The day the ‘Boys came to town

Game day approaches

Photo source:

Photo source:

As Sunday (13th Jan 2015) drew closer, I started to think about what our chances of winning this game were, of course, I always believed the Packers would win, what fan wouldn’t?

Talking amongst my friends, who all were suddenly Cowboys’ cheerleaders, the bravado was strong and nothing was going to beat my Packers. As 6pm grew closer my thoughts turned to Aaron Rodgers and his injury, could he play well enough to beat them or just outscore the momentum juggernaut of the Dallas Cowboys.

Prior to the game both Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers were quoted as saying that he was ‘feeling good’ but with injuries you can never be 100% sure what will happen.

There were many conspiracy theories about Rodgers’ injury and whether it was as serious as they had made out initially or whether it was all for show. The real question to these would be; why? Why bother making up the severity of the injury?

And as Aaron Rodgers walked out and slowly jogged across the field I know that I breathed a sigh of relief that it didn’t look to be hurting or even bothering him that much. Later on in the game during one of the Packers’ drives the cameras watched Rodgers moving up the field doing a skip/jog to try to keep pressure off of the left calf, for a moment you thought; ‘Oh god! Has he pulled it again somehow?’ before realising that he was fine just being cautious.

It became obvious throughout the game that Rodgers was unwilling to use his twinkle-toed scrambling ability to get out of the pocket because of the injury, I personally have always felt that although he is great in the pocket, whilst on the run he is his most amazing. The speed and agility he has out of the pocket is rarely matched in the NFL and the ease and accuracy of his throws are only outshone by the fact that many of them are throws across his body, something that most other QB’s struggle with.

However Football is a team game, without a good QB you may be in trouble, but without a decent team to back him up you are in a whole lot more trouble.

Whilst Rodgers was stuck in the pocket the offensive line did a pretty good job of keeping him safe, only being sacked once for a loss of 10 yards, even the best have their off moments, right?

Here are Rodgers stats for the game:

Aaron Rodgers stats for the 11/01/15 game

                  Aaron Rodgers stats for the 11/01/15 game

The First Quarter begins

Nervously I watch the Cowboys come out onto the field and line up for the first play of the game, knowing that they love the Run and that is our defense’s kryptonite, I watch Romo give the ball to Murray again and again, but to my surprise he’s going nowhere!

The downs are coming and going with not much movement of the line of scrimmage and before I know it they are three and out. I start to get excited, I know that my Packers love to have an explosive start to a game and this season; first drive = first score.

And this is where they say, ‘Sure our QB might be injured but we can still run the ball’ and they break out Eddie Lacy. In eight of the nine next plays Lacy throws all he has into his runs for a total of 45 yards.

Some are only short runs but Lacy manages to break free and runs for 19 yards, taking the Packers into the Cowboys territory.


Eddie tries to help the Cowboys out by showing them which way he is going to run

The Packers continue their march down the field and with a few more pushes find themselves on the 4 yard line, Lacy cannot get through so they change their tactics. An incomplete pass follows to Adams, and then something happened, that made my heart race, Rodgers ran out of the pocket! Straight down the middle, for a second I thought that he was going to run it into the end zone himself, but he stopped and threw the ball forwards, between two Cowboys defensive players into the arms of Quarless. TOUCHDOWN!

At this point I obviously threw my arms up, yelled a ‘YES!’ or a ‘Wahoo!’ or two, and then smugly went to my messenger where I was live game chatting with my Cowboys fan friend, Tex. I tried not to rub it in too much, his response was ‘there is still plenty of football left to play’ and boy was he right!

The Cowboys used the next drive to show us that they were still up for the fight and had scored by the end of the drive, it was 7 – 7 by the end of the first quarter, but this time it was us that had gone three and out and Rodgers got sacked.

Had the momentum gone already?

As I watched the 2nd Quarter I started to think it had, we seemed to lumber through it and it reminded me of the beginning of the season. The incomplete passes were reminiscent of those first few games when Rodgers and his receivers were not quite on the same page.

