Cheeseheads can be thankful this week that professional football games last sixty minutes and not thirty. After spotting the Detroit Lions a 13 - 0 lead a halftime, the Green Bay Packers found a way to come back and steal the game from the Lions in another last second thriller, 16 - 13.
It was a miserable, windy afternoon last Sunday in Green Bay, typical of the second week of December in Wisconsin. The passers, kickers and all skilled position players of both teams were affected by the weather.
I don't have a clue why, but the Packers came out of the tunnel in Lambeau so flat that even the most devout Cheesehead had to question the team's character by halftime. Plagued by penalties and general ineffectiveness in all phases of the game, the boys in green and gold found themselves on the deserving end of a sound chorus of boos from the Lambeau crowd at halftime.
The Lions had not won in Wisconsin since 1991, and Brett Favre's record against them in cold weather was perfect throughout his long tenure. So the Packers were expected to win this game. The way the game started, one surely would not have expected that. The usually reliable Packer offense inexplicably sputtered early in the game leaving the highly suspect 2004 Packer defense on the field far too long for comfort.
The Lions have a fine young talent in rookie running back Kevin Jones. Jones blistered the Packer defense early, and things looked ugly. The Lions have a major quarterback issue, however, leaving them a bit one dimensional and on a cold, windy day the quarterback boys soon get separated from the quarterback men.
Enter Brett Favre, who came out smoking in the second half. His presence and leadership is something to behold. Mike Sherman and staff must have said the right things during the break. Favre rallied the Pack with 16 unanswered points in the second half to take the Pack to one more come-from-behind win to take sole possession of the leadership in the NFC North division. Favre's rifle-like arm was vastly superior to that of the Lions' QB in the awful wind and trying conditions.
After a dismal start at 1 - 4, the Packers now find themselves with an 8 - 5 record and in control of their play-off destiny. As frustrating as this 2004 Packer team can be, their comeback is somewhat remarkable and one has to admire the character of Mike Sherman's squad.
Three regular season games are all that are left of the 2004 season"¦ next week in Lambeau against the respectable Jacksonville Jaguars, the following week against the fading Vikes at the Hump and then the Bears in Chicago. Of course, the games have to be played one game at a time. The Jags appear to be the best of those teams, but all three games are winnable. The true character of this 2004 Packer team is yet to be determined. We'll see"¦ Next week, Cheeseheads can hope for more wind and cold when the Floridians from Jacksonville visit Lambeau.
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