HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Monday, January 4, 2010

WOODSON, MATTHEWS, RODGERS, AND YES, EVEN MASON CROSBY, COOL IN THE DESERT

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

"If Sunday was any indication, the matchup to watch next Sunday when the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals meet in the playoffs is cornerback Charles Woodson vs. receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

In the Packers' 33-7 victory at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday, Woodson spent a good deal of time on Fitzgerald and in a classic one-on-one moment, beat him to the ball for an interception that he returned 45 yards for a touchdown.

It was classic Woodson. He anticipated an in-route and then bumped Fitzgerald a second before the ball arrived, gaining enough position to reach up and snare the ball with both hands. His nose for the end zone did the rest.

"I'm sure there are a lot of excellent candidates out there for the defensive MVP, but I don't know how he does not win the award," coach Mike McCarthy said. "His teammates are chanting MVP every day at practice, and he goes out and does it every Sunday. He played at a high level again today."

To control the Cardinals, you have to find a way to keep the physically imposing, monstrously talented Fitzgerald from breaking loose. He practically took over Super Bowl XLIII all by himself and remains a threat to dismantle any defense.

There's a good chance Woodson won't be totally himself Sunday because he aggravated a shoulder injury that has been bothering him for six weeks. He hurt himself reaching out to make a tackle, came out of the game and didn't return, standing on the sideline with an ice bag on his right shoulder.

McCarthy said he thought Woodson would have been able to continue playing if it were a playoff game, and Woodson, who didn't say much after the game, indicated that he would be fine. But the injury is something he's going to have to deal with against the physical Fitzgerald.

Asked whether he would have to devote Woodson to covering Fitzgerald all game long next week, defensive coordinator Dom Capers said, "We're going to have to take a good look at it. He certainly played well today."

Both teams didn't show their hands much on either side of the ball, so it remains to be seen what the Cardinals do Sunday to get Fitzgerald free. The one thing they do know is that they're facing a dangerous guy in Woodson."

After watching the Green Bay Packers absolutely demolish the Arizona Cardinals in yesterday's meaningless finale of the regular season, I don't know what to think except that Mr. Charles Woodson should hands down win the Most Valuable defensive Player of the Year Award. He has tied legendary Herb Adderley's record of seven interceptions returned for a touchdown in one season and yesterday he shut down Larry Fitzgerald which is a magnificent feat in itself.

But the fact that he is now nursing a very sore shoulder which he re-injured late in the game makes me wonder if it was wise to play the starters past the first half. I understand Coach McCarthy's reasoning that the team is hot right now and he worries that if there is a let up in intensity, if we don't continue to play "balls to the wall", the team may show up flat for the first round of the playoffs.

But my concern is that when you run up the score it tends to piss off that opponent and the sting of that defeat will fester all week and make the Cardinals very much in need of revenge this week.

I also want to mention the magnificent play of our quarterback - not just yesterday but for the entire season! Aaron Rodgers is making me say "Brett Who?"

One question. What is that celebratory move of his???? It looks more than vaguely obscene - like he has unzipped his fly and has something to show us. I watched the game with my friend Doug Cox yesterday - he has TIVO - I made him re-run that move again and again - laughed myself to tears!

So congratulations to the 11-5 Packers. I would never have predicted we wold win that many games this season the way the offensive line did not block early in the season. Kudos to Mark Tauscher on his return to the trenches. And man I gotta hand it to TT (even though I don't much care for him) - Rookie Clay Matthew is nothing less than OUTSTANDING!

And a big hand for all the Packer backers that showed up yesterday and made it sound like a home game. Towards the end of the game it was: GO, PACK, GO! GO, PACK, GO! all over the stadium. And the cameras would pan the crowd and I would see Cardinal fans sitting glumly, trying to figure out how they had suddenly ended up at Lambeau West.

GO, PACK, GO, INDEED!

So this week I shall worry a lot about the re-match and every night I shall get down on my knees and say a little prayer for Mr. Woodson's power of healing.

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