2012 NFL Playoffs: Quick-Hit Reactions from Giants vs. Packers

The NFC was just chockfull of surprises in the Divisional round, as the defending Super Bowl champions fell on the same weekend as the high-powered Saints. Here are quick-hit reactions from the Giants’ highly impressive 37-20 victory over the Packers on Sunday.

New York Giants outside linebacker Michael Boley (59) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) for a 6-yard loss during the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff at Lambeau Field on January 15, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Giants won 37-20. UPI/Brian Kersey

– The Giants proved something back in 2008 when they beat the Patriots and reminded everyone of it again today: If you win the line of scrimmage, you can beat any opponent. It doesn’t matter how much offense a team has or how good the opposing quarterback is: If you win the line of scrimmage, you can win the game. The Giants’ defensive line absolutely took over this game, much like it’s done the past four weeks now. People who said that this New York defense is an entirely different unit when Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora are all healthy were 100-percent right. It seems like such an obvious statement but consider how bad the Giants’ secondary has looked at times this season and yet Aaron Rodgers and the mighty Green Bay offense was out of sync the entire night. It’s not just the secondary that those three pass rushers help either: It’s the entire defense. Michael Boley is freed up to make plays. Rocky Bernard has a presence from the interior of the defensive line. Even Antrel Rolle makes plays. The Giants are one of the few teams that built their entire defense around one philosophy: Get to the quarterback and we’ll be successful. And once again they’re getting ready to play in another NFC title game despite all of their injuries and inconsistent play during the regular season.

– Of course, we can’t kneel down before the Giants’ defense without criticizing Ryan Grant and the Green Bay receiving corps. Grant looked like he was trying to hold onto a flaming pile of Jello and the Packer receivers dropped seven passes by my count. Rodgers wasn’t the razor sharp MVP we saw all season but this loss hardly falls at his feet. I thought the death shot for the Packers was when Jermichael Finley dropped that third-down pass early in the fourth quarter when Green Bay was only down by a touchdown. Once he let that pass hit the ground and Rodgers was sacked on Green Bay’s fourth-down attempt, you could feel the seed out doubt set in for the Packers. Of course, it didn’t help that Grant fumbled for the third time on their next possession, which set up an immediate touchdown for the Giants, but the Packers’ fate seemed sealed long before that. Simply put, Green Bay’s offense saved its worst performance for its biggest game.

– Man, talk about a complete 180; Tramon Williams was the defensive star for the Packers last postseason and today he got absolutely served by Hakeem Nicks. I haven’t seen a corner get beaten that badly by a receiver since Demaryius Thomas abused Ike Taylor all the way back to last Sunday. Nicks caught seven passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns, making Eli Manning’s stats all the more prettier by his run-after-the-catch ability and jump-ball skills. You could have heard a pin drop at Lambeau when he hauled in that Hail Mary pass right before halftime. What an absolute pain he was for Green Bay tonight.

– Green Bay’s defense did a pretty nice job with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, but they both saved their best runs for last. Bradshaw’s 24-yard scamper and Jacobs’ 14-yard touchdown run with just under three minutes remaining in the game were beautiful. Both runs should have been stopped the way they were designed, but both Bradshaw and Jacobs showed great vision bouncing the plays outside. Of course, they were aided by some poor tackling/angles by B.J. Raji and Charles Woodson.

– Packer fans likely want him tarred and feathered right now but I do feel bad for Grant. He just hasn’t been the same player after essentially missing the entire 2010 season. He was on the sidelines last season when the Packers won the Super Bowl and he was one of the key factors in why they won’t get back to the title game this year. Just 29, Grant’s burst is gone and it’s highly unlikely that he’ll return to Green Bay in 2012.

– I thought it was nauseating how the media in New York kept drawing comparisons between the 2007 Giants team that shocked the Patriots in the Super Bowl and this year’s squad. But I’m sold now. You got me, Giants. I’ll buy. You win. This team is so eerily similar to the one in ’07 that I honestly believe that they’re going to win this year’s Super Bowl. For realsies, no foolin’ – I honestly believe that the Giants are going to win the Super Bowl. It’s like they’re on some kind of quest from the land of hey-haven’t-I-already-watched-this-before?

– Looks like Rodgers and the Packers can now discount double-check their way to their couches. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

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2009 NFL Week 13 Top Observations: Giants 31, Cowboys 24

Here are five quick-hit observations from the Giants’ 31-24 huge win over the Cowboys in Week 13.

