That’s all the Green Bay Packers needed to win the NFC Championship at Seattle.
Thinking back and playing the “what-if game” about those plays is “terrorizing,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said during his weekly radio show with ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde on Tuesday.
Reliving and rehashing that one play here and one play there “can really mess with you mentally,” Rodgers continued. “Of course, you go through the different plays throughout the game. A lot of times, we’re sitting here and thinking, you know, we’ve lost some playoff games where, yeah, we probably needed to make a few more plays — more than one. You look at the game on Sunday, really one play here or there could have made the difference. Could have been a play in the first quarter or a play in the last quarter.”
The list of plays was a mile long, from blown possessions in the red zone in the first quarter to Brandon Bostick’s meltdown on the onside kick late in the fourth quarter. All of it added up to the Packers leading by “only” 12 late in the fourth quarter and falling 28-22 in overtime.
Since winning the Super Bowl in 2010, the Packers are 2-4 in the playoffs. This one hurt more than the others combined. The Packers were playing well and were mostly healthy entering the game, and they got the breaks necessary to beat a potential dynasty team like the Seahawks.
“It’s tough when you come so close in a game like that,” Rodgers said. “Yeah, this one’s going to sting for a little while. You learn to move on. Part of it, unfortunately, is there’s some incredibly great highs in our game, some incredible successes and joys, and then there’s some ones that really hurt you, and this is one of the ones that’s going to stick with you because of the way it ended. Every loss in the playoffs is difficult. This one being just a few minutes from going to the Super Bowl, obviously, is a little more difficult.”
On Monday, guard Josh Sitton said that, given the way the Packers lost, he would have preferred to either get blown out or to not even make the playoffs. It made the long grind seem like a “waste” of time.
Rodgers wouldn’t go that far, but the finality of it all was stunning. With 5 minutes remaining, the offense went on the field needing a couple of first downs to clinch a trip to the Super Bowl. Suddenly, the Seahawks were celebrating their game-winning touchdown in overtime. Instead of making travel plans for the Super Bowl and getting their first glimpse of the Patriots on Monday, they were making travel plans for home and getting their final glimpse of the locker room.
“I think that’s the thing that hits you immediately when you’re on the bus. You realize just how much you went through to get to that point, starting in April with the offseason workouts, then you go into IPWs and OTAs and minicamp, and then you get a little break and, the next thing you know, you’re in training camp. It’s a long process and it’s an incredible journey. As you see a team really take shape and leaders step up and young guys step up and kind of get a part of what we’re doing and the veterans kind of prove their worth as we go through this thing, it’s fun. We had a great team, great group of guys — talented as any we’ve had but had that chemistry factor that you always need to be a championship team. I was really proud of our guys and the leadership and the way they played, and that’s what makes it so tough.
“That’s why days like Monday are the toughest days of the year. That’s the toughest day and the second is the last cutdown because you see so many guys just working their tails off to make a team. And it’s tough when you have some really hard times, but that’s what makes our game so marketable and inspiring and people enjoy watching it because there’s such great highs and lows in what we do. It was a blast.”
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