Packers vs Giants: 5 Things We Learned from New York's 38-35 Loss
If you were simply a casual NFL fan watching this game, the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers provided some excellent television—the Packers won 38-35 on a last-second field goal to stay perfect at 12-0.
In the middle of the fourth quarter I turned to my friend and said the game was going to be decided based on who got the ball last.
After the Giants scored and converted the two-point conversion to tie the game at 35 with 58 seconds left, I hesitated to cheer for long. In the back of my head I thought the Giants had given Aaron Rodgers too much time.
Rodgers calmly marched the Packers down inside the 20 and set up a chip shot for Mason Crosby, who connected from 31 yards just over the outstretched arms of Jason Pierre-Paul.
Here are five things we learned from tonight's outcome.
The Refs Were on Green Bay's Side All Night
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Rarely do I let my fan bias get in the way of objectively forming an opinion on something like how the officiating was in a game, but tonight might be an exception.
I may need to watch the game again, but it appeared to me that the referees were so obviously on the side of the Packers. It got to the point where I started to half-jokingly question if they were paid off.
The pass interference called on Prince Amukamara; the illegal contact call on Jacquian Williams; the touchdown call standing on the Greg Jennings reception where he was clearly bobbling in the slow motion replay; and the no-call when Donald Driver clearly pushed off on his second touchdown.
Honestly I can let that Jennings touchdown go. He appeared to have control of it in his hands and the refs decided there wasn't enough evidence to overturn.
The other three I cannot—those were so blatantly wrong calls. There wasn't even contact on the Amukamara call and on the Williams call, Jermichael Finley initiated the contact by grabbing Williams with both hands.
Oh, and don't even get me started on the Driver play. I guess when you're 11-0 you are allowed to grab a guy by his shoulder pad and toss him aside.
I don't normally make excuses, but sometimes they make themselves.
The Giants Lost, but so Did Everyone Else
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It never feels good to lose, but when you see every single team in the playoff hunt lose it has to lessen the blow.
The Giants didn't lose a single game on any of the important teams and still control their own destiny moving forward.
If they win their next three games and the Cowboys lose to the Eagles, the Giants will clinch the division.
The Giants Had Their Best Rushing Game Since Week 3
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Despite having a make-shift offensive line with David Baas being a late scratch and Mitch Petrus getting his first start of the season, the Giants had their best rushing performance since the first Eagles game.
They finished with 20 carries for 100 yards—that is 5.0 yards per carry and a full yard-and-a-half above their season average of 3.2.
Eli Manning Went Toe-to-Toe with the MVP
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Aside from an early mistake from each quarterback, the show Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers put on was spectacular.
Rodgers finished 28-for-46 for 369 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Eli finished 23-for-40 for 347 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Not only that, but both quarterbacks were great in the fourth quarter. After Rodgers took the lead 35-27 with 3:34 left, Eli did what Eli does and led the Giants down for the game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion.
Unfortunately Rodgers did his thing as I mentioned in the introduction. That is why he is the MVP of the league this year.
There Are No Moral Victories, but This Was Close
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I don't believe in "good losses," but this afternoon's game against the Packers was about as close as it gets. Most of the Giants players would agree.
"I don't really believe in having moral victories because this is a football game that we should have won. But seeing the way we can come out and play against an undefeated team like we did today, I think that gives us some momentum going forward." - Brandon Jacobs.
"You can feel good about your effort, but you didn’t win. And that trumps everything." - Dave Tollefson.
"I this pulled us together even tighter than we were before as a team. (But) no solace in playing well and losing. We’re way past that." - Tom Coughlin
I think you get the idea. The Giants truly believed they could knock off the undefeated Packers. Much like they believed they could knock off the 15-0 Patriots in the 2007 regular season. That game went wire to wire and, wouldn't you know it, the final score was 38-35 Patriots.
Many credit that game as jump starting the incredible run that would lead the Giants to a Super Bowl XLII victory. While they may not be in the playoffs in 2011 just yet, they might as well be; each game becomes a must-win situation.
As much as this loss hurts, hopefully it has the same effect the loss to the Patriots had.
Quotes taken from Ralph Vacchiano.