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The Super Bowl: The Standings, Plus the History of the Packers in the Game

Bob FoxContributor IFebruary 4, 2012

The Super Bowl: The Standings, Plus the History of the Packers in the Game

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    Super Bowl Standings

     

    Team WLPct.Pts.Opp.
    San Francisco 49ers501.00018889
    Baltimore Ravens101.000347
    New Orleans Saints101.0003117
    New York Jets101.000167
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers101.0004821
    Green Bay Packers41.800158101
    Pittsburgh Steelers62.750193164
    New York Giants31.7508387
    Dallas Cowboys53.625221132
    Oakland/L.A. Raiders32.600132114
    Washington Redskins32.600122103
    New England Patriots33.500121165
    Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts22.5006977
    Chicago Bears11.5006339
    Kansas City Chiefs11.5003342
    Miami Dolphins23.40074103
    Denver Broncos24.333115206
    St. Louis/L.A. Rams12.3335967
    Arizona Cardinals01.0002327
    Atlanta Falcons01.0001934
    Carolina Panthers01.0002932
    San Diego Chargers01.0002649
    Seattle Seahawks01.0001021
    Tennessee Titans01.0001623
    Cincinnati Bengals02.0003746
    Philadelphia Eagles02.0003151
    Buffalo Bills04.00073139
    Minnesota Vikings04.0003495

    The New York Giants will face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI tomorrow evening.  Yes...that is correct, this will be the 46th Super Bowl.  It all started on January 15th, 1967, when Vince Lombardi and his Green Bay Packers from the NFL took on Hank Stram and his Kansas City Chiefs from the AFL in Super Bowl I.

    Lombardi and the Packers won that day and also won the the next year as well as the Pack defeated the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II.  All told the Packers have won the Super Bowl four times.

    There are only four teams in the NFL that have four or more wins in the Super Bowl.  They would be the Pittsburgh Steelers (six), the San Francisco 49ers (five), the Dallas Cowboys (five) and the Packers (four).

    The winner of Super Bowl XLVI will join that elite club, as both the Giants and Patriots have three Super Bowl wins heading into the game tomorrow night.

    In terms of overall NFL championships, the Packers lead by a fairly wide margin with 13 NFL titles.  The Chicago Bears are second with nine NFL titles, while the G-Men have seven NFL championships.

    As you can see by the standings above, there are 10 NFL teams that have played in the Super Bowl but never won the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

    Plus there are four teams that have never played in the Super Bowl at all.  They would be the Cleveland Browns, the Detroit Lions, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans.

    In this slideshow, I'm going to look at the five Super Bowls the Packers have played in and give a snapshot of what occurred in those games.

     

The Basics

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    The Green Bay Packers are 4-1 playing in the Super Bowl.

    Super Bowl I - Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10 MVP - Bart Starr
    Super Bowl II - Green Bay Packers 33, Oakland Raiders 14 MVP - Bart Starr
    Super Bowl XXXI - Green Bay Packers 35, New England Patriots 21 MVP - Desmond Howard
    Super Bowl XXXII - Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24 MVP - Terrell Davis
    Super Bowl XLV- Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25 MVP - Aaron Rodgers

Max McGee's Magic

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    Bart Starr won the MVP award in Super Bowl I (in Super Bowl II as well), but in the first Super Bowl, who can forget the performance of Max McGee.  McGee was a star receiver for the Packers in Lombardi's years. But through 1965-67, McGee didn't get a lot of playing time.  When he did, he was clutch. Before Super Bowl I, McGee caught a 28-yard TD pass from Bart Starr that was the difference in the 34-27 1966 NFL championship game win in Dallas against the Cowboys.  But Super Bowl I was where he really made his legend.

    McGee didn't expect to play so he snuck out after curfew the night before the game.  McGee couldn't convince roommate Paul Hornung to go with him that night.  McGee stayed out late that evening and didn't return until the team breakfast the next morning.  Little did he know what was going to happen that day as he got a one hour cat nap after breakfast.  Starting wide receiver Boyd Dowler injured his shoulder and McGee had to go into the game.  McGee was startled as he heard Vince Lombardi yell, "McGee! McGee! Get your ass in there."

