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It's time to eat crow


David from Byron, MN

The Packers are 2011 NFC North champs. Didn't they also clinch a first-round bye? The Saints are 8-4 and the Packers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. The best the Saints can finish is 12-4; the worst the Packers can finish is 12-4.

The Saints are 9-3 and can finish 13-3, therefore, the Packers have yet to clinch a first-round bye, but I'm not concerned about clinching a first-round bye because I've got a pretty good idea what the Packers are going to clinch: homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The Packers have a two-game lead with four games to play, three of which will be played at Lambeau Field. Even I can do that math.

Lucky from Las Vegas, NV

The Packers have the lead, 28-27. Rodgers connects to Donald Driver for six. Why not go for two?

That's what I call "abuse of two." You go for one because an eight-point lead forces the Giants to score the equivalent of two touchdowns – in effect, that's what a two-point conversion is – to tie the game. If you go for two and fail to convert, the Giants can tie the game with a kick. So let's turn the question around a little bit: If Mike McCarthy had gone for two and failed, the Giants had sent the game into overtime with a touchdown and a kick, and the Giants had won the overtime coin toss, kicked a field goal and won, what would my inbox look like today? Would you be asking me why they went for two?

Rick from Queen Creek, AZ

After our game yesterday and Matthew Stafford's 400 yards against the Saints, where is the defense?

Is anybody in this league playing defense? The Browns are No. 1 in pass-defense, but that's largely because they're 29th in run-defense. The Texans are 1-2-4 on defense, but a big part of that success is the result of playing in a division that houses the two-worst offenses in the league. The Steelers are 2-6-3, but they've allowed 188 points and I can remember a Steelers team that only allowed 28 points in nine games. Everybody is throwing for a lot of yards, even guys that can't throw. As I watched yesterday's game, I thought to myself: They can't run the ball, they can't stop the run and they can't stop the pass, but they're 12-0 because nobody can stop the Packers' passing game. That's the contemporary game. You win by throwing the ball and scoring a lot of points.

Kyle from Saint Paul, MN

Vic, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Green Bay native, but even I can't help feeling we are getting help from the officials. Do you agree?

The Packers got the breaks yesterday; even Mike McCarthy admitted as much. The bad news is the breaks tend to even out, so at some point the Packers are going to be on the other side of the breaks and it'll be something they'll have to overcome. I can hear Chuck Noll saying you have to overcome everything: the officials, injuries, the media, crowd noise, head colds, bad weather, bad kids, nagging wives and self-doubt. Mike McCarthy calls all of that "adversity." Call it anything you want, just win, baby.

Marcus from Roxbury, WI

Hey, Vic, try the tabasco sauce. It helps the crow go down a little easier.

I feel like such a fool.

Jerry from Mukwanogo, WI

Looking ahead to next season, which AFC division will we be facing?

AFC South.

Kelsey from Little Falls, MN

Vic, how much interaction do you get to have with the players and staff? I always imagine you in some dark corner of Lambeau Field pecking away at a typewriter.

Yeah, that's me.

Gil from Atlantic Beach, FL

Vic, after witnessing some dubious clock management, is there an NFL coach that you consider a master at clock management, both at the end of the half and at the end of the game?

Mike McCarthy is the best at it I've ever covered; Chuck Noll was the worst. Think on that a little bit.

Roy from Beloit, WI

Vic, I love your writing and your sarcasm. It was a tough win against the Giants. Rodgers was finally able to prove he could be clutch. Not that it really matters, but do you think maybe Mr. Bayless will finally be eating some crow about his comments on Rodgers and maybe he'll show him the respect he deserves now?

I'm sure he will. I'll just pass the crow over to him; he can help me finish it.

Harry from Rochester, NY

How much can Aaron Rodgers carry this team with no defense and no running game?

There are four weeks left to fix the defense and the running game. I think it's critical to the Packers' postseason success that they improve in those areas.

Matt from Spotswood, NJ

Vic, I attended the Giants-Packers game. Can you give an elaboration on the Jennings touchdown catch because many people in the stadium said he didn't maintain possession. I think he made the two steps with possession, thus giving him the touchdown? Am I wrong?

