19.1.15

PLAY SIXTY.

That was a difficult Sunday for Green Bay Packer fans.
Trailing, 19-7, with 3 minutes 52 seconds left, the Seahawks scored two touchdowns in a span of 44 seconds to take the lead. Aaron Rodgers then needed just a little more than one minute to maneuver the Packers into field goal range and Mason Crosby tied it with a 48-yarder to force overtime.

Then Russell Wilson — who threw four interceptions and had a first-half quarterback rating of 0.0 – needed just six plays to end it, the final one a 35-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse, who caught the ball in the end zone with cornerback Tramon Williams draped all over him.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers noted the final two minutes weren't the only time things went wrong.
"You can't let them complete a pass for a touchdown on a fake field goal," Rodgers said, "you can't give up an onside kick and you can't not get any first downs in the fourth quarter and expect to win. And that's on top of being really poor in the red zone in the first half. Put all of that together, that's how you lose games.

"This was a great opportunity. We were right on the cusp."
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel helpfully compiled a list of the most egregious blunders.  Not for the faint of heart.  And that, despite Seattle coming out flat.
A powerful team with designs on becoming the first Super Bowl repeat champion since New England in 2003-'04, the Seahawks were flat, loosely prepared and obviously missing several key performers lost to injury.

Alvin Bailey, forced to start at right tackle when Justin Britt was a surprise scratch (knee), was taken to school early and often by Julius Peppers. Wilson's passer rating at the half was 0.0. The passing game was null and void.

The Seahawks, even with their leather-lunged fans screaming throughout, looked inept.
And thus the battle flag will stay the same for another season.


Now, though, comes the recriminations and the second-guesses.  First, though, some perspective.  Since the 2007 season, the Packers have made the playoffs in seven of eight campaigns, with three trips to the conference championship and one Super Bowl victory.  Is that a record of underachievement, or an opportunity for the veterans of yesterday's loss, who will comprise somewhere around two-thirds of the 2015 team, to take an education from it, and return to camp with the resolve and the determination to let the thing be pressed?  Or is the world we live in one in which the old Black and Blue Division is the football equivalent of Harold Stassen, getting a representative into the tournament to be excused in the first round?

Thus, the Seahawks will play the Patriots for the title.  The Patriots have been to the Super Bowl eight times, winning three.  (They were on the receiving end of a beat-down by William Perry and the Chicago Bears, just before I hired out at Northern Illinois.)  Is that a record of underachievement?  Alternatively, is the tournament just a darned difficult one to win?

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