    Max got his behind in there all right.  Besides catching the first touchdown pass in Super Bowl history, McGee put up amazing stats as he ended up with seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns.  McGee didn't get the game's MVP award, it went to Starr, but McGee was the "star" that day.  McGee was never All-Pro and only went to one Pro Bowl.  All he did was produce.  Like in Super Bowl II, when he caught only one pass ... for 35 yards!

    Starr was 16-23 for 250 yards and also threw 2 TD passes (both to McGee) in winning the game MVP honors in the 35-10 win.  Starr was especially deadly on 3rd down, as the Packers were able to convert 11 of of 15 chances on that crucial down.  On the other hand, the Chiefs were just three out of 14 on 3rd down.  It took awhile for the Green Bay defense to figure out the Kansas City offense, but they dominated the Chiefs in the second half and held them scoreless.  The Packers sacked Len Dawson of the Chiefs six times, led by Willie Davis, who had two sacks.

    The key play of the game happened early in the 2nd half when a fluttering pass by Dawson was intercepted by Willie Wood, which the All-Pro safety returned 50 yards to set up an Elijah Pitts TD run.  The Packers never looked back as they took a 21-10 lead at that point.

Play This One for the Old Man

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    The second Super Bowl game was very special for the Packers and their fans.  This would be Lombardi's last season as head coach for the Pack against the Oakland Raiders.  The 1967 was a memorable year.  The Packers were without Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung for the first time in the Lombardi era.  The Packers had to overcome a lot of injuries as well.

    The Packers did win the Central division title with a 9-4-1 record.  But they had to face the 11-1-2 Los Angeles Rams in Milwaukee in their first playoff game.  The Packers had lost a heartbreaking game to the Rams at the LA Coliseum just a few weeks before.  But the Packers and Lombardi were focused as the Packers whipped the Rams 28-7 and got an opportunity to play in the NFL championship game against the Dallas Cowboys in Green Bay the next week.

    The game would be known as the "Ice Bowl" as it was -13 degrees at kickoff.  The Packers went ahead 14-0, just like they had in the 1966 NFL championship game in Dallas.  The Packers fell behind 17-14 on the first play of the fourth quarter as HB Dan Reeves completed an option pass to Lance Rentzel for a 50-yard TD.  The Packers came back to win as they went on a frigid 68 yard journey on the frozen tundra starting with just 4:50 left on the clock.  The drive ended as Starr scored on a quarterback sneak with just 13 seconds remaining in the game as Starr tumbled into immortality behind G Jerry Kramer's block.

    The conversation that proceeded the touchdown was classic Lombardi.  Starr called his last time out with just 16 seconds left in the game.  Starr thought that because the scoreboard at the end of the field was causing a shadow that the Packer running backs were slipping as they hit the line.  Starr suggested running a wedge play, however he would keep the ball (Starr never told anyone in the huddle that he would keep it though).  Lombardi simply said, "Then run it and let's get the hell out of here."

    The Packers win against the Cowboys put them in Super Bowl II against the Raiders.  The Packers struggled early again against the AFL champions.  The Packers were up only 16-7 at halftime, when 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.

    Lombardi has become the symbol of what is great in the NFL.  There are others like Curly Lambeau, George Halas, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Tom Landry and Bill Belichick who have made their mark as well.  But it's Lombardi's name on the Super Bowl trophy.  That is the ultimate prize in the NFL.  Lombardi was the ultimate head coach as well.

I Shall Return

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    The 1996 Green Bay Packers were almost like a perfect storm, almost from the beginning of training camp, when Brett Favre was coming off of his rehab stint due to his addiction to vicodin.  The Packers had played in the NFC Championship game in 1995 and lost to the eventual Super Bowl champs...the Dallas Cowboys.  From then on the mantra for the team was getting to the Super Bowl and then winning the Super Bowl.  No matter what the team had to overcome.  Things like Favre's addiction issue.

    But Favre bounced back and had his second straight MVP season.  Favre led an offense that was ranked 1st in the NFL.  Reggie White led a defense that was ranked 1st in the NFL.  And a player that was almost released in the preseason...Desmond Howard...led the special teams to the No. 1 ranking in the NFL too.

    General Manager Ron Wolf helped out the 1996 Packers quite a bit with his acquisitions.  Among the moves was the signing of Howard as a free agent, to mostly help the return game.  Other moves included the signing of other free agents like DT Santana Dotson, WR Don Beebe, LB Ron Cox and WR Andre Rison (late in the '96 season due to injuries).  Wolf also traded for S Eugene Robinson.

    The Packers were clearly the best team in the NFL during the 1996 season, but they did hit a bump in the road in the middle of November, when the team lost back to back games to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys.  It was at this point that Wolf and head coach Mike Holmgren decided to sign Rison.  The Packers never lost again as the team finished 13-3.

    Howard led the way in the playoffs in the first game against the San Francisco 49ers at rainy and muddy Lambeau Field.  The former Heisman Trophy winner returned a punt for 71 yards and a TD and almost returned one for another that led to another TD in a 35-14 thrashing of the Niners.

    To get to Super Bowl XXXI, the Packers had to defeat the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship game.  The Panthers were coached then by current defensive coordinator Dom Capers.  The Panthers defense was led by OLB Kevin Greene, who is now the coach of the outside linebackers for the Packers.  The Packers started slowly but finished the 1st half strong. They then dominated the 2nd half as the Packers won 30-13 to get to the team's first Super Bowl since 1968.

    The Packers had a number of heroes on their team when the Pack defeated the Patriots 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI.  Favre threw two TD passes vs. no picks for 246 yards, plus had a rushing TD.  White had three sacks in the game (still a Super Bowl record) and the Pats were never able to catch the Packers in the 2nd half.  White had sacks on back to back plays as a matter of fact, which occurred in the first possession of the Patriots after the Packers took a 35-21 lead.  But the key player of the game was the guy who got the Packers their last TD on a 99 yard kickoff return.

    That would be the man who was almost cut...Desmond Howard.  Howard was almost unstoppable that day in New Orleans, as he had 244 yards in return yardage, both in punt returns and kickoff returns.  Howard had six punt returns for 90 yards (a 15.0 average) and almost broke one for a TD.  In addition, Howard had 154 yards on kickoff returns (a 38.5 average), including the 99 yard TD.  The Patriots had 257 total yards in the game, while the Packers had 323. Howard came close to those amounts just by himself.

It Was the Walrus

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    Some people were taken back by comments made a few years ago in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by former General Manager Ron Wolf, talking about Green Bay's loss in Super Bowl XXXII.  In an article by Bob McGinn, Wolf didn't pull any punches.

    "Certain calls were to be made that weren't made," Wolf said during a trip to Green Bay in August of that year.  "Mike Holmgren refused those calls.  There would have been an adjustment on the blocking scheme and it would have been over.

    "One of the great things about playing the game of football is you have to adjust.  When you fail to adjust in critical situations you're going to lose, and that's what happened here.  To be pig-headed about it, I mean, to have the answer and then not apply it, that's a little different."  Wolf obviously thought that the blitz pick-up schemes were not blocked correctly or given enough blockers.  That may be true.  I have also placed the blame on Holmgren about that game, but for a different reason.

    So why did the Packers lose that day?  There are many reasons, but two stand out.  The Packers couldn't stop the run and they also STOPPED running the ball in the second half.  RB Terrell Davis was unstoppable as he rushed for 157 yards in 30 attempts and three touchdowns.  The Broncos averaged 4.6 yards a gain in the game.

    Running back Dorsey Levens was having the same type of game Davis was in the first half of the game.  But for some unexplained reason, Holmgren stopped giving the rock to Levens in the second half.  Levens finished with 90 yards rushing on just 19 carries.  That is a 4.7 yard average.  But "Dorse the Horse" became a receiver only in half number two.

