Eli Manning came through, as he has all season for the Giants, leading them to a surprising win over the Green Bay Packers, the best team in the NFL during the regular season, and the would be MVP Aaron Rodgers, stunning in Lambeau Field 37-20.
Whatever the Packers did over the Wild Card weekend, it’s didn’t help them. Like the New Orleans Saints in Candlestick, they dropped too many balls, giving the Giants too much, or too few yards to cover. Rodgers wasn’t harassed, but he couldn’t find men open. He took off for 7 runs of 66 yards, but the Giants could live with that.
Rodgers couldn’t find anyone for the big plays. The Giants have enough talent in their Defensive line to send all available men to cover the deep ball. And even when it seemed that the Packers were turning the game in their direction, Manning comes up with a Hail Mary pass to Hakeem Nicks to end the half. That killed the buzz in the crowd, and eventually it killed the Packers’ chances of coming back.
The second half? More of the same. Rodgers only made the passes under the middle or shovel passes to James Starks. Ryan Grant was a no show. Again, the biggest problem, the Giants just stopped the big play from happening. Rodgers didn’t complete a pass longer than 21 yards. Eli Manning had Hakeem Nicks, who finished with 165 yards and 2 touchdown receptions. Victor Cruz drew most of the attention, but managed to come up with the big catches when the Giants struggled on third down.
And there were the dropped passes. Everyone, from Jennings, to Driver, to Nelson and Starks. Add that to the fumbles, a Giants defense that tackled too well and went for ripping the ball out of Green hands anytime they had a chance, and the Packers found out they were too far behind, too late. You could see the look on Rodgers’ face, looking like he knows he won’t be able to get out of this one as the score turned into 30-13 midway through the fourth quarter.
The Giants? They came with momentum, and like in 2008, they came into Lambeau field and beat a (on paper) better team. Eli Manning? The criticisms are gone. He’s nearly impossible to sack thanks to his line and his feet, and the interceptions and bad decision making are gone. Maybe it’s everything coming together for now and the future, maybe it’s just one of those years.
The Giants came together right in time, while the Packers look like a team that blew their ammunition to early during the season. Aaron Rodgers didn’t overthrow passes or anything like that, but it just looked like the Packers suffered from getting that bye week.