It's been pretty common knowledge that the Green Bay Packers have been good this year. Very good, in fact. As preseason Super Bowl favorites, enhanced with an experienced and talented roster that only improved with players recovering from injury, they appeared primed to be the first repeat champions since the New England Patriots performed the same feat nearly a decade ago.
Enter the New York Giants.
The Giants entered Lambeau Field for the second time this season looking to avenge their earlier loss at home in Week 13. And boy did they ever.
It was clear from the get go which of the two teams was prepared and ready for the postseason, and which had become too enamored with their hype to actually focus on the game at hand.
True, the Packers were reconciling with the unfortunate news that a family member of one of their coaching staff was found dead in the past week. However, that is still not strong enough of a reason to excuse their pitiful performance tonight.
The only player that seemed to have shown up and mentally prepared himself for this game was likely regular-season MVP Aaron Rodgers. His final stat line was 26/46, 264 yards, two TDs and a garbage time INT leading to a 78.5 QB rating. He also rushed for a team-high 66 yards.
While not even close to the type of numbers he put up in the regular season, little to none of the blame can be put on Rodgers for this.
For starters, he was sacked four times, a weakness of the Packers that was well documented and exploited by the ferocious Giants pass rush.
However, his supporting cast was absolutely abysmal in this game. There was a total of nine drops by Green Bay receivers, usually one of the best corps in the league. There were three fumbles lost, one by Rodgers after Osi Umenyiora came in from his blindside and punched the ball out of his hands as he was cocking back his arm.
As for the defense, they were viciously torn apart by the now-elite Eli Manning. The turning point of the game came after a Hail Mary landed into the arms of Hakeem Nicks, who had a monster performance with 160-plus yards and two touchdowns. Manning ended up going 21/33 for 330 yards, three touchdowns and a pick.
This game was the exact opposite of typical Green Bay football. Mental errors, lackadaisical attitudes and just overall bad football was prevalent in this game. It was an embarrassment and an affront to the prestige that the team crafted for themselves in the regular season.
Give the Giants credit. They came ready to play, and took advantage. But the Packers lost this game.
The last time a No. 1 seed in the playoffs was beaten this soundly after so much hype was when the 2007 14-2 San Diego Chargers were ousted by the Patriots
Their coach, Marty Schottenheimer, ended up being fired a month later. Although Mike McCarthy's job is still safe after this debacle, he must be careful in avoiding another collapse next year if Green Bay makes the playoffs.