Sunday, November 21, 2004

Cardiac Pack '04

Packers 16 - Texans 13

Okay, that's two weeks in a row with a narrow, last-second, three-point victory. The score didn't run up nearly as high in this one as I thought it would. Brett had a couple of interceptions, which always hurt, but he also continued his games-with-a-passing-TD streak to 35. He also has now thrown as many TDs in his career as there are days in a year!

The INTs were actually not as harmful as penalties were on our offense, though, and we also had more trouble in third-and-long situations. Those two went hand-in-hand a couple of times tonight, which led to the high stress on my heart. I still think officiating in the NFL is getting worse, but we also had some stupid holds on 1st downs that basically ended up stopping our momentum. We can't afford that on offense.

For all my complaints about our defense in previous weeks, I think ours did relatively well against this Texans offense. They got some big plays on us, but Al Harris was a superstar again, and I still love Grady -- he had some fun out there tonight! Na'il Diggs also had a good game. On offense, we lost Ahman with bruised ribs on the first play of the game. Newcomer Walter Williams jumped in at Back, along with Fisher. For a moment, it looked like Williams might be the breakout star, but then we heard he left the game -- turns out he left with an injury. Fisher had little luck, so (oh, darn!) we were forced to go into our passing game. We were down by 10 at the half and no one scored in the third quarter, so every series became more and more urgent for us Packers fans. The fourth quarter was ours.

Adding to the stress, though, was the fact that we had a great opportunity for a classic Favre march with less than two minutes left in the first half... and went three-and-out... and then let Houston score 3 more in the last minute! When we were all tied up and started with the ball with 2:00 on the scoreboard in the 4th, though, we were resolute and methodical. The chambers of my heart started working overtime when Brett completed a long pass to double-D with about 6 seconds left in the game and then didn't realize that the clock hadn't stopped, since Driver's forward progress had been stopped in-bounds. Luckily, we called Time Out at :02 and got Longwell out on the field. Then came the worst slow-motion, heart-wrenching moment of the game, when the snap came out a bit dirty and it looked like Ryan's 46-yard kick was headed right. About fifty-three seconds later (in my head), it started curving ever-so-slowly in to the left and it ended up just grazing the inside of the right upright about six feet above the bottom bar -- you could see the ball's shadow on the upright on the slo-mo replay (which seemed to go faster than the kick looked to me in real time!).

Winning this way is amazing. The rush of adrenaline -- combined with the need to stifle one's shouts of victory/relief into a pillow thanks to sleeping children in the rooms above -- is simply inexplicable. (Any more Monster Burgers for me and it'll also be inadvisable!) Had Longwell not made either of those last-second game-winners, I wonder whether I would have made it through overtime... but with Brett at the helm, I think Packers fans would have had much more reason to be optimistic than the fans of Minnesota or Houston.


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