Wild Card Weekend was a disappointing weekend for football fans around the country to say the least. The first the three matchups of the weekend were all duds before the first whistle even blew, that's what happens when there's not many good teams in the NFL, but the mark key matchup of the weekend was Giants-Packers. This was the game that was supposed to salvage the weekend, the only game that had a chance at being competitive, and that's why as a Giants fan this loss is far more demoralizing than all the other teams that got eliminated this weekend. Dolphins and Lions were just lucky to still be playing competitive football in January, and the Raiders lost their QB for the season, so none of those teams had a real shot. The Giants on the other hand had high expectation, Super Bowl expectations, and than Sunday evening in Lambeau happened.
The Giants got the ball to start the game and the offense was driving down the field with ease. We've seen the Giants offense struggle all season long to get any sort of rhythm, so to get it going early was a great confident boaster for the start of high anxiety game. Eli of course looked like he was in his typical playoff form which is always comforting to know he's playing at an elevated elite level. Unfortunately, Odell was not at the top his game, he dropped a ball he normally catches in the end zone, and the Giants ended having to settle for a field goal. This would become a theme throughout the course of the game, both settling and dropped passes. On the other side of the ball, the Giants defense shut Rodgers down in the first quarter, the coverage was suffocating the receivers, and the offense looked completely out of sync. It was the Giants time to strike, we needed to build a nice lead before Rodgers and the Packers potent offense finds their groove. Dropped passes, lack of a run game, and no creativity or unpredictability in the play calling lead to the Giants offense coming up short on most of their drives. Odell had 4 drops on the day, 2 of which probably would've led to scores, but he just wasn't ready for the big moment. He's 24, it'll come with time and experience... hopefully. The Giants defense continued to dominate Rodgers for most of the second quarter though, it really was looking like we weren't going to need to score all that many points to win. We had 4 sacks in the first half, a majority of those were coverage sacks to say the least, but in reality our secondary was wearing down from being in coverage so long on a majority of plays since our front four couldn't apply serious pressure. It'd end up hurting us later in the game, the absence of DRC wasn't helping either. We really missed JPP in this game and his ability to get after the quarterback. Rodgers was able to get a nice drive going with about 4 minutes left in the half and just like that the Packers were up 7-6 after being dominated the first 25 minutes of the game. To make matters worse they got the ball back with about a minute left, got to about the 50 yard line, Rodgers throws up a Hail Mary pass as time expires, and touchdown Packers as Randall Cobb sneaks behind everyone for the ball to drop in perfectly for a touchdown. 14-6 Packers, only Aaron Rodgers I swear. Guy can't do anything for 25 minutes of the half and winds up going into halftime with a great stat line and an 8 point lead.
After the half, the Giants were able to make the score 14-13 after an Eli deep ball to Tavares King for a 41 yard touchdown. Hope was restored, but then quickly lost again as our defense began to fade, and Rodgers and Co. began to gain confidence, momentum, and a nice rhythm. From there on out it was all Packers. The Giants just collapsed and began to take a beat down. Bobby Rainey caught a kickoff and proceeded to step out of bounds at the three yardline instead of letting it go out and getting it at the 40. That basically sums up the Giants in the second half of this game, lack of awareness and mental toughness. We weren't ready for the moment, almost no one on this team has had any playoff experience except for Eli and Cruz, so this was unfamiliar territory for a lot of the guys. All in all I'm very happy with the Giants season despite the disappointing finish, a lot of things to be optimistic about with this team going forward, and like all the players said after the game yesterday, it's a great learning experience. To be completely honest, if I'm not winning the Super Bowl I'd rather lose in the first round. It's the least painful way to be eliminated, can't beat Green Bay in Lambeau everytime, great year regardless for the boys in blue.