For the 4th time in the 2010 season the Packers walked off the field wondering "what if?" Again, in a game that was ours to win, the Packers left with disappointment. And as the players walked off the field, to me, they carried a sense of frustration. Matt Bryant's FG was a clear kick to the Packers mid-section.
Immediately after the contest, I, too, felt the devastation. Admittedly, this one hurt. However, as I've reflected on this battle, my outlook has changed. I like our QB. I like our Coach. I like the immense amount of playmakers we have on defense. I'd feel comfortable playing the Falcons in Atlanta in the playoffs. The Georgia Dome is the least intimidating stadium I've ever entered - regardless of Matty Ice's home record.
Truly, if the Packers hadn't fumbled at the one-yard line, I have no doubt that we'd be 9-3 & in control of our own destiny with regards to home field advantage. It wasn't meant to be. Still, the Packers control their own destiny with respect to a 1st round bye. And, frankly, this might be a best case scenario. Gain a 1st round bye. Play the Divisional round at Lambeau. Play the NFC Championship in a dome where we can spread 'em out. Minimize our inability to run the football.
As Rodgers led our game-tying drive, I felt like I was witnessing the greatest drive in the lure of recent Packers history. Not since Favre hit Corey Bradford with 12 seconds left on a 23 yard TD on 4th down to beat the Vikings in 1999 had Packers fans potentially watched a drive of such epic magnitude. It was Aaron Rodgers at his best. Keeping both drives and plays alive with his feet. The brilliant back-handed flip to James Jones was nearly one for the ages. The pass to Nelson was supposed to be archived as one of the more remarkable plays in my Packer memory. Instead, it's chalked up as a valiant effort in another close loss. I'm not demeaning the moment as it was a spectacular play, but we left the dome as losers & that, to me, is the everlasting memory.
I've heard a number of people criticize McCarthy for his play-calling near the goal line. While I agree that I'd like to see Kuhn on the field as an option, I can't complain about the play-selection. As a review:
1st down: Roll out pass. Rodgers had two options. AQ81 & Quinn Johnson. Good disguise to the play. The pass wasn't great. It still hit Quinn Johnson in the hands. It would've been a tough catch, but I believe that Kuhn would have caught it. Rodgers seemed to have complained to Johnson that the ball was intended for AQ81 who had a step. Nonetheless, I liked the play call. Our players have to make the play.
2nd down: Let's remember that Rodgers called an audible to the sneak. Prior to the play, I turned to my buddy, Joe, and said "a QB draw would work here. It's wide open." Rodgers saw what I did. Colledge didn't finish his block. If so, Rodgers would have walked in.
3rd down: QB sneak from less than a 1/2 yard. I would have like Kuhn over the top, but man, I can't complain about our coach expecting our OL to push forward for a 1/2 yard. We have to be able to pick this up. We failed up front with pathetic fashion.
Additionally, I loved the flea flicker that McCarthy called on 3rd & 2. It worked in a big way. Fooled the Falcons masterfully. On the 3rd & 1 play to Nance, I wish that referee would have considered Nance's 2nd effort. I thought he made a push towards the marker & wasn't rewarded for it. His concussion hurt us later as we missed his physical nature near the goal line.
It was a game in which I kept waiting for our defense to make a game changing play. That play never occurred. For the first time all year, our defense did not make a big play.
Our WR's played terrific football against Atlanta. The Falcons DB's could not match us.
BJ Raji is a superstar. A total stud. A man.
Good to see AQ81 making some plays as well. Moving sticks.
Desmond Bishop is a beast against the run! LOCK HIM UP!
Props to Ted Thompson for taking care of T-Mon. Great work, Ted.
On the kickoff return that drew the 15-yard penalty, Mason Crosby cannot be blamed. He kicked it 3-yards deep. To me, Brett Swain didn't seem overly anxious to make a tackle.
On the opening kickoff of the 2nd half, if Sammy Swagga dances to the right of the kicker, he's off to races. It would have been PAYDIRT. Instead, it was a solid return.
This game was won & lost on the line of scrimmage. I really felt that whenever Atlanta needed yardage on the ground, they went after Zombo & Cullen Jenkins. Generally, they were successful. For the 2nd week in a row, Zombo missed an open field tackle on 3rd down which would have got us off the field. This was also Jenkins' worst game of the season. Yes, I understand that both Zombo & Jenkins had sacks. Nonetheless, both got pushed around at the line of scrimmage. Offensively, Daryn Colledge was treated like a rag doll. Each short yardage situation, Colledge was abused. Badly.
Nintendo Nick, we need more out of you. Severely. We need plays, Nick. Be a difference maker, Nick. NOW. You can single-handedly change the season. You have that play making ability. But, the time is now, Nick. Play On, Player.
After 11 games, we have forced 21 turnovers and generated 31 sacks. The 40/40 club is officially out of question. We might need the 30/40 club in order to make the playoffs.
We need to get hot. Right now. Let's rattle off 5 in a row. This week we remember the 1929 season. The first of our 12 World Championships. If you're in Green Bay, be sure to stop by the Titletown Brewery and dive into a Johnny "The Blood" McNally Red Ale. In 1929, Johnny "The Blood" was 2nd on the team in TD's with 5. I sure hope Titletown has this beer on special for the weekend.
The 49ers come into town. Strangely, in the NFL, there seems to be certain teams that dominate other teams. Dating back to the 1989 upset at Candlestick, this has seemed to be the case with this rivalry. Take away the Rice fumble turned into Young to Owens miracle loss and the Packers have essentially owned this relationship for more than 20 years. Once again, I expect the same.
The 49ers will be playing without Frank Gore, their most explosive playmaker. However, the 49ers have solid back-ups in Brian Westbrook & Anthony Dixon. Both will compliment each other & will provide a challenge for the Packers front. With that being said, I expect the Packers front 7 to be able to man handle the 49ers young OL. The 49ers OL has a lot of promise, it's just not ready to handle the big stage that Lambeau Field will present this weekend. I fully expect Lambeau to be rocking. In full force. This is a must win against an NFC opponent. Lambeau will elevate.
Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis each pose threats, but I believe the Packers will get enough of a push to force Troy Smith into mistakes. More than a couple of mistakes. It wouldn't shock me if the Packers force 3-4 turnovers this weekend. We'll swarm the 49ers backfield & with that, big plays will follow for the 1929 throwback uniforms.
While the 49ers defense has struggled at times this year, they do have terrific linebackers with Lawson, Spikes, Willis & Haralson. Due to the LB strength, I hope the Packers spread the field. Give Rodgers the game. Let's win with our strength. The 49ers can't cover us.
Don't be surprised if this is a blowout. In grand fashion. A fun December game at Lambeau. A day in which the beer tastes that much better.
The weather is calling for 28 degrees. 13 mph winds. 0% chance of precipitation. Sounds like a perfect day to bring the California boys outdoors. Yet warm enough with light enough winds for us to open up the playbook & go to work.
Rodgers goes for 275 yards and 3 TD's. Sir Charles grabs a pick. So does Nintendo Nick. Clay finds a sack. Our big gun Pro Bowl players pull through.
Green Bay 30. San Francisco 13.
Packer fans remain warm with a lil' fire in the soul. Off 'yur ass. On 'yur feet!
Go Pack Go!