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Season ends bitterly in Lambeau (01/12/2005)
By Dave DeLano

For the third year in a row, the Packers underperformed in their final post season game of the season, which ended this year with an embarrassing loss to the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 31 - 17. Ironically, the Vikings scored 31 points in all three games this year against the Packers. The first two were won by the Packers with lots of offense, but this one was marred by turnovers and mistakes, and it wasn't to be. Thus, the season is now over for the Packers, and Cheeseheads are frustrated and will be looking for changes next year.

This game got out of control right from the git-go, as the Packers allowed the Vikes to score on their first 3 possessions. As has been the case all year, the Packer defense made mistakes early and often. Unfortunately, missed tackles and allowing big plays plagued the 2004 Packer defense all season long. The Vikings only had to run 7 plays to gain a 14 - 0 advantage. By halftime the Packers were down 24 - 10 and it was obvious that the Pack had not brought their "A" game into the playoffs.

In the second half the miscues continued to accumulate" fumbles, interceptions, dropped passes, etc. Key injuries also began to take their toll as Walker, Davenport and Clifton had to exit the game. The defense stiffened up a bit but Brett Favre threw a total of four interceptions and that proved to be too many miscues to overcome.

Once again, Cheeseheads will have a bitter off season to contemplate what changes will take place in preparation for next season. I think it is quite possible that Brett Favre might just call it a career, and if so, the Packers will have to address their QB situation through the draft or free agency. If # 4 returns, the Packers likely will direct most of their energy into rebuilding the defense for 2005, which regressed dramatically this past year.

Coach Mike Sherman terminated Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell following last season's post-season debacle in Philadelphia and replaced him with Bob Slowik. If Donatell was the fall guy last year, will Slowik's head be on the chopping block after this year's lackluster performance? How do you not replace a guy that did much worse than the guy that previously got fired?

The defensive problems don't end with the coaching staff. At least half of the starters on defense underperformed this year, which Coach Sherman must also address in the off season. Cletidus Hunt, Mark Roman and Darren Sharper had horrible seasons, and I wouldn't be surprised if all three were not with the team next year. The defense needs leadership from veteran players and there was no leadership coming from these three.

Things will look brighter in the spring when the collegiate draft offers promise to improve the Packers for 2005. Already I have taken a peek at the collegiate crop which will be selected next April. Unless Favre retires, look for the Packers to draft some linebackers, defensive linemen and safeties with their top picks next spring. Hope springs eternal when you are a Cheesehead.

D H D 


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