For many people, Sunday’s Wild Card showdown between the Packers and Giants ended on Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary touchdown pass on the final play of the first half. But for Heath Evans, it ended long before that.
“I thought the swing of really everything was the wide receivers not being prepared to play football,” the Super Bowl champion and NFL Network analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “You drop two touchdowns between Odell and Shepard. Victor Cruz, as a leader, should have known better than to ever be with them, should have steered them away. If Tom Coughlin was still the coach of that team, those boys wouldn’t have even thought about making that trip, much less actually done it. The Hail Mary was just the icing on the cake for a team was ill-prepared. . . . They got what they deserved. The team was ill-prepared. The superstar set the tone for a lackadaisical day. His mind wasn’t in the game. Listen, they got what they deserved and they got whooped by a much better team.”
Evans thought the Giants defense played great for most of the first half – and would have been even better had the offense mustered more than six points.
“The defense played great,” Evans said. “The Giants should have had them in a 17-0 hole if Odell would have showed up. Sometimes the defense is ready and the special teams is ready and the offense isn’t. Good teams can pull the offense out and you stabilize it. I’ve been a part of many of those. In ’09, we did it time and time again with the Saints. Obviously four years with the Pats, I saw it multiple times. You find a way to stabilize the weakness of that game plan. You should have been up 17-0 on Aaron Rodgers and then making him doubt everything. ‘Yeah, we ran the table, but man, maybe this defensive front is better than us. And, oh yeah, we don’t have a running game and now I have to push and press and maybe I will throw my first interception in seven weeks. And, yeah, this Green bay defense isn’t all that good. They’re kind of limited. It’s Clay Matthews and who else?’ If you get a team (with) Aaron down 17-0 at home, listen, with all the midseason trouble they had, that was a totally different game.”
Instead, the Packers came alive in a hurry and scored 38 of the game’s final 45 points.
“Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers,” Evans said. “He is (a) beast – maybe one of the best ever to play the game. But don’t think for a second he wouldn’t blink if he was down 17-0 at home in a playoff game versus a front four on defense that could pin back its ears and go hunting for the rest of the game – and that’s the hole that they could have had him in if those wide receivers showed up ready to play.”
While Evans criticized Beckham, 24, and Shepard, 23, he was perhaps most disappointed in Cruz, 30.
“Victor Cruz, I’ve got an issue with,” Evans said. “He’s been around too much, he’s been through too much. He’s been a part of great leadership and he’s learned under great leadership. For him to allow them to make that mistake – and a mistake is what it was – it’s despicable.”