GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 15: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks on in the third quarter against the New York Giants during their NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 15, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The Green Bay Packers defensive had its usual poor performance. Poor coverage and not enough of a pass rush led to a big game for Hakeem Nicks (165 yards, 2 touchdowns) and the Giants had 422 yards of offense. The two long touchdown passes to Nicks in the first half were especially embarrassing as Charlie Peprah failed to wrap up on one tackle, and the defensive backs failed to knock a Hail Mary pass down in the end zone.
The defense had been giving up yards, while forcing turnovers this season. However, they only had one interception by Morgan Burnett, and it ended up having no effect on the game. While the defense didn't help much, it was the offensive struggles that lost them it.
Aaron Rodgers had a respectable 264 yards passing and 2 touchdowns (plus 66 yards rushing) but that wasn't quite up to his usual great standards this season. His one interception was a meaningless pick in the final minute after the Packers were down by 17 points. Throughout the game the offense had missed opportunity after missed opportunity.
At least 8 drops by the receivers. Several receivers (Finley, Nelson, Crabtree, Starks, Grant) all had drops, but Finley was the only one I recall having multiple drops. He also missed a wide open catch early in the fourth quarter that could have kept them in the game. No single one of these lead to the loss, but it's almost impossible to have that many missed opportunities and expect to win.
Three fumbles. The first one was by John Kuhn (after the Burnett fumble) and it lead to a Giants field goal. Later, Rodgers had the ball slapped out of his hand just as he was about to throw a touchdown pass to a wide open receiver. Then in the fourth quarter, when they were only down by ten, Ryan Grant fumbled after a first down reception and it led to another Giants touchdown shortly thereafter.
Missed touchdown passes to Greg Jennings. On the Packers first drive, they settled for a field goal after Rodgers missed Greg Jennings by a couple yards when he was wide open. Then on the Rodgers fumble, Jennings was released uncovered but Rodgers couldn't get the pass off before it was knocked out of his hand. And the final one was a pass into the end zone into tight coverage, but the ball did go off his fingers.
In both losses this season (to the Chiefs, then the Giants) the offense was disrupted by turnovers and drops. It only happened twice this season, only once at home, and it couldn't have happened at a worse time. The Giants played hard and deserved to win the game based on their offensive performance, but the Packers offensive struggles were more self-inflicted then anything else.
Unfortunately the offseason is starting much earlier than I expected, but the team just completed a 2011 year in which they won a Super Bowl and only lost one game. They deserve credit for an outstanding 15-1 season, and I expect to see them playing for the NFC Championship game again next year.