In a game the Packers never led for one single tick of the clock, they came away with a victory in one… single… un-timed play. The Packers had been on the wrong side of the “that’s why we play the game” cliche since the end of last season. This time they turned it around and won a game in which everything seemed to go wrong.
Let me say that…in contrast to the first time the Packers played the Lions (at Lambeau), this time the Lions were playing some really good football. The defense had come into its own, getting pressure on the quarterback and Matthew Stafford was throwing the ball with accuracy and touch. This Lions team looked like a playoff team in this game. Kudos to them for that…but with that said, the Packers pulled out a win against all odds. Who was the MVP (OK, I stretch the “player” part of that a little) of this game. Check out the rundown and let the world know what you think. I tried to make it a little more difficult based on how the game ended.
1. The “Stalwart”
There is no question that the defense has been the most consistent unit on the team this year. Yes, they gave up points against good teams (what defense hasn’t) but they have kept the Packers in more games than the offense deserved…no? The defense has had its share of injuries too but has continued to play better hurt than the offense. In this game, the Packers’ defense held the surging Lions to 23 points, 7 of which came on the Aaron Rodgers interception that went through Jones’s hands and gave the Lions the ball in immediate striking distance from the endzone.
* When you vote…consider this: Would the Packers have gotten the ball back with time on the clock…would they have been within one score of winning the game…if it wasn’t for the defense? But there are other factors, read on.
2. The “Sparkplug”
I said before this game that the Packers needed to “commit to the run” to win and they did that. With James Starks, the starter, putting the ball on the ground, Eddie Lacy got his shot and had 5 attempts for 4 yards with a long of 2 yards. The Packers did not give up on the run but brought in newly activated John Crockett and Crockett provided the “spark” that got the offense going, going 5 for 22 with a long of 12. But more than just getting yardage, Crockett was so excited to be on the field that infused youth into what looked like a tired…aging offense.
The Packers, with the spark that Crockett supplied, stayed with the run throughout the game. No, it wasn’t a 50/50 run to pass percentage, the Packers threw the ball 66.7% of the time but that is not the important thing. The Packers kept with the run in a game that the Lions assumed would have to be won through the air because of the deficit. This forced the defense to stay “honest” and gave a struggling receiver corp a chance. Look for this young kid to get more chances. Crockett looked like a “niftier” James Starks and the fact that he has virtually no miles on those wheels means that he is champing at the bit.
*When you vote…consider this: Would the offense have been able to get anything going if Crockett hadn’t stepped in and provided a spark? Would the receivers have been open if the Lions knew the Packers had abandoned the run? But there are other factors…read on.
3. The “Dagger Deliverer”
Aaron Rodgers has had a tough time this year. The Packers wide receivers have not been reliable since game three but in this game, though it was filled with offensive gaffs, the Packers quarterback completed almost 67% of his passes as bad as it looked at times. But there was…this one…completion…
After the facemask penalty (and it was a facemask…look at the rulebook Lions fans), Aaron Rodgers executed a Hail Mary pass to perfection. First of all, the quarterback has to buy enough time for the tired receivers to get all the way to the endzone. Next, he has to be moving toward the line of scrimmage because a pass at that distance requires squaring up and getting a foot in the ground. Then, he has to get the ball into the end-zone but he has to do more than that. He has to get the ball high enough to give his receivers a chance to high point the ball and come down with it.
Aaron Rodgers did all of this…and the Packers won the game.
*When you vote…consider this: How many quarterbacks in the league could deliver an almost 70 yard pass at a height that even punters would envy? That ball was our best chance…and it was enough for the win. But there are other factors…read on.
4. The “Dagger Receiver”
Richard Rodgers was great in this game for more than just the Hail Mary catch. While the rest of the receiver corps was struggling, Rodgers was the only one that looked like a Packers receiver out there. Strong and sure-handed, balanced and strong, getting yards after the catch…Rodgers was far and away the bright spot of receivers last night, going 8 for 146 and of course catching the game winning touchdown.
But to me…the litmus test is not how many catches a guy makes or even the percentage of catches per target. The crux is a little more esoteric than that…it is an “intangible”. To me the litmus test of a great receiver is…how many critical catches does he make? When the game is on the line or when a catch extends a drive that would have otherwise stalled…those are the defining catches. Richard Rodgers was the only receiver making those catches in this game and never was it on display to the extent that it was in that last…critical moment, with the game on the line. And Rodgers delivered.
*When you vote…consider this: Would any other Packers reciever have come down with this ball? Rodgers made sure he was in the endzone, high pointed the ball, and came down with it. It seems like he is the only one on the team who is making the tough catches and he came through at the end of the game with no time on the clock. Scroll down to vote!