Well, it was one hell of game on Sunday, as the Green Bay Packers pulled out an improbable 37-36 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Since you were probably snoozing during at least half of this game, here are 10 things you might have missed.
1. To defer > To receive
I tend to bring this up almost every week, but I believe teams should always defer. I believe Green Bay’s comeback was set up in the locker room at halftime based upon the fact that the Packers chose to defer and were to get the ball first in the second half.
One could argue the Packers deferring also set the stage for them to fall behind in the first half and there is some limited truth to that. However as I’ve argued before, no matter what situation you might find yourself in from the start of the game until the first play of the third quarter, the outlook is far more positive when you choose to defer.
When you’re getting beat up on the scoreboard early it never seems as bad and gives a plausible reason as to why, and when you’re ahead it provides you with the motivation to go for an early dagger.
I wasn’t there so I don’t know but I’d be willing to wager that the Packers getting the ball first in the second half was a major part of the rally cry in the halftime speeches.
The only negative point about deferring would be any letdown suffered from not scoring to start the second half. And make no mistake about it, if the Packers failed to get points in that spot it was almost certainly game over.
I would argue that any momentum or fuel used by a team that has deferred expires the moment they fail to score in the second half and could lead to an emotional letdown. Should there be a letdown the severity of said letdown depends on how important that first possession is to the overall outcome of the game. In this case with the Packers trailing by 23 at the half, they likely were depending on that first possession to spark a run. They had to have it. Had they not gotten it the chances of the air leaving the balloon was very likely.
To counter this one negative, as witnessed in this case, if the team that has deferred comes out and scores to start the second half they can carry that momentum for the entire second half. In my opinion the value gained from this momentum far trumps the negative of any letdown scenario.
The upside is too great. The downside is too minimal. Deferring can never be wrong.
2. No thanks. We won’t be needing that.
The Packers comeback was improbable. We all know that. But Green Bay managed to tie the record for the biggest comeback in franchise history without ever needing to convert on a fourth down.
I mean think about that. The Packers didn’t just come back… they freaking dominated in the second half. I attempted to find out if there had been a bigger comeback in league history without needing to convert on fourth down, but my efforts proved unsuccessful. If anyone should discover that the Packers set the bar in this regard, please be a sport and let us know. I feel like there’s a reasonable chance that this is a NFL record.
3. Boykin he catch.
Does this guy have great mits or what? Jarrett Boykin only had two meaningless catches for 19 yards in the first half, but came on in the second half when he was needed finishing with six catches on six targets for 83 yards. Boykin seems to have a rare combination of powerful yet soft hands, which has made him very reliable no matter how contested the coverage.
And this guy is silky smooth once he gets the ball.
Boykin plays fast, runs great routes, and catches the ball. He is a perfect example of how a player with a subpar 40-yard dash shouldn’t be dismissed too easily. He’ll be with this team for years to come.
4. Dude… what the hell!
Rookie Josh Boyd made some noise on Sunday when called upon to fill in for the injured Johnny Jolly. His crowning moment came on a DeMarco Murray run around the left end with 9:03 left in the third quarter. Running from his down position on the left side of the defensive line, Boyd ran parallel to the line of scrimmage while shedding a blocker the entire way, kept his eye on Murray’s progress, bypassed B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett who were engaged by blockers, and put a big hit on the crafty Murray after a gain of 6.
Even more impressive was Boyd’s acrobatic somersault to his feet after laying Murray out. As the two walked back to the huddle it appeared Murray did a double take and said something to Boyd.
It was probably something along the lines of, “How the hell did you get to me from way over there?”
5. Can’t help but talk about Tramon again.
In a “what have you done for me lately” type of league, lately Tramon Williams has played lights out. I had all but ruled him as gone after this season. Now, I don’t know what to think as his return to Pro Bowl form has been pretty damn astounding.
