Green Bay Packers 38, New York Giants 13
Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from the Packers' 38-13 Wild Card playoff victory over the Giants:
Quarterback grade: Aaron Rodgers, 81.9
Passing game explodes after slow start
For the first 27 minutes of the game, the Packers' offense looked much more like the group we saw over the first half of the season. Receivers struggled to get open and QB Aaron Rodgers was forced to hold onto the ball far too long. But eventually Rodgers and company were able to get into a rhythm. All but three of his 25 completions came when he was kept clean, and he had a 126.3 passer rating on those dropbacks. Rodgers also completed 17 of 19 passes targeted between the numbers, for 263 yards and three touchdowns.
Top offensive grades:
WR Randall Cobb, 88.3
WR Davante Adams, 83.8
RT Bryan Bulaga, 83.1
RG T.J. Lang, 80.7
FB Aaron Ripkowski, 79.0
Cobb, Adams step up in Nelson’s absence
When Jordy Nelson left the game due to injury in the second quarter with Green Bay already struggling on offense, it looked like the Packers were going to be in trouble. However, wideouts Randall Cobb and Davante Adams put together outstanding performances the rest of the game. Both topped 100 yards receiving and combined for four touchdowns. Rodgers had a 153.9 passer rating when targeting the duo. Maybe more impressive, though, was how dominant the Packers were in pass protection. Despite coverage forcing lengthy dropbacks at times, the offensive line was responsible for just four hurries, and did not allow a single sack or hit on Rodgers.
Top defensive grades:
LB Jake Ryan, 93.6
CB Damarious Randall, 88.8
DE Mike Daniels, 80.4
CB Micah Hyde, 78.6
OLB Julius Peppers, 78.1
Ryan wrecks Giants’ West Coast offense
Giants head coach Ben McAdoo’s scheme emphasizes efficiency, using tight ends and running backs in the passing game to setup favorable down and distances. Much of the passing attack revolves around quick timing patterns underneath. It places a huge amount of strain on the linebackers to cover in space. Packers LB Jake Ryan responded to the challenge with one of the best performances of his career. He gave up only six receptions on nine targets, with two pass deflections. Ryan allowed only 42 yards, for 4.7 yards per catch average. In just 15 snaps, he also recorded a pair of stops against the run. Heading to face Dallas’ interior offensive line, however, will be a whole other challenge.
Quarterback grade: Eli Manning, 75.0
Eli Manning’s outings at Lambeau Field helped cement his status as a franchise quarterback. Although his fantastic streak was ended, his performance did nothing to tarnish that reputation. Instead, he could legitimately look at those around him with accusing eyes. Discounting drops, batted passes and throwaways, he missed only 13 throws, finishing with 23 completions for 299 yards, one touchdown and an interception deep into garbage time. Although Manning’s location was not always perfect, particularly on deeper and intermediate throws, he made two outstanding plays only to see his receivers drop passes in the end zone. The Giants’ offense underperformed in their Wild Card loss, unlike their quarterback.
Top offensive grades:
WR Tavarres King, 76.4
QB Eli Manning, 75.0
TE Will Tye, 74.6
OC Weston Richburg, 71.6
WR Sterling Shepard, 71.5
Receiving corps issues leave Giants exposed
Much of New York’s success has been forged behind a dynamic receiving corps. Odell Beckham Jr. chose a bad time to have his worst game in quite some time. Coming into the game with only 14 career dropped passes, ODB put a trio of balls on the turf, including during the crucial opening exchanges when the Giants had the upper hand. Sterling Shepard and Tavarres King both had solid games, catching seven of 14 targets for 136 yards and a touchdown between them, but the Packers’ decision to commit extra resources to pass defense ultimately proved decisive.
Top defensive grades:
S Landon Collins, 79.5
LB Keenan Robinson, 79.1
DT Jonathan Hankins, 76.4
CB Leon Hall, 69.3
DT Jay Bromley, 67.7
Lack of pass rush strains secondary
The Giants’ secondary will deservingly receive some flack for their second-half performance, but the Giants’ pass rush did little to help out the coverage. The majority of pressure they were able to get on Rodgers came on clean-up plays or after four seconds into the play. Giants' high-paid defensive end Olivier Vernon had his lowest pass-rush grade of the season going against Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari, who entered the game as the highest-graded tackle in pass protection this season. Vernon managed just two hurries on a whopping 46 pass rushes. On the other side of the line, Romeo Okwara had just a clean-up sack as his only pressure on 37 pass rushes. The other issue for the Giants’ defense was losing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was injured after just two snaps on defense. So instead of having one of the highest-graded cornerbacks in coverage on the field, the Giants were forced to play Leon Hall and Trevin Wade more. While Hall fared well, Wade gave up receptions on all three targets, and allowed a perfect passer rating into his coverage.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Packers WR Randall Cobb
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