Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Bucky Five: What an Electric Crowd

1. Power of the G-Force - After going out to New England last week to watch the Packers in hostile territory, I can't tell you how refreshing it was for me to return to a game at Lambeau Field with all the fellow Packer faithful. And seriously, it was nothing but Packer fans at this game. There were maybe a total of 500 Giants fans in the entire stadium, and that's being generous. Good on Packer fans for knowing how big this game was and making sure they held on to the tickets.

In the last couple of years, I've been lucky enough to attend nearly every home playoff game and I've been to a handful of regular season games in that time as well. Let me tell you, if I just went to the game and didn't know the situation, I would have been convinced this was a playoff game. Technically you can say that it was, as the Packers could not afford to have lost if they wanted to gain entry into what we now refer to as "the tournament". And if the game was going to fall under playoff-like circumstances, then the fans were going to make this a playoff like atmosphere. There was no doubt that on Sunday that was the case.

There were so many moments in this one where the crowd was as loud as I've ever heard it. In the beginning of the game when we went up 14-0, after every Eli Manning interception, and especially when Rodgers slid after a run instead of taking a hit. The whole "KUUUUUHN" thing has always been fun, but now fans are doing it in any short yardage situations even if John Kuhn isn't in the game. It's almost like a glorified Rudy situation, and Mike McCarthy played along by putting him in the game when he was summoned. Not only that, but Kuhn would then immediately score even though 70,000 fans told the Giants exactly who the ball was going to.

Between all of that, the unprompted chants of  "Go Pack Go", and the "Bears Still Suck" chant in the games' final moments, this was hands down the best regular season game I've ever gone to at Lambeau, and the best regular season crowd I've ever been a part of.

2. His Head Never Clearer - As a crowd, we definitely had plenty to cheer about, and one of the objects of our affection was the return of our starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. After the game, Rodgers joked about how he had to play well just to get his job back, and with the way he played on Sunday he would have won his job back from nearly every quarterback in the league. Rodgers came back from the concussion with 404 yards passing and four touchdowns, and also had a pair of nice runs in which he ended the play safely each time. Furthermore, the offensive line did a very nice job keeping the strong Giants pass rush away from their quarterback, as Rodgers was only sacked twice and didn't feel much pressure at any other point in the game. Not every throw was perfect, but when they weren't, you had guys like Donald Driver making ridiculous one-handed catches. Actually, there were quite a bit of perfect throws. Rodgerz Rulez!

3. Six Appeal - Dom Capers, we salute you. All that the Giants were really able to do on Sunday was connect on two plays, both bombs from Eli to one of his top receivers that went for scores. Other than that, the Giants offense looked unremarkable against a swarmy Packers defense. While Eli was actually only sacked just the once, the Packers line put on enough pressure and the secondary did a good enough job in coverage to force Manning into four interceptions, each throw looking more horrendous than the last. The Giants fumbled twice as well, including a fumble by Hakeem Nicks that seemingly every Packer defender had a shot at before we finally came up with the ball. Huge credit on that play goes to Desmond Bishop for a ridiculous back-handed save to prevent the ball from going out of bounds, by the way. Six turnovers is quite impressive against any team, but especially an offense as explosive as the Giants.

4. Things that Need to be Corrected - The kick return situation was a little suspect, Nick Collins dropped a sure pick six interception, James Jones dropped two easy passes, Brandon Jackson hates momentum, Jordy Nelson fumbled.... ah forget it. Not every game is perfect. The Packers won 45-17, and it was the best crowd that I've been a part of in quite some time. No need to talk about the negatives. Not today.

5. One Down, Five to Go - Last week, we laid out the plans that for the Packers to win the Super Bowl, they needed to win six straight games. Two at home, three on the road, and then one on a neutral setting. It's a tough task indeed, but you can't win six straight games without winning one first, and the Packers did that against New York. So now, a win next week puts the Packers in the playoffs, and that's really all you need to know. Sure, if both the Giants and Buccaneers lose the Packers can still get in with a loss, but that's no fun. And I don't want to see us lose to the Bears again. The game has been moved to 3:15pm to accommodate a larger audience, because that's how awesome Green Bay is. If we do win next week, it's looking more and more likely that we'll end up traveling to Soldier Field for a Wild Card round game, playing an opponent in back-to-back weeks for the second time in two years. Again, we are not going to get ahead of ourselves, as it's one game at a time. At this point there really is no next game if you don't win the one in front of you. Take care of business this week against Chicago, and then we'll talk. And if you are going to Lambeau next weekend, make sure you do everything you can to make this week's crowd look like nothing more than an exhibition. A game against the Chicago Bears to get into the playoffs, it doesn't get much bigger than that. As the G-Force towel in my room says, you have to be "Proud 2 B Loud".

PS. Mike McCarthy - best coaching performance of the season. Sorry about anything bad I said last week.


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