Packers Pluck The Feathers Out Of The Eagles, Advance To Divisional Game vs. Atlanta On Saturday

These last three MUST wins have been rough on my old Packer ticker, that is for sure. I am sure the next three will be even harder on my heart, but I somewhat like that, it shows that we are still alive in the playoffs as my beloved Packers took another one down to the wire and provided plenty of nervous moments on Sunday for me. This was Green Bay's third straight win in an elimination game. The Packers routed the Giants on Dec. 26 to stay alive in the playoff race, and beat Chicago last week to secure a playoff berth.

Rodgers doesn't have to worry about the ghost of Favre anymore and now has punctuated his impressive resume with his first playoff win in two tries. He's made his own name with the Green Bay Packers, maybe even a little more with this playoff victory in Philly. With three touchdown passes from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a record-setting performance by rookie running back James Starks, and an interception in the end zone by cornerback Tramon Williams with 33 seconds left, all combined to provide a thrilling 21-16 victory over Philadelphia in an NFC Wild Card playoff game in front of 69,144 at Lincoln Financial Field. With the win, the No. 6 seed Packers (11-6) advance to the Divisional round for a game at No. 1 seed Atlanta (13-3) at 7 p.m. (CT) Saturday.

On Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, the temperature was at 30 degrees and winds were blowing close to 20 miles an hour, the conditions weren’t conducive to throwing the ball at will. The ground game was necessary, and it produced. James Starks, a rookie sixth-round draft pick who injured his hamstring prior to training camp and proceeded to miss the first 11 games of the season, carved up the Eagles for 123 rushing yards on 23 carries, also he had two receptions for 9 yards, to help the Packers notch a 21-16 Wild Card playoff win on Sunday. Starks yardage shattered the previous Green Bay rookie record for rushing yards in a playoff game. Travis Williams had 88 yards back on Dec. 23, 1967, against the Los Angeles Rams in Milwaukee.

Scoring for the game started as the Packers went ahead 7-0 late in first quarter on Rodgers' 7-yard TD pass to Tom Crabtree. Rodgers kept the drive going by scrambling away from trouble and tossing a 9-yard pass to John Kuhn on third-and-7. He found a wide-open Crabtree on the next play. It was the first career TD for Crabtree, who had just four catches the entire season. On Green Bay's next drive, Rodgers ran for 8 yards on third-and-5. Then his 9-yard TD pass to James Jones made it 14-0. The Packers should've led 21-3 at halftime except Jones dropped a perfectly thrown deep pass in the final minute that would've been a 63-yard TD. Jones beat Asante Samuel on a fly pattern, but the ball bounced out of his hands. Jones had issues with drops during the season. A disappointed Rodgers fell to his knees and put his hands on his helmet when he saw the ball hit the ground.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers mixed a variety of blitzes and coverage calls, including a spy at times, to keep Vick from knowing what the defense would do. Linebacker Clay Matthews, who had a sack and gave Philadelphia left tackle Winston Justice all kinds of problems. But the play of the game for the defense was when Tramon Williams got his 5-foot-11 frame as high as he could against the 6-3 Cooper and plucked the ball cleanly with two hands for the leaping interception. Williams said he’s been measured at 42½ inches on his vertical jump, and he might have needed all of it to make the play. The defensive stop to end the game was just one of many on Sunday afternoon for a defense that made a name for itself in adverse situations this season. “To finish the game in that manner where the defense wins the game,” Matthews said, “it’s only fitting for us.

The Packers were preseason favorites to reach the Super Bowl, but a slew of injuries have took a toll. Fifteen players went on injured reserve, with Grant and tight end Jermichael Finley among the six starters. One could argue the Packers got here because of their defense, and that defense didn’t let them down when it mattered most. And I like to say that the football Gods were watching out for the Packers a little too!

Heros: Rodgers, Starks and Williams.....E'nuff said!

BOOS: Green Bay overcame an early turnover on a punt when Brandon Underwood was blocked into the ball as it was rolling on the ground and the Eagles recovered at the Green Bay 41. But the defense rose up and got the stop, and Philadelphia kicker David Akers missed wide right on a 41-yard field goal, one of two misses for him on a windy day. And to Jones for his drop of a sure TD before the half......Come On MAN!

Let's go and do some more bird hunting next week in Atlanta! GO! PACK GO!

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