The Green Bay Packers extended their undefeated season Sunday by defeating the New York Giants by a score of 38 – 35. The last play of the game provided the difference in a thrilling game. The Giants provided a stiff challenge as quarterback Eli Manning and a fired up Giants’ defense almost pulled off an upset. But they didn’t. The win takes the Packers to 12 – 0 and also clinches the North Division of the NFC. Sweet!!
It was a great game to watch if you enjoy competitive, back-and-forth offensive football. Manning started the fireworks with a 67-yard touchdown pass, one of many “explosive” plays the Packer defense surrendered this day. Predictably, Aaron Rodgers and Company responded positively. The Giants chose to cover Packer tight end Jermichael Finley with a linebacker for much of this game which is why Finley was targeted often. Finley will win most of those matchups and he did that in the first quarter with a 12-yard touchdown catch to tie the score.
Clay Matthews III got into the scorebook when his “pick six” in the second quarter propelled the Packers to a 20 – 17 lead at halftime. The Packers lead the NFL with interceptions and it is a good thing they do as their all too porous pass defense regularly gives up way too many big plays. Their 12 – 0 record has been accomplished by their high-octane offense and a “bend but don’t break” defense with a high reliance on interceptions being the keys to the success.
Both offenses continued to roll up the yards and scores in the second half. On the day, Rodgers would throw a total of four touchdown passes, the last of which was to Donald Driver with a little over three minutes to play giving the Pack a 35 – 27 lead. Trying hard not to be outdone in MetLife Stadium in front of the hometown crowd, Manning proceeded to march the Giants down the field and scored a touchdown. The ensuing 2-point conversion tied the game with just 58 seconds left.
Fifty-eight seconds provided sufficient time for Aaron Rodgers to hit three double-digit-yard passes to Finley, Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings to set up the winning chip-shot field goal. It was amazing. Aaron Rodgers is having a fabulous season and is a lock to become the NFL’s 2011 Most Valuable Player.
The win fuels speculation as to whether the Pack can run the table and go 16 - 0. Winning their final four contests would cement an incredible place in the history books, an accomplishment that even the great Lombardi-era teams never accomplished. That challenge begins next week when the Packers host the Oakland Raiders in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field.
The Packers should be at least a touchdown favorite against the 7 – 5 Raiders. The Raiders are tied for the lead in the weak AFC West Division. They have traditionally been known as the “bad boys” of the league and have been more bad than good in recent years. The Packers should win this game, especially if some of their injured players get back on the field. It would be great to get Chad Clifton and Josh Sitton back next week as their replacements in the offensive line did not enjoy a good game against the Giants.