The Packers lost on Sunday in the divisional round of the playoffs in what could be one of the biggest upsets in Packers history, especially at Lambeau. The Packers were coming of a record-setting 15-1 season before losing their first playoff game, a letdown that will be hard to swallow for a long time.
Not only was this loss frustrating because it was such an early exit in the playoffs, but also because the Packers played so poorly. Their offense was a far cry from the explosive offense that played the entire season, and their defense, which was struggling all year long, was not able to make the stops necessary to keep the game within reach by the fourth quarter.
The Packers played sloppy after having such a great year, which is obviously heartbreaking not only for the fans, but also for the players and coaches that worked so hard to make this a memorable season. And in one bad loss, this 15-1 season has a serious blemish in the way it ended.
The Packers aren't strangers to disappointing playoff losses; however. In 2003, after going 12-4, the Packers were stunned by the Atlanta Falcons at home, their first Lambeau playoff loss in Packers history. The next year, they fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in a game with an infamous play that would be known as "4th and 26."
And the disappointing playoff losses didn't just end there. The Packers fell at home once again in the playoffs to the New York Giants in the 2007 NFC Championship Game. And two years later, they would fall to the Cardinals in a wild 51-45 shootout that ended with Aaron Rodgers fumbling the ball in overtime.
The Packers have had some tough playoff losses in the past 10 years alone, but I'm not sure if any of these is more painful than this one. The defending Super Bowl champions rolled through the season with a 15-1 record, looking like the best team in the NFL and possibly one of the best in NFL history. And to lose in the first game of the playoffs is a great disappointment.
The silver lining, however, is that the Packers have a better team next year than they have had in many of these disappointing playoff games. After losing to the Falcons and Eagles in the early 2000's, the Packers struggled for the next two years, having a team with an aging quarterback, a weak receiving corps and running game and a spotty defense.
These problems plagued them until Ted Thompson was hired as general manager, Mike McCarthy was brought in as head coach and Aaron Rodgers stepped in as the starting quarterback. The Packers have a bright future with a smart front office that can eye talent, an aggressive and motivated head coach and a quarterback that leads one of the best offenses in the NFL.
The Packers have some weak spots that they will need to address in the offseason, but this is still one of the best teams in the NFL, and they have a very bright future ahead of them.