Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Bounced Again

Here we go again. Not content to be in first place, the Packers, for the third time this year, lost a game to a lesser opponent after a crucial victory the week before. [Ed.note - the Packers lost to the Titans, 26-20.] As a result, they dropped all the way from leading the division, being in a position for a bye week in the playoffs followed by a home playoff game, to the number 5 seed in the playoffs, with no bye week and a road game against another wild card team (at San Francisco, interestingly enough).

What is it with this team? I think it is becoming clearer and clearer that they just are not as good as we had hoped, during the moments of euphoria following the 3-0 start at the beginning of the season, or following the big victories over the Ravens and twice over the Bears. Instead, they are a pretty good team, but one with a lot of injury problems right now, and with a real problem of inconsistency from week to week.

That is not necessarily a condemnation. Pretty good teams sometimes get hot and go on to win the Super Bowl, as the Ravens did last year after going for a month earlier in the season without scoring an offensive touchdown. And the Packers are both playing better than most people expected them to play this year, and, at 9-4, have a better record than people expected. But there is still a sense of disappointment at letting the division lead slip through their fingers not once, but twice after beating the Bears. The best the Packers can hope for now is to win their last three games, and hope that the Bears trip up along the way, which is possible but not all that likely.

Last week, I was nervous that the Packers would let down against Tennessee and lose the game. While they lost, I am not sure there was really a letdown. I saw the Packer players seemingly trying hard to make plays throughout the game, but just coming up short, mostly caused, at least in my mind, by three things: the relentless pressure caused by the Tennessee defensive line, the injury-induced problems the Packer defense had, and, let's face it, the fact that the Titans' offensive players just went out and made a lot of plays happen. The result was a good example of the Titans pretty much dominating the game, especially at the line of scrimmage.

Now the thoroughly demoralized Browns come to town. While they suffered a painful loss to the Jaguars last week under bizarre circumstances, I found the comments of President Carmen Policy and Owner Al Lerner after the game,in essentially condoning the actions of the fans who threw bottles and other objects onto the field, to be an utter dereliction of duty on their part.
Policy, undoubtedly under severe pressure from the League, recanted those remarks on Monday and tried to set a better tone, calling the bottle throwers "hooligans." Better late than never, I guess, but there really needs to be a zero tolerance policy for this sort of thing. People throwing objects should be arrested and prosecuted, and if they are season-ticket holders, they should be at risk of losing their tickets. I hope we will never see shenanigans like this in Lambeau Field.

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