    To both Wolf and I, Holmgren did not coach with the focus needed to win a big game.  Maybe it was the rumors that were swirling about his departure to Seattle, which did happen a year later after a San Francisco playoff loss.  Holmgren should have learned an obvious lesson in Super Bowl XXXI, when Bill Parcells was doing the same thing to the New England Patriots, which turned out to be Parcells' last game as a New England coach.  But the focus did not seem to be there and I place the blame on Holmgren for that.

    The Packers should have won that day.  Favre played well enough.  Levens WAS having a big day running the ball.  But that effective rushing attack was stopped by the coaching staff and not the Broncos.  The Packers couldn't stop the rush.  And they couldn't get to Elway when he did pass.  The Packers won Super Bowl XXXI, 35-21, because the Packers defense finished the Patriots in the fourth quarter.  Everyone remembers Reggie White's three sacks of Drew Bledsoe in that game.  Compare that to one tackle and no sacks for White in Super Bowl XXXII.

    White was tired.  So was the entire Packer defense.  But they never got off the field for long periods of time which was desperately needed.  I place that blame on the Walrus.  Holmgren went for the jugular many times in the fourth quarter when the situation called for more conservative play calling.  Maybe one day Holmgren can explain his thinking.

    John Elway's legacy will be that he played in five Super Bowls, winning his final two.  He was even game MVP of Super Bowl XXXIII.  Favre's legacy will contain many attributes.  His three MVPs, his consecutive start streak, his passing records and a Super Bowl win.  He should have two rings instead of one.  Only Mike Holmgren knows why.

    Let me also say that Mike Holmgren was a fine coach in the Pack's glorious history.  He does have a street named after him not far from Lambeau Field.  Holmgren helped the Packers to return to their glory and also helped harness Favre into a three-time MVP quarterback in his tenure there.  Holmgren helped the team win their first Super Bowl since Vince Lombardi did it in 1968.  I, and others, think that there should have been at least one more championship.  But that doesn't take away from the new winning tradition that Holmgren started in 1992 and which remains there until this day.

Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood

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    The 2010 Green Bay Packers had the ultimate type of year in the NFL.  The Pack won their 4th Super Bowl trophy and also claimed their 13th NFL championship as well.  But the Packers did it the hard way when it was all said and done.  It was an incredible journey with many hills and valleys, but the expedition led to the prize of all prizes...the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

    Many of us thought it would be a two team race in the NFC North in 2010, with the Packers and the Minnesota Vikings battling for the division title.  But the Vikings were a mess on the field in 2010, as injuries took their toll on the Vikes and the team finished 6-10 and in 4th place in the division.  But the Packers suffered even more injuries and still stayed competitive in the NFC North.  The surprise team of the division was clearly the Chicago Bears who ended up winning the NFC North with an 11-5 record.  The Packers ended up as a Wild Card participant in the NFC playoffs and were the 6th seed.  But even that took some doing.

    Back to the injuries.  The 2010 Green Bay squad was decimated by injuries.  It all started with RB Ryan Grant who was lost for the season in the very first game of the year, as was DE Justin Harrell.  More quickly followed.  Players like ILB Nick Barnett, TE Jermichael Finley, S Morgan Burnett, OLB Brad Jones, S Derrick Martin, DE Mike Neal, OLB Brady Poppinga, RT Mark Tauscher, LB Brandon Chillar and TE Spencer Havner.  All told, the Packers lost three starters each on offense and defense.

    The Packers also had their fair share of players who have still played in 2010 despite some having some lingering injury issues as well. OLB Clay Matthews, CB Charles Woodson, S Nick Collins, DE Cullen Jenkins, WR Donald Driver and QB Aaron Rodgers are players that come to mind.

