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Jared Cook looks at home in the postseason

Mike McCarthy proved his mettle this year


Samuel from Milwaukee, WI

What did we just witness?

I spent Monday asking the same question. Greatness. That's all I could come up with.

James from Valley Village, CA

How does Mike McCarthy stay so calm in tight games? Does he have ice in his veins?

I have no earthly idea. I admitted to Jake Schum that I have a weak constitution and would crumble in those high-pressure situations. I honestly don't know how they do it. McCarthy has been at this for a long time, but his ability to manage the game and call plays is still astounding. That's a remarkable juggling act. What he, his assistants and Rodgers have is special. It always has been.

Bob from Newport, Australia

What are the characteristics of a great coach? Vic seems to underplay the importance of coaching in two key areas: building team chemistry and expanding strategic possibilities. Yes, plenty of teams with good chemistry lose but not many without it win, either. And taking what you want and not what they give you is OK but it wasn't long ago that opposition defenses were stacking the box and begging Rodgers to pass. Wouldn't you say the mark of a great coach, such as McCarthy, is that he's been able to maintain morale and to find creative ways of utilizing Rodgers' incomparable talents?

I believe great leaders are defined by how they respond when true adversity hits. It's easy to lead the troops when everything is going phenomenal, but what move do you make when things aren't going well? McCarthy's mettle was proven when the Packers were 4-6. He didn't panic. He stayed positive. He never berated anyone in the locker room. He didn't single anybody out. He stayed true to himself and the team responded with one of the greatest runs in recent memory. You need to be in tune with your team. McCarthy pushed all the right buttons when the Packers' backs were against the wall.

Tom from Chesterfield, VA

Thirty-five seconds is not a lot of time, unless you have two timeouts and can use the entire field and a QB with an arm like Rodgers. Props to MM for preserving his TOs Sunday night. They were instrumental in keeping us from OT.

Timeouts are currency. You have to spend them wisely. McCarthy and Rodgers were smart with how they utilized them in the second half. On a side note, it's also one of the more underrated parts of the pressure Rodgers puts on the defense with the no-huddle. How many times have we seen a team have to burn a timeout to avoid a penalty for having too many players on the field? Dallas had to use all three in the first half, which allowed Green Bay to run down the clock before Schum's punt.

Dave from Saint Peters, MO

I think Rodgers' magic wand showed up on game day to say the least. Did anyone else on Green Bay play at his level?

I don't know if anyone in the NFL is playing at his level right now. The throws he's making right now are just nasty. As Richard Rodgers said after the game, sometimes receivers don't even have to be open. The quarterback creates the separation. If pressed, I'd say Mason Crosby, Jared Cook and Micah Hyde earned honorable mentions for their individual performances against the Cowboys.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

How valuable is Jared Cook proving to be?

That was a big-time performance in a big-time game. For a guy who never had been to the playoffs before, Cook sure looks at home in the postseason. I appreciate the approach he took when the Packers signed him. He was quiet, did his job and quickly earned the respect of the locker room. He's the perfect weapon for this offense. He can line up anywhere from H-back to boundary receiver and still be effective.

Jonathan from Paducah, KY

Most of the talk has been about the QB. How about our K? I think Crosby is a highly underrated kicker in this league.

*I was doing some research going into Sunday's game against Dallas and came across a statistic I found fascinating. Crosby quietly leads all active NFL kickers with 160 consecutive regular-season games played. The next closest is Tennessee's Ryan Succop (128). That's two more seasons than any other kicker in the NFL. With how many kicking issues there were in the league this year, Crosby has epitomized consistency. *

Zack from Canyon Lake, CA

I got a nickname for Aaron Rodgers....The Icon.

I think Sting already took that one.

Chris from De Pere, WI

Insiders, how about Rodgers hanging onto the ball on the blindside corner-blitz sack? Is that not the biggest play of the game that nobody is talking about? It's those things that make him special!

