NFC Divisional Round: Game balls
By Josh McPeak
I’m going to talk in a first person view for just a bit, which is a big no-no in this profession. Earlier in the week I wrote an article stating that if Sam Shields won the battle against Dez Bryant the Packers would likely win the game.
Sam Shields played probably the best game he has played all season. Dez Bryant caught the ball, there is no doubt. By NFL rules however, he did not maintain possession. I am puzzled by a league that if a fraction of the ball crosses the plane it is a touchdown, but a receiver must maintain possession for nearly 30 seconds after the catch.
Great catch and a great call. The rules are the rules.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the “Game Balls”.
For the offensive game ball, I am going to take the coward’s way out.
Jan 11, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) greets Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) after the 2014 NFC Divisional playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
How in the world can you not give Aaron Rodgers the offensive game ball after today? On one leg he carried the team on his back to victory in the second half.
Rodgers was 24 of 35 with 316 yards and 3 touchdowns while being a mere shade of himself most of the way. On practically one leg, Rodgers turned in a quarterback rating of 125.4.
With the game on the line Rodgers completed a huge third down pass to Randall Cobb. The throw-and-catch, ultimately sealed the Packers trip to Seattle. Rodgers performance on Sunday raised his legacy status on the pyramid. It’s no doubt the formula that champions are made of.
Jan 11, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) gets past Dallas Cowboys strong safety Barry Church (42) to score a touchdown in the third quarter in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
I’m going to split the offensive game ball. Enough really can’t be said for the rookie Davante Adams today. When a big reception was needed, he stepped up to the plate. With the game on the line, Adams had one of the best receptions and yards after the catch you will ever see.
Adams had been at the forefront for recent bashing from the green and gold’s loyal fan base. On Sunday, he silenced those critics.
Davante Adams had 7 receptions for 117 yards and 1 perfectly timed touchdown. The rookie from Fresno State averaged 16.7 yards per reception. He seemed to be the go-to-guy for the injured Aaron Rodgers.
The defensive game ball is also a complex call. Sam Shields played one of the best games you could possibly ask for against Dez Bryant. Bryant only caught 3 balls for 38 yards and 0 touchdowns. Again, in first person I said he must be held to under 5 receptions and 75 yards in order for the Packers to win. Shields did that and then some.
Sadly, that is only good enough for honorable mention.
Jan 11, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) fumbles the ball as he is hit by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers (56) in the third quarter in the second half in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Julius Peppers turned back the hands of time today. He proved just why the team elected him a captain during the playoffs.
Peppers had six total tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles. The second forced fumble appeared on the replay to stop a 50+ yard touchdown run from DeMarco Murray. It was ultimately a game changer.
In a game that the refs played such a huge factor, it appeared that a Tony Romo pass grazed the palm of Pepper’s left hand on a crucial pass interference call. McCarthy was convinced also, but his challenge went unsuccessful. This made the Packers (at the time) one of three NFL teams to be unsuccessful on all challenges for the season.
Jan 11, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) is tackled by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry (53) in the first half in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Honorable Mention has to go to Eddie Lacy, Randall Cobb, the entire offensive line, Clay Matthews, Mike Daniels and Nick Perry as well. It took a team effort today. If you need a dark spot to focus on it has to be the play of Tramon Williams and the continuing existence of Brad Jones as a Green Bay Packer.
On to Seattle for the NFC Championship game and a chance to reach the Super Bowl.