The Red Zone: Divisional Playoffs, Part The First.

Be live-blogging Giants-Cowboys this afternoon at Awful Announcing. Do come by.

Packers 42, Seahawks 20 – How do you take advantage of two early turnovers with scores and then fail to get in the end zone for the rest of the day? If you are the shite road team that the Seattle Seahawks are, you are unable to rush the ball in an environment that demands at least a competent rushing attack — and with one of your top receivers gone early in the game, the passing attack is limited as the Packers’ defenders are able to focus on hitting the receivers that are left (especially with hitters in the secondary like Al Harris and Atari Bigby).  Ryan Grant recovered from those early fumbles for 201 yards rushing and two scores, while Brett Favre managed to throw three of his own. The Packers defense made some priorities clear for the Hawks; if they’re going to make their way back to the upper echelon of NFC teams, they’re going to have to invest more in the offensive line for run-blocking, and question whether it’s time to cut Shaun Alexander loose.

Patriots 31, Jaguars 20 – It was an interesting tack for Jacksonville, going pass-first as often as possible to keep up with New England in the first half.  But this is the problem with going away from your bread and butter as a team: when Coach Hobo makes the halftime adjustments and you start kicking field goals, the Patriots have already won.  Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew combined for less than 100 yards rushing (never a good sign for the Jags) and even though David Garrard played damn near perfectly, he can’t imitate Tom Brady with a wide receiving corps that isn’t even close in talent. Both quarterbacks could have been perfect as passers and the results would have been fairly similar.  Jacksonville couldn’t use its running game enough to put it in the end zone come the third quarter, falling prey to the usual problem of New England’s opponents: being unable to execute through all four quarters.

Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall

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