By now, Packers fans around the world have (likely) exhaled after their favorite team’s thrilling 33-28 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday.
I spent my Sunday afternoon like most Green Bay fans, alternating between sitting on the edge of my seat, pacing around the room and gesturing at the television.
But hey, it worked.
It wasn’t the most impressive performance by a play0ff-bound team. The offense was good, but the play-calling, at times, left something to be desired. The defense made mistakes that hurt, but also came up with just enough effort when it was needed most. And the special teams? The Packers are lucky that facet of the game didn’t ruin their season.
As I crouched on the ground with my breath held and my hood pulled up, transfixed on what was transpiring on the television, I just had this feeling that things were going to work out for Green Bay yesterday. And really, I’m not sure why.
They didn’t work out for the Packers at Lambeau in Week 16 against Pittsburgh. Yeah, the comeback against Dallas was impressive, but this certainly isn’t the same Green Bay team that won Super Bowl XLV.
The Packers will be headed into the playoffs with as much momentum as an 8-7-1 team can possibly have, but Sunday’s victory showed that they have something possibly even more important: resiliency.
This team has its flaws, and those flaws are plentiful. But there’s no denying the fact that it takes a little something extra to convert three fourth downs in a row on the go-ahead drive, in the cold, on the road, in a do-or-die situation. And when the defense backs that up with a game-securing interception to run out the clock, it is certainly impressive.
It’s not magical or miraculous or some other sort of superlative. But the dynamics of the Week 17 win over the Bears certainly suggest that special things are possible for this Green Bay team. The Packers have a chance to exorcise their biggest demon over the past few seasons, the San Francisco 49ers, at Lambeau Field this coming Sunday.
They’ll need Aaron Rodgers to look even sharper than he did against Chicago, a healthy tandem of Eddie Lacy and James Starks behind a cohesive offensive line, a defensive front seven that sticks to its assignments and a secondary that keeps the big-play threats in front of them. And if all of that goes according to plan? It just might be enough.
It looked like this was going to be a 12-4 division-winning Packers team before Rodgers got hurt. But it turned out to be an 8-7-1 Packers team with Rodgers playing half the season and Senescomatt Tolwalflynn helping keep the team afloat just enough while No. 12 was out.
The division was there for the taking for both the Bears and the Detroit Lions, and neither could grab it. When Green Bay had its chance, the team seized it.
The November Packers were tough to watch, and the December Packers nearly gave the fan base a heart attack.
We’ll have to wait until Sunday to see what the January Packers look like.