Sunday, December 31, 2006

The End?

Packers 26 - Bears 7

For the last several minutes of the game, Brett was shaking a lot of hands and hugging a lot of people on the field and on the sideline. As he came off the field after the last first down inside two minutes (handing things over to Ingle Martin for the last three plays deep in Bears territory), Donald Driver picked him up for a fireman's carry.

When NBC came back from commercial after the final gun, Favre was taking a picture with his offensive line.

When they came back from the second commercial, Andrea Kremer had him for an interview and asked him if all of that stuff was any indication of his plans for the future. Brett said, "If it is my last game, I want to remember it." Then he broke down. "It's tough. It's tough," he said, repeating the feelings of this fan, among others. He promised to let the world know yea or nay on whether he'll be back within a couple of weeks. Honestly, at this point, I am willing to wait until April again. So many things in my mind were pointing to reasons for him to come back. Seeing and hearing that interview, for the first time -- honestly -- I had doubts about it.

I'm going to go back and forth on this tons of times in the days leading up to Favre's official press conference... just like he will. I'm thrilled with the way this game turned out and kind of exhausted, so I'll save going over all the ifs, ands, and buts here for now. Stay tuned, as I may need the therapy later.

So, whether or not it was Favre's last game ever, it was at least his last game of the season. As expected, not all eight games we needed to go our way went our way. In fact, only three of the eight did; the Buccaneers cooperated by losing to the Seahawks, the 49ers somehow beat the Broncos, and -- in one of the most shockingly exciting games of the day -- the Lions bested the Cowboys.

But the Packers came to play. We had something to prove after getting shut out at home by the Bears in the season opener. The first half certainly helped to exorcise those demons. We shut them out, and it wasn't because they rested their first-stringers. They brought their playmakers, and we outplayed them. Even when they did stop us, we didn't fall down. Favre got picked off by Nate Vasher (when Ruvell Martin failed to execute the correct pattern on an audible), but five plays later, defensive player-of-the-game Nick Collins picked Grossman off and ran it back 55 yards for a TD. That was the second of the game. The first came at the end of the opening drive, a 75-yard march featuring a couple of nice third down plays and a couple of nice completions to Carlyle Holiday. Best of all, the TD was a nine-yard Favre-to-Driver completion. (A year ago, the last TD pass of the season was to Antonio Chatman.)

The other two Packers TDs were defensive in nature. My only complaint, with Brett needing seven more TD passes to pass Marino for most ever, was that Rex Grossman had more passes for Packers touchdowns than Brett did. And when Brian Griese came in in the second half, it seemed like we would be able to shut the Bears out and pay them back the favor they did us. Unfortunately, he threw a 75-yard TD pass in the 3rd quarter, so we couldn't quite deliver... but we did make Grossman leave with a QB rating of (wait for it...) 0.0. That'll do. A month ago, Bears fans were pissed even though their team had just clinched the NFC North title with a win against the Viqueens because Grossman posted a QB rating of 1.3. By my math, his rating tonight was roughly 1.3 lower than that. If you're wondering how one could reach that magic non-number, it apparently takes a combination of stats like "2 for 12," "three interceptions," and "lost fumble."

The worst I can come up with from our end is that David Rayner remained un-count-onable. He missed the PAT after the Collins run-back (doinked off of the left upright) and, later, a 32-yard
gimme went wide left, too.

Otherwise, I was only a teensy bit disappointed by the absence of 'The Jennerator.' I had predicted a big game for him tonight -- he needed one, as he had become stagnant in the latter half of the season. I can't fault him for not being there tonight, though. His wife gave birth today.

So, is it the end? Yes. Yes, it is. It is the end of 2006. Welcome 2007, and let's hope for Brett to return for another great season, surrounded by talented players. In the short term, Packers fans can always hop on another bandwagon for a month or so. The NFL website has made it easy for those of us supporting one of the twenty teams sitting on the sidelines for the playoffs: Go to for a tongue-in-cheek five-question quiz to help you pick a winner to support. I'm completely screwed; I ran through it twice last week and was told first to support the Broncos and then the Bengals. Now what?

Go Bolts!

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Giant Win

Well, way to go, Tiki.

In a game that could well have been his last, Tiki Barber was a hero. He had about 1200 yards and seventeen TDs (I think -- those numbers might not be exactly right) last night, leading the New York (football) Giants to a victory that puts them at 8-8 on the season.

Now, if we win tonight, that puts us at 8-8, too... but, see, here's the thing. The tie-breaking procedures for the playoffs look to something called 'strength of victory' to see who goes and who stays home. The amazing part is that, by virtue of that concept, the Packers could still clinch the 6th seed in the NFC and therefore a Wild Card game... but we need "some help."

[Sorry, give me a minute -- I'm laughing too hard to type this all out.]