I don't know what's right or wrong because, to echo Tony Dungy's sentiments, after 40 years of covering the NFL, I still don't know what a catch is. Apparently, there's a special rule for Calvin Johnson that requires him to maintain control of the ball until he goes to bed that night. Everybody else need only demonstrate possession and control for a split second. Please, everybody, don't write to me telling me what the rule is. I'm looking at the rulebook right now and even it doesn't know what a catch is, unless the ball is being caught by Calvin Johnson, then it's very definitive.

Peter from Manitowoc, WI

I liked the new wrinkle with Randall Cobb and thought he threw a nice pass, considering. Do you think the Packers show this look more often, pocket it, or is it just one more thing opponents are going to have to game-plan for?

It's one more thing on the plate of defensive coordinators the Packers will face down the road. Tape gets broken down very scientifically. This play will go onto a gadget "reel," so to speak. Defensive coordinators will take note of the formation the Packers were in when the play was run, and opponents will have to respect the gadget potential when the Packers are in that formation, which might cause a second of hesitation that would allow the Packers to do something else out of that formation.

James from Cedar Rapids, IA

On Driver's second touchdown, why would it have mattered if he stepped out or not? I thought because he had re-established himself, it's legal for him to be the first player to touch the ball.

Rule 8, Article 8: "It is a foul for illegal touching if a forward pass (legal or illegal), thrown from behind the line of scrimmage: (b) first touches or is caught by an eligible receiver who has gone out of bounds, either of his own volition or by being legally forced out of bounds, and has re-established himself inbounds."

Jeff from Saint Paul, MN

You know Tom Coughlin pretty well. We can agree that he's a very good coach. Do you have any theory to explain the difference between the early-season successes and late-season struggles his teams often seem to experience?

He led two of the greatest late-season charges in NFL history: the second-year Jaguars from 4-7 to the AFC title game, and the 2007 Giants through three road playoff wins and an upset of the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl. Don't those count?

Gladdys from Rolling Meadows, IL

Which is more physically demanding for a defensive lineman, the running game, where the offensive line is attacking, or the passing game, where the defensive line is attacking?

It's long been said that playing the run wears a defense down faster than rushing the passer does.

Lori from Winona, MN

What's the purpose of the thin armbands that some players wear just above the elbow?

It's to make their muscles bulge.

Jason from Summerville, SC

Can you explain the difference between a running back, tailback, halfback and fullback?

Tailback is the featured running back in the I-formation. Halfback is primarily the blocking back in split backs or pro set, or the featured back in a one-back set. Fullback is either the featured back in split backs or pro set, or the blocking back for the running back in today's two-back set. It's all just terminology saying the same thing; somebody runs with the ball, and somebody blocks for the guy that's running with the ball.

Mitch from Big Lake, TX

What is the longest winning streak in NFL history and who owns it?

Including postseason games, the Patriots of 2003-04 won 21 in a row.

John from Superior, WI

I think it's safe to assume that some players from the past could have benefited from the technology and research from the medical fields to recover from certain injuries. Granted, football was a much more vicious sport back in the day, but I'm sure there are many that had their careers cut short for something that could be treated nowadays. Any players come to mind?

Joe Namath immediately comes to mind. The majority of his knee surgeries were unnecessary, and the ones that were necessary were primitive compared to today's standards. Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus also come to mind. Greg Cook is another one.

Zach from Washington, DC

Did the Giants figure out anything on how to stop the Packers?

Yes and no. I think they showed how to do it, but they didn't do it. Here's what I mean: If you're going to stop the Packers' passing game, you have to be able to get a pass-rush with a minimum of pass-rushers so you can cover with a maximum of pass-defenders. The Giants were able to get pressure on Aaron Rodgers with four down linemen, but they couldn't cover with seven. A team that can rush like the Giants did but cover as the Lions did in the first half of the Thanksgiving game will have the right formula. You see any teams out there that can do that?

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