Rodgers put a lot of emphasis on his ball security this season and it showed on that play. As soon as he was hit, I thought the ball was going to come out, but he held on. The way he reacted to the play was amazing. As soon as he felt the contact, Rodgers immediately tucked the ball. That's all practice and preparation.

Greg from Danbury, CT

Thirty-odd seconds left and the game comes down to a looooong, walk-off field goal. I was too young to remember the Ice Bowl, but this one's gotta rank right up there. Whaddya think?

We talked about this at lunch on Monday. I'd have to say this falls in behind the Ice Bowl and ahead of Favre-to-Sharpe for most dramatic postseason victory in franchise history. Can you guys think of any others?

Phil from Portland, OR

During the game on Sunday, I heard Aikman breaking down the Cowboys' defense and he said something like, "They have the fifth-ranked defense, and also the fifth-ranked scoring defense." That brought up a question I've always had. Why are offenses and defenses judged by yards gained/allowed instead of points scored? Seems to me like points are the most important stat, not yardage.

I agree. I think generally it gives you an idea of how a defense performed, but it doesn't paint the whole picture properly. One system we developed during my time with the Press-Gazette was ranking teams based on a combination of yards and points. You could make a case that takeaways also are just as important.

Phil from Saint Paul, MN

Did you notice on one of the several replays of the third-and-20 play, you can see Rodgers in the background going up on his tip-toes as if to encourage Cook to get his toes in? He might be cool and confident in his abilities but once the ball leaves his hand he is hoping for the best just like the rest of us.

That's really the beauty of football. It takes more than one person to make a play succeed. That's what I thought was so powerful about what Jordy Nelson said after the game when talking about the helpless feeling you have when watching from the sideline.

David from Whitefish, MT

Amazing. As far as defining moments in careers (Jordan's step-back, Manning to Tyree's head catch), if you had to choose one for Rodgers, what would it be?

Miracle in Motown.

Kevin from New Milford, CT

Without Nick Perry swatting down Dak Prescott's last pass the magic doesn't happen. Maybe the biggest defensive play of the entire season. This defense has so many unsung heroes.

I've been flabbergasted by how impactful Perry has been with the club. He has eight tackles, four sacks and the batted pass you mentioned in four games since his return. That's incredible production in any context, let alone when you consider he's playing with one hand.

Steve from Benson, AZ

Is there any chance this win will lead to an emotional letdown next week? I don't see McCarthy and Rodgers letting that happen.

You answered your own question, Steve.

Liam from Newcastle, UK

Insiders, you only live once, so I've decided to drop everything and travel to Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game. Are there plans for a Packers Pep Rally?

Fantastic. Yes, we will be holding another Packers Pep Rally at the Park Tavern in Atlanta.Here's the info.See you there!

Tony from Appleton, WI

How about them playoff captains!?

Not bad, huh? They sure know how to pick 'em. I don't know what more you could have asked from the team's two longest-tenured veterans in Rodgers and Crosby.

Mike from Lake Villa, IL

In watching the replay of the game-winning field goal, it looks as though Mason Crosby is kneeling with his head down immediately after the kick. Did he feel he pulled it left and not watch or did he actually see it go through the uprights and kneel down for joy and thanks?

He said it was his natural reaction after seeing the kick sail through. He was just overcome with emotion and rightfully so.

Clay from Avondale, AZ

How about the Mason Crosby duck-and-cover move after the kick?

Very elusive. I saw a 207-pound man who fully understood he weighed 100 pounds less than the men blocking for him.

Mark from Iron Mountain, MI

Just an observation … the primary thing I took from this game is the need for the Packers to draft for defense, defense, and more defense in the upcoming draft.

That's the primary thing you took away from that game? Not the fact it was an instant classic? Not the game-winning field goal to extend Crosby's NFL record for postseason makes? Not Jared Cook and his sideline grab? Not Rodgers playing out of his mind in the first half? The 2017 season will be here soon enough. Try to enjoy the present.

