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Overblown Loss Proves Many Things We Already Knew

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 20: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws the game winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter in front of BJ Raji #90 of the Green Bay Packers during the game on December 20, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Andrew RoseContributor IDecember 21, 2009

The reaction to yesterday's game in which the Packers lost to the Steelers can be summed up in many terms and phrases.

Some popular ones seen in various message boards and articles are "frustrating," "stinging," and "this one hurts." Of course, it is easy to see how any loss can hurt. Yet, does this loss to a Steelers team with a bruised ego (less than one year removed from a championship) realistically fit the prior labels?

I suspect much of the angst and anger from Packer fans directed at this loss can be derived from the feeling that it was a winnable game. Coming in, the Packers had the superior record, the superior team, and were winners of five straight.

The Steelers, on the other hand, were reeling from embarrassing performances against teams such as Cleveland, Kansas City, and Oakland. They also were without super-star Troy Polamalu.

A recipe for disaster? Not likely. A recipe for losing on the road? Most definitely. The Steelers were due. The Packers, in the grand scheme of things, had nothing to lose except the game. If you look at the standings prior to the game and then look at them again after the game, you will notice that absolutely nothing changed. The Packers still hold the top Wild-Card spot and are still slated to play the Cardinals.

"But didn't the loss show us some things about this team that proves they aren't ready for the playoffs? Surely losing on the last play of the game means an inevitable collapse in the first round?"

My response: hardly.

Mason Crosby missed yet another field goal, but it didn't prove anything more than what we already knew: he's unstable.

The defense gave up 500-plus yards to a pass-happy Ben Roethlisberger. Yet we already knew that this pass defense isn't what it could be with Al Harris in the lineup. It was just a matter of time before fourth string players got repeatedly burned in the same game. Who actually thought Josh Bell and Jarrett Bush could cover someone? We already knew they aren't good defenders.

(Here's another thing it proved that we already knew: the Packers miss Harris more than Kampman because of a guy named Matthews. He added two more sacks.)

The rush defense, meanwhile, proved yet again that it is the best in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers proved yet again that he CAN lead his team from behind (multiple times) in the fourth quarter. Ryan Grant proved yet again that his best days are in the colder months. (As a side note, Brett Favre proved yet again that his worst days are in colder months.)

So why all the fuss? Why does it feel like people are jumping ship? It has been said for months that the least important game remaining on the schedule was at Pittsburgh. Why all of a sudden does the outcome of the game matter?

The Packers are no worse off than Sunday morning. They still have a 7-3 conference record. They still hold the tiebreaker with Dallas. They still get to play Seattle and Arizona. The season isn't over and neither are their playoff dreams. The Packers will be a player late into January. The defense will rebound. The offense will continue to impose its will.

Here's the phrase you're looking for: "This team is dangerous." But, you already knew that.

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