels.  The Packers are going to need every ounce of greatness Rodgers has in him to make it the full allotment.

The Packers needed guys to step up today, and they did – On the defensive side of the ball, Julius Peppers made his presence felt.  I called for him to step up and be a factor this week, and he answered the bell.  His biggest contribution likely saved this game.  A few minutes into the third quarter, Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray took a handoff and appeared to have a gaping hole to romp through when Peppers lunged in and knocked the ball loose.  The Packers recovered and eventually went down and kicked a field goal.  Another look at the play showed that Murray may have had a chance to run all the way in for a score had he not lost the ball.  Mike Daniels came on late and Nick Perry had a big sack late.  Offensively, receiver Davante Adams revived himself and had seven catches for over 100 yards, the biggest being a long catch and run for a touchdown.  This was Adams’ best game since the win over the New England Patriots and came just in time to help save today and give the rookie wideout some momentum heading into Seattle.  Adams not only caught seven balls, but broke tackles and used some incredibly nifty moves in the open field to tack on very valuable yards after the catch.  Tight end Richard Rodgers must have seen me tweet “where is Richard Rodgers?” because just moments later, he caught a perfectly placed ball between two defenders for the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.  Richard was instrumental in sealing with win over the Detroit Lions in week 17 and came up big with the touchdown grab today.  If the Packers want to have anything resembling a chance in Seattle next week, they’ll need both Adams and Richard Rodgers to have another big day.  Finally, tight end Andrew Quarless caught the game’s first touchdown on Green Bay’s opening drive and had four more catches and recovered Randall Cobb’s fumble on a kick return late in the game.  Quarless had come on as a key contributor this season but disappeared a bit over the last month.  Great to see him getting back into the swing.

Tackling may overtake special teams as the villain before all is said and done – It’s probably safe to say that most everyone is thinking about the same play that I am after reading that sentence.  Halfway through the second quarter, Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams caught a short pass and juked Packers cornerback Tramon Williams out of his shoes.  The problem was, there was no one else close enough to catch Williams before he was in the end zone to give Dallas a 14-7 lead.  In the previous paragraph, I talked about guys needing to step up.  In 2010 during the playoff run, Williams was one of the key guys who played at another level and propelled this team to its championship.  He needs to find that guy, or something close to it and very soon.  Murray broke a few tackles as well as a few other Cowboys ball carriers and it led to costly yards after contact.  In the postseason, inches mean everything.  If a defender can get his hands on a guy, he should bring him down.  Failure to tackle will absolutely decimate Green Bay’s day in Seattle.  They’ll be facing guys like Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson, who aren’t the easiest to corral.  With offenses more spread out, it’s tough to get a swarm of defenders to the ball, but that has to be the mentality against the Seahawks.

Eddie Lacy will be needed for four quarters next week – Despite missing a big chunk in the middle of this game due to asthma, Lacy still had over 100 yards rushing and averaged over five yards per carry.  As he has most of the last part of this season, Lacy came out of the gate strong and had several long runs.  Anytime the Packers can get that type of production in the run game, it’s utopia.  On that first drive, Lacy got the ball six times in a row and picked up nearly half of his day’s total.  As the game wore on, Dallas chose to take Lacy away and force Rodgers to make plays to win.  Seattle will surely do the same but that’s a defense of a completely different color.  The Packers have to get four quarters out of Lacy in both the run and passing game.  No back gets a ton of yards on every carry, but Lacy has to be productive if the Packers are to have any chance of competing in this next game.

