Sunday, October 8, 2000


The mystique of the Green Bay Packers is gone - long gone. They have already lost twice at home this year, to the Jets and, horror of horrors, to the Bears. They are 2-4 after six games, with a game left against the no-longer-pushover San Francisco 49ers before the bye. They have had horrible problems with injuries, inconsistent play on both offense, defense and special teams, poor individual decision-making on some plays (zigging instead of zagging) and questionable calls by the coaching staff on others. It looks like it is going to be a long season. Right now I would be surprised if the Packers end up better than 7-9 by the end of the year.

Take today's game. Even when the Packers have been playing much better than they are this year, the Silverdome has been a house of horrors. So no Packer fan in his right mind would go into this game "expecting" the Packers to win. Hoping, sure. Praying, maybe. But none of us would "expect" the Packers to win this game. But the way this game was lost was discouraging. As I started to write this during halftime, the Packers were behind, 24-6. The Lions scored 24 points on total yardage of 99 yards and two first downs in the first half. You would not think it was possible to score that many points with only 99 yards of offense, unless of course all of the points were set up by turnovers and miscues (interception, fumbles, screwed up or blocked punt). To have a turnover on first and goal is just a killer, reminds me of the bad old Brent Fullwood days.

How come our offense doesn't make the defense pay for a blitz by going up top for a touchdown? How come our blitzer does not quite make it to the quarterback, whereas the other team's blitzer manages to knock the ball out of Favre's hand? Right now it seems like all of the breaks go against the Packers, although it is certainly true that they are not making a lot of breaks for themselves, either. Being out here in the San Francisco area during all of those years when the 49ers were good, even when they played poorly it seemed like the other team would do something stupid at precisely the wrong time, with the result that the 49ers would pull out a game they should have lost. That kind of magic lasted even into the early part of the 1999 season for the 49ers, before they dropped off the map after the injury to Steve Young. The Packers don't have that magic now, they didn't have it last year (except for the last second wins at the beginning of the season), and it does not look like they will have it for the rest of the year, either.

The sad part is how close this game was to going the Packers' way. Looking back on it, I suppose that you could call any of the turnovers "the" pivotal play of the game, but to me it was the ball knocked out of Favre's hand on first and goal. Without that turnover, the Packers probably would have scored, and the Packers would then have been tied near the end of the game, instead of still trying for another desperation touchdown. It is going to be a long year.