Sunday, January 9, 2011

Packers - Eagles Second Half Diary: Fifty Years And Counting

Akers to the six, and Shields goes east-west and backwards. Fox tells us DJ is not 100%; shocking! From their own 17, Starks gets 8 and takes the air out of the yard. Second down is play-action with all day, but the throw to Driver doesn't connect. No pass rush for Green, but it's easier when Yellow can hold Trent Cole like that. From the gun on third is huge to start the half, and Rodgers has to take a timeout from pre-snap Chess Matchery. Either that, or he just never wants to fail to convert a third down. After the commerce and more Foxbot dancing -- can you ever really get enough of that? -- Rodgers finally gets pressure, with DT Juqua Parker forcing a fumble and ye gads, Hope Has Entered The Building. Credit to DE Darryl Tapp, too. Green ball at the Yellow 25.

Vick on a screen and it's telegraphed and terrible. From the gun on second, Vick hits Avant over the middle, and boom goes the dynamite, that was pretty. Perfect route by Avant, the ball is right over the DB, and after the Akers PAT, it's Packers 14, Eagles 10. No wonder the Pack wasn't looking for that, since Vick doesn't usually throw to Avant before third down. And just once, I'd like to see the TV broadcast stay for the entire stadium singing "Fly, Eagles, Fly", rather than show me a gout medication ad. OK, scratch that. I'd prefer Eagle Fan singing over gout medication ads every single time...

Akers into the wind again needs to be good, and he is. The coverage teams stops Yellow at their 20. With Eagle Fan in full voice, it's Starks for four from a power formation. They give it to him again, and DT Broderick Bunkley stops it after a yard. Third and five is a major momentum and field position play. Rodgers from the gun is crushed on a blitz and so is Driver, but forward progress gets the first down, and against this defense, if you get one first down, you tend to get many. Rodgers tries Jennings on first, but it's short and incomplete, much to the WR's lying dismay. A slant to Driver misses with good coverage by Hanson, and it's third and long again. Not good body language from the Pack right now, not that I trust such things. From the gun, Rodgers has all day for Driver and another first, and the four-man rush is not getting there; no idea who had Driver on that play. Yeesh.

At midfield, Starks has a major hole and gets 19, and Cheney is not impressing anyone today. Starks for four more to give Yellow over 100 yards on the day on the ground, with Starks going for 13 for 88 so far. I'd like to thank him for not doing this for my fantasy team. Prick. Rodgers rolls out and finds Kuhn, who goes for 16 as Yellow is back to Easy Easy Offense Mode. We're in the red zone, so this drive is over... but it won't be Starks on first down with the touchdown, as he only gets a few. From the six, Rodgers tries for the pylon, but Cheney trips him at the three. The very first time that the Packers have held anyone today is called -- yes, sarcasm is an unfortunate quality of mine -- and Green takes the yards. On second and goal from the 16 from the gun, Rodgers goes to Jackson on a screen, and I guess he will score the inevitable red zone touchdown. Oh, Sean McDermott, we're going to miss you... not at all, really. Packers 21, Eagles 10, and that's just your run of the mill 81-yard touchdown drive that makes Hope Leave The Building. Halfway through the third quarter, and on the plus side, we won't have that much more time to watch this defense.

Middling return to the Green 28. Vick from the gun on first as Fox spotlights DJ for no reason; the QB tries him long, and it doesn't work as the WR isn't really right. From the gun on second, Vick has time against a blitz, and finds Maclin for 11; nice play. A give to McCoy gets five as Troy Aikman notes that the Eagles will have to outscore the Packers now. Thanks, Troy. Nice to know concussions have no long-term damage. From the gun on second, Vick has more time against the blitz, and gets Maclin on an easy 18-yard cross; McCoy erases a bltizer nicely. From the Yellow 37 in the gun, Vick runs 30 yards, but only two of them forward as DB Nick Collins makes a saving tackle. From the gun on second, Vick can't connect with Avant, and if you are looking for encouragement, it's just that the Yellow blitzes aren't getting there. Third and 8 from the gun is another miss to Avant, and that's just a killing drop with the way the defense is playing. Rocca's punt is stopped at the two by S Kurt Anderson, but with the Pack punting just once today, I'm not really feeling the confidence. It's rare that you can be down by 11 points with a 2-0 edge in turnovers, but the home team is doing just that.

