- In their victory over the Oakland Raiders, the Green Bay Packers reached the double-digit mark in the win column and secured a ticket to the playoffs. Yay!
- As for how the Packers are feeling, that depends whom you ask. Coach Mike McCarthy got snippy with reporters focusing too much on the negative: “The style points, you can flush that. I'm sick and tired of talking about the negativities. We've won 10 games. We lost three games on the last play of the game and Denver beat us. That's the overview of our season, and we've got a chance to win 11 next week."
- Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the locker room, however, weren’t overjoyed at their play. Rodgers said they were ineffective, while TJ Lang acknowledged that “we feel like we’re not playing up to our talent level.”
- Lang also pointed out 14 of their 30 points came from the defense -- well, essentially. Micah Hyde returned an interception inside the 20-yard line, and Demarious Randall recorded a pick-six. Those two lost possessions skewed the numbers against the offense a bit, but if you take away those, the offense managed one touchdown and three field goals against a sub-.500 team.
- There wasn’t a lot to love about the offensive game, but I’m sick of typing the exact same thing every week, so let’s focus on the goods: James Jones had a nice game! Back in Oakland, Jones had six catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. Reporters wanted to hype up Jones before and after the game about playing against the team that cut him, but JJ wasn’t having any of it: “I don’t hold no grudges on nobody. I just go out every game and try to play well. It wasn’t trying to get back at the Raiders. I love the dudes over there.” I love how chill and good-natured he is about everything.
|Cali cool. The hoodie helps.|
- Randall Cobb also had a nice game. His effort doesn’t necessarily show up in the box score -- 40 yards receiving, 18 yards rushing -- but he had some crucial catches, and his runs opened up the field a bit more. Second-year receiver Jared Abbrederis also played well, catching all three targets that came his way.
|It probably easy to be so good when you have huge, strong, sculpted biceps.|
- I insist on watching Green Bay games all the way till the clock hits zeros, even if the outcome is decided, but ooohhh mmyyy goooosshh this was the game that wouldn’t end! It felt like the third Lord of the Rings movie! The teams were just trading timeouts and penalties! I thought it was maybe just in my head, so I went back and checked: the last three game minutes took 25 real-life minutes!!! TWENTY-FIVE.
- Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has serial killer eyes.
- Injuries continue to be a problem for the Packers. Left tackle David Bakhtieri left the game with an ankle injury (Ahh! No! Please, not Don Barclay!!), and center JC Tretter was limping heavily near the end of the game. Kinda stinks considering how banged up the offensive line has been all season. This is how they came into the game:
|This might have something to do with why the|
Packers couldn't run anything this week.
- A few days after announcing yet another “setback” for Ty Montgomery on what must be the worst ankle sprain in history, Green Bay put the receiver on IR, ending his season. To take his place, the Packers activated tight end Andrew Quarless. Yay!! Andrew Quarless!! Oh no. I’m actually hoping Andrew Quarless is going to save the day.
- The best part of a rather boring game was seeing Charles Woodson. IloveyouCharlescomeback. I, of course, was not happy to see James Starks fumble (again), but I appreciated that Charles was the one who forced it. He also almost intercepted Rodgers, but his teammate grabbed it away from him. Watching Woodson go around and hug all the Packers after the game was, to me, the most interesting part. I won’t admit how hard I was scouring the screen for Woodson talking to Jordy. (I didn’t find them, obviously. Otherwise, that's all that this week's blog would be.)
|Awww they all love each other so much.|
- AAHHH Charles Woodson just announced he’s retiring at the end of the season! Even after 18 years, he’s going out on top. Woodson’s career highlights include the Heisman, a Super Bowl, Defensive Player of the Year, 65 interceptions, 11 interception returns, and 33 forced fumbles. I’m going to miss him! Mostly I’m sad because I’m not going to get to use this picture much anymore:
|Also I NEED him to get a pick-six in the next two games. |
He's only one away from tying the record!
PLEEAASSE Philip Rivers or Alex Smith, throw him a pick-six!
- I always cheer for Ryan Fitzpatrick because the guy scored a 1580 on his SAT, has an economics degree from Harvard, has had a four-touchdown game with four different teams, has five kids -- at least one of whom is a budding math genius -- and is known for never taking off his wedding ring. Naturally, I enjoyed watching Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets mathematically eliminate the Dallas Cowboys from the playoffs on Saturday night. I especially enjoyed how the Jets waited until there were 36 seconds left in the game to kick a field goal to go up three points. Just enough time for Cowboys’ fans to think, “Hey, maybe this is possible. We have one of the best kickers in the league, after all. We just need to get into field goal range. Plus, we finally benched Matt Cassel. That guy’s awful. Now we have Kellen Moore. And I don’t want to jinx us, but our division’s so bad, that there’s still a tiny sliver of hope that something crazy could happen. I mean, if we win this game, then win our last two and get some help from other teams… but it all starts with tonight. Maybe, just maybe, Kellen can pull this off.” And then Moore threw his third interception of the night.
