Shady side of success

GREEN BAY – Does success spoil the Green Bay Packers?<p> For the fourth time this season the Packers followed a booming victory with a bust. They lost to the Tennessee Titans 26-20 on Sunday after ripping off three straight wins and tying for the lead in the NFC Central.<p>

For some reason, the Packer apparently can't handle prosperity.

"Maybe we play better with adversity," said defensive end Vonnie Holliday, who had two sacks and recovered two fumbles against the Titans. "It's disappointing we didn't get it done. It's crunch time for us. It's December, when things really count."

"We let this one get away from us," said wide receiver Antonio Freeman. "Here it is again. We win a big game then we have a letdown. Now the pressure is back on us. We can handle success, and we have handled it. It's hard to explain. It's supposed to feel good when you're on top."

The Packers grabbed a piece of the top last week when they beat the Chicago Bears 17-7 at Lambeau Field. Before that, Green Bay came from behind to beat Jacksonville 28-21 on Monday Night Football, and beat the divisional foe Detroit Lions 29-27 on Thanksgiving.

The three-game win streak came after the Packers lost to the Atlanta Falcons 23-20 – a rare loss at Lambeau. And that defeat came after Green Bay smothered the Bears 20-12 at Soldier Field and beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 22-21 at Lambeau.

Earlier this season, the Packers laid an egg in Minnesota after beating the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens 31-23 in Green Bay. The Packers won started the season 3-0, then traveled to Tampa Bay and lost 14-10.

"It's hard to win on the road, period," said linebacker Bernardo Harris. "Who knows what happened against Atlanta, and going to Tampa Bay is always tough for us, and going to Minnesota is tough for us, too."

But Packers head coach Mike Sherman didn't expect to win every game, even though Sunday's loss was his first December defeat in his two-year head coaching stint.

"Invincibility is not reality," Sherman said Monday. "You're measured as a team by how you play at the end of the season. The season can be a roller-coaster, but the one thing that cannot be a roller-coaster is your confidence. This is a loss, but it's not the end of the world. We still have three games left, and I like our chances."

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