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Inbox: More clutch moments are on their way

He’ll be coming at them every chance the Giants get

K Anders Carlson
K Anders Carlson

James from Willand, UK

Hi Mike, I watched Coach LaFleur's 1-on-1 with Larry. Are you tempted to add a liquid paper apostrophe to the sign outside room LH09? Coaches' locker room.

Don't get me started, bro. I mean, chap.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Hi Mike, three rookie tight ends have caught touchdowns. That has to be a pretty rare accomplishment.

First time in NFL history, in the Super Bowl era. I think that qualifies as rare.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Mike, I'm looking forward to MNF. What are the greatest mismatches for both teams in the upcoming game? Specifically, are the Giants especially weak going against an area where the Packers are especially strong? What about the other way?

The Giants have struggled in a lot of areas. Defensively, they're 28th in yards allowed and 26th in points, but they're fifth in third-down defense, so they have their moments. Offensively, they're last in the league in yards and 31st in points, mostly because they haven't protected their quarterbacks and therefore haven't thrown the ball effectively. But they have Barkley, who averaged 90 yards per game over a five-game stretch after returning from injury until the Patriots slowed him down last week. The Packers' run defense, as everyone knows, has been inconsistent and is ranked 30th overall in yards. A rested and ready Barkley? He'll be coming at them every chance the Giants get.

Clipton from Pasadena, CA

I see the Giants announced that Tommy DeVito will start in place of the injured Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor this week. I assume he was elevated from the taxi squad. (Please don't ban me.)

I won't, but you can show yourself out.

Rick from Woodstock, GA

Our tackling looked really bad on Sunday. Too much grabbing and not enough actual hitting. With Barkley coming up next, he could have a career day if we don't tackle better. He hurt us in London in the second half, and I sure hope he doesn't do that again. Injuries played a role there, but improvement needs to be stressed for a runner like him. I understand the philosophy of "bend, don't break," but it sure gets tough to watch at time. Go Pack Go!

The Packers have had their bouts with poor tackling this season and have found ways to rebound from them. The first Detroit game was poor, then it shaped up, then it left them again in Pittsburgh, before looking much better for two games (minus one egregious miss vs. Chargers), and then another rough night. Why the lapses? I don't know. It's football. But I expect that aspect to come back around again.

Rob from Spring Lake, NJ

I am going to the Giants-Packers game on Monday night, and needed another ticket. What I discovered made me want to share with all Packer fans who live in the NY metro area – there are tons of tickets available, including literally hundreds selling for as low as $41/seat. Let's rock Met Life with many "Go Pack GO!" cheers!

There you have it, New Yorkers. No excuses.

Robert from Saginaw, MI

There is a Jeff from Green Bay with season tickets six seats away from mine who is Lukas Van Ness' neighbor. Sunday morning he shoveled Lukas' driveway telling him he should save his legs for the game. Jeff showed me the text Lukas sent him saying with fresh legs he would be sure to get a sack Sunday night. I think we owe a shout-out to Jeff from Green Bay.


Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

I always love watching the locker room footage and game ball presentations. Coach does a great job, and with some colorful language to edit out. My question is what goes on after a loss? How does it play out?

I haven't been in the locker room immediately after a game since the McCarthy era, but I witnessed two different types of postgame gatherings after losses. Either the coach would just keep it short, saving his speech for the next day, and tell the players to take care of their bodies and be ready to get back to work. Or he'd let out some frustrations and send a clear message as to how and why they fell short.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Guys, walking off the field on Sunday night, Jordan Love was carrying a football with one white quarter panel. What was that?

The commemorative game ball from the SNF crew, I believe.

Dan from Morehead City, NC

Earlier in the season it seemed our receivers had defenders draped all over them on every throw and that there were often two receivers right next to each other. I saw a stat from that time that our receivers had the least amount of separation in the league. A lot of people were upset with Love's play then. Now we are getting separation and Love's play is ascending. Would Love have been playing this good all year with better routes being run earlier?

I said it back then, often, the offense's struggles were a collective effort. It wasn't just Love, though he obviously wasn't playing well. Little about the running game, protections or routes was in rhythm, penalties were bogging things down, and the results showed it. The current offensive surge is also a collective effort. The entire operation is smoother and sharper, across the board. All the progress has helped Love, and he's improved as well along with everything else.

Andy from Walpole, MA

Pundits are all talking about how Love has turned it around the last few weeks to get the Pack into playoff contention. Seems to me that's not quite right, that what happened was the rookie receivers getting comfortable in the NFL and starting to play at a high level. Love has more confidence in them being where they're supposed to be and is no longer trying to force throws into places where he doesn't have a chance to complete them. Thoughts?

The entire offensive unit's higher level of execution has gotten Love into a rhythm earlier in games, and that has produced more confidence as LaFleur has been able to dig deeper into the playbook, with plays and concepts building off of those that have been successful.

Tim from Greensboro, NC

Morning Mike. Most impressive to me on the two-point conversion stop was the number of hats around the ball. I counted 10. Talk about rallying!

Agreed, and that many guys had time to get there because Preston Smith played it so expertly, delaying Pacheco's commitment to where and how he was going to attack the goal line.

Steve from Colorado Springs, CO

I am surprised at not having seen anything in the Inbox on the job the O-line did on Chris Jones – no tackles, no sack, two QB hits. Who do you think gets the most credit for once again containing a beast?

Well, I did WYMM pieces in recent weeks on all the teamwork devoted to dealing with Aaron Donald and Aidan Hutchinson, so I'm guessing it was a similarly collective effort. I haven't had time to study it specifically, though.

