Oh, what a season! From the depths of the deep sea at 4-4 after a putrid loss at Tampa Bay to an impressive 7-1 finish over the last half of the season. The playoff loss to the Cardinals paralleled our season. We started slow. Finished well. Came up short of the ultimate goal. The regular season mission would have been to win the Division. The playoff mission was victory. Throughout the season, there were many thrills. Sadly, in the end, I feel cheated.
A small conspiracy theory before I get started. I have a good mate down in here in Florida that is a avid gambler. Wins WAY more than he loses. On Friday, he said, "McKenna, scary thing happening in Vegas right now. 88% of the money line is on the Packers. 86% of the money against the spread is on the Packers. If it comes down to a referee's call, it's not going the Packers way." Yeah, he picked the Jets, Cowboys and Ravens in the earlier games.
My brother Chad is a master of conspiracies. I told Chad about this statistic shortly after speaking to my good buddy about this statistic. Chad went to the game. The final play did not sit well with him. He did some minor research only to find out that the most suspicious finish in my lifetime between the Chargers & Steelers in '08 was officiated by none other than Scott Green. By now, we all know who was the referee last Sunday at Arizona. I'm not saying...I'm just saying...
Since 1995, the Packers have been involved with some absolutely dramatic NFL playoff finishes. Take away the 1996 Super Bowl and the Packers have dealt with more playoff devastation than anyone minus maybe the Buffalo Bills. Those in Philly might have a gripe, but they've been beaten fair and square. Those in Cleveland in the 80's had it tough as they lost there team after two disgusting losses, but man, our losses have been tough. Think of '95 when we led the Cowboys in the 4th Quarter and the ball hit Sean Jones in the hands yet he could not hold on. The interception would have given the ball back to the Packers inside the 20 yard line. Think of the '97 Super Bowl. We had a chance with the score tied at 24. We had the ball. Favre could have run for the 1st down rolling left. Instead, he threw across his body and missed an open Antonio Freeman. We know how that ended. '98 had the Rice fumble and the TO buzzer beater. '01 finished with Favre throwing 6 interceptions. '02 ended when Vick handed Lambeau its first ever home playoff loss when the Falcons destroyed an injury plagued Packers unit. '03 is still the toughest loss yet. First, we did not go for it on 4th & 1. Then we gave up 4th & 26. Then Favre throws the pick. In '04, Randy Moss mooned us. In '07, Bush could not pick up the fumble, B-Jack could not beat one defender when he had 3 blockers, Ruvell Martin could not catch a bomb, and finally, Favre throws another pick. Throw in the Cardinal game and man, it makes one want to vomit. Ok, Ok, it's time for me to move on.
I'm proud of the 2009 Green Bay Packers. I'm happy to have Mike McCarthy as our Head Coach. I love having Aaron Rodgers as my QB. Sir Charles Woodson is the NFL's Defensive MVP. The Claymaker is a superstar. Nintendo Nick is a Pro Bowler. Jennings & J-Mike are amazingly gifted. Donald Driver is the leading receiver in Green Bay Packers history. T-Mon continues to elevate. Raji, Pickett, Jenkins, and Jolly are an effective rotation. Ryan Grant continues to show that he can handle the bulk of the load. Sitton and College progressed as the season came along. Tauscher and Clifton stabilized. Wells was consistent. Barnett & Hawk became comfortable in the 3-4 as ILB's. Hawk still has limitations, but still, he had a strong stretch mid way through the season against the run. Brad Jones filled in admirably, when it looked like AK-74's injury might leave us without an option at OLB.
Mike McCarthy has the balls of a burglar. I thought he called a terrific game. A great idea on the onside kick. Going for it on 4th down early in the 4th Quarter & grabbing a TD! That was epic. McCarthy, you earned my respect. The team followed your lead and fought back.
Aaron Rodgers, you are our future. Our leader. Our gem. We will go as far as you can take us. And I feel great about our future. In no way, do I blame you for the OT throw to Jennings. You were short on time. Jennings' initial move out of the break was across the middle. You threw the ball at that point. Jennings cut upfield. You threw a dart. It was miscommunication. It reminded me of the '04 playoff game against Minnesota when Favre and Javon Walker had a similar play occur only Brett's pass got picked off. Favre immediately blamed Walker. Aaron, I commend you for how you handled yourself in the post game press conferences. All you said about the play was "I wish I had more time. I wish I had that one back." Unlike me, you did not bring up the rubbish officiating. Not only on the face mask, but also when you got drilled in the head. Aaron, I admire you. Because of you, Aaron, our future is bright. Keep working hard. Good things are on the horizon. The Packers are on the rise.
Congratulations to Sir Charles. It's rare to have your favorite college player ever end up on your favorite NFL team. With you, Sir Charles, it occurred. It's a privilege to watch you play football.
Ted Thompson, you earned my respect. Ted, if you are going to build through the draft. You have to sign your own. Depending on the CBA, this could be your year to flex your muscles, spend some cash, and keep this team together. I have faith that this is your plan.
I've enjoyed writing this season. Thanks for reading.