Here's who has to win (besides us):
  • Cardinals
  • Lions
  • Dolphins
  • Vikings
  • 49ers
Just to clarify, all of them have to win this afternoon.

Oh, and wait... also ALL of the following teams HAVE to lose:
  • Panthers
  • Texans
  • Buccaneers
Yet (yet!), with all that, don't expect that I won't be tuning in to NBC for tonight's game. It'll be a Happy New Year with Brett and Donald and Ahman on TV.

And I am promising here and now that, if all that has to happen happens and we do get in, I will be doing the following:
  • Buying a PowerBall ticket (with the PowerBall, of course, being 4)
  • Giving up all my vices -- the scotch will all go down the drain, I promise
  • Acquiring a new Packers hat
  • Eating it
That is all.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Flex Me Up!

By the time Santa crammed his butt down our stovepipe, we were in 7th place in the NFC standings. Only the first six matter, though, of course. However, we're down to just three things we need to have happen in order to jump up to #6 and make the playoffs:
  1. We beat the Bears on Sunday*
  2. The Giants lose to the Redskins in Washington on Saturday night
  3. The Rams lose to the Viqueens in Minnesota on Sunday
So when the sun rises on Sunday, we'll know if we're down to just needing two things to happen or if we're out of it altogether.

*The NFL has potentially made it a bit more interesting; The Packers/Bears game has been moved and will now be played as the final Sunday night game of the season. In fact, as there's no Monday night game, it will be the final game of the 2006 season as a whole. Perhaps Roger Goodell has some presentimental feelings about the way this will all shake out... or perhaps we're just being allowed a final chance to lay an egg in the blinding national spotlight. Who knows?

Either way, I know I'll be tuning in to find out!

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Packers 9 - Vikings 7

This Thursday night NFL Network game was saturated with the 'story' that it quite possibly could have been Brett Favre's last home game. Now, last year I was at (what, at the time, was) quite possibly his last home game, so I missed what the doofuses in the studio were saying, but I would have a very hard time believing it was brought up more than it was by the NFL Network crew. Guys, we got it, okay?

At last year's Seahawks game, Brett was certainly aware of it. His final waves on the field made that clear. He did the same kind of thing this time, too. He made sure he hung on to the game ball after the last snap. I'm sure he gave it to someone for safekeeping should it turn out that he does call it a career this off-season. Honestly, though, I'd still be pretty surprised (I'm not saying disappointed -- I would be, of course, but I'm saying I'd be surprised) if he decided to hang it up now.

This game was exciting to watch; the first half from an offensive standpoint, and the second half from the defensive side. Brett threw the ball about 50 times in this game, with more pass attempts in the first half than in any first half he's ever played. He also had his 5,000th completion -- the last catch of the game, in fact, even though it was called back. Once we were in the red zone, though, forget it; we just couldn't get the ball in the end zone. 3/5 on field goal attempts won this for us.

There was plenty that went on in the game for me to recap here, but honestly it's hard not to keep up with the playoff scenarios. Turns out Sorgi was wrong, so here's the scoop:

Packers win out, Falcons finish 8-8, Giants and Rams fall to 7-9, Seattle wins NFC West

1) Green Bay Packers

- (Wk 17) beat Chicago


2) New York Giants (one game back AND would lose common games tiebreaker)

- (Wk 16) lose to New Orleans AND

- (Wk 17) lose to Washington


3) Atlanta Falcons (one game back)

- (Wk 16) lose to Carolina OR

- (Wk 17) lose to Philadelphia


4) St. Louis Rams (lost head to head)

- (Wk 16) lose to Washington OR

- (Wk 17) lose to Minnesota



Seattle Seahawks (lost head to head, need SEA to win division title in scenario)

- (Wk 16) beat San Diego OR

- (Wk 17) beat Tampa Bay


San Francisco (avoid winning division)

- (Wk 16) lose to Arizona OR

- (Wk 17) lose to Denver

Santa is a Packers fan, of course, and as he has been trekking across the globe already today, he's apparently been keeping in touch with his NFeLves via satphone. At this minute, the Saints are up over the Giants and the Redskins are tied with the Rams in the 4th quarters of their games. The Falcons already lost. A Giants loss is obviously the most imperative at the moment, but it'd be nice to scratch three off the list today.

There's still another game for us to worry about, though, of course. The Bears have come back and regained the lead against the Lions. They're up by 5. If they win this, I'm all for Lovie just throwing in his fourth-stringers... or maybe even just forfeiting next week's game altogether to keep his guys healthy. Knowing Lovie's hate for the Packers, though, I'm not holding my breath.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A W's a W

Packers 17 - Lions 9

The streak continues. I was doing some math on the way back from Lambeau. I'm pretty sure this was my 13th Packers game (lucky #13!), and I have only ever witnessed one loss in person up at the Tundra. And that loss was eased by the fact that we actually backed into the playoffs on the same day. This win was tempered by the fact that it was only our third home victory in over a year. How times have changed.

