It's was a valiant effort. A commendable performance. Yet, it wasn't enough. Let's hope that this is not how the 2010 Season is remembered.
For 45 minutes, Mike McCarthy was the shining star in the coaching battle with Bill Belichick. It was McCarthy who had the better strategy. It was McCarthy who was the aggressor. It was McCarthy that had the opposition backpeddling. For 45 minutes, McCarthy had supplied the strategy & execution the NFL executives crave when seeking an NFL Head Coach. Mixing run with play-action pass, the Patriots front was confused. Often, they were on their heels. And, almost amazingly, it appeared the Packers had a running game.
Then, we faced 1st & goal from the 1. It's McCarthy's kryptonite. And McCarthy choked. The overly aggressive McCarthy went into a shell. Belly to Kuhn on 1st down. FB dive to Kuhn on 2nd down. Roll-out pass on 3rd down. FG. Unbelievable. This possession was 4 down territory. We had a one-score lead. With a back-up QB. On the road. In a BIG game against the NFL's best team. We had momentum due to the terrific performance of John Kuhn. Kuhn was elusive. He was powering his way thru New England defenders. To me, it would have been logical to go I-Formation. Quinn Johnson leading the way for Kuhn. Let Kuhn get a head of steam & either barrel thru the pile or get up over the top of the line. We've seen Kuhn do this before. I imagine he'd have done it again. I'd have liked to see this play 4 straight downs. And, if we'd have been stopped, I felt our defense was playing at a level to where I was confident that we would have prevented a 99-yard drive. Meanwhile, as the Packers - yet, again - failed to score a TD from the one, I couldn't help but be reminded of the Vince Lombardi story from the Ice Bowl. I'm paraphrasing, but he said something to the effect of "if you can't get a yard, you don't deserve to be a Champion."
Regardless, the Packers held a 3 point lead after New England took the ball down the field for a FG. At this point, I felt McCarthy lost the game. Three plays. Three passes. At times, there was no running option. We went away from what was working. We lost our strategy. Thus, we failed to execute.
But, this game isn't all on McCarthy. Ultimately, players have to make plays. Sir Charles has to make that interception. On our 2nd drive in the 1st Quarter, James Jones had an opportunity to make a play down the sideline on a deep ball. He didn't go up & get it. Walden had a chance to pick off a pass deep inside the red zone. We failed to tackle an OL on a KO that led to a 71 yard return. If any of these plays had gone our way, the outcome might have been different.
I want to apologize to Matt Flynn & to Ted Thompson. As a man, I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong. Flynn played great. He was as cool as a cucumber in hot sauce. He played with adventure. He played with consistency. He played with confidence. He believed he could lead the team to victory & just as importantly, the team believed in him. His one mistake wasn't his fault as it appeard James Jones stopped his route. And if Jones didn't stop his route, he got outmuscled. And Ted, once again, you were right. I was wrong. Now, the only thing I have on you is Round 2 of the 2008 NFL Draft. But, we'll bring that up again in a couple of months. :)
As for the final 2 minutes of the game, it reminded me of the way Brad Childress & Brett Favre mismanaged the game at Lambeau earlier this year. Yes, I just compared McCarthy to Childress. Oddly, with that being said, I still like McCarthy. A lot. I believe we can win with him. I also believe that he's in the top 10 coaches in the league. Good coaches are hard to find. For fellow fans, if not McCarthy, I ask WHO do you want to be the coach? Besides Gruden.
As I watched the Lions & Eagles pull off near miracles, I couldn't help but think that God is a Packer fan. And now, a playoff berth can be earned by protecting Lambeau Field.
John Kuhn played with a vengeance!
B-Jack running with heart. And falling forward rather than curling up in the fetal position.
Vince Wilfork was great. But, BJ Raji was the best 3-4 DT in that game. It'd be criminal if Raji doesn't end up in Hawaii.
Really liked the way AJ Hawk & Desmond Bishop manned the middle of the field in a tough match-up.
Good to see Ryan Pickett making stome stops in what has been a fairly quiet year for him.
