Wasted opportunities. This playoff loss with sting for a long time. Not just because we had to watch Brady and the Bucs receive the Halas trophy on our beloved Lambeau Field. Not just because the Packers first half was as bad a display of two minute defense as any team on any level can play. Not just because Aaron Rodgers had such a wonderful season and is still an MVP candidate. This game will sting because despite the poor play in the first half and starting the second half with a turnover and as easy a touchdown as Tom Brady has ever thrown, the game was there to be won in the 4th quarter.
This game had the potential to best the “Atlanta Collapse” of Super Bowl 51. (Super Bowl LI for the purists). It would have been against the greatest playoff winning QB of all time. It would have proved the Rodgers is as good and maybe at this point in their careers, better than Brady. What a story it would have made. The Packer defense, never known for creating turnovers at any point this season, comes up with three picks of Brady and the number one offense in the league cashes in and overcomes an 18 point deficit for one of the greatest comebacks in Packer history. But that is not the story I am writing today.
Today I must try to analyze how the number one scoring offense could not capitalize on two turnovers. The Packers possessed the ball, three times in the fourth quarter. They scored three points. We can grind our teeth over a pass interference penalty after the refs swallowed their whistles the entire game for the Bucs Defense. We can lament the the non-called pass interference that led to a Rodgers interception. We can wonder (or hope and pray) that Kevin King played his last game in a Packer uniform. We can question the defensive call by Pettine that led to the last second TD in the first half. But in the end the game was there for the taking. And the vaunted Packer offense sputtered. After the first Alexander interception the Packers tried three pass plays. The drive ended with a third down sack after an incompletion on first down. The second started with a sack and ended with an incompletion. The Packers seemingly ran out of plays that were effective against the Bucs defense. Both Packer offensive tackles battled, but were overmatched by the Bucs speed pass rushers.
Historic comebacks are just that because they are so rarely completed. This game will stay bitter for Packers fans because our hopes were very high for a Super Bowl win. Now, we have the option to watch Brady in another one, or just turn the darn TV off. Next up, free agency and the draft for the Packers.