Much will be said, written and just about everything else, about the Green Bay Packers’ 26-25 NCF Divisional-Playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday in front of a raucous sellout crowd on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
Most of the attention will no-doubt go, not to the victors, but to a controversial call — or rule — depending on how you look at it, on a breathtaking, highlight-reel catch then no-catch by Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant on a fourth-down throw by long maligned Dallas quarterback Tony Romo.
Romo, by chance, is an appropriate place to start when we get to the heart of what the lingering legacy of the game dubbed “The Ice Bowl II” should actually be.
The Cowboys’ 11th-year man out of Eastern Illinois has put up Pro-Bowl numbers for the better part of his career under center for Dallas, but it’s what Romo hasn’t done that’s had fans and media questioning the signal-caller for most of that time. Until this season it was Romo’s inability to take Big-D to the playoffs. After getting that monkey off his back this season, Romo and the Cowboys took it a step further last weekend with a 24-20 win over Detroit in the Wildcard round.
Romo was good Sunday as well. The hobbled quarterback went 15-of-19 passing for 191 yards and two touchdowns as Dallas leaned heavily on workhorse running back Demarco Murray against the Packers defense and the 24-degree game-time temperature. He was an inch, maybe even a second-opinion away from another good chunk of yards and most likely another game winning drive if the Bryant pass would have gone Dallas’ way.
But it didn’t. More importantly, on this day, Romo wasn’t Aaron Rodgers.
The same Aaron Rodgers who leads all active NFL quarterbacks in career passer rating, while posting the league’s top mark in the statistic in two of the last three full seasons he’s played — Romo’s 113.2 nipped Rodgers’ 112.2 this season. Rodgers’ 122.5 rating in 2011 is the greatest of all time. He’s the California kid who coolly goes about tearing up opposing defenses as one new name after another creeps into the discussion of just who is the best quarterback in the NFL.
He’s been so good that despite winning an MVP, a Super Bowl, and making stars out of receivers like Greg Jennings — now with Minnesota — and Jordy Nelson, Rodgers has had relatively little opportunity for late-game heroics. Though ranking 4th in quarterback wins since 2008, the first year he took over full-time for Brett Favre, ranks No. 34 behind such names as Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel in fourth-quarter comebacks.
That changed Sunday, even after it was questionable that Rodgers would even play until the middle of the week after aggravating a left-calf strain following a run in with Detroit defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh’s foot in the final week of the regular season.
From the 1:12 mark of the third quarter through the end of the game Rodgers was perfect. He went 10-of-10 for 162 yards passing and the two most important touchdowns since at least that 2011 Super Bowl run.
It started with a 3rd-and-15 strike from near midfield, over the middle to rookie Davante Adams, who changed direction before outracing Dallas defenders to the pylon to draw the Packers to within one heading into the fourth quarter.
After a Cowboys three-and-out Rodgers went to work again.
The one-legged quarterback escaped a sack before shoveling a pass to Andrew Quarless for 13 yards to the Green Bay 33-yard line. After a two-yard run by receiver Randall Cobb, who was lined up as a running back, it was back to Adams on the left side. The rookie broke a tackle, streaking up the sideline 18 yards into Dallas territory. Rodgers found Randall Cobb on back-to-back snaps to move it to the Dallas 27-yard-line. He dumped a quick out and then a shovel-pass off to Quarless for six and eight yards respectively to the Dallas 13-yard line.
On first and ten, Rodgers, whose way of keeping his hands in his removable pocket until just the last moment before the snap leaves the impression of a man unfazed, almost nonchalant about the gravity of the moment, called out the signals, took a shot-gun snap with the pocket quickly collapsing around him, looked left … nothing, thing right … nothing, before and escaping back and to the left. On a regular day Rodgers, a capable runner, would have likely taken off, but on this day the quarterback pulled up from just inside the 20-yard line and fired a laser between Cowboys’ defenders Sterling Moore and J.J Wilcox, just as they converged on Richard Rodgers who’d been streaking along the backside of the end zone.
It was a play — and a pass — worthy of being shown from all angles, and it was, though perhaps not as many as Bryant’s effort on the catch that wasn’t just moments earlier.
Rodgers connected with four different receivers — none of them leading receiver Nelson, who was hounded by the Dallas secondary for 22 yards on two receptions — for a total of eight-straight completions and two touchdowns to over come an eight-point deficit. He would complete two more passes to seal the win on Green Bay’s ensuing drive.
Folks will talk about the Rodgers’ day for years to come, especially in Green Bay.
In a season that’s heard so much about the potential of another Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady matchup in the AFC Championship game, has been enamored with Romo’s first visit to the playoffs since 2009, Rodgers’ touchdown pass is the play that could ultimately lead him and the Packers to a second Super Bowl title in five seasons, and back to the forefront of discussions about the greatest quarterback in the most publicized generation of quarterbacks in NFL history.
With the defending-champion Seahawks and Russell Wilson waiting in Seattle next week, and either Brady or Andrew Luck in a potential Super Bowl, that conversation might just get a whole lot clearer.
I’m actually surprised at how well our final project is turning out. Excellent work between the crew tonight. Beautiful website. Lovely emotional video. Information out the wazoo.
