Super Bowl II was the last game Vince Lombardi ever coached for the Packers. The Packers were up only 16-7 at halftime, when G Jerry Kramer described the scene in his book "Instant Replay".
"A few of us veterans got together - Forrest (Gregg) and 'Ski' (Bob Skoronski) and Henry (Jordan) and me and a few others - and we decided we'd play the last thirty minutes for the old man. We didn't want to let him down in his last game". The Packers did play the second half for the old man as Green Bay rolled to a 33-14 victory.
The next time the Packers and the Raiders met was in September of 1972. That was the year that the Dan Devine-coached Packers won the NFC Central crown for ONLY the second time, and it wouldn't be until 1995 that the Pack won the division again. On Sept. 24, Raiders safety Jack Tatum scooped up a ball fumbled by Packer RB MacArthur Lane into the end zone and raced 104 yards for a record touchdown. It is still the all-time record in terms of fumble recovery yardage, although it was equaled by CB Aeneas Williams in 2000 when he was with the Cardinals against the Redskins. The Packers ended up losing that day to the Raiders 20-14.
The next big game in terms of Packers-Raiders history was December 26, 1993 at Lambeau Field. The Packers won that game 28-0, when the temperature was 0 degrees. That turned out to be the second coldest game ever in Green Bay, second only to the "Ice Bowl."
But the play that makes the game memorable was the first ever Lambeau leap. S LeRoy Butler forced a fumble that DE Reggie White recovered at the Raiders 35 yard line. After returning the fumble 10 yards, White laterals to Butler, who returns it the remaining 25 yards for a TD. Butler than leaps into the crowd in the south bleachers for the first leap, which is now a tradition.
The opening game of 1999 at Lambeau Field was the next great moment of Packers-Raiders history. 1999 was Mike McCarthy's first coaching job in Green Bay, as he was quarterbacks coach under head coach Ray Rhodes. Playing with a thumb injury, Favre brought the Packers back with a last minute drive and Green Bay won 28-24 when Favre hit TE Jeff Thomason with a short TD pass. Favre was very emotional after the game as he couldn't finish his press conference.
What wasn't known at the time, was that his wife Deanna had recently given Favre an ultimatum about choosing between his lifestyle and his family. Favre at that point in time stopped drinking and has been the ultimate family man since that occasion. The beginning of the 1999 season also was Favre's wildest four weeks as a Packer. Besides the Raider game, Favre also led last minute comebacks against the Vikings and Buccaneers in the first four weeks of that season.
No time was more emotional for Favre than Dec. 22, 2003. That was the day after Favre's father Irv had passed away after suffering a heart attack. Favre decided to play that night in Oakland for his father, and also for the dad who coached him in high school. What Favre did that night was simply incredible and heart warming. Despite playing with a heavy heart, Favre threw for 399 yards and four touchdown passes in a 41-7 Green Bay victory. America cried and laughed that night, but one can bet that Big Irv had a huge grin on his face in heaven.
The 2007 Packers can also make history. A win over the Raiders will give Green Bay the NFC North divisional crown. That would be Favre's seventh NFC North/Central crown as a Packer. The forecast in Green Bay appears to be giving Lambeau Field "Packer" weather, as the temperature is supposed to be in the 20's with a decent chance of snow. I bet there are a lot of people in heaven grinning at that possibility including two former Packer greats that have recently passed on, Max McGee and Jim Ringo.
The 10-2 Packers cannot take the 4-8 Raiders lightly, as the Raiders are playing their best football of the season right now. McCarthy has told his team that the Raiders remind him of the 2006 Packers late in the season. The Packers won their last four games of last season as you might recall. The Packers need to rebound from their loss in Dallas last week and to regain momentum heading into the playoffs.
The Packers have a lot of things to improve on in this game. Things like rushing the passer, pass coverage, pass protection, limiting turnovers, creating turnovers for the opposition and kickoff coverage.
The Packers need to finish 2007 strong their last four games. By winning three out of the last four, Green Bay will assure themselves of the No. 2 seed in the NFC. That will give the team a bye, and then a divisional playoff game at home.
If this was a horse race, the Packers are going into the final stretch. The game against the Raiders will begin that sprint. The Raiders always seem to bring on a historical event when they play the Packers. This week it could be the division championship. It could also lead the Packers into playing this last quarter of the season on a high note. If history is a blueprint for the future, I expect the game against the Raiders to be very memorable.