2012 Green Bay Packers: Which History Will Repeat?

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Lambeau Field
The Packers need to regain the unforgiving home-field edge that Lambeau Field once presented in the postseason

Unfortunately, the Packers didn’t get the job done in Minnesota last week and the Vikings prevailed, eeking their way into the postseason.  Still, the Packers are division winners and will host a playoff game this coming Saturday evening.  As fate would have it, those same Vikings will be Green Bay’s opponent.

At first glance, any opponent coming to Lambeau in January should seemingly have their reservations.  It’s cold and there is a rich history of the Packers winning in those types of games.  But recent history suggests that the Vikings may not have as much to worry about as teams historically have in the past.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big believer that history is bound to repeat itself.  I’m sure you can all think of other examples, but the biggest one that I always point to is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy almost exactly 100 years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Under head coach Mike McCarthy, Green Bay has won just one time in three games at Lambeau Field in the postseason.  Those two losses did come to the New York Giants and both times, the Giants went on to win a Super Bowl.  But both times, the Packers were also favored to win, as they should have been.  McCarthy’s most successful postseason was one in which his team had to play and win three road games before getting to and winning Super Bowl XLV, another virtual road game.

Lately, the theory of a historical repeat doesn’t bode well for the Packers.  Now before anyone gets bent out of shape, this history does go two ways.

One Way: Packers in 2002

It was exactly a decade ago during the 2002 season that the Packers, under head coach Mike Sherman, were heading into the last week of the season with a chance to improve their playoff seeding.  They had clinched the NFC North in early December and were 12-3.  A win would have put them in place to secure the number one or number two seed.  I can’t recall which off the top of my head.

Green Bay traveled to New York and were soundly beaten by the Jets to finish 12-4 and with the third seed.  The following Saturday on a snowy night (seeing a parallel yet?), in came the sixth-seeded Atlanta Falcons, a dome team (any other parallels?).  Green Bay was once again favored to win and at that time, the Packers had never lost a playoff game at Lambeau Field.

What came next was a very flat and uninspired performance by the guys in Green & Gold and they were soundly beaten for a second game in a row.  Season over.  Again, that was under a different head coach and an entirely different roster, but this is a history lesson.  History doesn’t care who the people are.  It just continues to come around.

Another Way: Cardinals in 2009

It was week 17 and the Packers came to Arizona to face the Cardinals.  This one is more fresh in the minds of Packers fans and this team.  McCarthy was head coach and several of the players from that team are still on today’s roster.

Arizona had already won the NFC West and was the fourth seed.  Green Bay wanted to lock up the fifth seed with a win.  Arizona rested several of their starters (Packers were without key starters Charles Woodson and Randall Cobb against the Vikings last week) and the Packers won in a blowout.  As fate would have it, that led Green Bay right back to Arizona one week later.  It brought about a confidence from the team, media and fans alike that the Packers should easily advance past the Cardinals.

This time, Arizona had all of their starters in and what ensued was one of the craziest playoff games in NFL history (and because of that and unfortunately, it is replayed on the NFL Network more than I would prefer).  I’ll spare a recap as my stomach is churning just thinking about it.  The Cardinals emerged with an overtime victory after everyone thought a certain repeat of the week before was coming.

I’m not implying that the Vikings should be favored or that the Packers don’t seemingly have a chance to win but again, this is merely a glance from a historical perspective.

Much like those 2009 Packers going to Arizona the following week, the Vikings will be coming to Green Bay with a lot of confidence and having just beaten the same opponent a short week earlier. Will the Packers hand the Vikings the same cruel fate they endured at the hands of the Cardinals?

The 2012 Way

I can’t begin to profess what this coming game will bring but I’m sure we’re all hoping that recent history prevails.  Green Bay should be getting both Cobb and Woodson back for this game and I have to think they both could have contributed in last week’s game.

On several occasions, I heard clamoring for “Angry Aaron Rodgers” last week.  He may have been angry but unfortunately, Rodgers doesn’t play defense.  If the Packers don’t come out hell bent on stuffing Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, they will be clearing out their lockers for another offseason come late Saturday night.

