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Rodgers continues his breathtaking play to send a message to the NFC
- Updated: January 9, 2017
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers took care of the New York Giants in Sunday’s Wild Card matchup, using their red-hot and aggressive offensive approach to start their postseason on the right note.
The Packers broke down a vaunted Giants secondary, pouring it on and walking out of Lambeau Field with a 38-13 victory. Coming into the postseason as one of the hottest teams in the NFL, the Packers got over an extremely slow start to put away the Giants and move on to a division round clash against the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday. Behind their superstar QB in Rodgers, they sent a legitimate message to the rest of the NFC for what’s to come.
Despite having a shaky defensive unit, the Packers’ offence has proven that they’re more than capable of carrying the load – racking up over 223 points during their 7-game winning streak, which included 6 straight wins to finish the regular season. It’s not only about the fact that they’re winning games, it’s the way they’re doing it, with Rodgers throwing for 19 TDs and 0 INTs during that stretch.
Their roster has had to overcome adversity in a bevy of ways this season. From dealing with their 4-6 start, to their key injuries in their secondary, this team has had to go through a lot of issues to get to the point they’re at now. But, because of their willingness to compete to go along with their confidence – they’ve found a consistent way to get things done and win football games, something that they’ll have to continue doing in order to win their first Super Bowl since 2011.
On Saturday, the Packers found themselves against the wall; with the Giants coming out strong and holding Green Bay to a mere 7 yards in the 1st quarter. Things would go from bad to worse for the Packers early on in the 2nd quarter, with leading wide receiver Jordy Nelson getting knocked out of the game with a rib injury, one that might also keep him out of action next Sunday. Nothing seemed to be going right for them other than a few stops from the Packers’ defensive unit – keeping New York to 2 field goals and a 6-0 lead with 7:29 remaining in the half.
Fortunately for the Packers, Rodgers and the offence would finally wake up and show off what had made such a talented group as of late – creating a quick drive to set up a score in the late stages of the frame. The 33-year-old QB went to work, finding Davante Adams for a 31-yard connection – before dancing around in pocket and finding the wideout once again for a 5-yard score to give the Packers a 7-6 lead with 2:20 left in the quarter.
After a quick 3-and-out by the Giants’ offence, the Packers would continue building momentum on their way to closing out the 1st half with a statement. Rodgers would guide them down the field up to the Giants’ 42-yard line with 6 seconds left, before launching an outstanding Hail Mary to Randall Cobb to give his team a 13-6 lead to end the half.
Even though Rodgers and the Packers finished the 1st half on such a high note, the Giants’ defence would respond to start the 3rd quarter, with them shutting down the Packers on a 4th & 1; leading to a 41-yard TD pass from Eli Manning to Tavarres King to cut the Packers lead to 13-12 with 5:16 left in the quarter. Thankfully for Green Bay, Rodgers wouldn’t be phased, responding with a 4-play, 63-yard drive, capped off by a 30-yard TD to Cobb to build the Packers’ lead to 8 with 2:53 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Rodgers’ 3rd TD of the game seemed to be the final blow for the Giants’ confidence on both ends of the field, with New York failing to pass Green Bay’s 40-yard line on 3 of their last 4 possessions. The Packers would earn a field goal in the late stages of the 3rd and head into the 4th with a 24-13 lead, looking to put the road team away with a final score to seal the deal.
It wouldn’t take long for the offence to break down the Giants’ defence in the final frame, brewing up a 5:28 minute drive that would be topped off with another TD pass. Rodgers would connect with Cobb for the 3rd time to give their team a 31-13 lead, while also putting this game out of reach with 9:19 remaining in the 4th quarter. It would mark Rodgers’ 4th TD pass of the night, tying him with Brett Favre for the most in a Packers playoff game in franchise history. Just to be safe, the Packers would also turn to Aaron Ripkowski to add a 1-yard touchdown of his own, giving the Packers a 25-point lead in the late stages of the frame, effectively propelling them past the Giants for a 38-13 victory.
Can the Packers run the table?
Next up: Dallas pic.twitter.com/OujrtrlSi4
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 9, 2017
Going into Arlington, the Packers will have a tough test against the 13-3 Cowboys – going up against a rookie tandem in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott that easily outperformed them in Week 6. The Cowboys defence isn’t a joke either, with the unit ranking 14th in total defence during the regular season. The Cowboys may have dodged a bullet, avoiding a Giants team that beat them twice during the regular season. But, as a consolation prize, they’ll have to deal with a red-hot Packers team that can do it all on the offensive side of the ball.
With Rodgers and a high-powered offence leading the way, the Packers look like they can be a threat to any team remaining in the playoffs. Their defensive unit isn’t the greatest, but as long as they can hold their ground with a solid pass rush and live up to their no.8 ranking for defending the run, there shouldn’t be anything stopping the Packers from a deep playoff run.
They won’t have a chance to go back to Lambeau Field for another home game, but with an offence that has been electrifying behind Rodgers, they should be able to score in bunches at any venue. They won’t have it easy in their next matchup, but with an offence that’s able to score at will – the Packers should be confident that they can take down the no.1 ranked team in the NFC next Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
All stats for this article are from NFL.com
You can follow Peter Ash on Twitter @peterash_