And I mean changed. Brett Favre's QB rating was below the game-time temperature, which was 40°. He also turned the ball over twice inside the 20; we've now done that ten times this season. And while he didn't have any TD passes (Vernand Morency had two rushing TDs -- one right in front of us with a Lambeau Leap in the 4th quarter -- but dammit), he did complete his 4,968th pass, surpassing Dan Marino's record with a 21-yard pass to Carlyle Holiday* near the end of the first half. Later in the game (during one of the sixty-seven TV time outs), I saw him talking with Ed Hochuli for a bit and we wondered what they were saying. Later, in his post-game press conference, Brett said this:
Ed Hochuli congratulated me out there, and I told him, 'I have no idea what you're congratulating me for, but thank you.'
I was hoping he was giving Hochuli shit for his poor instant replay call which negated a long completion to Donald Driver on a crucial third down play. Guess not. And so much for keeping the penalties to a minimum like last week, when we had just two for 10 yards. This time, we had nine for 69. Yeesh.

Favre didn't play all that well, of course, but his receivers weren't exactly looking the ball into their hands much, either. I counted about ten incomplete passes that were all on the receivers. One was a sure TD to David Martin on the goal line when we were down 3-0. That one lost us four points. Luckily, despite turning the ball over four times, we only allowed the Lions to score a total of 3 points off of them. That's a pretty good average.

There was other stuff that falls under the Pretty Good category. Our defense was really quite stellar (albeit against a pretty stagnant team). I isoed on Cullen Jenkins at several points during the game, and he was amazing. Easily the MVP of the game. (Morency was worthy, but, for this game, I couldn't give it to an offensive player and feel good about myself.) He tallied up three sacks (we had six total, which is two more than what we've had in the last four games combined) and got a fumble recovery. KGB missed a start for him, and I'd say Jenkins earned it. Al Harris did a good job keeping Roy Williams quiet, too. And whenever we can keep a team entirely out of the end zone, that's certainly a good thing. The last defensive series had the Lions backed up in our end zone, and we got loud. The 'D' really stepped up. That was pretty amazing.

Finally, expanding on what I wrote at the end of my post on the 49ers game, we are indeed still officially in the playoff picture. On the way home, Jay Sorgi ran through the scenarios on the Packers Radio Network. It's a shitload of 'if's, but here's the result of his detailed research:
Part one: The Packers win out.

They have games against Minnesota Thursday and at Chicago on New Years' Eve. Since the Bears have no playoff positioning to play for, two wins are possible.

Part two: The Falcons and either the Giants or Eagles each suffer some losses, and go 8-8.

If those things happen, there's a possibility that as many as seven teams could finish 8-8. Those are [the Falcons, Panthers, Giants, Eagles, Rams, and 49ers].

If all that happens, it then goes to the NFL tiebreaking computer for the final wildcard spots.

What the NFL does is first eliminate teams from the same division... so you only have one team from each of the four divisions. If that happens, and the four teams turn out to be the Packers, [Panthers, Eagles, and 49ers], the Eagles get the final spot.

If that doesn't occur, then the NFL uses conference record to break the tie.

[The Falcons, Panthers, Rams, and 49ers] would each finish 6-6 in the conference.

The Packers would end up 7-5, and so would the Eagles and Giants.

So then it could again be up to seven teams with it coming down to common opponents or even strength of victory... and with the Packers defeating the Bears, there's a really good chance they'd win the final wildcard slot.

Now let me add this to it.... Say it's just a couple teams tied at 8-8... the Packers and any one of those other six teams. It comes down to head to head. If it's the Rams or Eagles, it's not so good, because the Packers lost to them.

If it's [the 49ers], we like the news... as the Packers beat them earlier this year.
So, yeah. We'll see. Vikings game tomorrow night. At Lambeau. I won't be there. Let's hope it's soon enough after my last visit that some of my magic is left in the bleachers.

*Yes, the same Carlyle Holiday who was playing as a Cardinals receiver the last time I was there. He caught a 12-yard pass on 3rd-and-six that was negated because of a holding call.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

What Losing Streak?

Packers 30 - 49ers 19

I can really pour it on how badly we beat up on the 'Niners last weekend because they absolutely slaughtered Mike Holmgren's Seahawks in the second half of their game last night. The transitive property (a good friend to all Packers fans) dictates that we are therefore now a far better team than the Super Bowl losers of last season. [Packers beat San Fran, so we're better than them; San Fran beats Seattle, so they're better than the Seahawks; therefore, the Packers are better than the Seahawks -- the game earlier this season obviously becomes moot, since this all happened much more recently than that.]

