Packers Need a Signature Win to Get Back Over the Mountain
It seems like forever ago when everyone pegged the Packers as the NFLâ€™s next dynasty.
It was only natural for people â€“ including many in the Packers organization â€“ to talk about a dynasty after winning Super Bowl XLV. A young team with a budding superstar at quarterback had just won it all with a ton of players on injured reserve. Talk of a dynasty was justified.
All that dynasty talk disappeared after the Packers went 15-1 in 2011, only to suffer an embarrassing loss to the Giants in their first playoff game.
Potential to production
Letâ€™s rewind even further, back before the word dynasty was even in the vocabulary of Packers fans. In 2009, the PackersÂ went on a nice run in the second half of the season to make the playoffs before losing a wild-card shootout with the Cardinals.
The 2010 season was supposed to be when the Packers took the next step. All that young talent was primed and ready to go from promising to great. Potential was to be replaced with production. Rebuilding with results. Playoff failure with playoff victory.
After six games, none of that happened.Â Midway through the 2010 season, Green Bay was 3-3, beat up, and spinning its wheels — stuck near the top of the mountain, unable to vault over it.
Then the Packers rattled off four straight wins, overcame a rough patch down the stretch, made the playoffs, and won the whole damn thing. The Packers not only made it over the mountain, they occupied the mountain, planted a green and gold flag on it, and claimed the mountain as their own.
They even chiseled the faces of Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy into the side of the mountain to create their own Packers Mt. Rushmore.
Falling off the mountain
Throughout the entire 2011 season, whenever another team tried to climb Packers Mountain, the Packers kicked them back down.
Then the Giants rolled into Lambeau Field for a divisional round playoff game, kicked the Packers off their own mountain, and sprayed graffiti all over the faces on Packers Mt. Rushmore.
Oh well. It was disappointing, but it happens. Mountains are high and often have difficult terrain. Every now and then, youâ€™re going to slip and fall off.
Things got off to a rough start as the Packers tried to climb the mountain again in 2012. The 49ers booted them further down in the season opener. Fail Mary almost caused the entire mountain to disintegrate. The Colts even managed to get in the Packersâ€™ way back up the mountain.
Finally, the Packers trip back up the mountain started gaining steam later in the season. Unfortunately, it petered out too soon when the 49ers used Colin Kaepernick to launch an all-out assault and send the Packers tumbling back down the mountain with yet another lopsided divisional round playoff loss.
The Packersâ€™ trip back up the mountain has been as frustrating â€“ if not more frustrating â€“ than their initial trip in 2010.
Where are the signature wins?
When was the last time the Packers had a signature win? Iâ€™m talking about winning a game against an opponent that is a) playing well, and b) considered a legit playoff contender on the same level talent-wise as the Packers.
Iâ€™d say it was against Houston in week six last season.
Obviously, any time you win in the NFL itâ€™s a big win. No team should ever apologize for winning, even if you just beat the Jaguars. And yes, I understand that the Packers beat the Vikings in the playoffs last season, but when you pull out the book of â€œPackers Signature Wins,â€ the time they shut down Joe Webb and beat the Vikings wonâ€™t be in there.
Here is a rundown of signature win opportunities that the Packers have had since beating Houston:
- Nov. 25, 2012 @ New York: Lost 38-10
- Dec. 30, 2012 @ Minnesota: Lost 37-34
- Jan. 12, 2013 @ San Francisco: Lost 45-31
- Sept. 8, 2013 @ San Francisco: Lost 34-28
- Sept. 22, 2013 @ Cincinnati: Lost 34-30
I can see an argument for calling the Week 15 win over Chicago in 2012 a signature win. Ditto for the week two win over Washington this season. I probably wouldn’t buy either argument, though.
Signature wins were everywhere as the Packers climbed over and claimed their mountain in 2010-11:
- Finally beating Brett Favre, week seven, 2010
- Shutting out the Jets, week eight, 2010
- Winning their last two games of 2010 to make the playoffs
- Winning four in a row on the road in the playoffs to win the Super Bowl
- 2011 signature wins included the Saints in week one, Bears in week three, Falcons in week five and New York in week 13.
So the Packers have gone from talking about a dynasty to once again having to fight and scrap to climb back up and over the mountain, just like they had to do in 2010. Many of the faces are different this time around, but the circumstances are similar.
- Rodgers and McCarthy are still at quarterback and coach, respectively.
- It’s a young team that banks on many rookies and second-year players to contribute.
- They’re beat up and injured.
- Questions are swirling about the team’s ability to come through in the clutch and perform in big games.
Are we in some type of green and gold “Back to the Future” sequel? If we are, I hope it ends like it did back in 2010.
Fortunately, there’s time for the plot to change in that direction. We’re only three games into the season, plenty of time for the Packers to get healthy and figure out how to execute better down the stretch in important games.
There’s a good chance next Sunday will be a signature win opportunity against Detroit. There should be one more the following week in Baltimore.
If the Packers can get their next signature win out of the way early, this team will be moving right back up the mountain. Once they get rolling back up that mountain, you never know what might happen.
They just might climb over it, take it over, and start carving another version of the Packers Mt. Rushmore while the rest of us start talking dynasty again.â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”