The special teams clawed back field position in this game early on and went on to really keep the Packers offense starting from manageable position overall. Micah Hyde has provided a spark on the punt return game and continued to do so tonight, not breaking any but with a long of 23 yards that tipped the field. Mason Crosby hit his 32 yarder and went 5/5 in extra points…money…as usual.
Jeff Janis, who has rarely seen the field on offense except for the occasional jet sweep, had a 33 yard kick return and Christine Michael added a 31 yard long.
The coverage units did allow a 31 yard return by Harris but for the most part were stout and fundamentally sound.
But the big player on special teams was Jacob Schum, who had 6 punts and averaged 41.2 yards per but dropped 3 inside the 20 which kept the Packers ahead in the field position battle.
The defense was a question mark in this game, especially in the backfield and it didn’t help matters that the Packers really didn’t get a pass rush in the first half. But holding the Giants to just two field goals in the first half, the Packers D focused on OBJ, made him a non-factor, and when all was said and done…only allowed 13 points.
The defensive play of the game came when Clay Matthews stripped Eli Manning with the score still at 31-13 and Eli Manning still hoping to give his team a chance. The Giants stood around and watched the ball while no whistle sounded and Matthews collected it…Packers ball. The test against the Cowboys will certainly be a stiffer one, but it is good to know that Clay Matthews is
Aaron Rodgers got off to a slow start to say the least. The running game wasn’t working and the Giants’ pressure was relentless. Thanks to the defense holding the Giants to field goals, the one touchdown meant that all the work the Giants had done had not been enough to get them a lead. The hail mary reception by Randall Cobb at the end of the half, however, gave this offense a spark that would fan into a flame in the second half, where the Packers’ offense had its way with the Giants.
Aaron Rodgers got into rhythm, Randall Cobb was brilliant, and a little Christine Michael and a short yardage touchdown by Aaron Ripkowski gassed the Giant’s defense and pushed the score to 38.
So the Packers punched their ticket to Arlington, which will be a tougher challenge. The Cowboys are more balanced and their line is top-notch. On defense, they play fundamentally sound football and while they aren’t known for all their playmakers on defense…they have been more than adequate to get the job done thus far.
The Cowboys are healthy and will be rested…but will they be cold? The Packers find out this coming Sunday.