Sydney Speaks! More than ‘another game'

How big is Green Bay's showdown Thursday night against the Cowboys in Dallas? Let's Harry Sydney, who has played in a number of big games in his NFL career, explain, including his keys to winning the game for the Packers.

As I watched other football games over the weekend I saw teams just fighting for their NFL existence, not really going anywhere. Just playing out the season. Everyone wants to tell you that this game against the Cowboys is just another game, but if you believe that I have some swamp land in Kansas to sell you. The coaches and players are going to say all the right things, like it's just one of the games on the 16-game schedule, but you and I know it means a whole bunch more. Let me explain what I think it means:

If the Packers win this game they really control their own destiny, putting them in the NFC championship Game with home field advantage. If the Packers handle their business in the remaining four games after Thursday night, it really means start getting the hotel reservations for Super Bowl XLII.

It also means for the organization, especially Bob Harlan and Ted Thompson, that it knows how to do right when it comes to building or rebuilding. This is that game that validates their philosophy.

I guess this really might be the battle over who is really America's Team. Is it little Green Bay, owned by the town basically, or is it mighty Dallas, where everything is supposed to be bigger and better. So this game isn't about the players or coaches; it's also about the mindset of the fans. It's about the David and Goliath story and about pride and bragging rights and everything fans want to believe in. This is what this game is about.

Of course this game is about the coaches as well. Mike McCarthy, who I'll call part of the new breed, should be the coach of the year. He is an offensive-minded coach going against Wade Phillips, one of the sharpest defensive minds of the game. This game has a lot to do about the coaches and putting the players in the right position to be successful or using the right personnel at the right time, or calling the right play this game. But believe it or not, this game is all about how the players will perform and who will make a statement.

This will be a game for grown men, not boys. If you really are a player, these are the games you live for. This is that game that can define one's future. It's that BIG. This is that game that you can't run and hide as a player because the whole world is watching or at least those that can see it are. This is that game that both teams can and will expose each other's weakness, so let's look what the Packers have to do to win.

Offensively … Brett has to play smart and under control. This can't be a battle between him and Tony Romo. This can't be about Brett letting the world know he still has it because we already know that. He needs to let Romo try to prove he's in the same class hopefully causing him to make some mistakes putting pressure on himself.

This game is about the offensive line and whether it can give Brett time to throw and open holes for Ryan Grant. The Cowboys defense is no joke, and it will bring it all game long. Green Bay's offensive line is going to face probably its most physical opponent to date and it will be very interesting to see who on the offensive line is going to blink. I hope the Packers can answer the bell because if they don't, it's going to be a long night for number 4.

On both sides of the ball the guys up front are my only concern. I don't know if Daryn Colledge can handle what he is going to face. To be really honest, it scares me because with Dallas running a three-man line that likes to blitz often times he will be singled up having to block one-on-one, and that's not a good thing. Besides that I believe the receivers Driver, Jones, Jennings, Robinson and Martin can't be stopped and, for that matter, neither can Brett.

Defensively … I know that there are some injuries, but that means others have to seize the opportunity. Then again, just like on offense, this game is about the line of scrimmage and who will control it. I have know doubt that Aaron Kampman will bring it because that's what he's about. He plays every play with the passion of an old school player. Then beside him Corey Williams seems to be coming into his own as he is putting himself in line for one heck of a pay day, but unfortunately with not really knowing Kabeer's status because of his injury this defensive line my not have the horses. Notice I didn't mention Cullen Jenkins, and that wasn't an oversight on my behalf, because in my opinion he never was worth the big money anyway. Anything they get from him against the Cowboys will be a bonus.

If the defensive line can get to Romo it will make the defensive secondary's job a lot easier because I don't care if Al Harris can cover Owens, he can't do it for a long time. Not only that but have they covered a tight end all year???

This game isn't about catching at team at the right time like it did earlier this year when they caught the Giants, Chargers, Vikings or Lions rebounding or trying to find themselves. This game is about looking across the field at the Cowboys, a team that wants it as bad as the Packers. This is about going out and taking it, realizing that these are the games in which legends are made. Everyone involved - the fans, players and coaches - must understand that THIS JUST ISN'T ANOTHER GAME.

Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at

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