18

January

2011 Packers Become “A Fart in the Wind” After Disheartening Loss to Giants

The Packers' 2011 season went up in smoke Sunday against the Giants.

It was never supposed to end like this for the 2011 Green Bay Packers.

No, Sunday’s 37-20 result wasn’t supposed to happen after the greatest regular season performance in franchise history, a 15-1 mark that can now only be topped with 16-game perfection.

It couldn’t have happened after seeing the Packers come out on the victorious side of 21 of 22 games, including a franchise record 19 in a row, that ensured they’d be hosting their first postseason game since 2007.

There was no chance it could end after watching the offense score 560 points, which was good for five touchdowns a game and finished as the second-highest single season scoring unit in NFL history.

And it was never an option after witnessing their 28-year-old quarterback, fresh off a Super Bowl MVP and perfectly positioned in the prime of his career, throw 45 touchdowns and set a new NFL record for passer rating in just 15 games.

All the stars seemed aligned for the Packers to win their second straight Super Bowl, the one definitive sign that this team would forever be remembered in the annals of NFL history and that the dynasty of 2010′s was taking shape right before our eyes.

But by the time Lambeau Field’s scoreboard hit quadruple zeros—00:00—the New York Giants, a team that snuck into the playoffs with just nine wins and had previously fallen to the Packers’ sword earlier in the season at home, confidently walked into the game’s most historic stadium and laid a Big Apple-sized beat down on just the sixth team in NFL history to finish the regular season with 15 or more wins.

There was nothing fluky about this win for the Giants, either.

The Packers scored 20 points, 15 below their season average, and you could make a convincing argument that two of those touchdown drives were allowed to continue because the eyes of Bill Leavy were seeing the game in some kind of other dimension that wasn’t readily apparent to 99 percent of other fans watching at home.

The Giants, on the other hand, needed no officiating help to run their total up to 37 points. They ran, they passed, they threw up prayers, and—save a two-series stretch in the third quarter—essentially did anything they damn well pleased against a Packers defense that allowed more passing yards this season than any other team in NFL history and couldn’t pressure an easily-rattled quarterback who made his night’s one mistake on arguably the Packers’ one successful blitz attempt.

The home team’s biggest offensive stars—or the same players that ran a Mike McCarthy machine this season that could break the back of any defense in a single playcall—faded into the Green Bay night.

A quarterback that missed maybe one hand’s full of throws during the regular season couldn’t connect on two or three completions that he would have made in a medically-induced coma anytime but Sunday night.

A pair of runners that have lost less fumbles during their NFL careers than I’ve had Mountain Dews in the last hour put the ball on the ground twice, each of which eventually resulted in points for the Giants.

A tight end that has as much untapped talent at the position as anyone who has ever played the game not only dropped passes, but also stutter-stepped routes and generally failed to take advantage of the Giants’ biggest weakness in their defensive 11.

An elite receiver—by any definition of the word—saw what could have been a game-changing touchdown in the corner of the end zone clank loudly off his hands and fall harmlessly to the Lambeau turf, a missed opportunity on third down that forced his team to line up for a field goal try instead of an extra point attempt.

And a receiver that many have started to call “White Lightning” was more “Casper the Ghost” on this night despite showing on so many occasions over the past 20 games that he was capable of stepping up for his team when other chips were down.

A soon-to-be 37-year-old receiver, that’s now talking about leaving the only franchise he’s ever known, was the only skill player from the Green Bay sidelines that really showed up.

The offensive no-shows had plenty of company from their defensive counterparts.

Those stars, which just a year ago shone brightly for this franchise, had begun their fade long before Sunday night. In all honesty, you would have needed the Hubble Telescope to find any remnants of those stars after the Giants came through Lambeau.

The veteran cornerback, who a year ago was the emotional centerpiece to a Super Bowl run, missed three tackles and couldn’t have been less a factor had he mistakenly showed up in MetLife Stadium Sunday rather than Lambeau.

Another cornerback, who deservedly was paid a handsome amount by the Packers this offseason after a couple of story book seasons that saw his name being mentioned with the game’s elite, completed his regression-steady year with another terrible showing against a top receiver.

The defensive line, which lost its best player last offseason and was then centered around a young mammoth, was more dance than performance both on Sunday and the majority of this season.

The backup safety, who decided that attempting to deck a 215-pound receiver instead of using his two arms like 100 percent of professional football players are taught ultimately wasn’t going to give up the long touchdown that his coaches had been preaching against allowing for two weeks.

Finally, a complete, and quite frankly unforgivable, lack of effort from several members of the Packers secondary allowed a Hail Mary completion in the end zone that even Bret Bielema’s yet to be conceived son knew was coming.

So, by Sunday’s end, the 2011 Green Bay Packers became—for so many reasons listed above—exactly what Ron Wolf proclaimed of his 1997 Packers: Just a “fart in the wind.”

Yes, the Packers have plenty of bright seasons ahead of them still. But the stink of the Packers’ performance against the Giants in the NFC Divisional Round will and should permeate into the offseason. It won’t and shouldn’t mean drastic changes, but Sunday’s performance will serve as a proverbial slap to the face of what seemingly was an unshakable giant.

