Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Déjà vu?

At first glance, it might seem like last Thursday’s game in Dallas was an alarming flashback to the mid-1990’s, when the Packers methodically fought their way through each long, tough football season and made the playoffs, only to have their Super Bowl hopes and dreams crushed in Dallas. Here’s a look back at the gruesome results, for those of you with strong stomachs:

1993 Dallas 27 Green Bay 17
Dallas 35 Green Bay 9
Dallas 38 Green Bay 27

You’ll notice that last Thursday, the Packers held Dallas to 37 points, at least showing a one-point improvement from the playoff game in the 1995 season. Definitely a sign of progress for our defense.

But perhaps there were other positive signs as well. Not to minimize the great performance by the Cowboys, but this was, after all, just another regular season game. The media hype surrounding the game had more to do with the NFL Network’s desire to generate more cable subscribers than anything else. From the standpoint of a young team learning how to win, those great back-to-back victories in Denver and Kansas City were far more significant.

Brett leaving the game (especially since the injury appears not to be serious) gave Aaron Rodgers a chance to prove he can step in and rally the team in important situations. This was always a question mark before, with a number of people arguing that he didn’t have the right stuff to be an NFL quarterback. Now the question has been answered to some extent. If the Packers’ defense had held together in the fourth quarter, I think there’s a good chance Aaron would have led the Pack to victory. What I wonder, though, about an ambitious young guy like Aaron is whether his long-term career objective is to be the new Zeke Bratkowski.

I thought it was brilliant strategy on the Green Bay coaches’ part to not show the Cowboys our real offense, making them think all we do is heave the ball randomly downfield into double coverage. Won’t they be surprised when the playoff game comes ‘round.

Winning in Dallas is really the last significant mountain Brett Favre has to climb, in the case of away games. He’s tamed the dreaded Metrodome, which not that long ago looked to be a near impossible task. Far better that Brett earns this crowning achievement in a higher stakes situation such as the NFC Championship game in January, than in a regular season game we will have mostly forgotten when the playoff excitement starts. And as both a movie buff and football fan, I’ve seen over the years that Brett has an even keener sense of the dramatic than Steven Spielberg.

To cure his perennial struggles in Texas, one idea might be to have the team hire a hypnotist to try regression therapy on #4 and see if maybe in a past life he had some especially unpleasant experience in the Lone Star State that he re-lives when he takes the field at Texas Stadium. Maybe he was involved in that famous skirmish near San Antonio in 1836.

Reality Check

I was as disappointed as anyone after the game on Thursday. I was pretty certain the Packers would win. Everyone is touting Tony Romo these days, but it’s difficult to have complete confidence in quarterbacks who have thus far had more success with starlets than in playoff games. Joe Namath was a hell of a lot of fun, but with the game on the line you want the ball in Bart Starr’s hands.

So, still dejected on Friday morning I ran into a friend of mine at the local library who was as glum as I was over the outcome in Dallas. But then reality set in and I loudly exclaimed to her:

“Don’t worry, be happy. We’re 10-2!!!”

The librarian didn’t even try to “shussshhh” me, which is strange because she passionately roots for the Bears.

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