So, I had a decision to make. Son Jackson’s eighth grade basketball team had a championship game at 7pm in Shakopee–about a 30-minute drive away. Do I watch the end of the game or listen to Wayne? I decided to head to Shakopee after Mason Crosby nailed the 56 yarder that put the Pack up 31-28 with a minute and a half to play.
I figured we might be looking at overtime and I really didn’t want to miss the whole basketball game. I have to say, there’s something very satisfying about listening to Wayne and Larry, rather than the network crew. When the Cowboys tied it, I figured I’d be dialing up the game on my phone as I made my way to the gym at East Junior High.
The last thing I expected was that the Pack would win the game while I was still rolling down Highway 169. 35 seconds and two timeouts? No problem for mighty Aaron, who added another amazing chapter to this storybook season, this time with an amazing sideline throw on third and 20, caught brilliantly by Jared Cook, who has earned a multiyear extension with his playoff heroics.
And what can you say about Mason Crosby, who became the first kicker to hit two 50+ yard field goals in the final two minutes of a playoff game? His 23 straight postseason field goals is as clutch as it gets and these last two will go down as the biggest of his career, in light of the circumstances. When I got home, I watched the final two possessions. I’m really glad I wasn’t watching live, that game winner was a little too close for comfort.
The game couldn’t have started any better for the Pack. They got off to the quick start we had hoped for. The 21-3 lead was bigger than we could have imagined and they needed every point, as the defense wore down and started to collapse in the fourth quarter. The quad injury suffered by Morgan Burnett on that first quarter collision with LaDarius Gunter could have been fatal, but rookie Kentrell Brice stepped up and made just enough plays in his place.
As expected, the Cowboys got their yards. Zeke, Dez and Dak all had big days, but as it turned out the team stats were almost identical: total yards, total plays, yards per play, third down conversions (both were 6-11), turnovers–all were almost identical. it came down to the closing seconds and Rodgers and Cook made the play of the game.
It was just the second time since 1990 that the #4 beat the #1 in the NFC (the Giants’ win over the Pack six years ago was the other). And I have to say, it feels extra special to knock out the Cowboys. There’s obviously some great playoff history between these teams, from the Ice Bowl to the frustrating losses in the 90s to the Dez non-catch a couple of years ago. This year’s edition marks the start of a fun, new era in Big D, but their magical 13-3 season ends with a one and done in the playoffs and they haven’t won beyond wildcard weekend since 1995.
Meanwhile, a moment of appreciation for Mike McCarthy, who two months ago felt the need to remind everyone that he’s a highly successful football coach. Now he can add that he’s won more playoff games in Green Bay than Vince Lombardi.
And now he finds himself two wins away from tying Vince with a second Super Bowl title. Vince had Bart, Mike has Aaron. And Aaron is proving that he will not be denied as he looks to lead his team back to the mountaintop.
Oh, and for the record, the night was golden all the way around. Jackson’s basketball team knocked off Prior Lake for the championship.