Hours before the highly-anticipated playoff meeting between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings it was announced starting quarterback Christian Ponder was inactive with an elbow injury.
Enter back-up Joe Webb who was actually trending on twitter for much of Wild-Card Saturday.
What started as good trending (“Webb is super fast and runs the read-option, something the Packers haven’t seen”) quickly turned into bad trending when the audience learned Webb cannot throw a football.
Subsequently, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers picked apart the Vikings in a 24-10 win.
What It Means: The Packers are finally healthy and appear to have figured out how to mask some of their deficiencies. The offensive line did a commendable job by keeping Rodgers’ jersey clean on only five quarterback hits. MVP candidate Adrian Peterson managed only 99 yards on 22 carries with credit due to Dom Capers and his game-plan to stack the box and prevent AP from getting into open space. Match this game with the Packers destruction of the Tennessee Titans and you can say this team has some momentum. Whether it will be enough in the divisional round will be entertaining to see.
Player of the Game: DE Erik Walden (Sack, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits)
Clay Matthews was as great as he usually is with two sacks, forced fumble and recovery. Though it was Walden who exceeded expectations and elevated his play to have the most success containing Webb and chasing the speedy quarterback down in the first half. Walden will need to play with similar energy and instinct against Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers next week. Turning it on in the playoffs is nothing new for Walden who had three sacks in the Packers win over the Bears in the NFC Championship in 2010.
Highlight of the Game: It would be a delight to revisit Webb’s follies as they were very entertaining, but the Packers best play came in the third quarter when fullback John Kuhn showed unforeseen agility to take in a nine yard touchdown pass from Rodgers. Kuhn’s helicopter motion and ability to stay on his feet after the failed tackle helped the Packers take a commanding 24-3 lead.
Stat of the Game (1): Webb became the first quarterback in NFL history to start a playoff game without attempting one single pass during the regular season. (via ESPN Stats and Information)
What’s Next: Green Bay gets their chance to avenge a 30-22 loss to the 49ers at home in the regular season opener. This time around, they have to travel to San Francisco where the 49ers have a 6-1-1 record. If the Packers can win as underdogs next week, they will root for the Seahawks (or Redskins) to give them a shot for another home game in the NFC Championship game.
What did you think of the Packers big playoff win over the Vikings? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at email@example.com.
Pictures obtained from Packers.com.