Not only did this team destroy the Seattle Seahawks and perhaps put Mike Holmgren into the ‘thinking about retirement' stage of his coaching career, but the Dallas Cowboys let home-field advantage slip right through their fingers, allowing for the Green Bay Packers to host the NFC Championship Game. We all saw what happened didn't we? I know I sometimes get outside the box with some of my thoughts, but with what happened last Saturday, it was a thing of beauty, and not for some of the reasons you probably think. From some of the e-mails you have sent me there are many that think the way I do, so I'll tell you what I think:
This game was about some of the things that I have mentioned in some of my other articles. It wasn't just about guys making plays. Don't get me wrong Mike McCarthy made some great decisions, like challenging the spot of the ball when Bubba stretched it for a first down, and when he decided to stick with the run after Ryan Grant put the ball on the ground. McCarthy trusted that Ryan understood the opportunity and the situation and just how important he was and is to the big picture and the success of them winning the game.
One thing Mike McCarthy does extremely well for such a young coach is read his players and he reads them very well, just as his players understand him very well. They know what's expected from him, but then again he's smart enough to realize that they want it just as bad as he does, and that's where many coaches fall short.
Mike McCarthy realized that Ryan Grant didn't set out to fumble on those first two series and that he wasn't playing careless. If anything McCarthy understood both those fumbles by Grant were products of him trying hard, or at least that's what I thought and still do. Remember, the first one was a swing pass that was somewhat behind him. He bobbled the ball, then went to the ground and while getting up he got hit and lost the ball. A veteran player would of understood at that moment don't do anything stupid or try to make chicken salad out of chicken S#*T. But then again would I have if I were the coach? Not at all because I knew he was trying to win and make a play. The second fumble happened because he was running to high trying to make up for his earlier fumble. Mike McCarthy understood that and he let Ryan know that and Ryan repaid him by having the game of his life in his short career.
Trust is an amazing thing. It can motivate players to have that game of their lives. Look at Atari Bigby. Everyone wanted to replace him because he had stupid penalties and looked out of control at different times during the season, but if you look back at the season ask yourself if anyone else made as much of an impact as he did on defense. After last weekend's game even Charles Woodson commented on how Atari set the tempo, but then again he was elected the defensive player of the month. I remember when many wanted to sit him down in favor of either Collins or Rouse, but Mike McCarthy trusted Bigby and again look what the rewards have been.
The play that probably changed the game required a whole bunch of trust from different people. It was on that play after the first two fumbles I think it was on the fourth drive when Brett scrambled to the right then threw across his body to Bubba Franks and Bubba showed incredible awareness stretching for the first down. On that play Brett showed trust in Bubba to make a play, then with that effort Brett showed trust in Bubba by convincing Mike McCarthy to challenge it. Then Mike McCarthy trusted his star by throwing out the flag. Brett has had one of his greatest seasons, and isn't it because he decided to trust Mike McCarthy?
As complicated as this game is, when it comes to match-ups, defenses against offenses, players against players and coaches against coaches there sometimes are elements that are missing or forgotten, and that's what I think makes the Packers different. I think with this team it starts from the top and works its way down. This team is different because THEY BELIEVE IN EACH OTHER!!!!!!!
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.