GREEN BAY, Wis. — All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul thinks the New York Giants are going to beat the Green Bay Packers in Sunday’s divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field.
And if they do, Pierre-Paul likely will be in the middle of it all.
While there is no proven formula for stopping Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense, getting pass rush pressure without blitzing and dropping more players into coverage would be a good start. So a big day by Pierre-Paul and his fellow defensive linemen could go a long way toward helping the Giants knock off the Super Bowl champs.
Facing one of the best defensive lines in the game, Rodgers said he still needs to be patient and go through his progressions – to a point.
“You have to know that they’ve got the ability to get to the passer,” Rodgers said. “It starts with protection any week, regardless of who we’re playing. This week it’s a tough front. Those guys are relentless in getting to the passer, they’re playing really well as a whole. … They’ve been playing really sound together and it’s going to be a challenge.”
The Packers faced a different kind of challenge this week.
The team has been mourning the death of Michael Philbin, the 21-year-old son of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. Michael Philbin’s body was pulled out of an icy river in Oshkosh on Monday, and police said a preliminary autopsy indicated he drowned. Several players and coaches attended his funeral Friday.
Philbin was away from the team and with his family this week, and the rest of the Packers’ offensive assistants divided up his responsibilities. Accounting for the Giants’ deep, talented defensive line certainly played a prominent role in their game plan.
“They’re as fine a group of seven that you’re going to face,” offensive line coach James Campen said.
That didn’t seem to bother the Packers in their Dec. 4 victory at New York. Rodgers threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns while being intercepted once and sacked twice.
“I mean, he’s kind of like Houdini out there a little bit, he avoids pass rushes, he avoids that initial surge,” Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty said. “He can get out of the pocket and make plays downfield with his wide receivers, or he can extend it, he can run the football with his legs, he’s a tremendous runner in his own right.”