The Packers offensive line is pretty damn good – Rodgers was sacked just once all day and I’d even put that one mostly on him as he had time to throw, he just couldn’t get outside the pocket to throw it away.  The Green Bay offensive line has more than held up their end of the bargain this season and they’re keeping the pocket as clean as can be.  For a quarterback who isn’t moving around very well, that’s a must.  Center Corey Linsley had a bad snap that led to a broken play in which Rodgers eventually lost the ball, but that was his only real blip on the day.  Linsley has been the biggest contributor of all of the draft picks this season and has likely entrenched himself as the center of the future.  Guard T.J. Lang got caught up in a scrum after a play early on that led to his being penalized.  Not the smartest thing, but Lang wasn’t about to let his teammates get pushed around and was sending a message to the Cowboys that the Packers can get down and dirty too, if need be.  Very few penalties on the line today.  They’ll need to have the game of their lives in a very loud environment and against a very physical Seahawks defense.

Mike McCarthy, what else can I say? – When McCarthy threw the challenge flag following Dez Bryant’s apparent catch on fourth down late and with four minutes left, I immediately tweeted that it was dumb and was going to be a story line after the game.  I was right about the last part, but my first mistake was miscalculating how many timeouts the Packers had left.  I thought they were down to their last and had McCarthy lost the challenge, he would have left his team with none.  The Packers actually had two, so they at least would have had one left.  The second mistake was my not understanding the NFL’s rule (I didn’t write it, so don’t direct your vitriol at me) on what a “catch” is.  McCarthy challenged that Bryant didn’t complete the catch and that it should be ruled an incomplete pass.  At that point in the game, the Cowboys were down five and would have had first and goal from the one-yard line.  Regardless of whether he was going to win or not, McCarthy had to throw that flag.  Side note, I’m aware that the image above isn’t from today’s game, but you get the gist.  The experts, TV crew and everyone else were split down the middle on whether or not the call would be overturned.  It was and the Packers got the ball back.  It was the first challenge that McCarthy won this season.  It will be discussed at length, probably long after this season is over.  The Packers and Cowboys will face each other next season so I’ll venture to say we’ll see a lot of that highlight during that week.  Green Bay Press-Gazette writer Jeff Ash made note that the Bryant play happened at the one-yard line on the south side of Lambeau Field, the same area where Bart Starr snuck in for the game-winning score against Dallas in the Ice Bowl.  While this game still wasn’t “Ice Bowl II”, that surely made for a nice anecdote, didn’t it?

On to Seattle – I would encourage Packers fans to hang onto their recording of this game, provided that they did record it, and enjoy what they saw today.  I have said many times that I don’t like the match up between the Packers and Seahawks but I’ll save all that talk for another time.  The biggest and immediate concern is the health of Rodgers and how well he’s able to recover from today and move around next week.  We’ll have your coverage here at ALLGBP.com and I’m sure most every other media outlet will as well.

 

 

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.com

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  • David

    Packers will have to play a near perfect game to beat Seattle. Yesterday they were very sloppy and flat especially in the first half.

    Seattles defense does not give up any big plays. The offense has to go down the field mistake free for 12 or more plays. If there is one false start, holding or any negative play that usually kills the drive. Plus, they unlike Green Bay’s defense, do not miss very many tackles.

    Packer’s D will have to play over their heads. There were too many missed tackles and open receivers yesterday.

    It is not impossible but do not see them going there and wining. How important was that Buffalo loss now?

    Go Pack Go!

    • william dickson

      well look who commented 1st again…jersey bozo, would not of guessed….I like jersey bozo much better then cow 42.blah blah blah all year.champ game is hear and I say if the packers win you must cease all comments on jersey al for a year mr defense.cow 42,jersey bozo dude,

      • David isn’t Cow William…. First of all that’s not his real name (and why make up a screen name as boring as “David?”) Second, his posting style isn’t the same as Cow’s. Unless “Cow” is really trying hard to turn a new leaf, he has vanished.

    • dobber

      Again: no shame in losing on the road to a decent AFC team like Buffalo. The killer loss was New Orleans. Don’t let the timing of the loss change it’s importance.

      • David

        Good point

    • Sven

      If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Pessimism won’t do anything.

  • montana83

    Top two Receivers
    Dez Bryant – he was pretty much out of the game. So was Jordy Nelson. Both the teams had other receivers/TE’s who took their place.