A motivated Peterson, as we learned, is an even scarier version than the usual.  It was evident, this past game, that Peterson wanted to get his team into the playoffs and set a new NFL single-season rushing record.  He came 27 feet short of accomplishing both.  Now he comes into next week confident after posting back-to-back 200 yard games against the Packers and in a one-and-done tournament scenario.  If Tramon Williams was afraid of Peterson last week (and he clearly was), he might as well twist an ankle in practice this week or come down with a major flu bug.

In closing, the overall point is that there is a lot to be learned from history.  It has commonly been said that if we don’t understand history, we are bound to repeat it.  Which scenario the Packers choose is entirely up to them.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.com

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  • GBPDAN

    I have a Packers D getting thier asses kicked hangover. Im just sick today. What an absolute embarrassment by the packers D. Vincent Lombardi would have had a coronary on the sidelines yesterday. Grab grab grab! The pack were playing 9-10 in the box on some plays and it still didnt matter.

    Vince would have admired the Vikings performance. Their Oline ,TEs, FB were masterful in executing their awsome blocking schemes.I know AP is a great back ,but come on, 400 yards in 2games? Wow..what a bunch of cream puffs this D looked like on national TV. And then making Ponder look like a all pro QB…our D backs all get a F- for yesterdays game..what a bunch of losers they were in that game.

    If this D doesn’t come out next week and play better, after that performance, they just have no heart or manhood.

    At this point I’m not sure they are capable of stopping AP. I hope im wrong.

    By losing yesterday, the Pack blew a great chance at beating the niners at home in the division al round. The Pack would have been well rested and healthy. The niners would have had to play an extra game and my have been beat up. They probably would have had to play Justin Smith and he would have put more wear on his elbow. because of the way the Packers offense line is, and because of how the defense played yesterday, the Packers need every advantage they can get playing the 49ers, now the 49ers will have 2 weeks to get healthy and will be rested and will cream the Packers at candlestick.

    of course all this will mean nothing if the Packers cannot beat Minnesota next week

    • Turophile

      I saw bad tackling GBPDan, but D backs get an F- ? This is an overly emotional response to losing a game.

      This defense has throttled AP enough to win in the past, they can do it again. It will not be the same for Ponder in Lambeau.

      I expect some adjustment to the gameplan after last weeks game. I expect ribbing and embarassment to some players that were not tackling well, which will help focus on form tackling in the upcoming game (and you can bet MM will emphasise it even more this week).

  • Jeff

    Worry worry worry , the 9ers are slipping , they will be taking an unproven rookie quarterback into the playoffs and if you get them into an uptempo game you beat them. Al , if you want to talk about history , talk about how the Packers are 4-1 against the 9ers in the playoffs ( 2-1 at Frisco and it would have been 3-0 if the refs allowed the Scott McGarahan’s recover of Jerry Rice’s fumble to stand. Talk about how the Packers have only one loss in San Francisco in the last 40 years and that loss was because of that Rice fumble being waved off.
    The Vikings are not beating the Packers 2 weeks in a row. I feel the Packers tanked the game for 2 reasons , on Friday Brandon Marshall said he did not want our help and last year this team lost coming off a bye. The Packers are a timing team and getting a week off alwas hurts them.

    • http://allgbp.com/category/authors/jason-perone/ Jason Perone

      Jeff, that’s a very entertaining theory. No McCarthy coached team tries to lose and if you watch the replay, you’ll see a team that was trying to win and was outplayed in a big game. End of story. Needs to be different this week. Very different.

      As far as the 9ers, we can talk about that if and when it gets to that point. Minnesota will be plenty much to talk about and focus on this week.

