6

January

Packers 24, Vikings 10: Wild Card Game Balls and Lame Calls

Clay Matthews

Clay Matthews and the defense stepped up big and the Packers are on their way to San Francisco.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” or so the saying goes, and the Green Bay Packers got their revenge against the Minnesota Vikings by winning their NFC Wild Card game 24-10 a week after the Vikings beat the Packers 37-34 which cost Green Bay a first round bye.

The Packers spotted the Vikings an early field goal as the Vikings marched down the field. Some fans began to experience a sense of déjà vu as the Packers went three and out on the following drive.  Thankfully that malaise didn’t last long as the Packers got into the end zone on the next drive and went up 7-3.

Green Bay never looked back as they got to Vikings quarterback Joe Webb and raced out to a 24-3 lead that held throughout most of the second half and gave up a touchdown pretty much in garbage time as the score settled to 24-10 as time expired.

Here are the good and the bad for the Packers in the victory that eliminated the Vikings.

Game Balls

LB Erik Walden

It was not even a week ago that the Packers allowed Adrian Peterson to run all over them, but the Packers put forth a much better effort Saturday and Walden was a big part of it.

Walden was credited with one sack and two tackles for a loss but he was constantly in Webb’s face and had one of his best games in a long time. Walden can be inconsistent but if he can warm up for this playoff run, then the Packers will have yet another weapon to go alongside Clay Matthews at the linebacker position.

He’ll have a tougher time against the 49ers but the game against the Vikings should be a big confidence booster for Walden.

RB DuJuan Harris

Harris’ emergence late this season has all but guaranteed him a roster spot going into training camp this summer, but Harris is now making a case to be the Packers starting running back and there’s really no reason he couldn’t be.

31

December

2012 Green Bay Packers: Which History Will Repeat?

Lambeau Field

The Packers need to regain the unforgiving home-field edge that Lambeau Field once presented in the postseason

Unfortunately, the Packers didn’t get the job done in Minnesota last week and the Vikings prevailed, eeking their way into the postseason.  Still, the Packers are division winners and will host a playoff game this coming Saturday evening.  As fate would have it, those same Vikings will be Green Bay’s opponent.

At first glance, any opponent coming to Lambeau in January should seemingly have their reservations.  It’s cold and there is a rich history of the Packers winning in those types of games.  But recent history suggests that the Vikings may not have as much to worry about as teams historically have in the past.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big believer that history is bound to repeat itself.  I’m sure you can all think of other examples, but the biggest one that I always point to is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy almost exactly 100 years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Under head coach Mike McCarthy, Green Bay has won just one time in three games at Lambeau Field in the postseason.  Those two losses did come to the New York Giants and both times, the Giants went on to win a Super Bowl.  But both times, the Packers were also favored to win, as they should have been.  McCarthy’s most successful postseason was one in which his team had to play and win three road games before getting to and winning Super Bowl XLV, another virtual road game.

Lately, the theory of a historical repeat doesn’t bode well for the Packers.  Now before anyone gets bent out of shape, this history does go two ways.

One Way: Packers in 2002

It was exactly a decade ago during the 2002 season that the Packers, under head coach Mike Sherman, were heading into the last week of the season with a chance to improve their playoff seeding.  They had clinched the NFC North in early December and were 12-3.  A win would have put them in place to secure the number one or number two seed.  I can’t recall which off the top of my head.

8

January

Packers To Face New York Giants Next Sunday in NFC Divisional Round

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will take on the New York Giants next Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will take on the New York Giants next Sunday at Lambeau Field.

With a 24-2 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Wild Card round Sunday, the New York Giants (10-7) ensured themselves a trip to Green Bay next weekend to take on the Packers in the NFC Divisional Round. The game will take place at 3:30 CST and be aired on FOX.

The New Orleans Saints, who defeated the Detroit Lions 45-28 on Saturday, will travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers in the other Divisional matchup.

New York left no doubt who should be the team advancing in the NFC playoffs Sunday. They worked through a slow first half with a 7-2 lead, then poured in on the Falcons in the second half with 17 points, including two Eli Manning touchdown passes.

The Giants rushing attack, which ranked 32 in the NFL during the regular season, rushed for 172 yards on 31 carries and was a driving force for the offense all afternoon. Brandon Jacobs had 92 of those yards, and Ahmad Bradshaw tacked on another 63.

The Giants’ defense also had a standout day, limiting the Falcons to just 247 total yards and zero points. Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked just twice but was generally under heavy pressure for most of the game, and Michael Turner ran for just 2.7 yards a carry. They did lose Deon Grant (groin) and Aaron Ross (concussion), two key players in their secondary, to injuries. That could be a big factor next Sunday if both are forced to miss.

Even so, New York will ride a three-game winning streak into Lambeau Field. This will be a confident bunch, and for good reason. The Giants are playing as well right now as they have all season.

Sunday’s meeting will mark the first playoff game between the Giants and Packers since New York knocked off Green Bay in the 2007 NFC Championship game. However, the Packers have beaten the Giants in two regular season games since then, winning 45-17 in December of 2010 and 38-35 earlier this season.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

2

January

Packers: Chad Clifton Will Be Starter at Left Tackle in Playoffs

Chad Clifton will be the Packers starting left tackle in the 2012 playoffs.

Any lingering question about who would start at left tackle for the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional round of the 2012 NFL playoffs was answered Monday morning.

Without hesitation, coach Mike McCarthy proclaimed Chad Clifton as the starter at that position over second-year tackle Marshall Newhouse.

“Chad Clifton will be our starter,” McCarthy said. “There is no gray area for that.”

Clifton started on Sunday against the Detroit Lions and played the first three series for the Packers. McCarthy said on Monday that the goal was to play him for 25 or so snaps.

There was plenty of rust visible in those 25 snaps, which is understandable for a 35-year-old tackle coming off a torn hamstring. Clifton hadn’t played in a game since Week 5 when he suffered the injury in Atlanta and just returned to practice full-time this week.

Clifton was beat a handful of times in pass protection against the Lions, including one allowed sack. McCarthy acknowledged that Clifton still has work to do over the next two weeks to be ready for the Packers’ Divisional round playoff game.

Asked why he was choosing Clifton over Newhouse, who started 10 games at left tackle this season, McCarthy said, “Experience, and Clifton is a damn good player.”

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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