The Packers are out of the playoffs. It hurts. We know.
But before this year, many Packer fans were only worried about winning the Super Bowl and anything less was complete and utter failure. But here’s the deal: winning the Super Bowl is hard.
This isn’t baseball or basketball where a minor hiccup doesn’t usually change the outcome of a game, and if it does, you’re playing a whole series of games to advance anyway. No. One slip-up can lose a game. One loss means going home.
Over the years, the Packers have had some painful slip-ups that sent them home. Everything from letting an outlet pass go for 75 yards in OT (2015), to a bobbled onside kick (2014), to a dropped game-winning interception (2013). That’s three consecutive years with the game being tied when the clock struck 0:00 and still losing on one play (maybe 2013 was as the clock struck 0:00, but still).
Those are things that lead some to call for firing everyone – as if the Packers are the only team to ever get bounced on a close game.
Well, since we aren’t watching the Packers, we can rub our eyes and look around at the rest of the league to see if, in fact, it’s possible for any other team to lose a close playoff game.
Jaguars 10, Bills 3
If the score doesn’t tell you how close this one was, the story might. Blake Bortles was the games leading rusher with 88 yards… and he passed for 87. Buffalo had a shot at the end of the game. They put together a 7 play drive, got into Jacksonville territory and then their QB got knocked out and their backup threw a pass that got tipped and intercepted. That stings. Especially when the only TD came on 4th and goal when the Jaguars decided, with 15 minutes left, to go for it in a 3-3 game.
Oh, and prior to this game, these teams combined for 1 trip to the playoffs in this millennium. Think about that when you’re feeling bad about the Packers run.
Saints 31, Panthers 26
The Panthers saw this game swing early when they got inside the 10, dropped a touchdown pass, then pushed a 25 yard field goal to come away with nothing. Then, the Saints turn around and chuck an 80 yard TD. That’s a big swing in a 5 point game. At the very end, the Panthers had a chance again. Newton threw a pass right where it need to be – perfectly on target in the end zone – and Devin Funchess, for some reason I can’t comprehend, jumped awkwardly and took himself away from the pass. All he had to do was stand there and catch a great pass that the defender couldn’t get to and they would win and move on. But they didn’t.
Titans 22, Chiefs 21
Are you serious? KC jumped out to a 21-3 lead at the half. Then Mariota throws a touchdown to himself off a deflection on 3rd and goal and then the Chiefs get the ball back and miss a field goal? The Titans got a couple more touchdowns and after each one, the Chiefs couldn’t even get into field goal range. Ouch.
The weekend was littered with “experts” who went 0-4 on their picks. Three of these games could have been won at the end. The playoffs are a crapshoot and the Packers aren’t the only team to lose heart-breakers.
This is why the Packers goal is to get to the playoffs and take it from there. You can’t plan for this stuff.
Winning Super Bowls isn’t easy – winning any playoff game is hard. You don’t make knee-jerk firings based off playoff results.
The Packers took a very cerebral approach to their changes and the games this week showed why that is important: emotions won’t get you anywhere.