4th and 26th sounds pretty good right about now.
It takes quite a bit to render me speechless. It took me three hours to even look at my laptop and then another 3o minutes before I could bring myself to start tapping the keys. What we witnessed over the last 5:04 of the NFC title game will stay with us always. We finally have our own Gary Anderson game, our own Favre pick against the Saints.
And ours is miles worse. This collapse, the biggest in NFL playoff history, had several ‘shake your head in disbelief’ moments. Brandon Bostick wears the goat horns for swinging and missing on the onside kickoff, but there was plenty of blame to go around.
We can blame Morgan Burnett for not returning Russell Wilson’s pick–heading to the ground and passing up plenty of free yards in front of him (though I had no problem with that decision–the last thing we needed was the ball getting punched out and Seattle getting it back).
We can blame Mike McCarthy for ultra conservative play calling down the stretch. The running game had no chance against a suddenly feisty Seahawks run defense that knew what was coming.
We can blame Ha Ha Clinton Dix, who played an otherwise fantastic game, for his incomprehensible miss on Wilson on the two point conversion play. This is the play I keep playing over in my head. If he finishes the play, the lead is one and Rodgers is ready to lead the team down the field for a game winning field goal. That’s how this one was supposed to end. With a boot by the perfect Mason Crosby to send the Pack to its sixth Super Bowl.
Instead, we will think about what cost the team on this day; the same problems we’ve been dealing with all season. It starts with special teams. As dependable as Crosby was on this day, the special teams gave up seven blocked kicks or punts in the regular season and gave up two of the biggest plays in this game: the fake field goal that put the ‘Hawks first points on the board and the botched recovery of the onside kick.
The team was troubled in the red zone all season. When you settle for field goals at Lambeau (like they did against the Patriots), you can escape. When you settle for field goals against a team like Seattle at their place, you’re playing with fire. When two first half drives stalled at the one, and McCarthy didn’t trust the offense to convert, you had to be worried. I certainly was.
I could go on. But I don’t want to. In time we’ll remember we have the game’s best QB, a young, improving defense and a team that will be in the mix again next season. But until the Pack returns to the Super Bowl, this game will sit in our gut, churning around, and we’ll think about what might have been. The Packers choked away their ticket to Super Bowl 49 in epic fashion.
Vikings fans, finally, finally I think we all understand what it’s been like for you. For the first time we feel your pain. And it hurts.