All Aboard! Why I Will Never Again Underestimate These Green Bay Packers
Or maybe bratwurst?
Anyway, as has now been logged for posterity on this fine website, last week I thought the Packers would go down 28-24 to the Giants and thus ending their 17 game winning streak dating back to last season. The final score was close (38-35) but the outcome was reverse as the Packers won in thrilling, last minute fashion.
Truthfully, I don’t think I have ever been happier to be wrong.
More importantly, I learned a very valuable lesson as I wipe egg off my face: I believe in the 2011 Green Bay Packers. The team had not been tested quite like this and the way Aaron Rodgers imposed his will on that final drive against a good but wounded Giants defense opened my eyes as wide as saucers.
I had a fair amount of doubts that this team could go the distance due to a leaky defense and with injuries affecting the linebacking position. I thought the law of averages would catch up with Rodgers and the offense would finally struggle.
Shame on me. In hindsight, I made the fatal mistake of underestimating Rodgers and he made me pay for it. I thought someday he could be stopped. Not anymore. This offense is a juggernaut and the man at the controls won’t yield to anyone, so pedestrians had better get the hell out of the way.
To be clear, I was never “off” the Packers bandwagon so please don’t view this as me jumping back onto it. I knew this team was great. I had the utmost confidence in Rodgers and company to deliver when the chips were down.
Perhaps I was a bit more hardened than I thought, seeing good-to-great Packers teams of the past flame out in big games and having the season go to waste. This had come to define the Mike Sherman era and though Mike McCarthy has a ring, it’s hard to kick the memories of those teams in the 2000s. I thought maybe we were seeing history repeat itself in the 21st century’s second decade.
Nope. Not with this team and especially not with this quarterback.
At a time when Rodgers was unbelievably facing criticism for his “lack” of fourth quarter comebacks (mainly one idiot who is on a network that starts with E and ends with SPN), the soon-to-be NFL MVP basically went “OK, watch this,” and ripped apart the Giants secondary so bad some probably crawled back crying to their mothers.
I’d be willing to bet there are other fans out there who, like me, had doubts creeping into their mind. This was the first time the Packers were truly tested in the two minute drill in the fourth quarter. Rodgers shredded the Giants secondary and was in field goal range seemingly within a blink of the eye. Mason Crosby kicks the game winner and all suddenly is still well in Packer Nation.
I thought the Packers would lose in the regular season. It’s better to lose then than in January when it’s win or go home. I don’t want to say I HOPED for them to lose, but rather the pressure of maintaining a perfect season was becoming too much for this blogger to handle.
I’d note what the 1998 Broncos said after losing their first game after a 13-0 start—that the loss in hindsight loosened everyone up and made them that much more prepared for the run that would eventually lead to their second straight Super Bowl victory. I thought that the same in hindsight would end up being a good thing for the 2011 Packers.
Not anymore. My confidence has reached a point where I can say “bring it on!” It’s hard to believe you can draw confidence from a barn burner of a game, but this was the first true adversity the Packers had faced on the field all season and they aced the test with flying colors.
We are in the midst of a truly special and unique Packer season. Instead of biting my fingernails in worry each week, I have learned to sit back and enjoy the ride as I witness history right in front of my eyes every Sunday.
Regardless of how the Packers finish, this team is the first in the long and storied history of the franchise to start a season 12-0. In fact, win just two out of the last four and they will have won the most regular season games in team history,
That’s pretty neat, but then you have to consider the big picture. All those regular season wins are meaningless unless you bring home the Lombardi Trophy. Just ask some Patriots fans how they felt finishing 18-1 in the 2007-2008 season with that lone loss being in Super Bowl XLII ironically against the Giants.
I’m ready. The team is ready. The rest of Packer Nation is ready. Coach McCarthy, the train can leave the station. We’re all on board and excited for what is ahead.
History and destiny beckon. Let’s go get it.——————
Kris Burke is a freelance sports writer currently residing in Wisconsin. His work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke