Monday, January 10, 2011

Packers playoff win sees some "firsts"

Sunday, January 9, 2011...a day that will live in, well, Green Bay Packers' lore if nowhere else. And not only for the fact that the Pack beat the Philadelphia Eagles 21-16. This game should be part of the sacred Packers' canon for years to come because of a few of the "firsts" recorded.

The first of the "firsts" was that, with his three touchdown passes yesterday, QB Aaron Rodgers became the first NFL quarterback -- ever -- to record seven touchdown passes in his first two playoff appearances. Obviously, those other four TD passes were made in last year's overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Congrats to Mr. Rodgers, our Pro Bowl QB. (Wait...what's that you're saying? Rodgers didn't make the Pro Bowl this season? But Michael Vick did? Who's responsible for this mix up??? Obviously, there's a bizarro world thing happening here!)

Oh, and this was also Rodgers' first playoff win as the Packers starting QB.

Another great "first" was a Packers' rookie playoff rushing record for James Starks. His 123 yards (23 carries, 5.3 yds/carry) rushing yesterday blew past the prior record held by Travis "The Roadrunner" Williams back in 1967. Williams carried 18 times for 88 yards at Milwaukee's County Stadium as the Packers beat the Los Angeles Rams, 28-7. Congrats to Mr. Starks. Perhaps the Packers can now give opposing defenses a legitimate rushing threat to worry about throughout the playoffs.

Another "first" was the first NFL touchdown catch by TE Tom Crabtree, which was also the first Packers' score of the game. Congrats to Mr. Crabtree. And we really liked the way you rubbed it in to the fans with your "I can't hear you" hands-to-the-ears routine as the City of Brotherly Love fans showered their special brand of love upon you. Classic.

On the flip side of things, and it played an important part in the Packers victory, it was the first time the Eagles Pro Bowl kicker, David Akers, missed two field goal attempts in a playoff game. Being so bold as to speak for Packers fans everywhere, this was indeed a good "first" and a great time to have it happen. Sorry, Mr. Akers.

Last, but certainly not least, is the fact that this was the first playoff win by any Packers team in Philadelphia. The Pack had been 0-2 in playoff games in Philly going into yesterday's game. The only playoff loss by head coach Vince Lombardi was to the Eagles in Philly in 1960. Then there was head coach Mike Sherman's Waterloo overtime loss in 2004, where a loss was snatched from the hands of victory. That demon has been exorcised.

This was a complete team victory for the Packers, the team's first road playoff win since the 1997 NFC Championship Game in San Francisco (hey, another "first" of sorts!). Beating any team twice in the same season in their own stadium is no easy feat. Beating a team with Michael Vick running the offense is a challenge anytime, anywhere. Well done, gentlemen, well done!

Next up: the Dirty Birds
The Packers will now have six days to get ready to travel to Atlanta to take on Matt Flynn and the Falcons in a place where the home team rarely loses. But if memory serves, the Packers essentially played the Dirty Birds to a draw last time around, and lost by 3 points in the waning moments of the game. The early Vegas line has the Falcons favored by 1 to 2 points. Can you say, "toss up"?

The Falcons are the #1 seed in the NFC, the Packers are the #6 seed. That means jack right now, if you get my drift. And I think you do. The Packers are playing at a level they haven't been at until probably the last three or four games. The defense is better than it was when they last played the Falcons, and the offense is also more in a groove and now has a rushing threat for Atlanta to deal with as well as Mr. Rodgers and crew.

The Packers are confident and ready. Watch out Atlanta. The Packers are heading your way.