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.