All week long going into the NFC Divisional game matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, head coach Mike McCarthy praised the consistency in his special teams personnel as one of the reasons they were able to so effectively contain Devin Hester and DeSean Jackson the previous couple weeks.
"To line up with just the same punt team three weeks in a row has been huge for us," said McCarthy on Tuesday Jan. 11. "It’s something we haven’t had all season long. Our consistency is definitely there. We’re really focusing on the fundamentals and the finish."
Fast forward to the game against the Falcons, and the Green Bay Packers special teams were back to their old, inconsistent ways while giving up a 102-yard touchdown return to Eric Weems.
Prior to the game, the Packers made the decision to stick with the same group they'd been using the past couple weeks and keep fullback Korey Hall and safety Atari Bigby off the 45-man gameday roster.
By keeping Hall and Bigby on the inactive list, it can be argued that the Packers made a mistake.
Hall, a former linebacker at Boise State, was the Packers' leading special teams tackler during the regular season with 15 tackles, which is even more impressive considering he missed four games due to injury. The next closest was Jarrett Bush with 12 tackles.
Bigby, meanwhile, was praised by Packers scribe Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for making the "Play of the Week" against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11 by making a shoestring and potentially touchdown-saving tackle of Percy Harvin.
Heading into the Atlanta game, both Hall and Bigby missed the previous two games (against the Bears and Eagles) with knee and groin injuries, respectively.
However, both looked to stand a decent chance of playing Saturday's game. Last Thursday, both were listed as being full participants in practice for the first time in three weeks.
It's possible the Packers still didn't think they were healthy enough to contribute in a game the magnitude of the Atlanta game, but by comparison, offensive lineman Jason Spitz was made active on Saturday after not having practiced on either Wednesday or Thursday of last week. Hall, Bigby and Spitz were all listed as questionable against the Falcons.
With another game against Hester slated for this upcoming Sunday against the Bears in the NFC Championship game, it will be interesting to see whether the Packers decide to make Hall and Bigby active once again.
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