A robust Lions’ ground attack and a 14-10 halftime deficit weren’t enough to subdue a dogged and persistent Packers’ team that wasn’t in the least bit satisfied with backdooring its way into the postseason thanks to a Washington Redskins’ loss that guaranteed both NFC-North combatants free access to the playoffs—win, lose or draw.
Led by soon-to-be MVP (or at least he should be) Aaron Rodgers, the visitors from Packers News U.S.A went for the jugular and brought home their fifth division title in six seasons earning them home-field advantage versus the New York Giants in next Sunday’s wild-card round.
Two weeks ago, the Packers probably wouldn’t have won this all-important contest against their division foes with a hobbled Rodgers recovering from calf and hamstring injuries since his ability to use his legs to extend plays and gain yards as a ball carrier were called upon constantly in the Sunday-night primetime matchup.
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin wasn’t looking to employ a rope-a-dope or bend-but-don’t-style against a quarterback that had gone a month without turning the ball over and six weeks without tossing an interception.
The Lions were blitzing often and from every direction, but No. 12 had his dancing shoes on, as he continually twirled and pirouetted his way out of trouble and found ways to produce positive yardage.
Yes, it was another one of those games where Green Bay’s best defense was a prolific offense considering the host of legitimate game breakers Detroit featured in Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Eric Ebron supported by rocket-armed quarterback Matthew Stafford and the hard running of Zach Zenner.
An improbable turnaround that has seen the Packers win six consecutive games has galvanized the spirit of this group to the point where they expect to defeat their opponent every week.
It’s a quality that many coaches and players frequently talk about, but can only be organically achieved through continued success.
Clay Matthews said as much during his pregame interview with NBC’s Michelle Tafoya by matter of factly stating that his Packers’ team is starting to “peak.” The veteran outside linebacker added how much the guys “believed” in each other during their current run and how they’ve “weathered the storm.”
There’s no telling how far this rising momentum can take the Packers. Doubters that refuse to buy into the validity of this late-season surge should look no further than the last two Super Bowls won by their upcoming opponent.
Neither one of those Giants’ teams were dominant or expected to go all the way at any point in the regular season, but they caught fire at the right time and used that positive energy to take on all comers until they held up the coveted Lombardi Trophy in 2008 and 2012.
The forces at work in no way mask a young and vulnerable secondary or an overly accommodating run defense, but with the way Rodgers is playing, there’s no reason why the hottest franchise in the NFL shouldn’t be in every ball game down the stretch.
Here is this week’s rundown of the individual Packers that are soaring into wild-card weekend and those that remain grounded in their struggle to take flight.
Ladies and gentlemen, here is your final regular-season Stock-Up, Stock-Down Report.