    This must happen in Seattle. We don’t know their game plan, it might be putting Sherman on Cobb just as Dallas had one guy on Coob all day. Didn’t work all that weel on Cobb who mad 3 clutch catches; one to extend a drive, one at the end of the 1st half to set up the FG and the great catch at the end of the game.

    • dobber

      The Packers don’t seem to motion receivers all that much anymore. That’s a tool that could help get these guys cleaner releases and create some openings against Seattle.

      • Chad Toporski

        They’ll probably use Cobb out of the backfield again to get him some clean releases, a la the Patriots game.

      • Thegreatreynoldo

        Aaron Rodgers said on his radio show that he is not a fan of motion. IIRC, he said the advantages of motion were outweighed by its disadvantages usually.

    • Taryn Miller

      “.. but Seattle might be put Sherman on Cobb…”

      Sherman plays one side of the field…

    • Sven

      There will be opportunities for the Packers to win in Seattle. More than one. When they find one, they need to make the most of it and keep their foot on the gas.

  • Since ’61

    Jason – good article. Now that we’ve seen Rodgers yesterday the biggest issue of concern for the Seattle game is his calf injury. His lack of mobility will be more of a factor against Seattle that it was against the Cowboys. It’s often Rodgers mobility that keeps drives alive for the Packers and that will be critical against Seattle because you want to keep their offense on the sidelines as much as possible and we need every possible weapon that we have to move the ball on Seattle. The loss of Rodgers mobility is like losing a player even though we still have his arm and his brains. Rodgers was off early in the game yesterday but we were driving for our second TD or at least a FG when Linsley made his untimely snap resulting in a TO. Lang’s penalty probably cost us 4 more points. All in all the Packers probably should have had 30 – 34 points yesterday which makes the game look completely different. It’s frustrating that we finally have a relatively healthy team this late in the season to go up against Seattle and Rodgers is hampered with this calf injury. It is what it is. At least we have a game this week. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

    • Tundraboy

      Pretty much sums up how I feel. I simply want to see 4 quarters of consistent offense and see where the chips fall. Throw out the entire arsenal. No need to save anything or worry about leaving film. That all I ask, and oh no Brad Jones on field. Go Pack Go

    • Thegreatreynoldo

      I think but of course do not know that Linsley’s snap was in response to Rodgers clapping his hand. I recall an earlier game where Rodgers wanted Linsley to snap the ball and clapped, etc, but Linsley never did snap it and we got a delay of game penalty. But yes, it was some kind of miscommunication that cost us probably a field goal, perhaps more.

  • Savage57

    A hard fought, back and forth game with just enough plays by the Pack to carry the day.

    Celebrate this win. There’ll be plenty of time for gnashing of teeth the rest of the week.

    • Sven

      The Seattle game will be great. The Packers are underdogs with the deck stacked against them, so why worry? A win would be a legendary feat, and I expect that they will do just that.

  • holmesmmd

    The Brad Jones penalty killed all the momentum that we had created in the 1st quarter. How many times has this guy done this. He should be relegated to special teams only until he can demonstrate that he can not kill his team with untimely penalties:( Go Pack! A win in SEA isn’t impossible but they must play a much cleaner game than they did yesterday. They will need to be near perfect but this season feels special. Keep the faith!!

    • David

      Great call holmesmmd,

      Dallas punts there and it is a different game. All he had to do was know Murray on his butt.

      Also agree that they, the Packers, need to be near perfect, see my post above.

      Go Pack Go!