6. A commercial break is not break time.
It’s not too often the graphics team on Fox drops the ball, at least in a way where anyone would really notice or care. But coming back from commerical to start the fourth quarter on Sunday, everyone in the production truck decided to take a little nap.
That’s probably not true at all. As someone who works in television graphics, I would venture to guess that the production crew probably got caught up in the moment and was enjoying the game just like everyone else. When they went to commercial break to end the third quarter instead of focusing on their jobs, they probably were talking about the amazing Packers and inept Cowboys. This resulted in one of the most glaring graphical errors at an inopportune moment that I’ve noticed on a Fox NFL broadcast. I’m sure there have been much worse though.
We fade up from black to see a nice beauty shot of the inside of AT&T Stadium (it feels so weird calling it that) and the sound of Joe Buck trying to verbally set the stage for the final quarter of what was shaping up to be an improbable Packers comeback on the road.
But there was one huge problem… the scoreboard graphic in the upper left hand corner said 15:00 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, as if we were just coming back from halftime rather than just about to start the fourth quarter.
I must have done a quadruple take and I’m sure some of you did as well. And even though I watched the entire game without consuming one alcoholic beverage and downright KNEW it was the start of the fourth quarter, right then and there that error on the scoreboard made me take pause. I can only imagine that those doing some serious partying during the game were even more confused.
“Did we just come back from halftime?”
“Noooo. It’s the end of the third quarter. Wait, isn’t it?
“It says start of third quarter right there.”
“We’re only down twelve points with a whole half to go? We’re going to kill these guys!”
Did you catch it? It was pretty tough to miss because it was up there for so long. You had a full minute before someone finally noticed and fixed it live. Suddenly the 3rd quarter graphic magically dissolved into the 4th as the Deko operator made the switch.
This doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to the layperson, but a ton of people had to miss that mistake for it to make it live on the air. The fact it happened out of a commercial break makes it that much less forgivable, as there is time to review upcoming elements. You can be sure one or more people got severely chewed out or worse for that blunder.
“Oh see! It says fourth quarter now. They fixed it.”
“Told ya. Drunk bastard.”
7. The maturation of McCarthy?
When Mike McCarthy was uncharacteristically keeping his composure as a play caller in the face of a big deficit and actually running the football in the second half, I had one eye on the clock but also found myself nodding in agreement. This was one of the rare moments where I can honestly say I was proud of coach McCarthy and feel like maybe he learned a little something.
As the Packers were putting together the last couple drives sprinkled heavily with running plays, I couldn’t help but think of Bill Walsh and the 49ers who used to do the same when teams schemed heavily for and expected the pass.
Yes… I just kinda-sorta compared McCarthy to Walsh, without question the highest compliment I’ve ever bestowed upon our coach.
Good job, Mike.
8. Aikman’s Achings
Troy Aikman had to be hating life watching it all unfold, but he did call it out right away that Dallas needed to run. Perhaps it was his incessant brow-beating of the subject that led to the Monday morning chatter about the Cowboys refusal to use the running game.
All I kept thinking throughout the second half was, “Shut the hell up, Troy! Let them do what they want!”
9. Let’s not Quarless about this.
Tight end Andrew Quarless is stepping his game up, but he needs to be smart. Several times after making big catches Quarless routinely spins the ball at the foot of an opponent or haphazardly tosses it away. I have seen much less get flagged for delay of game.
You’re doing well Andrew. Don’t mess it up by being stupid. Hand the ball to the official and get back to the huddle.
10. How do you not see that?
How did the ref not see Tramon Williams interception? That is the one that was officially an interception. There was a linesman with a perfect view and perfect angle of the play no more than 10 feet away, staring a hole in the ball as he watched it unfold. Yet somehow he gets it dead wrong, emphatically waving that it’s incomplete. Pitiful.
Troy Aikman actually stated that the Packers needed to call timeout in order to get the replay assistant to review it, but according to the gamebook on NFL.com the review was instigated from upstairs.