Ben from Chicago, IL

I'm curious about Keisean Nixon revealing that a Mahomes mannerism led to the interception. Won't that lead to the Chiefs changing it? I figure the Packers must want to keep a wrap on their intelligence on other teams.

Well, there's only one way the Packers play the Chiefs again this year, and if that happens, he's changing the signal anyway.

Joseph from Sioux Falls, SD

All the credit to Nixon on that pick for knowing what's coming. A great example of why not to break Tom Clements' rule: no premeditated decisions.

Even the best fall victim sometimes.

Mike from Lady Lake, FL

One of the most important plays of the game, that has not yet been addressed in the Inbox, is the 48-yard FG made by Anders Carlson with 1:14 left in the game. Had he missed, the Chiefs would've had the ball at their 38-yard line. And more importantly, that mysterious force known as "momentum" may well have swung to their side. Congrats to our rookie kicker in perhaps his most clutch play as a Packer.

More clutch moments are on their way. Count on it.

Keith from Middleton, WI

Wes made me go back and look at the scores this year. While the defense is, at times, frustrating between the 20s, they have only given up more than 25 points in one game. I think there's enough talent to be a little better, but that's pretty good defense in the offense-driven NFL. Do you have a gut feeling on Stokes and/or Ja being activated soon, Mike?

As Wes noted, the coaching staff deserves credit for how the secondary has held up despite extended absences from key veteran players. Both Eric Stokes and Jaire Alexander were listed as limited participants in practice all last week. Until I start seeing "full participation," particularly for Stokes, I'm not banking on anything.

Ken from New York, NY

There was a lot going on in that last two minutes, but I'm most confused about two possible mistakes with the clock. Could you please explain again what should've happened with a 10-second runoff and what shouldn't have happened with stopping the clock after a Chiefs completion at the sidelines?

After the replay review reversed the fumble and the Chiefs receiver was ruled down, they reset the game clock to 50 seconds based on when that play ended. But he was down in the field of play and the Chiefs had no timeouts, so the clock would've been running had it been called correctly right away. That prompts a 10-second runoff, and then the clock starting again on the official's ready-for-play signal. Neither happened. What I haven't been able to figure out is whether the personal foul on Pacheco negated the 10-second runoff. It must have, because nobody seems to be discussing this, but the rules are generally geared toward a team not being able to benefit clock-wise from a penalty, and the Chiefs apparently did there. On the completion to MVS three snaps later, the Packers stopped his forward progress in bounds and he went out of bounds moving back toward the line of scrimmage. Clock stoppage is supposed to be awarded only if the player is still moving forward, or laterally on his own with no defensive contact, when he goes out of bounds. That was an obvious miss.

Tom from Highland Village, TX

Hi Mike. On Monday, you asked if you were too cynical thinking Mahomes drew the roughing penalty on Jonathan Owens. He was in bounds and moving forward, probably just short of the marker. It was a clean and legal hit. What makes the call egregious is, for two years it's been a point of emphasis to not call that a penalty. If the runner wants to avoid a hit, he can go out of bounds earlier. So yes, he drew the penalty. It is part of his competitive genius. I wish the refs were a tenth as smart as Mahomes.

You said that, I didn't. I just posted it.

Sherman from Eureka, CA

Do you think all this outrage about the supposed missed pass interference call is overblown when Mahomes himself has been cited saying that "At the end of the game, they let the guys play. I'm about that"?

That'll never tamp down controversy, but I appreciate what Mahomes said, as well as his admission he could've thrown a better pass. As I mentioned on "Unscripted," that's how champions handle the tough breaks.

Jim from Moorhead, MN

To paraphrase Red from Shawshank: "Either you get busy winning or you get busy losing!" If I learned anything from this year it's that winning is much bigger than your record. It's continually showing up and stacking success. Eventually the record will reflect your efforts. Thanks for helping us to be patient. Quality of character does win out.

I've admitted to my own impatience. But while I understood frustration, I had no time for those rushing to judgment. Declaring from half a season that Love wasn't the guy, LaFleur's achievements were all because of Rodgers, blah blah blah, was foolhardy nonsense. Folks hopefully realize there's a process to everything, and while that process provides no guarantees, it must be allowed to play out. The loss in Pittsburgh felt different to me, a feeling LaFleur shared as well. That's when it felt like the worm was turning, and turn it did.

Dave from Arlington Heights, IL

I'm not sure what the turning point of the season was, but I know the moment I knew it. When Romeo Doubs just snatched the TD pass out of the air in the fourth quarter against the Chargers it said to me he wanted it and that the arrow was pointing up. I was at the game with my oldest, the first game in a couple years for her. As soon as he caught it, my little lawyer turned to me and said, it's going to be a good season, no matter what. Everybody has their moment, that was mine.

One of many reasons Pittsburgh was mine was seeing receivers other than Doubs, who has played that way since he got here, attacking the ball in that fashion.

Chris from West Allis, WI

I haven't watched much football outside of the Packers this season, but caught a good part of DET @ NO Sunday. My biggest takeaway was what you two have been saying all season – even established quarterbacks in this league underthrow deep balls, put balls behind receivers, and miss layups. Jordan Love certainly looks like he belongs. If you were Men-in-Black-memory-wiped and saw the last 3-4 games of Jordan Love film, how long would you guess Love has been playing QB in the NFL?

I don't know, but I do know a lot of folks in the media and otherwise have self-neuralyzed their thoughts about Love, the Packers, and where both were supposedly headed. Now everyone has to caution against going overboard the other direction.

Bubba from Kenosha, WI

On a Wednesday after a demoralizing loss you posted my five-letter comment. It needs to be said again after this exhilarating victory (for the players, maybe more so for fans) … R-E-S-E-T!

Happy Wednesday.

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