  • croatpackfan

    First of all, very good and honest article. I have to admit when Brynt got that ball and it bounds while he was on his back I thought for a second, why it is not incomplete pass, because he had bouncing ball in his hands… I saw to many incomplete calls for very same reason in the past and nobody was making issue from that… The rule is clear, and it was clearly explained. For me, Calvin Johnson TD catch what was called incomplete was far more doubtful than this, Bryant one.
    Second, I read here a lot of complaining on tackling. OK, I agree, some may have been processed better. But our guys also made opponents miss tackles or broke tackles. That is the part of game. If each team will play perfectly, no team will win. I think we should be more modest in our judging players plays.
    Also, I agree that there was few blown coverages that is not product of Cowboys players excellence or good offensive schemes, but just of bad D plays. That kind of plays should be avoided. I’m confident that coaching stuff will know how to deal with that!

  • Don

    Jason: It sure is a good thing you called for Peppers to step up and be a factor, and what a timely call on your part to call for Richard Rodgers when you did! Obviously you are the real MVP.

    • Jason Perone

      If you ask any of my followers, they’d have a thing or two to say about that! 🙂

      • Don

        Just having a little fun with a comment that seemed a bit over the top. Kind of like Rodgers commenting on all the medical advice he received from fans during the week. As if the medical professionals he is working with are desperately scouring the fans’ comments for advice on what to do. Peppers probably had plans to not impact the game until he heard about your challenge. A nice article otherwise. Thanks.

        • Jason Perone

          I did write about Peppers needing to step up prior, that was all that was in reference to. Sometimes, we know what we’re talking about;)

  • Bobby D

    Enough with the “catch” Onward to the only place the Packers could possibly be 7 point dogs. Why, because as long as Hawk and B Jones are getting any playing time at all it means our ILB personnel is so weak Capers apparently has no choice. We can’t contain mobile qbs’ like Kapernick and certainly Wilson…..can’t jump on Lynch until he’s 6 yards downfield. Perry looked good and so did Neal. Leave CM in the middle with Barrington, leave those two losers on the bench & see what happens. Hindsight…….Chris Borland! Will be a Pro Bowler for the next 10 years. Kyri Thornton probably won’t.

    • dobber

      “Hindsight…….Chris Borland! Will be a Pro Bowler for the next 10 years. Kyri Thornton probably won’t.”

      Chris Borland, pick #77 (3-13). Khyri Thornton, pick #85 (3-21).

      In the end, Borland is a good, high-effort football player, despite his limitations relative to others who play the middle. I think you may be right about Thornton being a Pro Bowler, but Borland wasn’t there to be picked at the time.

      • marpag

        Besides…. HHCD, D. Adams, R. Rodgers, and most of all C. Linsley, plus a few developmental guys… I’m thinking this year’s draft was pretty OK-ish, thank you.

      • Bobbyd

        Realize Borland went first, and again it’s 20/20 hindsight anyway….just saying ILB with Hawk and Jones needed to be taken way more seriously. Jones is a disaster, isolate on Hawk and it’s downright scary! Draft all-in all, especially with 63 and 17 was very productive. Just please address it at the top this year instead of having TT do another one of his famous conversion moves. Get a real ILB (or 3)

      • David Bartel

        Borland was starting to get exposed at the end of the season… so don’t buy him tickets on Hawaiian Airlines just yet. Though he would be a 200% better choice than Hawk. I’m hoping for the top ILB to be snatched at pick #32 in the draft. Barring that Williams replacement at CB or game breaking TE.

        • Thegreatreynoldo

          I was not a fan of drafting Borland who I viewed as a late 4th rd or 5th rd pick. He’s considerably slower than Hawk was coming out but is more of a thumper. Not the answer at ILB though he might have been an upgrade for now. + run D and a minus coverage LBer.

  • Big T

    Anyone still gloating on the catch can kiss my azz. I wish they would’ve called it a catch. Gee, let me see, over 4 min. left to go about 40 yards and kick the game winning field goal. The way the offense was playing at the end, there is no doubt in my mind they could’ve scored again easily… we were winning that game regardless of the cowgirl antics. Dez is a showboat dumbazz who landed on the perfect team to cater to his dumbazzness. Don’t hate us if you ain’t us…

    • Chad Toporski

      I just ask the Cowboys fans who complain about the non-catch why their defense couldn’t stop Green Bay in the 4-minute drill.