With a couple of quick passes and small runs we were off down the field again, but as Rodgers set up for the next play on the Dallas 27 yard line he clapped his hands, Linsley (Centre) took this to mean he was ready and snapped the ball, Rodgers who was not (was looking across the field) was hit in the chest with the ball. The ball miraculously bounces back up and Rodgers is able to catch it and moves off with the ball, however Rodgers is brought down by Mincey and as he falls the ball comes out and goes underneath him behind his back and is recovered by Mincey and Dallas get the ball back. My heart stops. I watched with hands to the head, then over the eyes in stereotypical sports fan style. I could not believe it, it led to a conversation in the room about the other times that Corey Linsley has snapped before Rodgers was ready, and for a moment I was cursing Linsley, but then I thought, maybe Rodgers shouldn’t have clapped at that point.

And so, what begins to feel like the longest ever Quarter continued, Dallas had the ball back and had scored another touch down, we had another drive that went nowhere and Dallas got the ball back again. It was 14 – 7 and we couldn’t head into half time 14 points down, our defense just had to make a stop here.

I had faith in our defense though and as the Cowboys struggled to move the ball and our defense stepped up I breathed a sigh of relief as they stopped them on our 33 yard line. I watched Romo throw a short pass to Witten who steps one pace forward before being pushed backwards, and the Officials signal it as a first down. I. was. outraged! In no way was that a first down, they were a couple of yards shy of that yellow first down line, I was sure of it. I carefully watched the replays as they showed him take that step forward and then fall backwards. At this point I complained to my friend Tex that it was not right and even as a Cowboys fan he agreed and sure enough the officials reviewed it and called it back to the 27 yard line.

That made it 3rd and 1, and Romo fumbled, (cue scream and armshalf up in the air from me) and recovered his own fumble but thenthrew an incomplete pass. They went for a field goal and.. MISSED, this made me very happy only for a flag to appear and after being penalised for a False Start they had another go, and they missed this as well! I could not believe it, we were safe from further points for that little bit longer and got the ball back with 29 seconds to go.

McCarthy: 'You've gone a bit to the right there..'

McCarthy: ‘You’ve gone a bit to the right there..’

The Packers immediately get back into the swing of things with a ‘no huddle – shotgun pass’ from Rodgers to Cobb, called as a complete pass on the field this was reviewed in the booth. Meanwhile, I am watching the replays thinking ‘well that is obviously in look at this toes about 4 inches away from the line, I may not know much but even I know that is in!’ The call stands. Phew!

Then came the Sack, that heart-wrenching fear mongering sack to Rodgers for a loss of 10 yards. I watched in trepidation as Rodgers got up, hoping he hadn’t been injured further, cursing that damn Cowboys team.. in general.

After what seemed like the longest timeout in the history of NFL the Packers lined up again, and Rodgers manages to get a pass out to Cobb for 31 yards, with 8 seconds left on the clock and further into Cowboys territory. And as I cursed Adams for another incomplete pass, I thought; ‘please don’t choke, please don’t choke!’ With a field goal ending the half we were looking at starting the second half at 14 – 10, a much more manageable and less daunting score.

The Second half that tried to kill me…

The 3rd quarter started off slow, very very slow, we came onto the field, we came off of the field, luckily so were the Cowboys, we had a few penalties called on our defense and a challenge upheld and as it dragged on I started to worry.

The momentum of the end of the second half had gone, we were not getting the same traction that we had previously. Even with the recovery of a fumble by Murray it seemed we were unable to do anything with it, other than maybe run down the clock, but we were still 4 points down. Suddenly, Eddie Lacy bursts down the field for a 29 yard run, I was amazed as nothing seemed to stop the bulldozer that was Lacy.

This was short-lived however as a fight breaks out,  now I understand that tempers can flare, and we can’t hear exactly what they are shouting at each other, but when you get in a fight you are putting your team in the firing line, because if they penalise you, they penalise the team. We lost 15 yards in the redzone because Lang and a couple of Cowboys couldn’t control their emotions. If that had been at the end of the 4th quarter and we didn’t score off of that drive, that would have been the reason we lost, and for what? Bravado?

