Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood

Welcome to Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood, Matt.
Matt Ryan will be going to the Pro Bowl this year, ahead of Aaron Rodgers.  Saturday’s performances by the respective QBs show just what an injustice that is.  Rodgers, the quarterback who “couldn’t win a playoff game” (despite only playing in one prior to this year, in which he passed for 423 yards and 4 TDs), put on an outright clinic against the Falcons – 31/36 for 366 yards, 3 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD, no interceptions and a QB rating of 158.3.  His game was among the best ever for any quarterback in playoff history.  In his three playoff appearances, Rodgers has thrown 10 TDs, an NFL record for a quarterback’s first 3 playoff games, had a QB rating over 120 in each game, and scored 114 points, or 38/game on average.

On the other side of the ball, “Matty Ice” had a brutal night.  He only managed 186 yards through the air, was sacked 5 times, threw two critical interceptions and lost a fumble.  Tramon Williams appears hell-bent on showing everyone why his lack of Pro Bowl votes was a snub as well.  I just can’t say enough about this guy.  Three picks in two games.  Incredible.  And at such crucial times too – one to seal the Eagles win, one in the end zone to shut down a Falcons drive in which he displayed a closing speed and vertical leap as good as any DB in the league, and the third returned for a touchdown as time expired in the first half.  Absolutely amazing.

Going back to my keys to a Packer victory, they executed very well on all three of them:
  1. Stop  Michael Turner – CHECK.  Turner had 10 carries for just 39 yards.  Early on, when he broke that 12-yard run for a touchdown, it looked like Turner was going to have another big day – and he might have, if the Packers hadn’t jumped out to a lead with 4 TDs in the second quarter.  After that, the Falcons never got back to Turner, and his 10 carries shows that.  Total rushing for the Falcons: 45 yards.
  2. Rush the ball effectively – CHECK.  Starks got the bulk of the work, with 25 carries for 66 yards.  Not huge production, but it was enough to force the Falcons to respect the run.  On their second possession, Green Bay ran 5 times in their first 6 plays of the drive.  Starks had several runs, including a long of 13 yards, that were almost broken for the distance.  He also did a great job picking up blitzes.  The run game didn’t need to be huge, just effective.  And it was.
  3. Play mistake-free football – CHECK…ish.  "Mistake-free" is not how I would describe the first quarter.  Between Jennings’ fumble and the kick-off return for a touchdown, I was concerned early that these would be mistakes that would come back to haunt us.  They didn’t.  Thanks in large part to something I didn’t expect – a bunch of mistakes from the Falcons, including four turnovers that cost a point swing of at least 13, probably more like 20.
One stat that really jumped off the box score for me was Green Bay’s nearly 2:1 favor in time of possession – 38:19 for the Packers to 21:41 for the Falcons.  Not many teams have been able to do this to Atlanta this year, and it was must-do #2 above, the 25 carries by Starks, that helped enormously in controlling the clock and keeping the Falcons off the field.

The Packers didn’t punt once during the night.  The most impressive stretch of the game in terms of time of possession came after the Falcons first touchdown at 5:00 left in the first quarter to 2:41 left in the 3rd – a span of 32:19 in game time.  During that stretch, the Falcons only had the ball for 5:31.  Their only score during that span was the kick-off return.  Meanwhile, the Packers put up the following drives:
  • Second possession (after first Atlanta TD): 81 yards in 13 plays burning 7:56.
  • Third possession (after Atlanta kick-off return TD): 92 yards in 10 plays burning 5:44.
  • Fourth possession (with 2:20 left in the half): 80 yards in 7 plays consuming only 1:38.
  • Fifth possession (2nd half kick-off): 80 yards in 12 plays burning 6:32.
  • Sixth possession (after 3 and out by Falcons): 50 yards in 8 plays burning 4:48.
Five possessions, five touchdowns (including a spectacular catch by James Jones making amends for his drop last week), while controlling the ball for 26:38.  That kind of production will beat anyone in the NFL.  The Falcons walked into a buzz saw.  The main difference between General Sherman’s march and Saturday’s game was that the Confederate Army at least put up some resistance.  This one really wasn’t even close.  The Packers sliced them up like a hot knife going through butter.  General McCarthy led his troops through Atlanta, and the playoff redemption trifecta is complete.  But like Sherman's march, this journey has only been a means to an end.  Now they must go on to win the war.  Bring on the Bears.


  1. More on the defensive scheme from JSOnline:
    1) Turner had 9 carries for 37 yards and a TD in the first half, but only 1 carry for 2 yards in the second;
    2) Capers used a "hippo" package (a 4-4 scheme using an extra defensive lineman in place of a defensive back) 5 times in the first half.

  2. Great Favre career epitaph -

    GO PACK!