      • Big T

        yep

      • Jason Perone

        Or fall on the Cobb fumble, or why Murray couldn’t hang onto the ball on a run that could have gone to the house? 60 minutes, many plays. Jason Garrett himself said as much after the game.

        • marpag

          If you REALLY want to have fun, check out the message boards over at the Dallas Morning News. It’s hilarious to see all of the Cowpoke fans trying to explain that the bitching and moaning that they are doing now is so much different and more justified than what Lions fans were doing seven days ago. Apparently, now there really IS a huge conspiracy involving the NFL and it’s referees… LOL.

      • David Bartel

        Wouldn’t want to see a must make FG with this special (olympics) teams unit. Glad that the Seachickens wasted their surprise blocking strategy on the Panthers this week. Could you have imagined that against us next week? Counter measure is to stand up one guy, run a guy in motion to smash into him or on short field goals just false start and nail him good while hes defenseless in the air.

  • White92

    I thought it was the last timeout too. Did fox have it wrong on the display?

  • White92

    Also, did Datone block that FG attempt? Is Peppers new to the FG coverage team? If so, it was a great move.

    • David Bartel

      He got two fingers on it. Peppers has been in on FG block attempts… maybe they only put him on certain ones.

  • packett

    I thought Dez made the catch, because as he was coming down and taking off balance steps, he lunged. In my opinion that was a football move. But of course such is a judgment call, and different refs will call it differently. So, that is part of the game. Packers and fans know enough of that during that infamous seattle game.

  • Jerry

    Random thought here but yesterdays game result was very satisfying, Watching the Fox pregame show two weeks ago Terry Bradshaw was picking the Lions to beat the Packers and once again that clown was wrong. Yesterday Mike Strahan and Jimmy Johnson were pretty smug taking the Boys over the Packers,and of course TB picked the Boys. Howie Long tempered his comments saying the Cowboys had an opportunity to come up on top. Long always comes across as someone who looks at teams and players in a much more intelligent unbiased way. Has anybody herd from Skip Bayless LOL!

    • White92

      I couldn’t agree more here. I love the NFL Network (save Warren Saap), and with Michael Irvin and Deon Sanders, they were all picking Cowboys. I’ve almost had to shut off all national shows just so I don’t get too upset. How satisfying to see the Pack shove it up their backside. Keep underestimating them. I think the team plays better with something to prove.

  • Tundraboy

    Our best defense will be offense. That is how we can win. They can not keep up with us if we play our game, Granted with Rodgers hurt our full game is limited but we can do it. We have to throw the full play book a them.

  • WKUPackFan

    For anyone who has any doubt, Mike Pereira explained perfectly why it was not a catch on the post game show immediately after the game. The steps don’t matter, the ball has to be controlled to the ground in that situae.

  • WKUPackFan

    *situation*

  • Thegreatreynoldo

    Just nit picking now. I hope Richard Rodgers doesn’t have another “big day” like his game against Dallas: 1 reception for 13 yards is NOT going to cut it, especially when he missed several in-line run blocks. At least his lone reception was for an important TD. We did get 4 receptions from Quarless, albeit for just 31 yards (7.8 yd. average). Still, I look for 6 receptions for about 55+ yards from the TEs, and we almost got that. Quarless had some dumb penalties, but also was alert and competitive enough to really fight to recover Cobb’s fumble. TEs will probably have to rise to the occasion playing against Seattle’s fast LBs and fine safeties.

    We need a healthy Boyd against Lynch (not because Boyd is great but just for rotational purposes). I really don’t want to see Robinson or Gaston on the field. Burnett had a bad day. Hyde was just so-so. The CBs were fine, and Seattle’s WRs don’t scare me. GB should be able to play the CBs on an island with a single high S and let Burnett be the 8th man in the box.