We benefited from the 49ers mistakes, and we caused our fair share of them to occur, too. At the same time, we left the game with only two penalties for a mere ten yards -- for whatever reason (makeup from a certain call, perhaps?!), the officials didn't spoil this game for us. From the fans' perspective, watching a game where your team doesn't shoot itself in the foot is quite embiggenning.

I have to give a little credit to Charles Woodson, who earned another... oh, we'll say $1.5 million after being involved in four tackles, a fumble recovery, and an impressive 40-yard punt return. Rookie sensation Greg 'The Jennerator' Jennings had five receptions for 50 yards, and Double-D, whom the 'Niners inexplicably left in single coverage for most of the game, caught nine for 160, including another beautiful TD catch-and-run. This one was a 68-yarder reminiscent of the 82-yard play in the Vikings game... another slant, TYVM, but he turned this one into a corner route and then shook off a tackle from a Mr. Mark Roman on his way to the end zone. That was the second play in a two-play drive following a Nick Collins interception. It was also regular-season TD pass #413 for Brett. If he can string seven more together in the last three games this season, he'll tie Marino's record. Eight'll take him over the top.

Tomorrow, the Bob-and-Jeff-and-Bob-Junior crew heads up to the north for a long pre-game leading up to the Lions game at Lambeau. The Motown kitties are on a five-game slide. As I've pointed out, the last two times I've been at The Tundra have resulted in the last two victories the Pack has pulled off there. My attendance on Sunday should ensure another home win and the sixth consecutive loss by Detroit. I'm looking forward to seeing at least four TD passes from Favre. Then we turn right around and play our next -- and last -- home game of the season on Thursday night against the Vikings. It'll be a very short week, so I'm hoping we'll be able to stay healthy. On that front, it looks like Tauscher should be able to play in at least one of these next two. We've missed him.

Watch this space for more good news, kids. Remember: The Packers have not yet been eliminated from playoff contention.

Incidentally, that missing final score was Packers 10 - Jets 38.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Pre-Post-Game Analysis

Packers LOST - Jets WON

It's unprecedented for me to do my write-up before the final gun, much less before the end of the first half, but it's also unprecedented for me to feel disgusted enough to want to spend so much of the first half of a Packers game regurgitating in an alley somewhere, disavowing all knowledge of Coach Oblio and his team.

Inside two minutes left, it's 24-0 Jets, and they're marching again.

Do I have to be at every home game? I'll remind my readers that our last two home victories came when I was in the stands at Lambeau field. Twice this year, we've been shut out at home, and now it appears to be happening again.

Given the weather up at Lambeau -- it's snowing -- I now have a theory. Last week, in the first half in the great northwest, the field was blanketed in white. White was the same color as the visiting Packers' jerseys. Matt Hasselbeck threw tons of passes to our guys. Camouflage. Second half, as things melted, so did the Packers.

This week, the Packers at home are in the green-and-golds, and the visiting Jets are in the whites.

I'm just throwing that out there.

Come on Mr. Sunshine, let's get out there and melt that snow. Then our D can...

Shit. 31-0.

Something's just come up. (All over my jersey.) Gotta' go now.

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Monday Night Robbery

Packers 24 - Seahawks 34

Add Tony Corrente to the list of NFL refs who are conspiring to ensure that the Packers fail. Fourth quarter, Seahawks up by only three and starting a drive at midfield, our defense held them incomplete on first down, one-yard run on second, and incomplete on third. Rock on. Punt, right?

Yeah, no, because Corrente called Cullen Jenkins for roughing the passer in the worst call I've seen in the NFL so far this year -- and no, that's not just because I'm a Packers fan. The "are quarterbacks overprotected" story has been making the rounds all over the country this week. If Jenkins can get called on a play like that, how is it that neither of the two players who knocked Brett Favre out of the game a couple of weeks ago got called? I just don't get it.

It might not have bothered me nearly as much if that call wasn't such a game-changer. Instead of holding the Seahawks to a spot in the field where they absolutely could not have scored, the call took the air out of the defense and Seattle ended up with seven more points, scoring the last points of the game.

We played well except for some other unfortunate third down penalties (that were justified) in the second half. Favre started that half with TD pass #410 to Driver in a beautiful 48-yard crossing play. From there, it was a slow self-destruction. DAMMIT!

Note: Abdul Hodge, who played in his first start did have a defensive TD for us, but I have to say he was easily responsible for giving back seven to Seattle, so he nullified himself. Woodson, on the other hand, earned some more money with two picks. If we could have turned our four turnovers into more than 14 points, we would have certainly put ourselves a bit more firmly in the driver's seat in this game. In the Bills game, we played better but our four turnovers killed us. In this game, we played better but we didn't capitalize enough on the four turnovers we got.

One thing that I can say for sure in this post: Italics? Working.

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