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Rodgers, Packers too much for Giants
Rodgers passed for a regular-season career-high 404 yards and four touchdowns in a game the Packers needed to remain in the playoff race. I can also say that I was the only guy on "FOX NFL Sunday" to pick the Packers to win. That’s right, I’m pretty proud of myself right now. I also picked Denver and Tim Tebow to win, but I also know all you care about reading is how the Packers whipped the Giants.
It wasn’t so much believing in Rodgers for me. I simply had big doubts that the Giants could bounce back from that horrible loss to the Eagles the previous week. I’ve been there and I know that bad losses like that can linger with a team. Stuff like that gets in your head and it’s awfully hard to forget.
Once the game turned bad for the Giants, it just steamrolled out of control.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy has been saying for a long time that Rodgers is his best player and the sky is the limit for him. Well, this game showed everybody what a great sense he has in the pocket. Rodgers has great feet and almost a sixth sense about feeling the pressure.
Now, this was a guy coming off a concussion. Rodgers was wearing a special helmet to protect his head a little better, but he ran out of the pocket and even had a perfect slide down around the 5-yard line. When the Lions drilled him a couple weeks ago, Rodgers didn’t slide right and was whacked around the head. And it cost the Packers the New England game. I don’t know if the Packers would have won that game with Rodgers, but they might have had he played like he did against the Giants.
What’s amazing to me about Rodgers and what McCarthy is doing with his offense is that they lost Ryan Grant, their runner, in the first game and soon after lost Jermichael Finley, a tight end with receiver-like speed and abilities.
Rodgers played with tight ends on Sunday I didn’t even know were on the roster. Guys like Tom Crabtree. After the Giants tied the score at 14, I thought we might have a game of it. But Rodgers took the Packers right down the field to score again.
I’m telling you that Greg Jennings is as good as any receiver in the league. And Donald Driver, one of Brett Favre’s old buddies, can still play and deliver big plays and he’s 35. He plays more like he’s 25. Driver got into a little tussle with Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas and he came right back for more. Thomas shoved Driver's head into the ground and the officials flagged him, but Driver wanted a piece of Thomas. I love to see that in a player.
A lot of the guys thought that the Giants defensively would rebound in this game. Well, they didn’t. Jennings and Driver and Jordy Nelson always seemed wide open. And when they were well covered, Rodgers simply zipped a completion in there anyway. He was that good, and the Giants never had an answer. When they blitzed him, he still managed to complete a pass or avoid the sack.
The Giants are back to struggling at the wrong time of the year. You want to be peaking in December, and now Tom Coughlin’s bunch is wondering what will happen next to them. The Giants have been turning over the ball all season and they had six big turnovers against the Packers. Eli Manning was intercepted four times. He’s had three other games this season in which he’s been intercepted three times each. That gives him 24 on the season.
I know some of those interceptions weren’t his fault. I could tell some of his receivers didn’t run the right routes. I saw offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride yelling at receivers on the sidelines. There is just something off about the Giants right now. Losing Steve Smith was a big blow for Eli and the offense. Eli could always count on Smith running the right route, being in the right place.
That was the biggest difference in this game. Rodgers has a great arm and a quick release, but he sure had a lot of guys wide open. It’s a lot easier throwing to open targets. Rodgers had them and Eli didn’t.
I have to tip my hat to Rodgers and McCarthy for coming up with such a great game plan. They were ready for the Giants and, like Rodgers said after it was over, this might have been their best offensive game of the season.
I think you know that Jimmy Johnson and I are friends and one of his best coaching buddies is Norv Turner of the Chargers. Well, the Chiefs, not the Chargers, have won the AFC West. The Chargers just ran into a red-hot Bengals team in Cincinnati on Sunday. I was surprised by that.
But what doomed the Chargers this season was their disappointing special teams play early in the season. I think they lost three games either by having a punt or two blocked or allowing Leon Washington to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game. Then, the holdouts of Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill didn’t help, either. With teams so close in ability these days, it’s difficult to play without two Pro Bowl-caliber players. Then, the injuries mounted up. Antonio Gates missed his fourth game on Sunday, and he’s only the best tight end in football.
Nothing really went right for the Chargers this season. Their first-round pick Ryan Mathews never got untracked like they thought he would. And we all know how much Turner loves to run the football, too.
Instead of ripping on Turner and the Chargers, I want to tip my hat to Todd Haley’s coaching job with the Chiefs.
The Chiefs turned their season around and seemed to get better as the year went along. Matt Cassel has been playing great quarterback — he doesn’t have the receiving weapons that Rodgers has — but he does have Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles, a nifty runner who can also catch. The AFC is pretty tough at the top, but you have to be impressed with what Haley and general manager Scott Pioli have done with this franchise.