Monday Morning Reverie: The Wildcard Edition

1. Amazing what a running game can do for an offense.  Without the contributions that James Starks made to the Packers offense on Sunday night, Green Bay could not have beaten the Philadelphia Eagles.  In cold weather, facing a talented and well coached team, the Packers needed to have a physical presence in the running game to take the pressure off Aaron Rodgers.  Starks brought just that.

His 123 rushing yards (a Packers postseason record for a rookie) were just what the doctor ordered.  At next week's game in Atlanta conditions will suit the Packer's passing game, but Coach Mike McCarthy would be remiss if he forgot the run game that got him through the wildcard round.

2. Development is tantamount to a Ted Thompson managed team.  Many of his signings and draft picks aren't players who contribute to the team right off the bat but through good coaching they turn into impact players.  Several of those players were on display on Saturday night, especially on the defensive side of the ball.  Desmond Bishop, Nick Collins and Cullen Jenkins are terrific examples but it was Tramon Williams whose interception sealed the deal.

Williams improvement over his career is well documented but that doesn't make it any less impressive.  He has gone from defensive liability to shutdown corner and gives hope to the prospects of players like Charlie Peprah and Jarrett Bush.  Peprah has been better than average as a fill-in safety for the injured Atari Bigby and Morgan Burnett.  The jury is still out on Bush, but it was on Tramon Williams just a couple years ago too.

3. It Seemed Like every time Donald Driver caught the ball on Sunday night it was in a situation where Green Bay absolutely needed the completion.  I'm sure there is a statistic for how many of his catches were for first downs but I don't have it.

What I do know is Driver came up big for Aaron Rodgers on a night where Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson were shutdown and James Jones (unsurprisingly) couldn't catch.  The veteran may be running on fumes for the rest of this season but he'll give everything he's got.  He left the game with an injury and hopefully it wasn't serious because while Driver's production can be replaced his leadership can't.

4. The Run that Marshawn Lynch made against the New Orleans Saints on Saturday afternoon was a monster in effort, power and bad tackling.  Sure the Saints did an awful job of tackling on that play but the way that Lynch threw down defensive back Tracy Porter was the exclamation point on an impressive performance by Seattle.

Even so, one run doesn't make up for the poor season Lynch had.  If he can parlay this into a strong postseason and get the Seahawks another win than maybe I would think the Packers should've dealt for him when the Bills were trading.  Until then it's just one play, albeit a phenomenal one.

5. Overtime has been a killer for the Badger men's hockey team in recent years.  The Badgers hadn't won a game in OT since October of 2007 - before Saturday night.  After blowing a 3-0 lead Bucky tied visiting Canisius on a Craig Smith goal with just over three and a half minutes to play.

That set the stage for another overtime game for Wisconsin, but Saturday night's story had a different ending.  Defenseman Justin Schultz lit the lamp to give the Badgers the win and the series sweep.  Schultz is the team's second leading scorer and Wisconsin has now won seven straight heading into next weekend's series at No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth.


  1. Another point on "missing" on Lynch: Most reports had AJ Hawk as the probable trade bait. There really is no telling how things would have changed had the trade gone down, but considering Hawk's teammates voted him to be a playoff captain, his peers obviously view him as an important leader. The vaunted Green Bay defense would look much different without him.

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