This banner hangs outside Lambeau Field. Today it's about all we can cling to after yesterday's disappointment. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Black Monday: Where do the Packers (and the fans) go from here?

Waking from our groggy nightmare, the reality of an end to a superb season hit all of us this Black Monday morning.

No more Packers football; no chance at a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance; no chance at a repeat championship.

And with the reality that the Packers may never again, at least in the near future, have a shot at a season like this, the dose is a hard pill to swallow.

For the second time in four years, the Tom Coughlin-led New York Giants rushed into Lambeau Field and ran roughshod over the highly-favored and maybe overrated Green Bay Packers. It wasn’t pretty on either side of the ball for both teams, but it was the Giants that made the plays when they had to – including the completion of a hail Mary pass for a touchdown as the clock ran down in the first half. That play alone was probably the straw that broke not only the Packers’ back, but the team’s pride.

The Packers would never recover from the 10-point halftime deficit and played a second half seemingly rocking on their heels, despite chances for a comeback. However, it seemed like every time the Packers took a step forward – mostly on the running abilities of its quarterback, they would take two steps back – mainly from the inability of their receivers to consistently catch the ball.

Throw in three fumbles and you’ve got a recipe for defeat – something the Packers and their faithful haven’t felt much the past year.

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So, what does this all mean in the grand scheme of things? Probably not much. But for those of us in Packers Nation who are suffering large this morning, there’s not much we can do but console one another with the cliches. Yes, there will be a next year when we can take one day at a time, one game at a time, do the best we can with what we’re dealt and hope for the best.

But that doesn’t help us today.

Black Monday is something that we’re not accustomed to around here, but we better get used to it because it’s today’s reality.

And if it’s any solace, it could be much worse. Except for the four teams that are still in the tournament, we’ve got to step back and understand that it’s been a helluva ride with this team. For that, I am grateful. I’ve been following this team for nearly 50 years, so I’ve pretty much seen it all. I’m a veteran of disappointment and a crusader for better days.

I don’t know if this is the most crushing defeat in franchise history, but it’s got to be one of the most difficult, if not one of the most disappointing. Of all the teams I’ve watched, at that includes the Lombardi and Holmgren years, there has never been any better positioned to win a championship. Records aside, it all ended yesterday with a giant thud – excuse the pun.

Where do we go from here? Well, the goal is back to the Super Bowl next year. The goal is always the same. Getting there will be another long climb with 31 other teams shooting for that same precipice.

In the meantime, there’s much work this team’s staff and administration must do to get back to where we once belonged.

It starts today …

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Tags: Green Bay Packers Lambeau Field New York Giants NFC Divisional Playoff Game Super Bowl Tom Coughlin

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