- Before Matt Cassel was benched, he achieved a truly spectacular feat. He threw an interception (surprise), but even though the ball was intercepted, Cassel was still called for intentional grounding! The penalty came because there was not a Dallas receiver in the area. There was another flag for having an ineligible receiver downfield. The whole play was like the Cowboys’ season in a nutshell.
- Maybe it’s because I’ve watched this Vine dozens of time, or maybe because in the last six games he’s completed 75% of his passes, has 12 touchdowns, two interceptions, and an average passer rating of 120, but I think I’m becoming a believer in Kirk Cousins.
- The New York Giants were so close to beating the now 14-0 Carolina Panthers. Carolina’s final two opponents are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons, so New York was pretty much the last chance to defeat the Panthers in the regular season. Carolina was up 35-7 with five minutes left in the third quarter before New York began mounting an improbable comeback. They scored a touchdown, forced a three-and-out, scored a touchdown, and blocked a field goal! All of a sudden, it’s a two-score game! But then Eli Manning, in a very Eli Manning-y way (JK it actually wasn't his fault), threw an interception in the endzone, thus taking all the wind out of the Giants’ sails. BUT THEN, Carolina fumbled the ball, New York scored a touchdown, forced another three-and-out, and scored another touchdown! Oh my gosh! It’s 35-35 with 1:46 left. Carolina goes into we’ve-won-13-games-thank-you-very-much mode and, after returning the kickoff 26 yards, completes passes of nine, two, 16, and 12 yards, just like that. The Panthers are at the 35-yard line with 32 seconds left. That would be about a 52-yard field goal; doable, but tough. The Panthers decide to go for one more play … and the Giants decide not to cover Cam Newton, ya know, the quarterback who has more rushing yards than James Starks. Newton picks up an extra 10 yards, and the Panthers kick a field goal to stay perfect.
- The game wasn’t even where the real drama was between the Panthers and Giants. New York’s fabulous receiver Odell Beckham Jr was matched up with one of the best corners in the league in Carolina’s Josh Norman, and the two struggled to get along. Seriously, it got really ugly. Beckham was called for three unnecessary roughness penalties (Norman was not an innocent bystander in all of this), plus should have been flagged for at least a couple more, like when he grabbed Norman’s ankle as he was walking away, or when he threw a punch at Cortland Finnegan, and Finnegan was called for the penalty. The most egregious instance -- and one that should have led to Beckham’s immediate ejection -- was when Beckham, doubling back on a play, came charging at Norman and blindsided him with a dangerous hit to the helmet. Beckham was rightly suspended for a game.
- The gangrenous NFC East has captured everyone’s disgust as a division, but let’s not overlook the AFC South, which is actually somehow worse (maybe we’re just used to that?). Just when you thought the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans couldn’t be more terrible, both their quarterbacks get injured. Or, to be more accurate, both their backup quarterbacks get injured. So in came the Colts’ third-string QB, Charlie Whitehurst (though Matt Hasselbeck would return) and fourth-stringer Brandon Weeden for the Texans. If Hasselbeck isn’t ready to go next week, the Colts are in some trouble. Whitehurst is the backup, and the emergency quarterback -- receiver Griff Whalen -- was placed on IR on Monday. Things might actually be more dire for Houston, who lost quarterback TJ Yates to a torn ACL. Their season now lies in the hands of Weeden.
- The net gain in the box score on this play is -3, but the ball travels about 100 yards before being recovered by the quarterback who threw it in the first place.
- Poor Justin Blackmon; the kid obviously needs help. The talented wide receiver has a very long history of off-field troubles. He was arrested for a DUI in college, then again his rookie year. The next offseason, he was suspended for testing positive for marijuana. He missed the first four games of the next season serving that suspension, then a few weeks after he came back, he failed another drug test, leading to an indefinite suspension. Several months into that indefinite suspension, Blackmon was arrested for marijuana possession, and went through a rehab program. The league denied his request for reinstatement early this offseason. Then, on Saturday, the 25-year-old was arrested for yet another DUI. I hope he has someone in his circle who cares enough about him to try to get him help.
- Watch #76 on the Chicago Bears in this video. All the way through.
- Next week, the Packers play the Arizona Cardinals and I’M SCARED. If only we still had these two.