Despite it being a victory, the game may have hurt them more in the long run than a loss to a totally different team would have. Even in defeat, the Giants learned that day that they could hang with the NFL‘s elite; they just needed a second chance to prove they could beat them as well.
And that’s exactly what transpired a little over a month later when the Giants scored one of the bigger playoff upsets in recent times by eliminating the 15-1 Packers in Lambeau Field.
Which brings us to this past Sunday’s game, which could have been the Packers’ final visit ever in the history of Candlestick Park. For all the criticisms the Packers have received in the offseason following their defensive meltdown to the San Francisco 49ers, they essentially did everything in their power to silence their critics … except on the scoreboard.
The penalty-drawing, cross-body chokeslam that Clay Matthews administered on Colin Kaepernick may have eventually resulted in a 49ers touchdown, but in doing so, Matthews set the tone that this Packers squad was not going to be bullied around by the 49ers.
The media will play that tackle over and over in the coming weeks and some criticism will come towards Matthews, but one word that will never be uttered is the adjective “soft” when describing the Packers’ defense.
From Matthews setting the tone, to Randall Cobb absorbing some absolutely brutal punishment, to Jermichael Finley atoning from his earlier mistakes, to Eddie Lacy fighting and flying for extra yardage, there is little doubt that this Packers’ team has a ferocity that has been lacking from the past several seasons.
There is no shame in losing to the 49ers, especially in a game that could have gone either way. With every round house blow the 49ers landed, the Packers came right back with one of their own — something that never happened this past January.
Every game in the NFL is a matchup of wills. Every game is a learning experience. The Packers may have lost to the 49ers in this round, but what they learned may be even more valuable in the long run.