Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Five Most Impressive Things about Packers Super Bowl Win

In an effort to quell my NFL withdrawal symptoms, I re-watched the entire Super Bowl last night.  I intended to just watch the first quarter, but I couldn’t stop.  What an epic game it was.  As I reflected on the entire journey again this morning, there were several things that are just remarkably impressive about the Packers’ 2010 campaign.

Here are the five things that are most impressive about the Packers ride to Super Bowl glory:

1) Overcoming injuries – It’s hard to start a conversation about the 2010 Packers without talking about the rash of injuries that hit the club.  The injury-plagued season has been talked about a lot, but it really is stunning when you lay it out:

  • 6 opening-day starters gone – Nick Barnett, Morgan Burnett, Jermichael Finley, Ryan Grant, Brad Jones and Mark Tauscher.
  • Absolute decimation of our linebacking corps – in addition to Barnett and Jones, we lost Brandon Chillar and Brady Poppinga.
  • Massive loss of depth on defense – including DEs Justin Harrell and Mike Neal, safeties Anthony Smith and Derrick Martin, and corner Josh Bell (would have lost Woodson to IR as well if the season was still going).

Hard to believe we overcame all that and still had one of the top-ranked defenses.

2) Never trailing by more than 7 points – this is an over-looked yet amazing fact of the Packers 2010 season.  Never, at any point in any game, did the Packers trail by more than 7 points.  That’s an astonishing feat that hasn’t been accomplished since the 1962 Detroit Lions.  Furthermore, none of the Packers’ losses were by more than 4 points.  Arguably, the Packers were 6 plays away from a perfect season:

  1. Jones’ fumble against the Bears in week 3
  2. Crosby’s missed field goal against the Redskins in week 5
  3. Robert Francois’s illegal formation penalty to give the Dolphins a first down in week 6
  4. Matt Wilhelm’s facemask penalty on the final kick return against the Falcons in week 12
  5. Jennings’ TD drop against the Lions in week 14
  6. Matt Flynn getting sacked in the final play against the Patriots in week 15

Although I’ll take all this regular season “bad luck” in exchange for the string of post-season good luck any day.

3) First #6 seed in NFC to win the Super Bowl – the only other team to do it, period, was, coincidentally, the Steelers in the AFC.  But the pure statistical odds of winning 3 road playoff games in a row is very low.  Not only did the Packers do that, but they won two must-win games before hand and sealed the deal with the Super Bowl victory.

4) One of the youngest teams in the NFL – Ted Thompson’s strategy has always been to build through the draft, and he’s done it better than anyone in the business.  Consequently, however, the Packers were the youngest team in the entire NFL the last four consecutive years.  This season, the Packers came in as the 5th youngest team, although as they lost several veteran players through the season and swapped in younger guys (e.g. Tauscher for Bulaga) they got younger.  The math involved in calculating this hurts my head, but I’ve heard some say the Packers finished the season as the second-youngest team.  Whatever it is, it’s impressive.  And what’s particularly impressive is that, with the exception of Woodson and Driver, almost all the key leaders of the team are in their young to mid-twenties.

Schein and Gannon stayed loyal to their Packer Super Bowl prediction all season.
5) So many experts predicted it – As I noted at the start of the season, it was a little scary how many people were predicting the Packers would win the Super Bowl.  Every morning in my car, I would listen to Adam Schein and Rich Gannon on Sirius NFL Radio talk about the Packers as their favorite team.  It all felt like a jinx at times.  And there was certainly a point, standing at 3-3 after a string of injuries, when plenty of pundits jumped off the bandwagon.  But this has to be one of the highest accuracy hit-rates at predicting the Super Bowl champion in NFL history.

The final thought, although “impressive” isn’t the right word for it which is why it didn’t make my top 5 list, is that Aaron Rodgers didn’t even make the Pro Bowl.  “Astonishing” or “bewildering” would be a better word for it.  The slow start to his season, plus the time missed with the concussion, hurt him.  But I doubt, after his Championship run, that Aaron will be left off that list for a long time.

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