Josh Sitton might take that trade.
A day after Sunday’s crushing loss at Seattle in the NFC Championship Game, the Packers’ Pro Bowl guard said he would rather swap spots with the players on those 28 eliminated teams. Or with the Indianapolis Colts, who got demolished by the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
“Absolutely. I’d rather not even make the playoffs. I’d rather have gotten blown out and known in the first quarter it was over,” Sitton said.
The loss to the Seahawks was as bad as it gets. Ahead 19-7 with 5 minutes to go following Morgan Burnett’s interception, the Packers imploded in horrific fashion. An offensive line that, in Sitton’s words, “kicked ... ass” throughout the game, got its ass kicked when it needed to run out the clock. A defense that hounded and harassed Russell Wilson for most of the previous 55 minutes made Wilson look like Joe Montana at crunch time. A team that exuded confidence all week and played with confidence all game suffered mental paralysis when it mattered most, led by HaHa Clinton-Dix’s feet-in-cement defense on a two-point conversion and Brandon Bostick ignoring months of instruction by trying to field an onside kick.
“Anytime you feel like you should have won, it’s tough to get over,” Sitton said. “And when it’s the last one, it’s very difficult to get over. You feel like it’s a waste of seven, eight months. What’s the point of getting this far? I’d have rather not even made the playoffs.”
So, instead of breaking down video of New England and trying to secure tickets for family and friends who wanted to watch the Super Bowl, the Packers cleared out their lockers. End-of-season physicals and exit interviews with the coaches began. Huge cardboard boxes were filled with shoes to be donated. Players carried garbage bags filled with their belongings.
“It’s just an emotional rollercoaster,” free agent-to-be receiver Randall Cobb said. “You know, I didn’t really get much sleep last night. It felt like a nightmare whenever I did fall asleep, then wake up in the middle of the night and think that things didn’t end the way they did.
“For us to be done with the season,” Cobb said with a pause, “it’s kind of blind-siding.”
Blind-siding because the Packers did everything but win the game. Time and again, the Packers needed just one play. Better blocking on the first red-zone possession. A better pass on a second red-zone possession. Common sense on two special-teams gaffes.
“We kicked their ass up and down the field all day,” Sitton said. “And there’s no reason we shouldn’t have won the game. Literally, one of 10 plays you can pick that if we get it, we win the game. It’s frustrating when you should have won the game and you’re the better team, and I thought we were the better team all day except for 3 minutes.”
So, a long offseason begins. A few coaching changes could be on the horizon. A few familiar faces likely will depart in free agency. A draft will bring in another set of fresh faces. And then the grind will begin again, with the Packers knowing that they need to be 65 minutes better than they were in 2014.
“This one will hurt for a while,” nickel cornerback Micah Hyde said. “We felt like we handled them the whole game on every aspect — offense, defense and special teams. And I’ll say 30 years from now that we feel like we’re the better football team than they were yesterday, and I think that’s given. But, you know, the best team doesn’t always win.”
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