There's no question that the Packers unit that could make or break the result of the team's first playoff matchup with the New York Giants is the secondary.
Green Bay's pass defense, which finished the regular season ranked 31st in the NFL, has been the definiton of bend-don't-break over the team's six-game winning streak. Though it gave up more than 1,000 passing yards over the last three games alone, it also recorded four interceptions and two forced fumbles in that timeframe.
On Sunday night against the Detroit Lions, however, the unit suffered a series of additional blows. Quinten Rollins left the game strapped to a board to go to the hospital after a scary-looking hit to his head/neck; per Mike McCarthy, he avoided serious injury but there's no word on whether he'll be able to go on Sunday against the Giants. Both Damarious Randall and Makinton Dorleant left the game with knee injuries, Randall is considered day-to-day, while Dorleant said initial tests showed no major structural damage.
It's been a rough road for the Packers secondary, which has been hampered by injuries all season. The team has needed leaders and playmakers to step up from within its ranks in its postseason push, and a key weapon who could be instrumental in the playoffs became clear in Week 17: defensive back Micah Hyde.
If you take a look at the Packers' official player roster, Hyde is the only player listed neither as a safety nor a cornerback, but a defensive back. His versatility has proven instrumental to the Packers in the past, as he's been able to cover for injured teammates all over the field.
When Rollins, Randall, and Dorleant went down on Sunday, Hyde had to move to perimeter corner. Though he has made much of his living covering receivers in the slot, Hyde hasn't been used on the outside much, if at all, in the last four years. But on Sunday, he was shadowing top Lions wideout Golden Tate—and doing a fine job of it.
His crowning achievement, of course, came with less than two minutes left in the game, when he picked off Matthew Stafford's 15-yard touchdown attempt to Tate, all but sealing the Packers' victory.
Those kinds of gutty, late-game heroics are so often what make the difference in the playoffs, and they'll be needed against a Giants team that, while boasting a better defense than offense, still has Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard to contend with.
And Hyde, who has three interceptions on the season now, could be the player to provide them.
While Hyde and LaDarius Gunter manned the perimeter in the Packers' cornerback exigency on Sunday, Morgan Burnett moved into the slot corner role, while Kentrell Brice filled in for Burnett at safety. But Hyde was one of the few players who was on the field for all 66 defensive snaps against Detroit. He graded out as the top defensive player in the win according to Pro Football Focus.
An impending free agent, Hyde has an opportunity to all but secure his extension in the playoffs for the Packers, and given what he showed Dom Capers he could do in Week 17, he'll get the chance to do it.
- Like Like
- 0 points