Chris from West Plains, MO

Do you think Micah Hyde will ever get the recognition he deserves with a Pro Bowl tap? He's the Swiss army knife of secondary players, but four years and no love yet. How rare is a player of that caliber?

Hyde is such a unique football player. I think one of the reasons it's tough for him to get the appreciation he probably deserves is because he's a rover. On a depth chart, he's listed as the backup to Morgan Burnett, but Hyde is so much more than that. He was the face of the shift the defense made a few years ago when the Packers started using more hybrid-type players. His versatility both on defense and special teams has helped Green Bay get to this point. His intelligence and work ethic will keep him in the league for a long time.

John from Roscoe, IL

How about Lane Taylor on the final drive? Replaced a perennial Pro Bowler, played great all season, and ends up getting a key block on that screen pass to Montgomery, followed by that final play where he rolled out with Rodgers, set his feet and got a great one-on-one open-field block on a rushing linebacker to give Rodgers time to make the throw to set up a heroic win. He's definitely a major asset on that team who unfortunately hasn't gotten much attention because of his position and the names around him. Looks like a top guy to me.

Taylor had a great year, especially under the circumstances. He had big shoes to fill in replacing Josh Sitton, but the fact we've received like four or five comments/questions about Taylor's play all season speaks to how dependable he's been at left guard. That's not an easy block he threw on the pass to Cook. Crawford was spying Rodgers all night and Taylor needed to get a body on him in open field. In the end, he bought Rodgers enough time to get the pass off.

Chad from Troy, MI

That Kentrell Brice kid can play! I don't know how Thompson keeps finding these playmakers. I'm surprised I worry when players go down with an injury anymore. There hasn't been one replacement put out there that I've noticed an immediate drop-off in level of play. Did Brice impress you like he impressed me?

There's definitely something to be said for the Packers' two most coveted undrafted free agents, Brice and Geronimo Allison, combining to play 110 snaps on offense and defense. Neither rookie looked shell-shocked in a playoff setting. Brice actually played quite a bit this year in the dime sub-package, but it's a different animal having to play every down. It's not an easy task, but I thought Brice held his own. One thing about the rookie is he's a hard-hitting tackler. He showed that against Dallas and nearly picked off that deep ball from Prescott.

Dean from Peoria, AZ

If the back judge would not have overruled the call on the Cook catch, since it was inside of two minutes, and coaches can't throw the red flag, would the booth have reviewed the call?


Brandon from Osseo, WI

During Aaron's after-game conference was he referring to Cook as "Cookie" or was he saying "Cook, he"? Was that some of Rodgers' humor commenting on the sweet catches that were made?

"Cookie" is Cook's nickname in the Packers' locker room.

Bryant from Augusta, GA

Insiders, do you think GB has the advantage as far as game-planning goes since Cobb, Montgomery, Cook, and Matthews all missed the game in October and Atlanta was at full strength? Davis and Jackson received carries that game, but we have evolved so much since then, Atlanta hasn't. I was at that game in October and saw you all at the Packers Everywhere Pep Rally. Hope to do the same this weekend!

Last week I talked about the game against Dallas being an entirely different ball game than the first matchup with the Cowboys. The same rule applies here. In addition to the four you mentioned, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and James Starks also sat out of the 33-32 loss to the Falcons. We'll have to see where players are this week coming out of the Cowboys game, but I can't imagine the Packers being as hampered by injuries as that first game with the Falcons.

Justin from River Falls, WI

Spoff, you were worried we'd jinx Crosby last week, but the streak continues! GPG!

Spoff isn't the jinx. He's the fortune.

Parker from Raleigh, NC

Will Jordy Nelson be healthy enough to play against the Falcons Sunday?

Reply hazy, try again later.

Rene from San Diego, CA

With two very huge wins, the fans going crazy for another week with Super Bowl aspirations, how does the team stay focused on Atlanta and not get lost in all the media and hype?

Just keep doing what they've been doing. This week is all about Atlanta. Nothing else matters.

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