Hopefully this game starts rebuilding the mystique of Lambeau in the playoffs. After ten years of hit and miss games at home in the playoffs the Packers put together a strong performance on both sides of the ball and dominated the Minnesota Vikings. It’s always a good feeling to beat a division rival in the playoffs. It’s an even better feeling to notch a playoff win over the Vikings who won in the only other postseason game between the two teams. Best of all though is that this beat down pretty much washed the awful taste of the whole Randy Moss fake mooning thing out of my mouth. The best analogy I can draw is that the beat down the Packers gave to the Falcons in 2010 helped soothe the hurt of Michael Vick and the Falcons giving the Packers their first home playoff loss.
Lots of good performances to talk about on an individual basis this week. What I always find interesting is going to be the distinction between MVP and WCHW in a win such as Saturday’s. It was a defensive win where the Packers tried to force a run game for a good portion of the second half. As a result much of the impactful plays were seen along the offensive line or in the defense doing their job. Does that mean those guys should get MVP nods – they were critical to the win – or should they get WCHW nominations since that seems to be more the style of that award? Usually it depends on the opinion of each person, but it typically turns out to be a fun debate either way.
Despite that debate there were still some players who have a clear cut nomination for MVP of the Week in addition to those who dwell in the gray area between the two awards. Let’s meet the nominees….
QB Aaron Rodgers – Man this guy is good. He did not put up the super fantastic numbers this week in yards or touchdowns, but that doesn’t matter. He was accurate. He was efficient. He was too much for the Vikings’ defense to handle. When Rodgers has a game like that he’s too much for most defenses to handle.
LB Clay Matthews – Not all sacks are created equal. If Matthews only registered his first sack of the night then it might have been a disappointing night for the Claymaker. The second sack was a thing of beauty though, getting a strip sack and recovering the fumble. Huge play on a fourth down. Matthews also was key in the running game getting four tackles and one tackle for a loss.
CB Sam Shields – Shields led the team in total tackles (7), solo tackles (5), passes defended (2), and got the only interception of the night for the Packers. I’m not sure what more I can say about what he did other than with the night Shields and Tramon Williams put in, it wasn’t just Joe Webb being awful that made the Vikings one dimensional.
RB DuJuan Harris – There are two sides to the Harris’ game on Saturday. Early in the game he was everything the Packers needed him to be. He was running quick and hard, but most important he was running well enough to take some pressure off the running game. Best of all he looked pretty good in the screen game as well. The second half bogged down his numbers though and he ended up with a dreadful 2.8 YPC. Still though it’s hard to argue that he was the second most important offensive player on Saturday, second only to Rodgers.
WR Greg Jennings – It seems Jennings has saved his best for last this year. He made some terrific catches and led the team in receiving yards and targets. The play he made on fourth and five early in the game was just a thing of beauty and showed why the Packers need him out there. Unfortunately it probably also raised his price tag a little bit more which decreases the odds of his return next year.
WR James Jones – Ho hum….caught four passes on four targets at critical times. No big deal for Jones this year.
FB John Kuhn – Why is he here and not WCHW? The plays that Kuhn made on Saturday weren’t in those selfless ways that you would expect a WCHW to contribute. It wasn’t even in the ways that got him the very first WCHW, namely, blocking and special teams tackles. Rather he made a few plays by the goal line that got him in the highlights and build to the folk hero legend that has already built up. Great night and a critical piece to the win, but not your typical FB performance.
As I said earlier, this week there are lots of player in the grey area between MVP and Working Class Hero, so if there is someone you feel I left out feel free to nominate them in the comments section. Otherwise vote early and often and let’s just savor this playoff win.