It was the best of times, it was the worst of times—or so the saying goes for the New York Giants.
In a game that was entitled "Win and you're in", the Green Bay Packers stepped into the cold confines of Lambeau Field with two weeks remaining in the regular season, expressing the winter breath of a team whose playoff chances hung in the balance against one of the NFC''s elite forces.
Unfortunately for the Giants, however, that elite status has been dwindled down to a laughing stock following a turnover prone night in Green Bay.
If Aaron Rodgers was missed last week whilst Matt Flynn took over in No.12's absence, a new helmet certainly did the trick for the Packers, who saw their opening drive end in typical fashion following an abundance of incomplete passes and stop/start run plays.
That isn't to say that the New York Giants averaged any better, mind you.
Stalling quickly on the 50 yard line after a Eli Manning to Mario Manningham completion, New York soon found themselves in a familiar hole early in the first quarter, sending rookie punter Matt Dodge back onto the field following his fiasco last weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles.
One shanked punt later, the Packers were left with no choice but to go for it all.
In the shotgun, Aaron Rodgers shook off any post concussion rust finding a wide open Jordy Nelson for an 80 yard touchdown—a play that took all of 11 seconds to execute and send the Packers up 7-0 with ease.
Next up, Tramon Williams' interception off the back of a poorly thrown Eli Manning pass gifted Green Bay the ball, which then led to the very next score of the day on yet another brilliant Rodgers pass play.
Who was the target this time?
Green Bay's newfound friend James Jones, who managed to stay open for an extra second to allow the Packers a three yard touchdown pass and more importantly, a 14-0 cushion.
Before the Packers could get too comfortable, though, a few minor flashbacks began to occur from the 2007 NFC Championship Game that still haunts many Green Bay fans three years later thanks to Brett Favre's ultimate self destruction.
To think that the Giants would roll over is quite frankly stupid.
What wasn't expected, though, were a few risky yet worthwhile passing plays from Tom Coughlin's part that saw Eli Manning burn the Packers secondary and find Hakeen Nicks for a 36 yard touchdown pass.
Keeping the pace with the Packers, Green Bay then failed to stop the Giants for a second consecutive time, seeing Mario Manningham burn the normally dependable Tramon Williams on the corner, scoring for an 85 yard catch and run to knot it all up at 14-14.
That was as close as the Giants came, however.
Upon kickoff in the third quarter, Green Bay capped off a rather inspiring first half on the running front. Crowd favorite John Kuhn took it to the house on an eight yard run, and even though the classic name chants filled Lambeau Field, something seemed to have clicked on the Packer offense.
Before Packer fans could even begin to think about a possible victory, though, the third quarter proved to be long and drawn out. Hakeen Nicks appeared to have fumbled on the opening kick off, but a Giants challenge saw the call overturned.
Two field goals by either team saw the scoreline take twists and turns, but at the very end, the man that nobody doesn't like, Donald Lee, scored his second touchdown on the season.
The fourth quarter?
Well, it was all Green Bay.
New York showed glimpses of a possible fight back, but after turnovers managed to bite Tom Coughlin in the rear end, the Giants found themselves challenge-less and unable to review an out of bounds interception that sealed it for the Packers.
On the topic of turnovers, the Giants recorded six total game altering cough ups. Running back Brandon Jacobs saw a big time run canceled out by a persistent fumble that cost the Giants some serious real estate, and Eli Manning's four interceptions reminded everybody that the Giants offense can be fickle at times.
As for the Packers passing game, Aaron Rodgers was red hot. Playing for 404 yards and four touchdowns, once again a prior injury didn't slow down the potential MVP candidate, and if any worry of Osi Umenyiora or Justin Tuck stood significant prior to the game, it certainly didn't affect Green Bay in the air.
The loss sends the Giants to 9-6 on the season, and hoping for some kind of miracle in terms of postseason placing. Interstate rivals the New York Jets now look to be a lock for January, so perhaps 2010 will mark the second year in a row that the Giants miss out all together.
Green Bay, on the other hand, still linger about. A win has boosted the confidence of every Packer player on the roster, especially John Kuhn, who is now becoming one of the most valuable players on the Packers depth chart.
Sitting at 9-6, the Packers control their own destiny against the Chicago Bears next week at Lambeau Field. Lovie Smith's men conquered the Jets this Sunday, a scary thought for any Packer fan holding their breath right now.
However, confidence and motivation is skyrocketing, and Greg Jennings' 142 yards on the weekend is one of the sole reasons for that.
It's good to have Rodgers back, but a win next week against NFC North division rivals would place Green Bay in an almost similar position to 2009's postseason campaign.
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