Lambeau Field went silent after the New York Giants knocked off the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the defending Super Bowl champions.
The Green Bay Packers best season in franchise history ended Sunday on their own turf. The Packers, and their star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, were exposed and beaten by the New York Giants, and their star quarterback, Eli Manning.
Manning played elite, Rodgers did not in this game.
Eli Manning was dominant from start to finish, passing for 330 yards and three touchdowns. It was the Giants second win in Green Bay in four years. Both wins in the playoffs.
Rodgers said after the loss, “We got beat by a team that played better tonight. We play to win championships. You win a championship and you’re kind of at the top of the mountain, and you forget kind of how bad this feeling is. We had a championship caliber regular season and didn’t play well today.”
Here are three reasons the Green Bay Packers exited the playoffs early:
1. Lack of defense
The Green Bay Packers allowed 420 yards of total offense. Eli Manning passed for 325 yards and three touchdowns.
The Packers couldn’t get any pressure on Manning and couldn’t force him to make mistakes. Manning’s only mistake was a interception by Morgan Burnett that the Packers offense failed to capitalize on when John Kuhn fumbled.
Brad Jones recorded their only sack on Manning. The Packers only hit Manning seven times.
The Packers lack of pass coverage hurt them. They allowed a hail mary before halftime that put New York up ten instead of three. The Packers secondary should have knocked the ball down.
The Packers only knocked the ball down five times in the game.
Green Bay’s defense kept making stops on first and second down, but couldn’t get stops on third down, allowing New York to convert eight third downs out of sixteen.
There has to be changes on the Packers defense to contend for a title next season.
The Green Bay Packers forced one turnover. They had forced 38 in the regular season.
They also had four turnovers on offense that were literally giant killers. The turnovers definitely swung the momentum.
Aaron Rodgers had not fumbled all season, and John Kuhn fumbled for the first time in his career. Ryan Grant fumbled when the Packers made a huge stop on defense that gave the Giants the ball back in the Packers red zone.
On all three of the Packers fumbles, it appeared they were gaining momentum to score.
Rodgers also threw his seventh interception of the season.
The Packers thrived on forcing turnovers, not making turnovers, and Sunday, it all changed that hurt them.
3. Lack of offense
The Green Bay Packers offense didn’t play like the Green Bay Packers offense. They literally dropped the ball.
The wide receivers dropped seven passes, Aaron Rodgers didn’t look himself, and turnovers killed their momentum.
Rodgers looked a little rusty, as if he hadn’t played a meaningful game in three weeks.
The running game never really got going. (Rodgers was the Packers leading rusher with seven carries for 66 yards).
Rodgers had a decent game passing, but threw several balls that were off the mark. Rodgers went 26 for 46 for 264 yards and two touchdowns and one interception.
Rodgers missed a wide open Greg Jennings in first quarter that would of put the Packers up 7-3, but instead Green Bay settled for a field goal.
Another key pass Rodgers missed was when Jermichael Finley was wide open. Rodgers missed Finley, as he was just a little too far out in front for him to make catch.
Donald Driver was the Packers most consistent receiver catching all three targets passed his way. Driver led the team in yards with 45 yards.
It will be a sobering offseason for the Green Bay Packers; one that will leave a bitter taste in the Packers players and coaches mouths and hungry again for next season.