I can’t imagine the difficulty that Green Bay Packers players, coaches, aND even the equipment managers had in sleeping last night after the team’s epic collapse in the NFC Championship Game at Seattle Sunday afternoon.
Today we turn to the words of the late, great Vince Lombardi …
Sleep was difficult for me last night as I kept waking in hopes that it was all a bad, bad nightmare.
Such was not the case.
We all tasted victory way too soon on Sunday. Packers fans were already looking up Super Bowl ticket prices with about five minutes left in the game, despite the fact that the Packers’ conservative play-calling, botched onside kick recovery and standing-around-while-Russell-Wilson-completed-a-duck-for-a-two-pointer plays were all still ahead.
Not to mention the overtime collapse of the defense.
What is going to stick in the craw of all Packers fans, players and coaches is the fact that all this happened at a time when the Packers should have been closing out the game, moving into the victory formation and getting ready to accept the George H. Hallas Trophy.
Instead, the Packers found themselves walking off the field of defeat.
Surely, Seattle fans will come up for a name to hang on this game.
Like the Fail Mary of two years ago, the Seahawks have used the Packers as a stepping stone to another Super Bowl.
For the first 55 minutes of Sunday’s game, the Green Bay Packers dominated the Seahawks, holding them to a measly seven points with a smothering defense that limited the world champs to just a single first down in the first half.
The Packers intercepted Wilson four times and sacked him five times … defensive play that was surely worthy of a championship.
looked like a high-schooler for those 55 minutes against the Packers.
Aaron Rodgers said it best after the game when he said the better team lost …
When Wilson scored what we all thought was a garbage time touchdown with 2:09 left in the game, we sat a bit upright, but didn’t think the Seahawks could possibly win this game.
Then came the onside kick and the decision by third-string tight end to try to field the onside kick instead of blocking, like he was assigned to do.
His muffed attempt at catching the ball went through his hands, caromed off his helmet and into the waiting hands of the Seahawks.
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All this happened right in front of , who was ready and waiting to field the ball … and despite the fact that just moments before the kick, he was seen instructing Bostick to block.
From there the wheels fell off.
The Seahawks offense moved through the Packers defense like a hot knife through butter for the go-ahead touchdown and then came the second signature play that would seal the Packers’ fate.
On the two-point conversion try, Russell Wilson was pressured and forced 15 yards, maybe more, back from the line of scrimmage when he heaved a prayer toward the goal line where at least two Packers players stood ready to knock it down.
Seattle Seahawks tight end Luke Willson (82) catches a pass for a two point conversion score ahead of Green Bay Packers free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) and cornerback Sam Shields (37) during the second half in the NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field. Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Instead the ball, inexplicably, floated into the arms of the Seahawks’ tight end for the conversion.
How did that happen?
Well, it was just one of those plays that we will never understand.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who had played an incredible game with two interceptions to that point, was caught flat-footed and just couldn’t get to the floating ball that seemed to be guided by some unforeseen hand.
Though MVP-to-be , clearly playing on one leg, led the Packers downfield in 1 minute for the game-tying field goal, it was for naught as the Seahawks won the toss to start overtime and proceeded on a six-play drive for the game-winning touchdown.
The Packers never had the opportunity to possess the ball in overtime.
Brutal. It was just brutal.
Packers fans went from elation to deflation in a matter of seconds.
And now all we have is a Super Bowl that nobody in Packers Nation will care about and six months of fuming.
This team was special and was poised for something great.
It was snatched away in a moment and will live with us forever.
So, as we face this morning after – one that is tough beyond description, we mourn what could have been, but turn to the words of the late, great Vince Lombardi:
"“I have been wounded but not yet slain. I shall lie here and bleed a while. Then I shall rise and fight again. The title of champion may from time to time fall to others more than ourselves, but the heart, the spirit, and the soul of champions remain in Green Bay.”"