Senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers win over Giants 45-17.
Rodgers awes Giants: He froze safeties with play-action fakes, beat blitzes with audibles, extended plays with his feet, threw the ball with pinpoint accuracy and even remembered to slide at the end of a scramble. Aaron Rodgers was a video game come to life Sunday, pushing all the right buttons in the Green Bay Packers’ 45-17 dismantling of the New York Giants at Lambeau Field. In the biggest regular-season game of his career, Rodgers completed 25 of 37 passes (67.6%) for 404 yards, four touchdowns and a 139.9 rating. “I think the numbers speak for themselves,” said Packers guard Daryn Colledge. “It’s hard to critique a guy like that.” Given good protection from his offensive line and enough production from the run game to make play-action effective, Rodgers shredded the NFL’s second-ranked passing defense. He completed passes of 80 and 38 yards to Nelson; 36, 26 and 24 yards to Jennings; 33 yards to Driver, and 21 yards to Crabtree. He spread the love to nine receivers, and Jennings (142) and Nelson (124) both topped 100 yards. “He is a great quarterback all around,” said safety Deon Grant. “He can run. He has a great arm, and he has one of the fastest releases you can get, so he wasn’t allowing our defensive line to get there. He has a great coaching staff, and he has weapons.”
Packers defense tough, determined: Fans would have been happy with a victory, but Green Bay’s defense decided to make a statement, too. The New York Giants have been in a charitable mood anyway, giving away too many turnovers in recent games. But Green Bay pounced on the Giants and ended up stealing six takeaways Sunday in a 45-17 victory from the fading, flailing Giants. Green Bay collected four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. That was a season high. It was no coincidence that the defense was the group introduced at Lambeau Field before the kickoff against the Giants. “We all knew (what) the magnitude of a loss in the game would have been,” said defensive tackle B.J. Raji. “We knew that we needed to win. We needed to look good from a confidence standpoint and to propel us to next week.” Green Bay first concentrated on running backs Ahmad Bradshaw (31 rushing yards) and Jacobs (47). “That was our plan. We know that Bradshaw was a great back, and we didn’t want Brandon Jacobs to run downhill in to our secondary,” said Raji. “He’s a tough guy for anyone to bring down, much less a corner or safety.” Green Bay’s run defense, led by Raji, Ryan Pickett and Howard Green filling in for Cullen Jenkins, kept the tandem out of the end zone. “Our main goal was to stop the run and make Eli throw, and we worked it to perfection,” said Matthews. “With our defense, there’s really not a whole lot of places to run.”
Packers dole out lesson in physical education: The finesse football team wearing green and gold uniforms that got manhandled by these same New York Giants three years ago on the same field was nowhere to be found Sunday. In its place, the Green Bay Packers fielded a rugged, no-nonsense outfit that was physically superior in a 45-17 demolition of the Giants at Lambeau Field. Center Scott Wells, one of 11 starters from the club that fell to the Giants in that NFC Championship Game, gathered up the team at one point during pregame warm-ups and spoke his peace. “Scott Wells set the tempo,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “They were sick and tired hearing about how physical the Giants were all week. They took it personally.” With a bow to the showdown against Chicago a week hence, McCarthy told the press corps to “make sure you do it this week, because it worked. They came out and played big today.” Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked twice, but just one was protection-related. Rodgers saved himself a few times by scrambling, but overall the protection was excellent against a pass rush ranked third in the National Football League. Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin recalled that the protection for Brett Favre in the 23-20 overtime defeat three years ago was equally effective. The difference in this game, according to Philbin, was the Packers’ ability to do something on the ground.