Sunday, October 3, 2010

Packer Pilgrimage Day 3

First Ones There

The kids were up first thing this morning.  They slept in their Packers’ gear, so we were ready to go right away.  We pulled up to Lambeau at about 10AM.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day – perfect for football.  Crisp and sunny with the smell of BBQ in the air.  We had contemplated a tailgate, but knew the boys would be anxious to get inside so opted to do the Tundra Tailgate Zone (which we never actually got to) instead.

It’s been three years since my last game at Lambeau (a 34-0 drubbing of the Vikings on November 7, 2007), and every time I go I’m blown away by the energy and atmosphere.  Most professional sporting events have become a somewhat cynical experience – dominated by mildly indifferent fans who are there more for the booze than the event.  A Packer game is more akin to a college football atmosphere.  Everyone, everyone is in their Packer regalia.  The area outside the stadium isn’t dominated by miles of concrete and has a relatively modest parking lot, so most people park in the front yards of nearby houses or outside small businesses.  The result is a convivial, community feel, like a 4th of July parade.

Front Row for Warm Ups
The boys were anxious to get inside, so we made our way to our seats.  The stadium was relatively empty (still an hour to game time), so we were able to go down to the first row and watch player warm-ups.  The highlight was watching Clay Mathews doing ball drills.  We ate brats while the seats started to fill in.  Another endearing attribute of Lambeau, for those who’ve never been, is its old-school aluminum bleachers – a mere 18” per person.  You definitely get close with your neighbors.  But our seats were awesome: 45-yard line, 20 rows back, behind the Packers' sideline.  Perfect.  By game time, the place was packed and rocking, as usual.  And the Star Spangled banner was capped with a fly-over by four F-16s.
Clay Matthews Sighting

And then… the game.  At the start, it looked like the Packers' attack would be just as high-powered and destructive as the F-16s – a big opening kick-off return (aided by a Lions penalty), then Kuhn, Jackson, Jackson, and Rodgers to Driver for a touchdown.  Four plays and 2:14 into the game and we’re up by 7.  But that was the last efficient execution we’d see by the offense the rest of the day, with the possible exception of the final drive which held the Lions at bay.

I’m not quite as alarmist as some of the other reactions I’ve heard/read from Packer nation.  First, the Lions are a better team than their record indicates.  They should have beaten the Bears (at Soldier Field), and played very solid games against the Eagles and Vikings.  Second, Sean Hill is a legitimate quarterback.  I saw him play in San Francisco and thought he was better than Alex Smith (though that might not be saying a lot).  Third, the Lions have several other solid play-makers, including Jahvid Best, Calvin Johnson, and Brandon Pettigrew (their TE who had a huge day against us).   As Packer fans, we’ve grown so accustomed to the Lions being our doormat that we get all panicky if we don’t annihilate them.  If we’d beaten the Bears or Vikings by 2 points, we’d all be fine with it.

That said, there was a lot to be critical of in that performance on both sides of the ball:
72 total yards of rushing offense on only 18 attempts by our RBs
Two uncharacteristically bad interceptions by Rodgers
181 passing yards against one of the worst defensive secondaries in football
261 total net yards on offense
22:23 time of possession – nearly half Detroit’s
431 total net yards allowed to a second-string QB
10/17 (58%) third-down conversions allowed

Fortunately, Charles Woodson, who had an otherwise off day, saved our butts and we were able to get the win this week.  I’ll take it because losing to the Lions at home would have sucked.  The only bummer of the day was the airline canceling our flight tonight, but the silver lining is it gives us one more day in Wisconsin.  Maybe we’ll hit the Packer Pro Shop again tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment