Let me start by saying I’m sad – just really sad that the Packers blew it. I really thought we were headed to the Super Bowl and I genuinely think the better team lost last night.
Due to wanting to be accountable, I need to just eat it for a season’s worth of ripping on Eli Manning. He made some very good throws yesterday and very effectively led his team to victory. He has played very solid (bordering on excellent) football in the last 4 games and is a major reason his team is going to the Super Bowl. And, while I refuse to retract my loser face comments (though the irony is not lost on me), I must admit, I don’t see him quite as the horrible, whiney, jerk he was when he came into the league. One thing he doesn’t do is talk trash to the other team or behave in a cocky way and while someone shouldn’t really be commended for that, in today’s sports world, I’ll go ahead and commend him for that. As for Eli’s counterpart last night, I’m sad for Favre because he didn’t play very well and threw a costly pick at the end – eerily similar to the Philly game a few years ago.
Now, why did we lose? As Steve already noted, the playcalling was odd. I don’t know why we stopped running Grant as he could have been a major force w/re to tiring out the defense and opening up the passing game. Our pass game was off all game and I hate to say it, but it may have been due to solid defensive scheming. I did like the attempted screens as a counter to the pass rush, but I didn’t like the horrendous execution of them. I thought McCarthy may try a trick play or two or something that could potentially have jump-started the offense. None of that – just stiff, uncharacteristicly poor playcalling.
I think a major factor was simply that McCarthy was outcoached. Coughlin and the Giants did a good job on offense and defense and mostly dominated the game. Over the last week or so, I do wonder if the enormity of this whole situation may have finally caught up with McCarthy. Last week, for the first time I know of, he finally admitted with 4 minutes left in the Seattle game and the snow falling, that he was a bit awed at how great it felt to the be the coach of such a good Packers team. While we all know he’s proud that he’s coach, he hadn’t been so effusive about it until this past week. Throw in discussion of a new $20 million contract and this would present a big step up for a no-name guy EVERYONE questioned upon his hire. It’s sort of like in golf, when you go out on the front nine and play really well only to crash on the final few holes of the back nine as you start to think about breaking your personal low round. Maybe all of the truly great accomplishments thus far, finally caught up with McCarthy and the Pack.
While I won’t dwell on the officiating because we had other chances to win, but I do think the second half officiating was terrible. In the game, I counted 8 MBCs (Major Blown Calls): 5 against the Packers and 3 against the Giants. I think their touchdown drive when they took the lead 13-10 was a gift because Harris was the one who was interfered with (not Burress) on the first 3rd down play and then Collins hit was just plain not late. That was a terrible call. However, one of the biggest crap calls in the game was Steve Smith’s “catch” toward the end of the game that got them a first down. He did not have control of the ball before he hit the ground and the replay to me was conclusive. I don’t think they even looked at that – they just reviewed for spot of the ball. The problem I have with these calls is that they affected the flow of the game and arguably the outcome. Again, there were some terrible calls against the Giants too. To me, that is inexcusable. Officiating in games like this needs to be highly competent so that the outcome can be pure – and I just don’t think the crew did a good job.
The only positive spin I can think of is this: the Packers played and coached a poor-mediocre game at best, and lost in overtime in crappy conditions. I’m comforted by the thought that had they played and coached even at a slightly above-average level, they would have won the game. But they didn’t and I have to hand it to the Giants.
One last thought: I’ll bet Giants fans at Lambeau were confused after the game when Packer fans respectfully congratulated them on their victory. They were likely anticipating the verbal assaults they may dish out to fans of the opposing team after a brutally depressing loss. While I hate losing more than anyone, at the very least, because we’re genuinely nice people, we lose with class.