Need more consistency from the WR position. Too many dropped balls. Nelson, Driver, Jones. Come on, men! Throw in AQ81's drop & it frustrates.
I thought Quinn Johnson played his best game as a Packer.
This team needs Charles Woodson desperately. Woodson was close on three occasions. Once he dropped a pick. Another he was a 1/2 of a second late. And then he almost got to Brady. Stay focused, Chuckie. The big play is coming!
We need to find a way to free the Claymaker. I give Capers credit. He's moving Clay around. Sending him in different spots. Offenses have adjusted well & they've been able to handle him.
Scott Wells is deteriorating.
I'd argue that the last couple of weeks, we'd only had one OL who has performed & that is Josh Sitton.
After 14 games, we've created 24 turnovers & produced 40 sacks.
This week - it's the New York Football Giants. At Lambeau Field. Instantly, we're reminded of horrific memories from 2007. This game is huge. A playoff game. This game is so important that my 9-year old nephew, Chai, has decided that he'd rather fly to Green Bay to hang out with his grandparents & watch Packer football then to hang out in Albuquerque with his parents. He said, "Chad, I'm going to Green Bay and I don't care if you're coming with me." Yes, as McKennas, Packer Football > Christmas. This tells me three things:
1.) Much props to Chad for letting him go.
2.) Chai is a pimp!
3.) Chai is undoubtedly a McKenna. This was a legendary decision, Chai. Legendary, dude. Absolutely epic, lil' man!
Chai was rewarded with an authentic Clay Matthews jersey from the Packer Pro Shop upon his arrival to Titletown. I received a text message with him giving a vintage Clay pose while wearing his new kit. Yes, the G-Force is already present at Lambeau! And, I feel the G-Force will be the difference this weekend.
Afternoon game. Under the lights. Chance of snow. Weather in the teens. 73,128 G-Force members leaving hoarse. It doesn't get any better.
The Packers defense has made a living stopping the run in 2010. If they can do it again this week, big plays will follow. Win the line of scrimmage. We won't stop the combination of Bradshaw & Jacobs, but we will slow them down. Once again, Raji dominates the interior of the line. Pickett holds the point. And, this is the type of game that Desmond Bishop lives for. Bishop is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.
We know that Eli Manning will give us a chance to make a play. Throwing off his back foot. The ball will float. We'll have an opportunity. We have to make the play.
All day - we must have T-Mon follow Hakeem Nicks. Have Sammy Swagga follow Manningham. Eli misses Steve Smith. Smith was his security blanket. Let Chuckie roam. Find the big play, Chuckie. Find the big play. It's coming.
Kevin Boss has developed into a solid weapon as well. A reliable target. Especially on 3rd down. He's one of the better possession TE's in the league. But, I feel we match up well with him.
My biggest concern is our OL. We'll be playing against the best front in the NFL. The Giants front 4 dominates. Everyone. And our OL is inconsistent. In '07, Colledge was stout against Justin Tuck. We'll need more of the same this weekend.
Get protection. Find the middle of the field. While Antrel Rolle has guaranteed victory, we should be reminded of how last year Rolle stated that he'd rather face Drew Brees than Aaron Rodgers. Well, Antrell, Aaron's healthy and you'll see him again.
4 WR's. Single back. From shotgun. To Rodgers, left is Jennings wide & Driver in the slot. Jennings comes in motion. Inside of Driver to present confusion. Jennings comes on a deep post across the middle of the field. The NY secondary can't guard him. 6 points.
We can win the middle of the field. But, we'll need to protect. Rodgers needs time. The Giants defense is fast. They're powerful big men. We'll need to roll Rodgers. Move the pocket. We'll need to disguise with play-action, but in order for them to respect the play-action, we'll need to try to establish the run early. This game falls on our OL.
It'll be a back & forth contest. Classic NFC battle. Physical in the trenches.
Since the New York Jets game, our defense has not been able to close games. This week it's different. The big play is coming late. In the form of Charles Woodson. Sir Charles to the rescue. Saving the season.
Green Bay 23. New York 20.
Two wins at Lambeau = Playoff berth. I'll take my chances. Bring the noise.
Merry Christmas & Go Pack Go!