It’s a pretty good feeling. We’re almost done. It’s going to be glorious.
To be honest I haven’t been very happy with my efforts on this project thus far. My blogging and social media are included in that. Motivation has been difficult as the semester has worn on and I take full responsibility for that. I give a lot of credit to my group members Jason, Lance and Alex (in no particular order) of pushing forwards to allow our project to be of high quality.
That’s not to say that there hasn’t been sporadic instances that I’m proud of. I’m happy with my contributions to the Manhattan Emergency Shelter interview, both the interview itself and the story stemming from it. I’m also happy with what I did at the Hot Meals filming and interviews.
As we head down the final stretch and get things ironed out tomorrow my efforts will only get stronger. That said, I’m still a bit disappointed in what I’ve done here so far. Motivation has really been a struggle for me overall as the semester heads to a close. I have reasons, but don’t want to list them for fear they be seen as excuses. I just know that I’m ready to be done with school in general, and that is in no way a reflection of my colleagues or professors or anyone at K-State. It’s a personal deal.
It’s coming down to the wire for our MC 580 project. To my left Jason Beets is putting the finishing touches on our thrift-store owners profile, while Alex (on my right) and Achten and I have written the script and voiced the package featuring Ash and Erin, two people from different walks of life who share a common interest in second-hand goods.
The web story is up (I believe), and we’re pretty proud of the work we’ve put in as a group to get this done.
Saturday: I took a camera to T-La-Re and got additional b-roll at Misti’s store.
Sunday: Lance, Jason and I went to Fort Riley to conduct an interview with Ash, also know as Specialist Luther Washington. I locked my keys in my van holding up the interview for about a half hour and costing me $65 in the process.
Later in the afternoon Jason, Alex and I hit up Erin Bishop for an interview at her house. She’s also an active thrifter.
Monday: Jason got some extra b-roll footage at Grand Ol Trunk.
Tuesday: Cutting and editing the final videos.
At the beginning of this opening project for MC 580 our group: Lance Leonard, Alex Achten, myself and of course Jason Beets decided not to divvy up the project into smaller assignments, but instead work as a group. I’m not sure how much trepidation the other members of our crew had, but I think that the way we went about doing things has worked well for our group thus far for us.
That said, while each member has stepped up in various ways — if you want the details, just ask — I think that Jason Beets has stepped up in a major way and been a tremendous asset for our group overall by offering copious amounts of time and his editing prowess.
Some major editing and voice over rocking and rolling today.
If you couldn’t tell by perusing the sporadic and random posts that make up the majority of this mostly dormant blog, it’s author has a terrible time with the routine of actually writing words in it. It’s not that I can’t write, or don’t want to, I’m simply too goddamned scatterbrained to regularly update the damn thing. I actually love to write. I keep a hand-written journal — again, mostly dormant — and even attempted to track my fishing exploits for awhile in a fishing journal. All that is outside of my work as a sports reporter, and hobby as an avid message board poster and tweeter.
But enough about me, our project is coming along swimmingly. Alex Achten, Jason Beets, Lance Leonard and myself have made some great progress and are now in the process of editing our audio and video. It took awhile to get the ball rolling, but after narrowing down our topic at the pleading of Sam Mwangi, and a few of our classmates, to an in-depth look at thrifting and second-hand stores in the local area.
Such a unique business model — models, really — has proven to become an interesting and thought-provoking topic. We’ve mostly been working with the owners of two stores. T-La-Re, and the Grand ol’ Trunk have both provided us with a lot of insight, as well as video interviews and some much appreciated candor.
With the deadline fast approaching, I personally am trying to lock down another interview with a woman that I know will give us an interesting take on the perspective of one who frequents these businesses and why she’s drawn to them.
What has Wichita State done this season to warrant a No. 1 seed?
Point is that what happened last season does not count. It may count in the polls (to some voters). But any computer, or aggregate of rankings dismisses last season’s accomplishments out of hand. Why? Because last season is just that last season.
It’s unfortunate for the Shockers that some of their marquee non-conference games featured opponents who probably weren’t as good as their original billing. It’s unfortunate that Creighton left the Valley for the Big East. It’s unfortunate that Valley foes like Northern Iowa and Missouri State aren’t up to par this season. All of that plays into the notion that there is no objective basis to put the Shockers on the No. 1 line. None.
You can look at:
Ken Pomeroy’s rankings – http://kenpom.com/.
The BPI – http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/bpi.
The Massey Composite, which features basically every single ratings metric known to man – http://www.masseyratings.com/cb/compare.htm.
The (gasp) RPI, which is a terrible metric for ranking individual teams – http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/rpi.
None of these have the Shockers on the 1-line. None. And a majority have them clinging to a No. 2 seed. It isn’t about how good Wichita State it. It is about what, under the circumstances, they will never be able to do to prove how good they are.
They’ll probably get a No. 2 seed in the Midwest with Kansas as the No. 1 seed. Hell, K-State may get an 8 or 9 in the same region. One thing is for certain, come March none of the crowing either for or against the Wichita State will matter, only what happens on the court.
Note: This may qualify as a “hot sports take.” I sure hope not.