Re-Focused: Packers @ Giants, Week 13

| December 6, 2011

I wasn’t confident enough about it to actually pick them, but I did have a feeling all along that this game could have ended up an upset, with the Giants coming out on top.

As it turns out, it wasn’t quite to be as the Packers escaped with their perfect record intact but the Giants made it tough for them, and could well have ended up on the winning side had any one of three major reviews gone in their favor.

The Giants opened the scoring, putting the Packers behind for the first time in a month, but in the end Aaron Rodgers was able to show his class and drive down the field effortless with the win on the line and put them in position for a comfortable field goal attempt. Let’s look at that special player and more in our performances of note.

 

Green Bay – Three Performances of Note

What is left to say about Rodgers?         

This won’t go down as one of Aaron Rodgers’ best games statistically. The Giants were able to get pressure on him, and he was forced into some poor throws. The interception he threw to Chase Blackburn was lucky not to wind up a pick-six, and was one of the first truly bad throws I’ve seen Rodgers make in as long as I can remember. The great thing about Rodgers and this season he is putting together though is that when the game was on the line it was as if none of that had ever happened, and he simply tossed the ball around to his receivers and flew down the field as if he were doing it for fun, rather than to salvage the win at the death. His performance in the clutch in the face of serious pressure is what earned him his best grade of the season from us at +12.2.

 

Making life hard for Rodgers

Marshal Newhouse hasn’t done a bad job since filling in for Chad Clifton at left tackle. He’s kept some pretty good players relatively quiet, and certainly not stood out as a problem. That changed in a major way in this game as Newhouse was beaten all day long to the tune of a -12.4 grade. He may only have allowed a single sack (as well as a second that was nullified by an illegal contact penalty), but he was responsible for another three hits and five pressures on Rodgers. As if that wasn’t bad enough he coughed up a false start penalty and was beaten almost as badly in the run game. Newhouse must be hoping he never sees Jason Pierre-Paul again, who was the beneficiary of all but one of the total pressures allowed by the left tackle. If you’re looking for an example of what went on all game long, check out the speed in which Newhouse is beaten on the 3rd and 8 play with 1.08 to go in the 1st quarter. Not pretty.

 

Just Claymaking

For some reason people aren’t giving Clay Matthews (+6.7) the credit he deserves this season. I suspect the reason is purely as simple as the sack numbers not making people’s eyes pop, and it might justify some people getting a little carried away with things last season by restoring a little balance. This game he was a constant source of pressure, beating Kareem McKenzie seemingly at will. He seemed to be taking his time to diagnose the play and then once he determined to rush he was swatting aside the big right tackle as if he wasn’t anything more than a bounce-back blocking dummy. He ended the day with just one sack, but with four more hits and three more pressures.

 

New York Giants – Three Performances of Note

D-line Studs

As you may have gathered, Jason Pierre-Paul had a bit of a day (+11.6). He was destroying the Green Bay blindside and providing constant pressure, nine in total during the game, while also batting down a pair of passes alongside some excellent work in the run game. Next to him was defensive tackle Linval Joseph (+3.9), who wasn’t a factor as a pass-rusher where he failed to generate any pressure at all, was a constant force in the run game, earning eight tackles from his defensive tackle spot, seven of which were defensive stops. The only down side to Joseph’s play on the first two downs is that it forced Green Bay into third and long situations where Aaron Rodgers just makes the play for fun this season.

 

McKenzie’s bi-polar day

Dealing with Clay Matthews is far from easy, and Kareem McKenzie can probably attest to that now. He seemed completely unable to block the Packer in pass protection, and he surrendered a sack, three hits and three more pressures in his 43 snaps pass blocking in the game. It’s lucky that McKenzie was able to salvage something from the day with his run blocking. While he earned a -5.0 grade for his pass protection, he was able to notch a +2.4 grade for his run blocking, and together with avoiding penalties that dragged his overall grade up to a -2.2. McKenzie has always been a strong run blocker, and he won’t get many tougher assignments than Matthews, but this is the kind of performance in pass protection that will have people very quickly assessing whether he can still get things done at this level.

 

Ross fading after his great start

Earlier in the season Aaron Ross was playing like the former top pick he once was, but recently that form has deserted him. He was thrown at ten times in this game, allowing seven receptions for 79 yards. That mark isn’t terrible, but what explains his -4.2 grade is when the mistakes came and how big they were. Together with Antrel Rolle the pair conspired to blow a coverage completely for a touchdown to Donald Driver late in the first half which gave Green Bay the lead. Ross also missed a tackle on Greg Jennings with just 21 seconds left of the game, which allowed 18 yards and put the Packers into comfortable field goal range for the winning kick. Ross hasn’t been a terrible player, but he is back to making seriously costly mistakes.

 

Game Notes

- Marshall Newhouse accounted for more than 50% of the pressure the Packers conceded.

- Brando Saine (22) saw more snaps than James Starks (15) for the Packers’ offense.

- When blitzed Aaron Rodgers completed 70% of his passes for 12.3 yards per attempt and a QB rating of 145.0

 

PFF Game Ball

Aaron Rodgers put on a signature display to win this game when it needed to be won, but I couldn’t avoid giving Jason Pierre-Paul at least a share of the game ball for totally destroying Newhouse and forcing Rodgers into some signs of mortality. They’ll have to half this ball.

 

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