NFL Nation: 2011 Giants-Packers RR

Rapid Reaction: Packers 38, Giants 35

December, 4, 2011
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the game of the day in the NFL:

What it means: I'm sure New York Giants fans are disappointed in their team's fourth straight loss, but the fact is that the Giants showed all of the same guts and heart and toughness they showed during their 6-2 start but came up just short against a team that might be one of the best of all time. The Packers' Mason Crosby kicked a 30-yard field goal with time running out to improve to 12-0 and drop the Giants to 6-6 in a 38-25 win. But the Giants have proven again that they can play with anyone in the league when their heart is in it. And since they're only one game out of the division lead with four to play (and two of those against the division-leading Cowboys), that still has a chance to serve them well before it's over.

Giants' lines step up: The Giants needed to get to Aaron Rodgers with their defensive line if they were to have any chance to stop him, and they did. Justin Tuck played his best game in weeks, and Jason Pierre-Paul was the same, speedy, unstoppable monster he's been all season. The Giants delivered hits on Rodgers even when they didn't get there in time to sack him, and the Packers went to the run game an uncharacteristic amount in an effort to run clock and keep the pass rushers off of Rodgers' back. The Giants' offensive line also played a pretty good game, considering it was without its starting left tackle again and center David Baas was a late scratch due to headaches. They weren't great in pass protection, but for some reason the run-blocking was some of the best it's been all season. And with Ahmad Bradshaw back from his foot injury, the run game became a legitimate threat for the Giants again.

Eli Manning doesn't scare: The Giants' quarterback was the main reason behind the team's 6-2 start, and even as things haven't gone as well lately, he's remained undaunted and excellent. After the Packers scored to go ahead by eight with 3:34 left in the game, Manning moved his team right back down the field and scored with a touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks with 58 seconds to go. A D.J. Ware run for a two-point conversion tied the game and put the biggest scare yet into the undefeated Packers.

But turnovers kill: You need to be just about perfect to beat a team like the Packers, and as good as Manning was in matching the great Rodgers, he did turn it over twice. The interception that Clay Matthews returned for a touchdown came on what Manning will surely call a "bad-decision" play -- he shouldn't have thrown the ball once he saw the coverage down the field. And while the fumble just before the end of the first half wasn't really his fault, as Matthews whacked him from behind as he was getting ready to throw the ball, it cost the Giants a chance to add valuable points as the first half was winding down.

Kenny Phillips out?: The Giants made no announcement on the Phillips knee injury after he left the game in the first half. But the star safety never returned to the sideline. If he has to miss games, that's going to negatively affect the Giants in pass defense as well as run defense. They like to play three-safety sets and would have to do so without their best one.

What's next: The Giants travel to Dallas on Sunday to play the Cowboys in a Sunday night game with major NFC East implications. The Cowboys' overtime loss to the Cardinals means the Giants still have an opportunity to take control of the division if they can beat the Cowboys on Sunday and again in the regular-season finale on Jan. 1.

Rapid Reaction: Packers 38, Giants 35

December, 4, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Some thoughts on the game of the season in the NFL:

What it means: The New York Giants gave the Green Bay Packers everything they could handle. But in the end, the Packers improved to 12-0 and won their 18th consecutive game. They officially clinched a 2011 playoff spot and can win the NFC North title Sunday night if the Detroit Lions lose to the New Orleans Saints. Only one other team -- the New England Patriots from 2003-04 -- has had a longer winning streak in NFL history. Those Patriots won 21 consecutive games, including playoffs. The Packers' last loss was Dec. 19, 2010, at the Patriots.

RodgersWatch: Wow. All I can say is wow. After the Giants tied the game at 35, Aaron Rodgers took over at the Packers' 20-yard line with 58 seconds left. He completed all four of his ensuing passes, including bullets of 24 yards to tight end Jermichael Finley, 27 to receiver Jordy Nelson and 18 to receiver Greg Jennings. That was more than enough to get the Packers into field goal position, and ultimately Mason Crosby's 31-yard field goal won it. Rodgers finished the game with 369 yards, four touchdowns and the sixth fourth-quarter victory of his career.

MatthewsWatch: Linebacker Clay Matthews made two critical plays in the second quarter, returning an interception 38 yards for a touchdown and then stopping a Giants drive by forcing a fumble on a sack of quarterback Eli Manning. Those plays helped mitigate the Packers' difficulties in stopping the Giants' downfield passing game. Manning threw for a total of 347 yards, including completions of 67, 51 and 42 yards. The most egregious instance was the 67-yarder, a brutal catch and run by tight end Travis Beckum. Safeties Charlie Peprah and Morgan Burnett each had two chances to tackle him and missed.

Jennings TD explanation: I'm sure there will be some discussion about receiver Greg Jennings' 20-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. Jennings appeared to lose control of the ball as he ran out of the back of the end zone. Some will wonder if Jennings completed the infamous "process" of the catch. But as former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira pointed out on Twitter, the "process" rule applies only to plays in which the receiver falls to the ground. And Jennings did have control with the ball in his left hand before losing it.

Injury report: The Packers were already playing without three starters: inside linebackers A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop, along with right guard Josh Sitton. They finished the game with two more prominent players on the sideline. Running back James Starks didn't return after injuring his ankle in the second quarter, and cornerback Charles Woodson suffered a head injury in the fourth quarter.

What's next: The Packers will host the Oakland Raiders next Sunday at Lambeau Field.




Thursday, 9/18
Sunday, 9/21
Monday, 9/22