Starks for two on first down to get Yellow room away from the safety. Kuhn for three on second as Fox decides that four people talking on a telecast isn't enough, and brings in the replay honk for overtime noodling, because Fox needs to not discuss the game that is going on in front of them. Third and five from the run is a rollout and near Favrian bad pick to Samuel, who jumped the out to Jennings. Masthay's punt with the wind is caught by Chad Hall -- yes, DJ is not right -- who is dropped immediately. At least it's still a game.

Vick from the gun as Winston Justice jumps early; Fox is talking about NASCAR. There ought to be a law. Or perhaps an alternate audio feed. First and 15 from the gun is another flag, and Vick jitters for a yard. Illegal formation and hold by Justice on Mathews, so now it's 1st and 25. From the gun and going backward, Vick performs minor magic to Avant for 11, as Mathews is starting to own every down. 17 minutes left as Fox shows Mathews tapping Vick on the chest. What the hell? All day for Vick and no one to throw to against a three man rush, and it ends with a meh incomplete right. This is starting to look like the last time Vick played a playoff game here. On third and 14, Vick hits Avant on the numbers down the middle for 21 yards and a first, and that's a game-saver. 16 minutes left, Green ball at the Yellow 37. With the penalties overcome, it's McCoy with good work for 9.5 yards. He gets it again to convert the first, and Reid decides to let the third quarter end and take the wind for the first down to start the fourth. Packers 21, Eagles 10.

From the Yellow 25, Fox decides to talk about Vick's backstory, since it's not the game. He gets it to Cooper for seven on a nice catch by the rookie. From the gun on second, McCoy gets as much as he can from no hole, which is 1.5 yards. Third and short and down 11 is a must-have with 14 minutes left. From the gun, McCoy gets it again, but Mathews stops him before the sticks. Reid sends in Akers as Eagle fan howls, but it's not as if the team has been good in short yardage... and the kicker misses for the second time today. That might be the season right there, and had the kicker made both of his attempts today, this would be a five point game, not 11. Just devastating, really, to miss a freaking 34-yarder with the wind in this situation.

With 13 minutes left in the season, it's Starks for three as Yellow runs clock. Starks closing in on 100+ yards on the ground. He gets it again for three, and it's third and four and drama about to go away if they can keep the clock running. From the gun, Rodgers reads the blitz and hits Driver for 11, and that's just plain easy. 11 minutes and counting. Starks for two against a run blitz; this could turn into a coup de grace long one soon. Driver limps off. Starks for seven as the crowd sounds parking lot bound. Third and short from midfield is a give to Kuhn, and Fokou gets penetration and stop for a loss to keep some manner of doubt in this one. Maclin back to field the punt with nine minutes left, and Masthay puts it out of bounds at the Green 27.

Had you given me 21 Yellow points, two turnovers and less than 200 yards for Rodgers for the first 51 minutes of this game at the start of things, I'd have taken it. But not with 10 Green points from the offense. On first, Vick finds DJ on a cross, and he's got some quicks for 19 yards, his first of the game. From the 44 with Justice off for King Dunlap, Vick flips to McCoy for 10 as he's near the line; also useful. McCoy for five as Eagle Fan worries about the clock, with reason. Vick tries for Maclin with no success, and it's third and five now; nearly a pick or DPI, as CB Tramon Williams was all over that. Frm the gun on third and five, Vick goes to Avant on a hot read for the first. Green still huddling, to the eternal annoyance of Eagle Fan; seven minutes and counting left. From the gun on Yellow's 35, Vick makes magic to prolong the play against a blitz, but short hops a wide open Celek on a possible tipped ball. Gahhh. Vick starting to make the defense look slow, and he flips to McCoy for 18 off another scramble. Shades of New York? From the Yellow 18 with six minutes left, Vick is tripped for a loss of one, and he limps a little after the play. From the gun on second, Vick finds Celek, and the tight end bullies his way down to the three against Hawk. Shades of Chicago? Five minutes left from the three, and from the gun, Vick tries a QB draw for no gain; he stumbled a bit there, and I hate the clock usage. 4:30 and counting. On second, it's a throwback to Maclin, but the defense had that covered all day. Season on the line on third, and Vick from the runs it to the one. Inches away now, and Reid calls time.

