It was fitting that Packers cornerback Tramon Williams ended up with the ball on the biggest play of Green Bay’s 21-16 win over the Eagles to finish Wild Card weekend.
An undrafted fourth-year player, Williams has developed from a very raw youngster to one of the best at his position. The young Packers nucleus has grown together and slowly improved for years. Now they have a signature win to prove it, and a date with the Atlanta Falcons in the Divisional Round next Saturday.
This was a total team effort, although the final result was in doubt until Williams intercepted a first down throw from Michael Vick in the end zone with only 27 seconds remaining. Green Bay’s defense bent in the second half, but they forced the Eagles to try field goals too often. (David Akers missed two.)
Clay Mathews played like a Defensive MVP with a sack and a key third down stop of LeSean McCoy. It was just enough to end a season no one saw coming from Vick.
“This one hurt more than any of my previous seasons that I played a full season and had an opportunity to play in the playoffs. I just think, I didn’t finish,” Vick said after the game. “I expected so much out of myself.”
Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdowns, but only for 180 yards on 27 attempts. The offensive MVP for Green Bay was rookie running back James Starks with 123 rushing yards, with a big assist from a Packers offensive line that played great all day. Consider it a very good sign the Packers won without Rodgers lighting up the scoreboard.
Just in case you missed it the first 594 times, this was Rodgers’ first playoff win.
“I never felt like there was a monkey on my back,” Rodgers said after the game to FOX’s Pam Oliver.
The Packers were a team once known for losing close games, for poor special teams play, and for ugly clock management. None of those problems popped up Sunday, except for coach Mike McCarthy’s timid play-calling late in the first half.
This was the natural next step in the development of Rodgers as a great quarterback, and the Packers as title contenders.
Last year, they were the flashy team that ultimately proved more sizzle than substance. The Eagles filled the role this year. Philadelphia can beat you one way — with Vick.
The Packers showed again Sunday they are the most complete team in the NFC, with the ammo to win any style of game.