By Marcela Vargas @ethne88
With a 44-21 loss against the Atlanta Falcons, the Green Bay Packers say good-bye to the 2016-2017 season.
It was the worst of times. Or, rather, it felt like the worst of times. But halfway through a lousy season, the Green Bay Packers turned everything around and, in QB Aaron Rodgers’ words, “ran the table” to get a spot in the race for Super Bowl LI.
A winning streak of six games clinched the NFC North title for them and gave the Packers a Wild Card chance toward the playoffs. Then they defeated the New York Giants by 25 points on an exciting last game at home this season. They went on to play an amazing match against the Dallas Cowboys, with Aaron Rodgers, Jared Cook and Mason Crosby rising high as the heroes of the day in what has become an instant playoff classic. Both the stakes and the expectations climbed to the top.
Sunday January 22nd came along… the Green Bay Packers walked into the Georgia Dome… and everything they had fought for the past year came to a crashing halt.
As a fan, it felt awful having to witness such a thunderous loss. Every hope fell out the window, because even as the offense stepped up and scored 21 points during the second half of the game, the defense was nowhere to be found and every drive by the Falcons seemed to end in more points on their side of the board.
Every shred of joy and exhilaration we had experienced during the GB vs DAL game had been replaced by tension – and judging by Twitter, a lot of anger. Those same feelings arose on the field, and our ever-chilled and gentlemanly QB ripped Atlanta’s Robert Alford’s helmet from his head at the end of a particularly tough run.
When A-Rod goes rogue, you know the team is psychologically against the ropes. T.J. Lang left the field in tears after he was injured late in the third quarter. Jordy Nelson’s frustration showed as he waited on the sidelines, having missed the Dallas game because of a rib injury against the Giants.
The game was lost by a difference of over 20 points. The NFC Championship title went to the Falcons, who will face the New England Patriots on February 5th, in a battle for their first ever Super Bowl title. The Packers flew back home, ready for Monday’s locker-room clean out.
This was a game a lot of us wish to forget, but that shouldn’t be lost from memory if the team means to get even this far next season. Every mistake made during this match highlighted the Packers’ faults for the season. And yet… they did come back from 0 to 21 points in a couple of quarters. Yes, it was a sore loss. But the team we know and love woke up from whatever was happening with them and tried their best to lessen the impact.
Aaron Rodgers’ leadership should never be forgotten. Mason Crosby shouldn’t be crucified for failing a FG, when his kicks got the team into this game. Even Aaron Ripkowski’s mistakes shouldn’t be the measure of his accomplishments during the season. They all did their job and held their heads high in the midst of a terrible match. (Except for LaDariusGunter, with whom I’d like to have a word.*)
As the season comes to an end, we should celebrate the achievements of the Green Bay Packers. They came back from a losing streak and ended up NFC North leaders. They got into the playoffs and only fell short of the Super Bowl by one game against an amazing offense and defense (Much respect to the Falcons!). They did so with an injury roster that only grew bigger as weeks went by.
At different points during the season we lost Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Nelson, Randall Cobb, Lang, Quinten Rollins, Jared Abbrederis, Damarious Randall… just to name a few. It was a difficult situation and they did the best they could. And for the Packers, there is a high-standard definition of “best”.
The offseason might be hard on the team. With so many amazing players going into free agency, our roster will probably undergo huge changes. The draft will hopefully bring us a tougher defense for future endeavors. We might even have serious modifications in the coaching positions. It’s all in the air now and three months will pass us by very quickly. But don’t worry; it won’t be long until we’re living, again, in the best of times.
Hey, Packers fans… there’s always next year. And our blood will continue to be green and gold.
Featured image courtesy: packers.com
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