I have no idea how Reid is going to blow this call. Eldra Buckley direct snap? Field goal fake? Vick sneak from a power formation into all 11 defenders? There is just no doubt in my mind that the call will be blown. I've watched the man for too many years, with too many teams, for anything else to happen here.

Reid decides to go for it with 4:08 left as Aikman votes for the field goal. From a power formation, it is Vick for a sneak, and the QB somehow makes it, despite a major hit, and just breaks the plane. Not exactly a scintillating play call, and you'd think that you could do that without a time out, but in the Reid File, that's downright savvy. Credit to C Mike McGlynn for that. With 4:02 left, the two-point conversion attempt is obvious, and Vick tries Cursed Celek on the back line. The TE makes the catch, but his foot was out of bounds before the play, so that's a flag and a failure. Well, at least the game can't end with Akers failing again. Packers 21, Eagles 16 with four minutes left. And I kind of doubt that the Packers will sleep on an onside kick, the way that the Giants did... but in the break, it turns out that the flag means yardage, not failure. So the Eagles can try it again from the seven yard. Well, I've heard worse news. From the seven now, Vick from the gun is blitzed, and that's a much more emphatic failure. The QB might have even rolled an ankle from it. Yeesh, they would have been better off with the first failure, really.

Green Bay sends out the hands team, and Akers sends it deep, with Woodson taking it back as QB Kevin Kolb warms up on the sidelines. Holy moley. Four minutes left, and it's on the Green defense to somehow get a three and out. Starks from the power formation for three, and that's the second Green timeout. Second and seven from power is another give to Starks, and he ends most suspense with a 12-yard run. Final Green timeout. I'm going to miss Sean McDermott so. Starks now has 21 for 123, a Packers rookie postseason record. Starks for nothing against a four man front; odd to write both halves of that sentence. Three minutes and counting. Starks loses one on second down as Fox shows the Akers misses. 2:30 left on third and 10. From the gun, Rodgers is sacked back at the 29, with Clayton doing the deed. Two minute warning, and Yellow will have to punt. DJ on for theater more than anything else to return the punt, and it also looks like Vick will return.

Well, Green Fans, we can't complain that much about this year. They've been entertaining every step of the way, hey won the division, they stayed in the game with what might be a vastly better opponent. Had their historically reliable kicker done the deed, they might even have pulled it out. You'll remember Vick's Monday Night crushing of the Redskins, and DJ taking down the Giants, and all of those first play fireworks. But not anything more from this one. And no, this is not a reverse jinx.

Masthay's punt is in bounds. DJ gets 14 yards in 15 seconds, and it comes back with a hold on Gerald Lawson, who has been returning kicks all day and clearly committed the sin. Vick returns as Fox reports that his ankle is taped, and he just has to go 65 yards in 105 seconds on one leg. No worries.

From the gun on first, Vick finds DJ, who makes a man miss and goes for 29 yards as I scream my lungs out. Clock running. Vick from the gun, misses Celek, and the TE can't get up. No flag. 1:06 left, and the refs give small comfort as the 10-second runoff isn't charged, since the Cursed One might need a stretcher. From the gun, Vick misses McCoy on a screen, and since the RB was probably dead to rights from Woodson, that might be a help. Third and 10 with 1:02 left. Vick from the gun gets it to Cooper on a slant for the first down. Clock running. Vick pumps, but underthrows Cooper, and Williams makes the pick in the end zone to end the season. Just a bad decision and bad execution from the QB to end the year.

Aaron Rodgers with the first playoff win of his life, and Green Bay will go to Atlanta, who have to be wondering just what they won with that #1 seed. And the Packers never trailed, and never should have.

The winter is cold and long, and it's now fifty years and counting for my football laundry to end their year with a completely satisfying win. Or, well, nine years longer than I've been born, and longer than most of the people who watch football in this part of the world have cared about such things. And it's going to snow on Tuesday, and the Patriots will win it all, and after that, there will be a lockout.

So, um, be grateful for the year?

Yes, do that. Somehow.

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