    • http://www.HawgNSonsTV.Com HawgNSonsTV

      Jeff … you may be spot on! I have been wondering since the Giants beat down if MM/Coaches would take a calculated loss. A day later I came across this article that may just confirm that indeed it does happen. ( I couldn’t find the actual article but this is what it’s about) http://wapo.st/UgNTLv

  • cow42

    packers record against 2012 playoff teams
    2-4

    packers record in last 6 home playoff games
    2-4

    rodgers has never won a playoff game in Lambeau

    • http://www.HawgNSonsTV.Com HawgNSonsTV

      Record against 2012 playoff teams:
      Vikings – 3-3

      Seahawks – 4-1

      Redskins – 2-2

      Niners – 3-2

      Falcons – 2-0

      • http://www.HawgNSonsTV.Com HawgNSonsTV

        Broncos – 2-3

        Patriots – 2-3

        Ravens – 2-4

        Texans – 3-4

        Bengals – 2-2

        Colts – 3-2

        • steve cheez

          moral- you can make stats say whatever you want them to say

  • mark gast

    When the Packers rebuilt their defense I thought that it would take a year to jell. When you add in the injuries, not just Woodson, but Nick Perry, and the others as well, the team has played very well. I just hope that they show they can win a home playoff game. If the offense gets going early and the Vikes fall behind, they won’t be able to rely on Peterson as much. Let’s hope that happens.

  • James david Marsh

    The GB offense is getting hot at the right time. The defense will stop QB Ponder. Watch and enjoy.

  • Lucas

    I hate looking forward to next year…but being without 3 1st round draft picks, as well as C-Wood, another 1st rounder…UGH! We are fortunate to even be in the playoffs given the severity of injuries. The team gets 4 1st rounders next year with the returning players and draft pick. I know we won our last SB in the midst of many injuries, but that is a rarity. Health is important, and we’re not healthy.

    • frozentundra91

      You nailed it. I didn’t even expect the Packers to make the playoffs, especially after Bulaga and Perry went down. I think the 49ers are probably the only other team in the league that could weather injuries like the Packers. TT and MM have done great things in Green Bay.

      • Turophile

        I speak to a big 49ers fan regularly. He thinks their biggest concern is that they do not have the depth the Packers do. They have talent, yes, but in an injury hit season they are nothing like the same team.

  • Matt Lambeau

    Nice win by the purple. This short video keeps everything in perspective. It’s all about the RING baby!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StgqluhX79k&feature=youtu.be

    GO PACK!

  • packett

    Well, this article about history isn’t very useful. Just looking for simple patterns isn’t good enough. History is useful when you apply analytics of root causes. I like Packers. I think a team having to turn around and face a team in the playoffs, after losing to that same team has the advantage. Why? Because the formula for the victor will be repeated (i.e., Minn run game w a conservative QB). On the otherhand, the loser will change the tactics. Thus advantage to the loser in the repeat game. You mentioned GB-Az, but same with GB-NYG in 2011. GB beat them in the regular season, then NY came in motivated to avenge. I think GB will exploit all of the Vikings weaknesses next time, with some new strategies.
    Advantage GB.

  • Ron LC

    The problem last week was the defensive scheme. When they play tentative and without the necessary aggression they are incapable of stopping anyone. See 2011 for evidence. I thought we were over that crap. I guess not.

    They must dedicate the effort Sunday to play hard on both sides of the ball from the openning whistle to the last second on the clock. There will be no tomorrow if they don’t. If another playoff loss at home occurs, the buzzards will start to circle MM’s house. And to be honest, I’m not sure it wouldn’t be deserved. They MUST win this game.

    That said, I think they will win and move on to SF with a good chance of going all the way. It’s a matter of motivation and dedication.

    • Rob

      Dump MM just to spite him and hope beyond all odds that you get someone half as decent? Sounds reactionary [See: Chicago Bears.].

  • Pete Kliman

    Peterson will have a harder time making sharp cutbacks on the natural turf. The TD that bounced off our defenders hands,the 2 and 27 run,lame duck that was caught, down by 13, these things will not repeat .As far as home field advantage,you have to run the ball and play nasty defense to win in Lambeau consistently.