A promising drive ruined however Crosby managed to get us a field goal after that monstrosity so it was 14-13, only a point divided us, the heat was on. Dallas responded to this with another touchdown, and as I cursed Murray’s birth and the score changed to 21-13, I thought ‘here we go again!’

Another fumble and another penalty meant we started on our own 10 yard line, we had 4:04 left on the clock, and we knew that we could do something in that time, but whether it was good or bad was up for grabs. And boy was it good! A few good passes from Rodgers quickly moved us down the field and closer and closer to that redzone, similarly I was moving closer and closer to the edge of my seat.

Two incomplete passes from Rodgers meant we were moving nowhere fast, with yet another penalty we were moved back to the 46 yard line, and I was fully in Sofa-Head Coach mode talking to the players, sometimes I think being able to control them like Madden players would relieve a lot of stress from watching Football, at least then it’s your fault and you can do something about it… like turn off the console and walk away pretending you were doing fine but the washing up really needed to be done.

At this point Rodgers proved why he should be Season MVP as he threw to Adams for 46 yards into the end zone for a touchdown! Much yelling, cheering and being smug to Tex ensued. Or in the words of Monty Python: And there was much rejoicing.

Adams had spent the earlier part of the game missing a lot of catches, some through his own fault some not, but still I was certain that he was mostly to blame for us not leading in points for most of the game. But there was only a point in it again, we were 21-20 and after sacking Romo (again) we were headed into a very exciting 4th Quarter.

We started the 4th quarter strong with yet another sack on Romo, and I will take a minute here to congratulate the defense on their efforts, they played well, not amazingly well but they stopped the Cowboys at crucial points. Sure it would have been nicer for the Cowboys to have a little less points on the board (or none at all) but with Murray and Bryant that was never going to happen. So if you are reading this Green Bay Packers Defense, give yourselves a pat on the back and a jolly well done!

Within 8 plays of getting the ball back we had another touchdown, for the first time in since the first drive of the game we were in the lead 21 – 26, our 2-point conversion did not work, but it meant that the Cowboys had to score a touchdown to win, no field goals here, thank you! At this point in our living room I am bouncing off the walls, I am twittering to death and certain that I will crash my twitter feed or at least run my battery out before the game was finished.

Then after another sack on Romo came the most talked about part of the game, that Romo pass to Dez Bryant.

Romo threw for 31 yards to our 1 yard line, the Officials called it complete, however me and Mike McCarthy (we are great friends) had other ideas. I will show you how I reacted in my tweets:

Prior to challenge: 

After challenge thrown and won: 

Yes, we won the challenge. No, it is not because we are ‘paying the refs’ (a saying that I hate and find very childish whenever a team doesn’t get their way they assume bribery is the cause). We won it because those are the rules!

The rule has 3 steps (ironically):

1. A receiver must have a firm grip and control of the ball once the catch is made.

2. A receiver must have two feet down, or any part of his body other than his hands down, in the field of play.

3. A receiver must make a football move in the field of play; examples of this would include the ability to pitch the ball, to turn under his own accord and to advance the ball forward.

Please do not cry foul play to me, proof below.

My friend Tex was not happy about this but said the right call was made, and then chirped in our Lions’ fan friend who simply said ‘karma’ after the controversy of the last playoff game the Cowboys has when a flag was picked up on a Pass Interception call that cost the Lions the game.

As this was a 4th down the Cowboys had to give the Packers the ball back on the Packers 33 yard line and after moving the ball down a the field into the Cowboys territory it came to a running down of the clock, and 3 spiked balls later and we were moving onto the next round!!

Again cue cheering, dancing and being smug at the non-believers!

Next week: 18th January 2015 we move to Seattle to play the Seahawks, this will be an interesting game and I hope that we learn from some of the mistakes of this game. As Rodgers has been quoted as saying they are not the same team of week 1 (when we were beaten by the Seahawks) however as defending champions we need to make sure we bring our A-game!

Come and join me on Sunday @ 2:05 CST or 8:05pm GMT for us Brits! When I will be live tweeting on @Fordith 

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Thanks for reading!


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