Posted by: Nate | January 28, 2008

NFL Championship Round Recap: Part II

Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants

What an awesome venue for a football game. The game is being played in one of the most famous stadiums in all of sports, Lambeau field, playing host to the NFC championship game with the pride of Green Bay, Mr. Brett Favre leading the way. After you factor in the resurgent team Green Bay fielded and the sub-zero temperatures, it was really a storybook game going in. With the way Brett Favre has rejuvenated his play and his team this season, and the astonishing road record put up by the surging Giants the game had all the makings of a classic on paper.

The actual game itself certainly delivered in my eyes, as the contest was back and forth the whole way with lots of exciting plays and all the elements of classic football games like clock management and field position battles. Both teams were battling out there, and the Giants were able to move on to face the Patriots in the Super Bowl for a couple of reasons. First, they were more effective on third down. Secondly, they established the running game early and were effective throughout with the rush, controlling the ball for most of the game. Thirdly, they took better care of the football. These three things were the keys to the Giants win, and are general rules for post-season success.

The big story for a lot of people following the game, who like myself aren’t big fans of either team, was the play of Eli Manning. Would he continue to be a good QB on the road and make good decisions with the football? Or would he crumble under the pressure of playing in an arctic, hostile environment in the biggest game of his career so far? While he didn’t put up an amazing or memorable performance by any means, he was very effective. He completed just over 50% of his passes for about 250 yards and didn’t have any turnovers or TD’s. Certainly a competent performance, if not overwhelmingly impressive by any means.  The thing about this Giants team though, is that it is based heavily on the run and using that to establish play-action passes for mid-to-long range gains and controlling the clock and so all you need the QB to do is take the ball and be reasonably efficient when he does throw.

As I just mentioned, New York’s running attack has been well documented over the course of the season with its very evolving dynamic due to injuries. It has been well established that Brandon Jacobs, Rueben Droughns, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw have all played various roles in the offense and bring different skills to the table. In the NFC championship game, Jacobs and Bradshaw gave them a great 1-2 punch of the bruising, linebacker-esque Jacobs rushing 21 times for 67 yards and a TD and the smaller, quicker Bradshaw rushing 16 times for 63 yards and a TD. He also had a long 40-yard TD run called back by a holding penalty. It was this dominance in the running game (compared to Green Bay’s 14 rushes for 28 yards) that allowed the Giants to have the ball for over 40 minutes.

Now, despite having the ball twice as long as the Packers, the Giants had trouble getting into the endzone, settling for two early field goals and attempting and missing two more during the course of regulation. Green Bay was able to effectively move the ball through the air when it needed to and score quickly this way (evidenced by the 90 yard TD catch by Donald Driver) but it was ultimately the reliance on the passing game that hurt them. For all the talk about the Favre resurgence this season and how he had shed that “gunslinger” mentality from his earlier days, the game was ultimately decided by critical Favre interceptions. He made a number of questionable throws into tight coverage and threw a costly INT in regulation. The nail in the coffin of course was the pick he threw almost immediately in the overtime period that led to the 5th FG attempt of the game for the Giants and proved to be the game winner. The only person more devastated then Brett after that terrible pass had to be Aaron Rodgers, the backup QB.

Simply put, with the strong team The Pack had this year that projects to be equally good next year, coupled with the devastating way he ended that game and the team’s season there is no way Favre retires. One of the greatest QB’s of all time is not going to walk away from the game with his last play being an NFC championship crushing INT. I just don’t see how he would want to go out this way. Granted, had the Pack gone on to the Super Bowl and won there, I would have said there is no way he plays again next year. Since he cost his team that chance though, I say he’ll be back again next year looking to redeem himself. Hopefully with stability at tailback in the form of Ryan Grant for a full season, continued good play from the offensive line and receivers, heavy hitting of the defensive backs and the continued development of linebacker AJ Hawk they should be strong contenders again next year. Until next year begins though, plan to sit through another off-season of Favre retirement questions and drama before he inevitably decides to return. It’ll be akin to the Johan Santana trade rumors; they become so ubiquitous you just with something would happen so the media would shut up about it.

Later this week I’ll get a Super Bowl preview up there with my thoughts about the match up and my early pick for Super Bowl MVP. As always, if you have any comments about this entry or about the site as a whole, please feel free to post comments or shoot me an email at: 207Prospectus@gmail.com.

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Responses

  1. […] Goatboy wrote a fantastic post today on “NFL Championship Round Recap: Part II”Here’s ONLY a quick extractGreen Bay Packers vs. New York Giants. What an awesome venue for a football game. The game is being played in one of the most famous stadiums in all of sports, Lambeau field, playing host to the NFC championship game with the pride of … […]

  2. It’s too bad for the pack attack it would have been nice to see Favre in the bowl again; however, nostalgia aside, the packers played like shit. This could have been because of the weather, but c’mon it’s their field, they should be used to this.

    Whatever the case it should be a pretty good bowl this weekend.


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