By Curt Macysyn
Surely, the New York Giants (11-6) did not envision it ending this way. In their heart of hearts, the team likely had thoughts of lifting the Lombardi Trophy in NRG Stadium in early February. Unfortunately for Big Blue, the Green Bay Packers (11-6) had other ideas. Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, three of them to Randall Cobb, as the Pack won its seventh straight game 38-13 at frigid Lambeau Field. In a bounce-back season for the G-Men, the team grades for this game were simply not championship worthy.
The Giants offense started quickly, but could not generate a touchdown, as both Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard dropped a potential touchdown pass, on the same drive, from Eli Manning. The party boat crew was generally ineffective, which will spur plenty of conversation this week in the Big Apple. Tight end Will Tye had a nice, 51-yard catch and carry in the second quarter. Manning's only touchdown on the afternoon was a 41-yard strike to little-used Tavarres King.
In another "look at us" moment, the receivers showed up on the field shirtless for pregame. After that, the trio of Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard must have left their game in the locker room because it never showed up on the field. The trio combined for 121 receiving yards, or four yards less than Green Bay's Davante Adams had on his own. Manning was 23 of 44 (52.3 percent) on the afternoon for 299 yards. There were simply too many drops by the receivers and not enough push by the listless offensive line.
The rushing attack was non-existent as well. Rookie Paul Perkins had 30 yards on 10 carries, as he played role reversal with Rashad Jennings (5 carries, 29 yards). In reality, there were few running lanes, and the Giants became one-dimensional for much of the second half.
The defense followed the offense, as a promising start turned into a nightmare in short order. The defensive line contained Aaron Rodgers pretty well for almost two quarters, but all heck broke loose in the second half. Strangely enough, New York could not capitalize on five quarterback sacks of Rodgers. Allowing the end of the first half "Hail Mary" touchdown to Randall Cobb, was inexcusable and really took the wind out of the Giants' sails.
The defensive unit lost cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie early in the game to a leg injury, and substitute Trevin Wade struggled with slot coverage for most of the afternoon. Cobb had three touchdown catches, while Davante Adams caught eight passes for 125 receiving yards, as the secondary looked like Swiss cheese for most of the second half. Eli Apple looked over-matched several times, and even Janoris Jenkins had an ill-advised pass interference call (32 yards) in the first half.
Linebacker Jonathan Casillas led the defensive effort with 11 tackles on the afternoon, while Landon Collins chipped in with eight tackles and a quarterback sack. The unit's highlight of the game was the defensive stop of running back Ty Montgomery on fourth down on the Packers' own 41-yard line, early in the third quarter. That stop led to the King touchdown catch that brought the Giants to within one point, with plenty of game left.
Special Teams: F
What an awful effort. It's hard to determine what was the ugliest part of the special teams' play at Lambeau Field. Was it Bobby Rainey fielding a kick that was heading out-of-bounds, and then stepping out at the 3-yard line? Was it Brad Wing's lousy punts that made Micah Hyde (5 returns, 50 yards) look like Devin Hester in his prime? Perhaps it was Robbie Gould's inferior kickoffs that devoured field position for New York's defense.
Continually, Gould's short kickoffs allowed Jeff Janis and Christine Michael to get running starts outside of the end zone. Janis was a huge factor on coverage and returns all game, with three kickoff returns for 77-yards. Michael had a 31-yard kickoff return, as Green Bay won the field position battle for the better part of the game. Also, we should not forget Dwayne Harris, who looked dazed and confused on several punt returns and averaged 1.3 yards on three returns. Yikes!
Twitter was blowing up about the play-calling, but the only way to win this game was to establish the rushing attack, which the Giants did not do successfully. Getting into a shootout with Aaron Rodgers does not make sense at any level. Secondly, the containment of Rodgers in the pocket stifled the amount of big plays for the Packers. Getting five quarterback sacks was a bonus that the team squandered away. At the end of the day, the Packers were better mano y mano than the Giants.
This one was on the players, who were beaten by a more focused and effective Green Bay squad. There isn't much the coaching staff can do about player performance, and the Club Med attitude of this team needs an adjustment. If one of your team leaders thinks it's okay to show up on a party boat less than week before a playoff game and social media broadcast it for the entire world to see, then team commitment is sorely lacking. Now, the entire team has plenty of time to hangout with Justin Bieber and Trey Songz.
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