"Ho, Ho, Ho, and a very Merry Christmas" was heard throughout the Nation of Cheese as the Packers came back from an improbable deficit Christmas Eve to hand the archrival Vikings another 34 - 31 last second defeat. Yes, it was very sweet! The good guys won and clinched the North division title again, but this game could have very easily had a different outcome.
The Packers' defense in the 1st half was absolutely pathetic. I honestly can't remember a Packer defense so fundamentally lacking in tackling skills. The strange thing about it is that some of the worst transgressors in this game (Sharper, Barnett, Carroll and Thomas) are allegedly some of the best athletes on the team. So why then are they completely blowing tackles in a game with so much at stake? I have no clue, but Mike Sherman needs to patch things up the best he can this year and then set about making a new defensive plan for the future because the present one ain't working.
So it was up to the offense to win this game. It sure didn't look good late in the fourth quarter and down a touchdown. No problem, though, when # 4 is playing his "A" game. With the chips down, Brett Favre and wide receivers Driver and Walker carved up the Viking defense as if they were the Christmas goose. It was a thing to behold if you are a Cheesehead. If you are a Viking fan" well, I won't go there because it is Christmas. Favre and Co. just kept making one clutch play after another and down the field they went for the tying score.
The Packer defense then managed to hold the Vikes thanks to some penalties, and soon the Pack had the ball again with only a minute and a half to go. All Favre had to do was lead the team down the length of the field to win the game. I'll bet every Cheesehead reading this column had the same feeling I did at that time" that Favre would somehow find a way to accomplish that". and, of course, he did. Ryan Longwell's last second winning field goal, his fourth of the 2004 season, sealed the win. It was a thrilling game to watch and allowed Cheeseheads another opportunity to appreciate the special presence of Brett Favre.
The win means that the Pack has secured the number three seed in the NFC playoff bracket and a home game in the opening round. Their opponent has yet to be determined, but whoever it is, it will be tough to come into Lambeau in January and get a win against Favre. However, if the Packers have any chance to progress deep into the playoffs, the defense somehow needs to find a way to right itself in the next two weeks. Next week's game against the Bears is meaningless, and I doubt Favre and some of the banged up players will play much. Look for some personnel "experiments" next week against the Bears as a beleaguered Packer defense attempts to buck it up a notch or two.
D H D