1. Can’t blame this one on Romo.
Normally when the Cowboys lose, the attention immediately shifts to how well Tony Romo has played. But considering the man completed 41-of-55 passes for 392 yards and three touchdowns, nobody can pin this loss on Romo. The Cowboys’ defense and running game let them down tonight.

2. Somebody found where Brandon Jacobs was hiding.
For much of this season, Brandon Jacobs has been a ghost. But he emerged today by producing a huge 74-yard touchdown reception in which he actually outran the entire Dallas secondary to the end zone. He only finished with 39 rushing yards on 13 carries, but he did score his fourth rushing touchdown of the year and the key was that he contributed period. Along with Domenik Hixon’s wild 79-yard punt return, Jacobs’ touchdown reception keyed the Giants’ victory.

3. What the hell has gotten into Roy Williams?
After hauling in six passes for 60 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, Roy Williams has now reached pay dirt five times in the last six games. Granted, he has benefited from more teams paying attention to Miles Austin (who had another big day today, catching 10 passes for 104 yards and a TD), but he nonetheless is starting to produce. Given his lack of explosion and playmaking ability, he’ll never be worth the compensation that Dallas gave up to acquire him, but at least he’s not as useless as he was at the start of the season.

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Browns shopping Braylon Edwards?

According to Rich Cimini of the New York Daily Times, the Browns are reportedly shopping wide receiver Braylon Edwards.

This rumor has been circulating for over a month, but so far nothing concrete has developed. Cimini doesn’t even go into much detail about the subject, in fact all he writes is that he got a “hot tip” that Cleveland is shopping Edwards and asks readers whether or not the Jets should be interested.

One small rumor that developed late last week had the Browns shipping Edwards to the Giants for Mathias Kiwanuka, which on the surface makes sense. Cleveland is dying for a pass rusher and Kiwanuka, who has experience at both defensive end and linebacker, certainly fits the bill. New York is in obvious need of a wideout with the uncertainty of Plaxico Burress’s situation hanging over their heads, and is stacked with defensive linemen and linebackers after signing Chris Canty, Michael Boley and Rocky Bernard last week.

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Giants beef up their defense with additions of Boley and Canty

The Giants signed two players over the weekend that should make their already stout defense even better.

On Saturday, New York signed free agent linebacker Michael Boley (Falcons) to a five-year $25 million contract with $11 million in guaranteed money and on Sunday, the G-Men added defensive lineman Chris Canty (Cowboys) after agreeing to terms on a six-year, $42 million contract. (Canty’s deal also includes $17.25 million in guarantees.)

Not many football fans have probably heard of Boley – especially not after he lost his starting job last year to Coy Wire. But before the Falcons hired Mike Smith to be their new head coach last offseason, Boley was on his way to becoming a Pro Bowl player. He didn’t fit into Smith’s defensive scheme so that’s why he fell out of favor in Atlanta, but he’s a young, athletic linebacker that could excel at the weak-side position in New York given the amount of talent that will be around him. He could become a household name next season.

Canty, who stands 6’7” and weighs 300 pounds, is a massive defensive end best used in the 3-4. But the Giants could use him as a defensive tackle in a 4-3, or an end when they go to more 3-4 fronts next season. He joins an already stacked defensive line that includes Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, so it’ll be interesting to see how NY plans on using all three linemen to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

The G-Men are quietly having a solid offseason.

Falcons to sign free agent TE L.J. Smith?

According to a report by the National Football Post, the Falcons have set their eyes on free agent L.J. Smith (Eagles), who became the best tight end on the market after the Titans placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Bo Scaife.

The Falcons brought in several run-blocking tight ends last offseason, but need to give quarterback Matt Ryan a better pass-catching target at the position. Smith has been unable to stay healthy the past two years, but he certainly has the size, speed and hands to upgrade the tight end spot and as long as the Falcons don’t overpay, he could be a quality signing.

One notion surrounding Atlanta’s interest in Smith is that Oklahoma State’s Brandon Pettigrew, who is arguably the best tight end prospect in the draft and a player many mocks have the Falcons taking at No. 24, hurt his stock when he only ran a 4.8-forty at the scouting combine. But the more realistic idea is that the Falcons want to shore up their need for a pass-catching tight end before the draft, so then in April they can turn their sole attention to the multiple holes they have on defense.

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