16

January

Packers vs. Giants: 5 Observations from Green Bay’s 37-20 Loss to New York

The Giants pointed their ship to the NFC Championship Game with a 37-20 win over the Packers. (Photo: Darron Cummings, GBPG)

The Green Bay Packers (15-2) picked an awful time to play their worst game of the 2011 season, and the New York Giants more than capitalized on it Sunday in knocking the defending champions out of the playoffs with a 37-20 win at Lambeau Field in the NFC Divisional Round.

Here are five observations from the game:

1. Capping a tough week

There was some this week, including Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who opined that the Packers could be more focused on Sunday in light of the terrible tragedy that struck that the Packers family early this week. But maybe those people underestimated how difficult the transition could be from a Friday funeral to a Sunday football game.

The Packers made their fair share of mental mistakes on the offensive side of the football—dropped passes, missed throws, back-breaking fumbles—that were very uncharacteristic of the Packers in 2011. Could that have partly been due to a week of grieving for the Philbin family and missing their offensive coordinator? Professional football players get paid a lot of money to separate the two, but these guys are human beings, not football robots.

2. Rusting the machine

Hindsight is 20/20, but you’d have to think Mike McCarthy will do some self-reflection on his decision to sit starters during the final week of the season. His team Sunday looked like one who hadn’t played a full game together in three weeks. The Packers offense, in particular, was never able to find the kind of rhythm that seemed so easy to achieve during the regular season.

Depending on who you ask, the Packers dropped five to eight passes on Sunday. Every single one of them was a momentum-killer. They also lost three fumbles—as many as they had all season—on their way to a season-high four turnovers. Finally, and maybe most importantly, the quarterback was far from his best on a night when the Packers needed him to be.

Would playing the starters in Week 17 have made a difference in any of those? Maybe, maybe not. But the Packers certainly looked like a rusty football team on Sunday. Execution all-around was in short supply.

3. More of the same

13

January

Packers-Giants: Friday Injury Report

Clifton missed Friday's practice but will start at LT Sunday for the Packers.

With the Green Bay Packers’ Divisional Round matchup with the New York Giants just two days away, let’s take a quick look at each team’s official injury situation as of Friday:

Packers: Green Bay will come into this game as healthy as they’ve been all season. Chad Clifton did not participate Friday, but that’s been the typical plan for him—practice Wednesday and Thursday, take Friday off—during healthy weeks. Second-year tackle Marshall Newhouse took his snaps.

WR/KR Randall Cobb was also limited with a groin injury, but coach Mike McCarthy has said multiple times that he fully expects Cobb to play Sunday. At this point, it seems more an issue with soreness than anything, and he’ll have significant time between today and Sunday to rest the groin.

Both Clifton and Cobb are listed as probable, along with the rest of the Packers injury report save linebacker Robert Francois, who is a doubtful with a hamstring. Evan Dietrich-Smith missed Friday due to an illness.

Giants: New York officially ruled out rookie linebacker Mark Herzlich Friday, but the rest of the news on the injury front was optimistic. Both D.J. Ware and Aaron Ross practiced fully after dealing with respective concussions and are expected to play.

Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was back as a full participant after missing the past two days with a foot and back issue. Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee), Corey Webster (hamstring) and Deon Grant (quad) were limited Friday but each is listed as probable.

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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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