24

December

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Steelers 38, Packers 31

Eddie Lacy had his way with the Steelers' defense and could be in for a bigger day against the Bears if he's able to suit up.

Eddie Lacy had his way with the Steelers’ defense and could be in for a bigger day against the Bears if he’s able to suit up.

After the Green Bay Packers lost a home heartbreaker to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Packers’ playoff destiny fell out of their control.

But Jay Cutler and the division-leading Chicago Bears were blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles later Sunday night, and now it’ll be Packers-Bears in the final week of the regular season for the NFC North crown and a spot in the playoffs.

And for the umpteenth week in a row, a good portion of ALLGBP’s Game Balls and Lame Calls post will be centered around the increasingly unknown status of Aaron Rodgers, which got even cloudier when ESPN’s Chris Mortensen cited potential tension between Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy on NFL Countdown prior to Sunday’s game. Mortensen tweeted Rodgers remains at “extraordinary risk” with his fractured collarbone.

But the whole will-Rodgers-play-or-won’t-he-play debate or the why-isn’t-Rodgers-playing question seems kind of pointless, doesn’t it? Clearly, Rodgers isn’t ready to play right now. He hasn’t played since November 4, and he wants to play. Whether the final call falls with Rodgers, McCarthy, Ted Thompson or Dr. Pat McKenzie, the fact still remains: Rodgers isn’t ready to play right now.

During the pregame segment, Mortensen said Rodgers pushed the “organizational decision” narrative that he and McCarthy used so often last week as an attempt to defend his toughness in hopes of fending off comparisons to Brett Favre, who undoubtedly would have played through a broken leg and a freshly amputated throwing hand.

But while I think the Rodgers debate really comes down to semantics, the Countdown segment raised some questions to me. Rodgers is who he is. He’s probably the best quarterback in the NFL, and he’s probably better in 2013 than Favre was at any point of his career, in my opinion. Naturally, comparisons will exist between Favre and Rodgers just as they did with other eternally-linked quarterbacks such as the 49ers’ Joe Montana and Steve Young and last year’s draft class that produced Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. People like to compare people to other people.

22

December

Packers vs. Steelers – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: PIT 38 GB 31

Packers Matt Flynn vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Packers Matt Flynn vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers:  2013 Game 15

Unfiltered game day blog post of comments, observations and first impressions.

GAME NOTES:

Aaron Rodgers sitting out again is of course the top story line. The Packers seem to go out of their way to prove that injury decisions are not influenced by winning or losing.

Does Matt Flynn have another week of magic left in that feeble arm?

The Steelers are playing much better of late and are a team that won’t be affected by playing in snow and/or cold weather.

Today’s game is the first time the teams have met since Super Bowl XLV.

 

Today’s captains for the Packers: - WR Jarrett Boykin (offense), CB Sam Shields (defense) and FB John Kuhn (special teams).

 

Inactives for today’s game:
Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers

12 QB Aaron Rodgers
51 LB Nate Palmer
65 G Lane Taylor
73 G/C JC Tretter
99 DE Jerel Worthy

The Packers placed TE Brandon Bostick and DE Johnny Jolly on injured reserve Saturday, reducing the roster to 51 players. Therefore, only five players are listed as inactive instead of the usual seven.

10 QB Matt Flynn starts for Rodgers, and 76 DT Mike Daniels starts for Jolly.

Pittsburgh Steelers
3 QB Landry Jones
14 WR Derek Moye
39 CB Isaiah Green
44 LB Jamaal Westerman
71 G/C David Snow
92 DT Hebron Fangupo
93 LB Jarvis Jones

54 LB Chris Carter starts for Jones and 28 CB Cortez Allen starts for 22 CB William Gay.

 

Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

The comeback:  A tremendous feeling, obviously. We have a highlight tape we watch every week and Wayne and Larry, you guys are all over it.

Atlanta halftime vs. Dallas: InAtlanta there was a lot more juice and activity in the locker room. Whereas in Dallas it was more of a focus thing. It was , “lets not go out and try to do to much, let’s take one drive at a time and crawl back into this game.” The approach and the way the players went about it was an experience I’ll be able to draw from.

Fear of a letdown: If you look at your week of preparation there are some strong indicators of how your team is going to play. Our team has been full of energy all week… I feel strongly our team  will come out strong today.

19

December

This season, Eddie Lacy over Le’Veon Bell an obvious choice

Eddie Lacy and Mike Daniels celebrate Lacy's fourth-quarter touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys.

Eddie Lacy and Mike Daniels celebrate Lacy’s fourth-quarter touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made headlines earlier in the week when he said it was an “easy” decision to draft former Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell over Alabama bruiser Eddie Lacy.

“It was an easy decision for me,” Tomlin said Tuesday, per ESPN. “Obviously, Lacy’s a top-quality back, but probably it’s a matter of preference — just like I’m sure Cincinnati went through the same discussions and thoughts when they took Giovani Bernard in front of both of them.”

Bernard, Bell and Lacy have each enjoyed a successful first season in the NFL, albeit in different ways. Bernard has served in predominantly a complementary role with the Bengals alongside BenJarvus Green-Ellis, while Bell and Lacy have been “the guy” for their respective teams for as long as they’ve been healthy.

It will be several years before we’re able to determine who’s the best running back from this year’s draft class, but the best running back from the 2013 class–in 2013–is Lacy.

Bell–the 48th pick in April’s draft–has proven to be a well-rounded back who can play all three downs, but Lacy–the 61st pick–has emerged as one of the most reliable runners in the NFL with the Packers, possibly on his way to being named this year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Throwing out the Washington game in which Lacy suffered a concussion on his first carry, Lacy has played 12 of a possible 14 games, while Bell has played in 11. Lacy is averaging 85.6 rushing yards per game compared to Bell’s 58.7 and his 4.1 yards per carry trump Bell’s average of 3.3.

As a rookie, Lacy has been the definition of a “workhorse.” The Packers put an emphasis on running the football this season and have leaned on Lacy even more since Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone Nov. 4 against the Chicago Bears, as Lacy has carried the ball 20 more more times in nine of the past 11 games. Bell has carried the ball 20 times just three times, while Bernard has yet to hit that mark in a game.