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E-L-I-M-I-N-A-T-E-D: Rodgers Spells Out Giants Playoff Fate

(Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

(Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

The first 26 minutes of the game, the New York Giants had control of the game. However, it went downhill for the remainder of the game, as the Green Bay Packers routed the Giants 38-13.

The Giants were in possession of a 6-0 lead, although the score could have been 14-0 if the receivers had made the catches in the end zone. The Giants also made one fatal mistake this game. They gave Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers time in the pocket.

With what seemed like minutes inside the pocket, Rodgers was able to complete a five yard touchdown pass to receiver Davante Adams, after completing a 31 yard pass to him earlier. With the lead now 7-6, the Packers were given a chance with the football in the final 1:38 seconds in the first half. Rodgers, who has come up with clutch playoff performances, was able to pull another rabbit out of the hat. Rodgers launched up a 42 yard Hail Mary attempt into the end zone and, impressively, receiver Randall Cobb was able to haul in the pass for the touchdown giving them a 14-6 lead at the half. It was reminiscent of the Giants playoff game in 2012 in Green Bay, when Eli Manning was able to complete a Hail Mary pass to Hakeem Nicks to end the first half.

After that Hail Mary, it seemed as though the Giants got the wind knocked out of them, as they could not get anything going in all sides of the ball. The Giants were simply outplayed in Green Bay.

“Give Green Bay credit,” said Giants Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “…They played well tonight and we struggled to be consistent in all three phases. We didn’t handle the ball well enough to win against a good team.”

The Giants did contain Rodgers for a majority of the first half. The defense held Rodgers to three completed passes on seven attempts for 19 yards total and sacked him four times. However, Rodgers heated up once he had time in the pocket, and was unstoppable for the remainder of the game. Rodgers finished the game completing 25 of 40 passes for 362 yards and four touchdowns. Rodgers single-handedly picked apart the defense, hitting the open receiver with ease. Rodgers main beneficiary was Cobb, who returned from a two game absence with an ankle injury. Cobb torched the Giants secondary on five receptions for 116 yards and three touchdowns. It was hard for the Giants defense to cool down Rodgers because when he heats up, he HEATS UP.

“He was just making plays,” said Giants safety Landon Collins of Rodgers’ play. “In this game, you need a little bit of luck. He had that on his side and he made those plays and made it count every time.”

“Any time you give Aaron those opportunities, he’s going to cash in on them,” said McAdoo. “Especially at home…We couldn’t close on him, we couldn’t finish on him, and you give him that much time in the pocket, he’s deadly.”

The Giants defense suffered a huge blow at the beginning of the first quarter, as cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left the game with a bruised thigh. The loss of Rodgers-Cromartie, who leads the team in interceptions (6), was felt heavily throughout the game. Even Rodgers-Cromartie returned to the game to help on special teams, but was noticeably limping on the field. The bitter 12 degree weather didn’t help DRC either, so much so, that he told coaches that he couldn’t even lift his leg. Due to this injury, the Giants had to go with the “next man up” mentality.

“We have other guys that we’re confident in,” said McAdoo. “…but it wasn’t the deciding factor in the game.”

The Giants offense was not clicking. I know, nothing new. However, it seemed like the tides have turned, as Manning was playing an overall great game, but the rest of the offense just couldn’t get on the same page. Between lack of chemistry form the offense or very questionable play calls from McAdoo, the offense was sluggish. The only touchdown the Giants could score was on a 41 yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Tavarres King with 6:01 left in the third quarter. Unfortunately, that’s the last points the Giants were able to put on the board for the remainder of the game.

The lack of converting on opportunities in the red zone have been costly for the Giants all season, and it continued in the playoffs. Getting field goals are nice, but when in great field position, it would be nice to put some touchdowns on the board. Hence why the Giants did not win this game.

“We had a lot of decent drives going,” said Giants quarterback Eli Manning. “…we didn’t make some key plays at times…We just didn’t execute well enough from all points offensively, we didn’t score enough points.”

“It’s a game of inches,” said Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. “…and we were just inches short from making some big plays.”

With the most important game of the season, Giants fans were expecting Odell Beckham Jr to come up with a big performance in the playoffs. This would be for naught, as Beckham was not making the catches he would normally make. Beckham had three crucial drops in the game, one of them being in the end zone early on in the first quarter. Not only that, but Beckham only managed to have four catches on 11 targets for only 28 receiving yards. This is out of the ordinary for Beckham and it came at the worst possible time for the Giants.

“These are the learning experiences, as tough as they are, this is what you stand on,” said Beckham. “It sucks, there’s no way to put it. It sucks. It’s a horrible feeling…”

The Giants special teams, in all fairness, was brutal to watch. Between punter Brad Wing only managing to punt line drives and mental blocks on returns, it didn’t help the Giants cause. If one play could sum up the effort of the special teams, it was Bobby Rainey catching the kick on the Giants own two yard line and running it out of bounds. That might go down as one of the biggest special teams blunders in playoff history. The punts giving the Packers excellent field position didn’t help the Giants defense at all, only giving them twice as much work to do. It hurts the defense even more when a red-hot Aaron Rodgers is back on the field.

“Field positions always important and I feel like I really let us down today,” said Wing. “…I take my job very seriously and today, I did not execute at all. And it’s very disappointing because this is the only thing I’ll remember for the whole offseason.

With the team having plenty of young and new faces, this playoff game against Green Bay can be used a learning experience and as motivation to come back stronger next season.

“It’s always disappointing but it’s a process,” said Manning. “When you have some young guys like we do, it’s a learning experience.”

The Giants season came to an end with a lot of ups, but also a lot of downs. The Giants defense proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with this season. The defense was able to do one important thing this season, make up for the inconsistent offense. It worked for the majority of the season, but it’s not going to work in the playoffs, and the Giants learned that lesson in Green Bay, and hopefully incorporate it into preparation for next season. Coach McAdoo said it best:

“I hope everyone in the locker room remembers what it feels like to lose a game like this when we get back to work.”

*Stay tuned throughout the offseason as I give analysis on potential free agent signings, trades, and options in the Draft for the Giants.

Team Stats

Total Plays: 63

Total Yards: 365 Yards

Penalties: 3-42 Yards

Turnovers: 2

First Downs: 15

Player Stats

Eli Manning: 23-44, 299 Yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 72.1 QBR.

Paul Perkins: 10 Attempts, 30 Rushing Yards, 3 Receptions, 27 Rushing Yards.

Odell Beckham Jr: 4 Receptions, 28 Receiving Yards.

Tavarres King: 3 Receptions, 73 Receiving Yards, 1 TD.

Landon Collins: 9 Total Tackles (3 Assisted Tackles), 1 Sack.

Jonathan Casillas: 11 Total Tackles (4 Assisted Tackles).

Coty Sensabaugh: 6 Total Tackles (1 Assisted Tackle), 1 Sack.

Jonathan Hankins: 3 Total Tackles (1 Assisted Tackle), 1 Sack.

Romeo Okwara: 1 Total Tackle, 1 Sack.

Kerry Wynn: 1 Total Tackle, 1 Sack.

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General Editor and New York Giants Lead Writer.
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