The Packers were unfocused, undetermined and, maybe most importantly, lacking the hunger that every Divisional Round winner—much less Super Bowl winner—needs on every single play. The Giants had those things, and that helped them close the curtains on the worst ever loss in Packers’ postseason history.

This was a team that went 15-1 but rarely made it easy, and in the end, an opponent made it look quite easy in making the ’11 Packers the game’s worst ever 15-1 football team.

And with that, I need not speak another word about the performance I watched Sunday afternoon.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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8 Responses to “2011 Packers Become “A Fart in the Wind” After Disheartening Loss to Giants”

  1. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    Was 2011 a failure compared to the expectations? Hell yes it was.

    HOWEVER

    Keep in mind that the 97 team already had a ton of controversy about them. Holmgren wanted to be a GM. Reggie was old. Jackson had left. Jones had left. They had no WR’s, and frankly, no secondary players other than Butler. That’s not even mentioning the mess the OL was….

    The 2011 version of the GB Packers looked like a sexy Ferrari at times. But they broke down FAR too often. They rarely passed the “eyeball” test this year. Last year’s version passed that test so many times toward the end of the year that I lost count.

    A myriad of problems a layperson could see (poor tackling, no pass rush, poor run gap integrity, an all too common case of the dropsies – just to name a few) were issues that very well could kill them when it counted. And they did.

    Compared to the late 90′s QB’s, this team is much better positioned to have long term success. It’s younger, more humble, and has more depth. Yes, it’s got holes at DE/ROLB – but every team has holes.

    We’ve got a great GM. A great HC. A great and young QB who doesn’t have a massive ego…

    Everyone say it with me: We. Will. Be. Fine.

    I fully expect multiple Lombardis before the trio of TT/MM/AR is done.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  2. Ron LC says:

    Amen – Bear

    The problems with the D are primarily that of RUSH. The rush creates havoc with coverage the way it needs to be played by the Caper D. They MUST rush enough to allow the DB’s to play zone press. When they went deep/soft zone the wheels fell off. Their individual coverage skills are just not up to holding coverage for the amount of time the lack of rush required. The other issues are fundementals (can be coached) and fine tuning.

    The issues we talk about can be fixed. And it is mostly defense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Jay says:

    Maybe I have this wrong, but it seemed to me that–this last game notwithstanding–that the WR/TE drops had actually improved from last year. Was I totally off on that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Chad Lundberg says:

    Five years from now we’ll be totally over this because we’ll have 4-5 more Super Bowl wins.

    The honest truth? I’m already over it because I had the ugliest feeling in my gut last week that this was going to happen, and you know what I did? I just accepted it. I didn’t deny it or try to pretend that it was nothing more than just a feeling, I just accepted the fact that it was going to happen.

    I ranted for about ten minutes and then I said, “We’ll beat the Giants next year, and we’ll win the Super Bowl. Probably even a few Super Bowls after that”. And then I just finally relaxed.

    Maybe no one feels the same way I do, but if it helps anyone, I am 100% confident that we’re going to tear it up next year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. Oppy says:

    The hardest pill to swallow is that our enemies in the NFC North are now completely justified to stab at us with jeers of “ONE AND DONE”.

    ugh, ouch, ick.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

      Naw Oppy – Here’s how we respond. These will shut any real fan that knows their team up. And if it doesn’t, they’re not real fans. They don’t really know football. And we don’t need to talk to them – because they don’t really want logic.

      Detroit: Yes yes. Congrats on making the playoffs. 1 time in 15 years. Well done. (slow clap)….. We made it to the 2nd round. You – weren’t you one and done? To a team we beat? Oh. Just thought I’d check. And btw – how’s your salary cap structure with Suh/Stafford/Megatron? Oh, whacked out? Really? (arches eyebrows)

      Chicago: Your D is old. Your O is incompetent. You don’t have a GM. You just promoted Mike “Randy Ratio” Tice to OC. Your stadium looks like a spaceship. And your grounds crew doesn’t know how to grow grass. Enjoy your rebuilding project.

      Minnesota: (Where to start….) You sold your soul to the Dong Slinger so he could throw yet another playoff ending stupid pick. Your hired someone for a head coach that looks like a child molester. You traded for Donovan McNabb, and then benched him after 5 games. You drafted Christian Ponder 12th overall… and guess what? He sucks. Your best player just blew out his entire left leg. Your only other good player has an ugly mullet. You just finished with a worse record than the Green Bay Packers have had since Scooter McLean (and that’s saying something) in 1958. Oh yeah, one more…. YOU DON’T HAVE A FRIGGEN STADIUM! AND THE ONE YOU JUST LEFT COULDN’T EVEN HANDLE A LITTLE SNOW!

      Feel better Oppy? I know I do.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. r.simeon says:

    gentlemen,
    packer nation is feeling bad right now but september will come ,we’ll make some changes,
    we’ll be hungry again and that lombardi trophy will come back to its rightful owners

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. Since '61 says:

    Give me back a couple of Rodgers errant throws and 2 drops in particular and we probably have a game this week. We’ll get better through the draft. We do need to keep an eye on departures from the coaching staff as that could have an impact on continuity. Otherwise, we’re good. Tomorrow is another day and we’ll be fine.
    Thanks,
    Since ’61

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