Sunday, December 12, 2010

Meltdown in Michigan

UW-Eau Claire students celebrate the Metrodome collapse with a game of cornhole today.

It’s December in the Midwest, and that means one thing: dip shits taking their shirts off outside and getting hypothermia.  The blizzard that swept across multiple states this weekend may have also swept away the Packers’ best shot at winning the NFC North and possibly their playoff hopes.

There’s no question weather was a factor in today's game.  With a temperature of 18°F, gusting 26 mph winds that drove the wind chill down to 5°, and nearly 5 inches of snow on the ground, it’s no wonder the Packers’ offense had so many miscues – three costly turnovers, 2 of 12 third-down conversions, 4 sacks allowed, and 7 dropped passes.  Playing in the worst blizzard of the year, Aaron Rodgers managed only 46 yards through the air before being knocked out of the game with a concussion.  Realizing that mother nature had taken away the passing game, the Packers turned to their lethal rushing attack – amassing 41 yards on 18 carries by their running backs, averaging a bruising 2.3 yards per carry in wintry conditions.

Just one problem… Ford Field is INDOORS!!!

Weather would have been a convenient excuse had this game been played in Green Bay, or Chicago, or, this week it turns out, in Minneapolis.  But the Packers were on a fast track in perfect conditions against a 2-10 team that they’ve consistently dominated, winning 18 of their last 20 games and the last 10 in a row.  Some of the post-game coverage attributed the Packers’ loss to Rodgers’ injury, but Matt Flynn was the only spark the offense had today – logging 177 yards in the second half.  Although he gave up a costly interception in the end zone, and under-threw Jennings twice for what could have both been touchdowns, he at least moved the ball.

It’s difficult not to over-react to this game.  Not to go into panic mode.  Of the Packers four remaining games, the Bears and Lions games were most critical since they have the greatest bearing on who wins the NFC North.  The Packers had a tie-break advantage against the Bears.  Now they don’t.  So they will be relying on the Bears to suck as badly as they sucked against the Patriots today for the rest of the stretch.  Our wild card hopes took a big blow as well with Tampa and Philadelphia winning.  Hopefully, the Vikings can beat the Giants tomorrow in Detroit (that should draw a big crowd, eh?).

But it’s hard to think about playoff scenarios right now.  My prevailing reaction is the growing acceptance that maybe the Packers just aren’t the playoff-caliber team we all thought they were.  If you can’t win that game today – if you can’t dig it out when you know your playoff chances are riding on it – then maybe they just don’t have what it takes to make a playoff run.  Maybe they won’t even make the playoffs.  Maybe losing Grant, and Finley, and Barnett, and Tauscher, and Jones, and Chillar and Burnett, and (today at least) Jenkins and Rodgers is just too much to overcome.  Maybe a team that simply cannot rush the ball to save their lives doesn’t deserve to play in the post-season.

The only consolation today was the schadenfreude of the Metrodome collapsing (talk about a metaphor for the Vikings’ season!) and the Bears getting their asses handed to them by the Patriots (which might have been slightly more joyous were they not our next opponent).  Of course, if Rodgers can’t recover from getting his eggs scrambled in time for next week’s game, we will have nearly no chance of winning.  A Sunday Night match-up against Tom Brady in Foxborough sounds like a suicide mission anyway.  Hopefully, they can lick their wounded egos at least put up a fight.  We're going to need every win we can get from here on.

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