Packers Edge Eagles 21-16

Senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers win over Eagles.

Packers defense wins it: The Green Bay Packers’ defense blitzed and then backed off into Cover 2. It played coverage for several plays and then ramped up the aggression, bringing pressure from different positions and angles. The whole idea was to confuse and contain Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in an NFC wild-card game at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. The Packers accepted the fact that Vick was going to break containment from time to time. He was going to scramble. He was going to escape the pocket and complete passes downfield. They just wanted to minimize the damage by Vick, whose ability to ad-lib into explosive plays is unparalleled in the NFL. The Packers played it to the hilt in a 21-16 victory. It was Green Bay’s first playoff victory on the road since Jan. 11, 1998. Now it’s on to Atlanta for an NFC divisional game against the No. 1-seeded Falcons. The Packers set the tone on the first play from scrimmage, when linebacker Desmond Bishop blitzed the left-handed Vick from the blind side and slammed him to the turf for a 9-yard loss. But coordinator Dom Capers didn’t dare blitz on every play, or even most of them. He had to mix up coverages and pressure to keep Vick off-balance. In passing situations, the Packers’ main goal was to keep Vick in the pocket. Their secondary goal was to get hits on him; they finished with three sacks and three more quarterback hits. When they did blitz, they tried to make sure Vick couldn’t get wide of the pressure, where he is most dangerous. Vick completed 20 of 36 passes for 292 yards and one touchdown. But he rushed for only 33 yards in eight attempts.

Rodgers finally wins one: “First playoff win,” Jennings shouted at Aaron Rodgers, who was only a few stalls away. “It’s about time!” Rodgers smiled, then replied in a slightly quieter tone. “Long drought,” he said. “Yeah, what’s it been,” Jennings said, not giving up, “10 years?” With that, the two Green Bay Packers teammates and friends ended their two-man, one-act play entitled, “A-Rod Wins a Playoff Game – Finally.” “We joke about it now because it’s like, ‘Where in the world is that coming from?’” Jennings said following the Packers’ 21-16 NFC Wild Card victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. “The guy has been in two playoff games and everybody acts like he’s been in 20. I’m like, ‘Can he have an opportunity to win a playoff game?’” A year after losing his first foray into the NFL postseason – a 51-45 overtime loss at Arizona in the NFC Wild Card round in which he threw for 422 yards and four touchdowns in a losing effort – Rodgers delivered a less-productive but nearly error-free performance Sunday, completing 18 of 27 passes for 180 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 122.5 passer rating. While he was sacked twice and lost a fumble on the opening possession of the third quarter, Rodgers appeared in complete control of the game from start to finish. It was exactly the kind of efficient performance Rodgers needed to “finally” win a playoff game.

Starks breaks Packers rookie rushing record for postseason–surpasses Travis ‘The Roadrunner’ Williams’ 88 yards in 1967: Starks blew past Williams’ record by 35 yards at Lincoln Financial Field, and his huge day – 123 yards on 23 carries (5.3) average – helped the Packers beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 21-16, in an NFC wild-card playoff game. “I really take my hat off to everybody on this team because it is not just what I did,” a beaming Starks said in the Packers’ locker room. “The offensive line and the receivers did a great job to make this happen. People got body on body and really gave me the holes to run through.” Starks’ total was a season-high for the Packers and it was only the second time the team had a back go over 100 yards; Brandon Jackson had 115 against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 10. “It was huge,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of Starks’ production. “The way James was running the ball tonight was maybe one of the most important factors in this win. “He ran great, and I was so happy for him. He’s a great kid and he has really grown a lot in the last couple weeks. He was big tonight.”

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