Archive for May, 2011
October 31, 2010 – New Meadowlands Stadium
It had taken the Green Bay Packers the better part of half a season to figure out just who they were and what they needed to do to reach their goals. The process had required a lot of trial & error, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of skill and more than a little luck.
But after a gutty, tense, crucial win over the rival Minnesota Vikings the previous week, the Packers were convinced they had turned a corner. They made the plays they needed to make, they executed at the right times, they had found ways to persevere when it seemed like they might fold.
It was a good start on the road back, but it was only a start.
Now things got really interesting. Over the course of the next several weeks, they’d face the meat of their schedule–playing the AFC powerhouse New York Jets, the always dangerous Dallas Cowboys, the Vikings in the haunted house Metrodome, the surging Atlanta Falcons, the improving San Francisco 49’ers, the unpredictable Lions at Ford Field and then a Sunday Night clash in Foxboro, Massachusettes, against the always-dynamic New England Patriots.
But it started against the Jets…Yes, those lead with the chin, trash-talking, Jets with demonstrative and animated Rex Ryan as their head coach.
October 24, 2010 – Lambeau Field
After back-to-back 3 point losses and an expanding injury list that would have been comical if it wasn’t so serious, the Packers knew they had no margin for error. They were not even halfway through the season and already they were in danger of complete & total irrelevancy when it came to the NFC playoff picture.
Striding into town was the ghost of Christmas past, one Brett Lorenzo Favre, and the memories of what he’d done to his former team the year before. During perhaps the best season of his hall of fame career, Favre ripped the Packers twice in 2009, throwing for more than 700 yards and 7 touchdowns while nearly getting the Vikings into the Super Bowl.
But this was 2010 & Favre’s–and the Vikings’–fortunes had dramatically changed. Another pre-season pick to reach the Super Bowl, the Vikings were struggling even worse than the Packers at 2-3. There were questions on defense, questions about head coach Brad Childress and Favre had reverted to form, throwing too many interceptions.
October 17th 2010
It was a week of uncertainty and anxiety for the Green Bay Packers. They had inexplicably lost a game they should have won the week before in Washington D.C. but worse, they had lost a veritable battalion of players–including Quarterback Aaron Rodgers who had suffered a concussion on the game’s last play.
Given the NFL’s newly mandated policy toward head injuries, Rodgers had to go through a stringent battery of tests to prove he was in good enough shape mentally to play the following week vs. Miami.
There were other questions about other players as well–including play-making tight end Jermichael Finley, who a few days earlier had confidently said his knee injury suffered against Washington was “nothing major”. Now, unsettling stories were coming out of Green Bay that the injury was a lot more serious than first thought. He would certainly not play against the Dolphins and anything after that was up in the air.
As a team, the Packers were reeling. They had lost twice on last-second field goals but had played so poorly in both games that very little consolation could be taken from how close they were. Indeed, they had played almost as poorly in their 3 wins. They finally received some good news late in the week when Rodgers was cleared to play. A home game against an up & down Dolphins team seemed like terrific medicine for the Packers.
But a familiar script was about to be written.
October 10, 2010 in other words 10/10/10
In the course of every NFL season there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of turning points. There are highs and lows that players, coaches and fans may not even realize until long after the fact.
There are other times, however, when everyone can recognize rock-bottom when it’s staring you in the face. For the 2010 Green Bay Packers that moment may well have presented itself at FedEx field on the outskirts of Washington D.C.
Against an inferior opponent that was already playing poorly, the Packers played down to the level of their competition and found themselves on the short end of a game they knew very likely could come back and haunt them before the season was over.