It was Monday, Nov. 9 at 2:25 PM. The "Tragedy in Tampa" had occurred less than 24 hours ago. The Packers offense had just finished watching the film of that very ugly game. More sacks. More penalties. More of the poor and inconsistent play that had plagued them all season. Everyone was disgusted. Veteran players stood up individually and spoke to the entire team, including coaches.
Donald Driver, Aaron Rodgers, Mark Tauscher, and others had their say. Donald Driver had some of the more powerful words: "If we don't win - and I mean now - they are going to fire all of our (butts) at the end of the season," Driver said. "I'm serious."
Daryn Colledge called it a "Come to Jesus" meeting. Whatever it was called at the time, you can now call it the "Turning Point."
As Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote at the time, "If the foundering Green Bay Packers go on a long-shot run to the playoffs in the second half of the season, the record will show the resurrection started at approximately 2:25 p.m. Monday." How prescient those words were.
The Green Bay Packers have spoken to us through their play in the last few games. Against Pittsburgh, they showed us that they have enough talent to play with any team. Going into Pittsburgh in December to play a wounded and desperate Steelers team surely would not end well.
And while in one way it didn't, I think the fact that Pittsburgh needed every last second and a moment of pass-completion perfection to pull out a win, actually empowered the Packers and improved their confidence as a team. Sure it was heartbreaking to lose like that, but knowing how hard the Super Bowl champions had to fight to beat them, the Packers could only be impressed with their progress as a team. If I were a Packers player, that's how I would have felt.
The Steelers loss also put the onus on the Packers to win the next game. If they were really serious about making the playoffs (I know that sounds silly, but look at the Giants yesterday), they would need to come out and beat an inferior opponent. The Packers spoke to us in this game with their relentlessness, avoiding the poor third-quarter play they have exhibited in recent games.
More specifically, in their last seven games (starting with the Tampa debacle), the Packers had been shut out in six of those third quarters. Allowing teams to stay close is never a good idea, even though they prevailed in five of those games.
But against Seattle, the Packers did what they could have been expected to do. They dominated an inferior opponent from start to finish. The Packer offense scored at least 10 points in every quarter, quickly fixed a few rough spots at the beginning of the game, protected Rodgers, and only committed three penalties.
The Packers defense did yield almost 300 yards to the Seahawks, but as I wrote in the preseason, this is a defense that will live and die by the big play/turnover. Zero turnovers and a ton of yardage relinquished to the Steelers equated to a heartbreaking loss. Four turnovers and an inferior opponent like the Seahawks equated to a blowout, despite giving up almost 300 net yards.
From the rubble of that horrible loss in Tampa, the Packers rose up, dusted themselves off and found a new focus and new reason for being—a desperation drive to make the playoffs. I have talked with many people who feel that football players don't need any external motivation; because they are pros, they should be able to motivate themselves. I've never subscribed to that theory, especially in football.
Seems to me that a little "Come to Jesus" kick in the ass was just what the Packers needed.
You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports web sites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packer Chatters, Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown, and, of course, Bleacher Report. Jersey Al is the Green Bay Packers Draft Correspondent for Drafttek.com.
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