Archive for July 2nd, 2011
January 2, 2011 – Lambeau Field, Green Bay Wisconsin
So here it was. The final game of a season that had featured more twists & turns than a mountain-side road. There were no subtle permutations, no weird NFL tie-breaker rules to interpret. There would be no controversy and no question about what would happen & how things would shake out.
If the Packers beat the Bears, they would grab the final NFC wild-card playoff berth & keep playing the following week. If they lost to the Bears, they’d have to hope the Giants lost their final game to the Washington Redskins (which they did NOT!)
The Bears, champs of the NFC North ,had a first-round playoff bye no matter what, but they did not plan to make life easy for the Packers. Many teams already set in the playoffs might have chosen to rest at least some of their starters to avoid needless injury. Not the Bears & certainly not against the Packers. No these Bears did not want Green Bay in the playoffs & they would play a full 60 minutes of football with their starters.
“Everyone will play,” said Bears coach Lovie Smith, whose first order of business when he took over in Chicago 7 years ago was to consistently beat the Packers. With everything the Packers had dealt with during the season, why would they expect anything less?
December 26, 2010 – Lambeau Field, Green Bay Wisconsin
The Packers may have felt they had more than their share of bad luck this season. However, a couple games one week ago helped set the Packers path in stone. The Giants lost to the Eagles 38-31 after having a 31-10 lead in the 4th quarter. The other game was the Packers division rival Detroit Lions hanging tough with the young, up & coming Buccaneers. Former Packer kicker Dave Rayner tied the game with a 28-yard field goal at 1:39 remaining in the game, for the Lions. Then, in overtime, the Lions took the opening kickoff and drove 63 yards – covering most of the distance on two big runs and a 12-yard reception by Calvin Johnson on a third-and-8 play — to set up the game-winner a 34-yard FG to win the game 23-20.
Outsiders may have felt the Packers were lucky but no, this Packer team makes their own luck and they were determined to not let the opportunity slip by. The Packers path was set. The math was simple, every game from here on out would be a playoff game. Lose and you go home wondering “What if?” Win and you continue on. The Packers would not quit. They must beat the Giants, then the Bears to finish the season at 10-6. Then, of course, anything could happen after that. Truly, there was no room for error and if they did stumble, they would have the distinction of being one of the most talented teams not to make the playoffs.