Monday, December 18, 2017
Sports

Mourning coach expected at game

When the Packers open defense of their Super Bowl championship today, their eyes won't be entirely on the prize.

Last week was somber for the Packers. It started with G T.J. Lang burying his father and continued with the numbing news that offensive coordinator Joe Philbin's son Michael drowned in a Wisconsin river.

It made it difficult for Green Bay to completely focus on today's NFC division playoff game against the visiting Giants.

CBS reported that Philbin would be with the team today. He typically sits in the coaches' box.

"It's important in this business to separate the personal from the professional and when you're at work to try and focus on work," QB Aaron Rodgers said. "But, we're human as well."

Philbin had interviewed for the Chiefs' head-coaching job days before his son's body was found in the Fox River.

TARGET NO MORE: The most divisive figure among Giants fans this season has round glasses and a perpetual smile, and opts to use a code word — instead of cursing — to let his players know he is angry.

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell does not hesitate to say this has been his most challenging season. But now New York is hot, and especially considering the criticism Fewell endured as recently as last month, his players are reveling in his resurgence.

"He didn't deserve it, not even a little," LB Mathias Kiwanuka said. "To have a game like last week? It made all of us feel good for him because he has been working all year."

Kiwanuka was talking about the Giants' virtual whitewashing of Atlanta in the wild-card round. The Giants stuffed QB Matt Ryan's two fourth-down sneaks, mostly because they had seen them before — in Fewell's playbook.

"We had a page on it," Kiwanuka said. "How small a chance was there that there would be a situation where they would sneak it on a fourth and short? But it was in there."

SHORT ROAD: With their loss in San Francisco, the Saints fell to 0-5 on the road in their postseason history. A year ago, New Orleans came out West and suffered a stunning loss at 7-9 Seattle in the wild-card round.

BANGED UP: Saints RB Pierre Thomas was knocked out of Saturday's game against the 49ers after taking a hit to the head in the first quarter. Thomas caught a pass from Drew Brees on the Saints' opening drive and absorbed a vicious blow from 49ers S Donte Whitner just short of the goal line. Whitner jarred the ball loose, and LB Patrick Willis recovered for the 49ers at their 2-yard line.

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