    In addition to the injuries, the Packers also were hurt by close losses throughout the season.  In their six losses, the Packers lost twice by field goals in overtime, twice by field goals in the last 10 seconds of the fourth quarter, and twice by four points, with both of those four-point losses coming on the road with quarterback Aaron Rodgers injured.  No team in NFL history had ever before had a six-loss season with all six losses by four points or fewer, according to Stats Inc.  In addition to that unbelievable statistic, the Packers never trailed an opponent by more than seven points all season long.

    Still, the Packers needed some good fortune to make the playoffs over teams like the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Bucs.  Fortune smiled on the Packers in Week 15 of the season, a week in which the Packers LOST to New England.  Why would I say that?  For one, the Giants allowed the Philadelphia Eagles to score 28 points in the 4th quarter, which included a 65 yard game winning punt return by DeSean Jackson on the last play of the game.

    The Bucs also lost that Sunday, as they lost to the Detroit Lions at home 23-20 in OT.  The key play of that game was an offensive pass interference call on TE Kellen Winslow Jr. on a play in which he caught a TD pass in the 4th quarter.  The play was wiped out and the Bucs had to settle for a field goal only.  The NFL later contacted the Bucs and said that the play should have stood and that there was NOT offense pass interference.

    The Giants and Bucs both finished 10-6, just like the Packers, but those losses that Sunday allowed the Packers to hold the tiebreaker over both teams.  The Packers still had to beat the Giants and Bears at home to make the playoffs, which they did, but it was the events of Week 15 of the NFL season which really allowed the Packers a chance to be a Wild Card team.

    To the Super Bowl, the Packers had to play three games on the road and in hostile environments.

    It started in Philadelphia, where the Packers had to try and exorcise a demon in the Eagles, who in the past had given the Packers two painful playoff losses in the City of Brotherly Love.  The Packers did indeed exorcise a demon with a 21-16 hard fought victory over the 3rd seeded Eagles, who they had also beaten in week one of the season 27-20, also in Philly.  The Packers once again got out to a 14-0 lead, but once again the Eagles came back. 

    But Rodgers and the valiant play of the Green Bay defense didn’t allow the Eagles to snatch another win from the Packers in the playoffs.  Yes...the Tramon Williams interception was the final nail in the coffin for the win, but has there ever been a bigger tackle in Green Bay playoff history than the one Desmond Bishop made on the last drive of the Eagles, when he made a shoestring tackle of explosive WR DeSean Jackson?

    The next opponent would be the 1st seeded Atlanta Falcons, who had beaten the Packers 20-17 earlier in the season, also in Atlanta.  The Packers truly showed how good they could be in a dominant 48-21 victory over the Dirty Birds.  The Falcons took and early 7-0 lead, but the Packers behind Rodgers, quickly tied the score.  The Packers then had one of their special teams hiccups, as they allowed a 102 yard kickoff return by Eric Weems, as the Falcons took a 14-7 lead. 

    That would be the last time the Falcons would have the lead as Rodgers had a game for the ages, completing 31 out of 36 passes for 366 yards and three TDs.  Rodgers also had a rushing TD to boot.  Speaking of boots, the Packers NEVER had to punt in the game, as Rodgers had the Green Bay offense on all cylinders.

    Defensively, the star of the game for the Packers was CB Tramon Williams.  Williams had ended the game in Philly with a pick and the young CB had two more interceptions in this game.  None bigger than the 70 yard pick Williams took to the house with no time remaining in the 1st half.  That interception for a TD gave the Packers a 28-14 lead and the Pack never looked back.

    The victory over Atlanta led to an appearance in the NFC Championship game in Chicago vs. the 2nd seeded Bears, who had split the season series with the Packers.  It would only be the second playoff game between these storied teams in their history.  The Packers ended up winning the game 21-14, but the score should not have been as close as it was.  But give da Bears credit, they ended up going through three QBs that day, and who would have guessed that the 3rd string QB would have the biggest amount of success against the Green Bay defense.

