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Williams' pick six displays defensive nature of 2010 playoffs

If you were hoping for 2009's high-scoring, crisp, offensive-driven end to the postseason, you might be disappointed.

Defense has paved the way for the NFL's Final Four of 2010.

The teams still in the hunt for the Vince Lombardi Trophy ranked Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 6 in the league in points allowed during the regular season, and Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have all been eliminated from the playoffs. With Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers and Mark Sanchez still alive, there will be a first-time Super Bowl starting quarterback from the NFC and possibly another from the AFC.

As well as Cutler, Rodgers and Sanchez have played to this point, they shouldn't be expected to deliver more than a collective 90 passer rating this weekend.

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The defenses are just too good.

The Packers' red-hot offense is up against a division rival that knows it better than anyone, and matches up well to its personnel and schemes. In three career starts in Soldier Field, Rodgers is 1-2 with as many turnovers (three) as touchdown passes.

Chicago's defensive patience and physicality can slow down the Packers, meaning Green Bay's defense must follow suit.

In Saturday night's divisional playoff win over the Falcons, Tramon Williams intercepted Matt Ryan twice, including a game-changing, 70-yard return for a touchdown on the last snap of the first half.

Atlanta was on the outer edge of field-goal range, trailing 21-14. With no timeouts, Falcons coach Mike Smith decided to run one more play, in hopes of shortening the field-goal distance for kicker Matt Bryant.

When the Falcons came out with receivers stacked tightly to either side of quarterback Matt Ryan, Williams recognized the formation. He'd seen it during film study.

In Week 13, Atlanta's winning touchdown pass against Tampa Bay came out of the same formation.

On that play, Ryan rolled to his left and threw an out route to Michael Jenkins for the winning score.

It was tight, man-to-man coverage by cornerback Myron Lewis, and without a perfect throw the pass would have been incomplete -- or intercepted. It took guts for Ryan to even attempt the throw and pinpoint accuracy to complete it.

The Falcons went on to win the game 28-24.

Williams had seen that play on film. He knew when he saw the tight splits by Atlanta's receivers, and Ryan rolling left, that the out route was coming.

Roddy White was the targeted receiver, instead of Jenkins, and Williams baited the throw by Ryan.

Williams held back, letting White get outside of him, so Ryan would think White was open. Just as Ryan began his delivery Williams broke.

The throw was late. Against Tampa Bay, Ryan threw the ball as Jenkins was breaking. Against Green Bay, he threw it after White broke.

The combination of the late throw and Williams' perfectly timed jump, allowed Williams to catch the pass cleanly, in stride, and return it 70 yards for a touchdown.

The defenses that make these kinds of plays on Sunday, and the quarterbacks that avoid them, will determine which teams will advance to Super Bowl XLV.

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Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore (12) makes a deep catch as Los Angeles Chargers outside linebacker Kyzir White (44) trails on the play during an NFL football game , Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif.

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