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Sunday, January 9, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Packers 21, Eagles 16

By Kevin Seifert

PHILADELPHIA -- A few immediate thoughts from Lincoln Financial Field, where the Packers edged the Eagles, 21-16.

What it means: It took a fair amount of nail biting, but the Green Bay Packers closed out a game they never trailed and eliminated the NFC East division champions. They’ll play Saturday night at the Atlanta Falcons for the right to play in the NFC Championship Game.

Nervous anyone? Although the Packers never trailed, it wasn’t over until cornerback Tramon Williams -- who many thought had the best season of any defensive back on the Packers' roster -- made the game-clinching play. He intercepted Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in the end zone on a pass intended for Riley Cooper.

RodgersWatch: After much debate about the relevance of his 0-1 career postseason record, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers put together a professional – if not elite – start to render that discussion moot. He completed 18 of 27 passes, three for touchdowns, and unofficially endured four big drives. Onward and upward…

StarksWatch: Rookie tailback James Starks got his first carry on the Packers’ third possession of the first quarter. It went for 27 yards. Was a heavy dose of Starks the Packers’ game plan all along? Or did they just smartly ride the hot hand? We might never know the true answer to that question, but regardless, Starks provided a highly unexpected 123-yard day. When Starks was added to the roster at midseason, I don’t think anyone thought he would be a key offensive cog in a playoff game. But as it turned out, Starks set a Packers rookie postseason record for rushing yards.

Goat: Packers receiver James Jones dropped what would have been a 63-yard touchdown pass just before halftime, one of an unofficial four drops the Packers had in the game. If you’re into the big picture, however, you could argue that Eagles place-kicker David Akers made up for it by missing attempts of 41 and 34 yards.

Who? Packers backup tight end Tom Crabtree caught only four passes in the regular season and was never targeted in the red zone, according to ESPN Stats & Information. But his 7-yard touchdown reception was the first score of the game.

What’s next: Georgia Dome. Next Saturday. 8 p.m. ET. Be there.