    Rodgers had his poorest game in the playoffs this postseason, but he did get the Packers off to a quick 14-0 start.  But his play deteriorated after that as the Bears came back.  Defensively, the Packers were dominant until a QB by the name of Caleb Hanie entered the ball game due to injuries to starter Jay Cutler (knee) and backup Todd Collins (shoulder). 

    The Green Bay defense was led by CB Sam Shields, who had two picks, including the game winning clincher in the final minute of the game.  Another big pick occurred earlier in the 4th quarter when NT B.J. Raji on a zone blitz, picked off Hanie and returned the pass 18 yards for a TD.  Bottom line, the Packers were heading to Super Bowl XLV.

    Led by Rodgers

    Rodgers was really sensational in the 2010 postseason.  Rodgers had a 109.8 QB rating, as he threw 9 TD passes to just 2 picks for 1,094 yards.  Rodgers also had (21) 20+ yard completions in the postseason.  It all continued in Super Bowl XLV, where Rodgers ended up with three TD passes vs. no picks for 304 yards and an 111.5 QB rating.  That led to Rodgers being named MVP. 

    But Rodgers could have had an even bigger game, as both Jordy Nelson and James Jones dropped some key passes, including a couple that could have been TD passes.  That same affliction happened to Jones earlier this year against the Giants in the regular season and against Philly in the playoffs, when he dropped sure TD passes.  But Rodgers never stopped believing in his receivers and his receiving corp paid him back when he needed it.

    Nelson had a huge game in the Super Bowl as he had nine receptions for 140 yards and a TD.  Nelson dropped at least four other passes though, but he came through big time on the Packers last touchdown scoring drive with a 38 yard reception. 

    As usual though, Rodgers looked for No. 85...Greg Jennings...when he needed a clutch catch.  Jennings had four catches for 64 yards and two TDs, but none was bigger than the 3rd and 10 reception he made with the Packers holding a 28-25 lead with about 6 minutes to go in the game.  The Packers were on their own 25 yard line when Rodgers threw a frozen rope to Jennings on a skinny post that led to a 31 yard reception.  That catch led to a 23 yard field goal by Mason Crosby which padded the Green Bay lead to 6 points with just over two minutes to play. 

    The late pass to Jennings was probably the biggest play of the game offensively for the Packers.  Defensively, the biggest play of the game had to be the first play of the 4th quarter, as the Packers held a slim 21-17 lead, and the Steelers were driving in Green Bay territory.  QB Ben Roethlisberger handed the ball to RB Rashard Mendenhall, who had previously scored a Pittsburgh TD on an eight yard run. 

    Matthews sensed a play was coming his way though and he alerted DE Ryan Pickett about the upcoming play.  Both Matthews and Pickett sandwiched Mendenhall and hit the running back at the same time.  The result?  A key fumble that was recovered by LB Desmond Bishop.  The turnover led to another TD by the Packers, as Rodgers threw an eight yard pass to Jennings to finish the drive.

    All told, the Packers scored 21 points off of Pittsburgh turnovers.  Twice Rodgers threw TD passes to Jennings, while Collins took back the other for a TD on a 37 yard interception return.  The Steelers had three BIG turnovers, while the Packers had zero.  Bottom line, the Packers held on to win, as Williams once again made a huge play defensively, as he knocked the ball out of the hands of WR Mike Wallace on 4th down and 5 on the last possession of the Steelers.

    The Super Bowl was a microcosm of the 2010 season for the Packers, as they had to overcome significant injuries to reach the promised land.  Woodson suffered a broken collarbone late in the first half.  Driver also suffered a high ankle sprain.  Neither would return.  Shields missed significant time in the second half of the game too.  Still, the Packers overcame those injuries and did what they needed to do.

    Bottom line, the Packers won their 4th Super Bowl and their 13th NFL championship.  They accomplished all that under the most difficult conditions a team could possibly overcome.  The Packers came...the Packers saw...and the Packers conquered.  In Latin terms, it is known as Veni, Vidi, Vici.  In Green Bay terms, it's known as Vince.  As in the Vince Lombardi Trophy was now home again in Green Bay.

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