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Saturday, January 26, 2008

January 14th: Writing About The Packers/Seahawks As It Happened

I decided to try something different for this article. In this article, I wrote my thoughts before the game, after the 1st quarter, halftime, 3rd quarter, and then my final thoughts. But first:

I’m pretty sure I like the Brewers acquisition of Mike Cameron. I don’t like that Cameron is a user (he’ll be suspended for the first 25 games of the season), but I do like the flexibility that they now have.

They can put Cameron in center, and they can move Bill Hall to 3rd. Hall is much more natural in the infield, and he even hits better. Then, they can move Ryan Braun out to left field, where he’s much less of a liability defensively speaking.

So, on to my thoughts on the game. These are my real thoughts, not edited, not rewritten. Enjoy.

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Before the game:

I’m really pumped for this. Is it just me, or is this the first Packers’ playoff game in a long time that you feel totally confident about?

Matt Hasselbeck is all right, but the Packers defense has a good enough pass rush, plus the cornerbacks to stop him, and there’s no running backs to speak of on the Seahawks. Shaun Alexander is just a shadow of his former self. Maurice Morris? Please.

Favre doesn’t have to go nuts in this game. He doesn’t have to press. But if he has to throw, this is the team to do it on. The Seahawks front seven is quick, but the running game can easily negate that, and no one can put out five quality cornerbacks.

In other words, the Seahawks defense is good, but they won’t score the points to keep up with the Packers. My prediction? Packers 28, Seahawks 14. It’ll be over by halftime.

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After the 1st quarter:

That was a really rough start. I don’t know about you, but I was upset.

However, it was great seeing the Pack respond. Favre was methodical. After a rocky start, Grant ran hard. The defense stiffened. Hasselbeck looks lost.

Another great thing: On Grant’s 25-yard run, Greg Jennings laid out a NICE block. What can’t that guy do?

I always think power is better than speed on a defense. When you have snow, or a bad field, your speed advantage is gone. It’s no coincidence that early on, when there was no snow, the Hawks defense looked good. As soon as the snow started sticking, the Seahawks looked bad. Things are looking good.

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Halftime:

So far, here’s what I haven’t liked:

- That “roughing the kicker” call on Brandon Jackson. Consider: a couple of plays later, Nick Barnett tackled Nate Burleson on a normal play. They slid together for about five yards. Jackson slid towards the punter. It was an accident. I’m still mad.

- The missed tackles. Maybe it’s because the uniforms are slippery. The Seahawks are missing some too. Still, let’s wrap them up, folks.

- Brian Baldinger’s pinky. They keep cutting to him sitting at Foxboro, and his distended pinky is freaking me out. (By the way, how depressing of an assignment must Baldy have? “Here, you go stand on the field at Foxboro for a while. You’re not even going to cover the game. Just wait there.”)

Here’s what I did like:

- Atari Bigby is everywhere, laying down tough hits and intimidating wide receivers. They hear the pitter-patter of his feet and get scared. What a player.

- It’s cliché to say, but Favre is amazing. His TD pass to Jennings was masterful, and the stumbling flip move to Donald Lee was something only he could have done.

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After the 3rd quarter:

Is Fox showing a Fantasy Update? Do they know how fantasy football works? Geez.

One of the best things about this game is seeing the Seahawks look completely freaked. Hasselbeck looks confused. I think it’s the same thing that’s been happening to some teams lately: They score so quickly and so soon that they let down, and they can never really get up for the rest of the game.

Also, as a QB, you have to be cool. Remember the story about Joe Montana in the Super Bowl before The Drive? When he gets into the huddle and tells the guys, “Hey, I think John Candy is in the front row”? That’s cool. That’s not getting pressured. Hasselbeck is not handling the pressure well. Good for us.

The snow is crazy! Did you catch that they even had to change up the camera angle so that you could actually see the action? That’s so cool.

Marcus Pollard just had a sure touchdown pass go in and out of his hands. He’s having a rough, rough day.

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Monday morning:

I root for the Packers, obviously, but there aren’t a whole lot of teams I root against, with one glaring exception: The Dallas Cowboys. Maybe it goes back to the Thanksgiving game in 1995 when Jason Garrett (the third-stringer) played extensively, and Erik Williams blocked John Jurkovic in the back of the knee, tearing his MCL, and the Cowboys still won handily.

Not that I’m still bitter.

You can imagine, then, how happy I am today. The Cowboys gift-wrapped that game for the Giants. In doing so, they exposed the Giants glaring weaknesses, but couldn’t capitalize on them.

Here’s my quick breakdown: The Giants weren’t getting pressure until they started putting more men in the box. Tony Romo had time, Marion Barber was gouging the defense, and it was turning bad. Then the Giants started bringing five- and six-man blitzes.

Anyone who reads Tuesday Morning Quarterback will tell you that blitzing is a dangerous proposition. Every time you send an extra person into the line, you’re leaving someone uncovered in the secondary. That’s exactly what happened.

But something else happened. Jason Witten, Romo’s most valuable receiver, now had to stay in to block. Barber had to stay in to block, too, meaning two weapons were taken out of the game. On top of that, Patrick Crayton dropped several easy passes, and any one of them would have broken the game wide open.

What does this mean? What is the Packers’ strength? That’s right: Their solid receivers don’t drop the ball, so the Giants can’t bring too much pressure. Therefore, without having extra men in the box, Ryan Grant will slash his way through the defense, just like Barber did. When the Giants move people into the box, Donald Driver and company will be wide open.

The extra factor is having the game in Lambeau. How cool is that, having another championship game in Lambeau Field? I’m excited just thinking about it.

In other words, everything the Giants do, the Packers can counter. Everything the Packers do, the Giants have no answer for. The Packers magical season will continue. Raise your hand if you thought we’d be here at the beginning of the year.

That’s what I thought. Enjoy.