Great­ness re­mains elu­sive for Pack­ers

With 2 star QBs, team hasn’t be­come dy­nasty

Packer Plus - - Extra Point - By ROB REISCHEL

Green Bay — One will be a sure­fire, first bal­lot Hall of Famer and head to Can­ton in the sum­mer of 2016.

The other has been a starter for just seven sea­sons, but al­ready has a ré­sumé that might merit Hall of Fame con­sid­er­a­tion.

For the last 23 years, no team in foot­ball has en­joyed greater quar­ter­back­ing play than the Green Bay Pack­ers. With Brett Favre lead­ing the way for 16 mem­o­rable sea­sons and Aaron Rodgers in charge the past seven, the Pack­ers have had a marked ad­van­tage over the majority of the NFL.

Yet in that time, Green Bay has cap­tured just two Su­per Bowl cham­pi­onships. The Pack­ers bid to hoist the Lom­bardi Trophy this sea­son died Sun­day with a 28-22 over­time loss at Seat­tle in the NFC cham­pi­onship.

Many or­ga­ni­za­tions would trade places with the Pack­ers in a heart­beat, and be down­right giddy with two world cham­pi­onships since Favre be­came the starter in 1992. But for a team that’s en­joyed leg­endary play at the game’s most crit­i­cal spot, are two ti­tles enough?

“Man, win­ning a Su­per Bowl is hard,” Pack­ers kicker Ma­son Crosby said. “Just get­ting to the post­sea­son is hard, then you’ve got to win a num­ber of games against the best teams in foot­ball.

“A lot has to go right for any­body to win a Su­per Bowl. It hap­pened for us in 2010. It just didn’t hap­pen this year.”

The Pack­ers have put them­selves in po­si­tion for great­ness most years since Favre stepped un­der cen­ter.

Green Bay has ad­vanced to the post­sea­son 17 of the last 23 years (73.9%), in­clud­ing six of seven un­der Rodgers (85.7%). The Pack­ers have 11 di­vi­sion ti­tles in that time, in­clud­ing four straight.

Green Bay has been to six NFC cham­pi­onship games in that time, go­ing 3-3 in those con­tests. And the Pack­ers have reached three Su­per Bowls, go­ing 2-1 in those games.

But Green Bay has had a bevy of bru­tal losses in that time, too, that’s pre­vented it from be­com­ing a mod­ern-day dy­nasty:

There was the 1997 Su­per Bowl, in which Green Bay was an 11-point fa­vorite vs. Den­ver, but lost, 31-24.

The Pack­ers dropped a 3027 game to San Francisco in the 1998 wild-card play­offs when Steve Young and Ter­rell Owens hooked up for a 25-yard TD with three seconds left.

There was the 4th-and-26 game at Philadel­phia in the di­vi­sional play­offs in 2003.

And Green Bay was a 7½point fa­vorite against the New York Gi­ants in the 2007 NFC cham­pi­onship, but dropped a 23-20 decision in over­time.

But none of those losses were as damn­ing as the col­lapse in Seat­tle — a game where the Pack­ers led 19-7 late in the fourth quar­ter be­fore chok­ing away their chance at the Su­per Bowl.

“I’d rather not even make the play­offs,” Pack­ers left guard Josh Sit­ton said. “I’d rather have got­ten blown out and known in the first quar­ter it was over.”

Pack­ers de­fen­sive back Micah Hyde agreed.

“This one will hurt for a while,” Hyde said. “We felt like we han­dled them the whole game on ev­ery as­pect: of­fense, de­fense and spe­cial teams. I’ll say 30 years from now that I’ll feel like we were a bet­ter foot­ball team than they were. I think that’s a given. But the best team doesn’t al­ways win.

“We’re here to win Su­per Bowls and we didn’t ac­com­plish that. It’s an un­suc­cess­ful sea­son.”

Since Favre’s ar­rival, only New Eng­land and Dal­las have won more Su­per Bowls than Green Bay (three). The New York Gi­ants, Den­ver, Bal­ti­more and Pitts­burgh have all won two, as well.

Of the Su­per Bowl-win­ning quar­ter­backs from those teams, Dal­las’ Troy Aikman and Den­ver’s John El­way are in the Hall of Fame. New Eng­land’s Tom Brady is a lock, while Pitts­burgh’s Ben Roeth­lis­berger, the Gi­ants’ Eli Man­ning and Bal­ti­more’s Joe Flacco will all have their sup­port­ers. Trent Dil­fer, who quar­ter­backed Bal­ti­more’s 2000 Su­per Bowl team, has no chance.

But Green Bay is the only team in that time with two dif­fer­ent Su­per Bowl-win­ning quar­ter­backs that are almost cer­tain Hall of Famers. So are two ti­tles enough? “I don’t know about that,” said Jar­rett Bush, a Pack­ers spe­cial teams stand­out since 2006. “Two is still great. But I un­der­stand peo­ple al­ways want more. The great thing about play­ing here is we’re al­ways in the hunt, al­ways in the mix to win.” That’s cer­tainly true. The Pack­ers went 160-93 (.632) in the reg­u­lar sea­son with Favre, and 12-10 (.545) in the post­sea­son. Favre be­gan his ca­reer 9-3 in the play­offs, then lost seven of his fi­nal 10.

Favre fin­ished his time in Green Bay with a post­sea­son passer rat­ing of 85.2. In 22 games, he threw 39 touch­downs, 28 in­ter­cep­tions and com­pleted 60.7% of his throws.

Rodgers be­gan his post­sea­son like gang­busters, win­ning four of his first five play­off games, in­clud­ing Su­per Bowl XLV. But Rodgers is 2-4 in the play­offs since, and for the most part, has failed to play at his MVP level.

In Rodgers’ last six play­off games, he has a 91.4 quar­ter­back rat­ing, with 10 TDs and four in­ter­cep­tions. But in Rodgers’ two NFC cham­pi­onship ap­pear­ances, he’s thrown four in­ter­cep­tions, just one TD and has a 55.6 quar­ter­back rat­ing.

Rodgers, play­ing with a calf in­jury, was the def­i­ni­tion of or­di­nary against Seat­tle on Sun­day, throw­ing two in­ter­cep­tions, one TD pass and fin­ish­ing with a 55.8 passer rat­ing.

“It’s a missed op­por­tu­nity that I will prob­a­bly think about the rest of my ca­reer,” Rodgers said af­ter­ward. “We were the bet­ter team . . . and we played well enough to win and we can’t blame any­body but our­selves.”

For­mer Pack­ers gen­eral man­ager Ron Wolf al­ways lamented the fact he won just one ti­tle with Favre. Cur­rent gen­eral man­ager Ted Thomp­son cer­tainly be­lieves he’s had the tal­ent and fire­power to win more than one with Rodgers.

While op­por­tu­nity has knocked an­nu­ally, the Pack­ers still have just two cham­pi­onships with Favre and Rodgers.

The chase be­gins again in six months.

PACKER PLUS FILES

In what has been called the defin­ing mo­ment of John El­way’s ca­reer, the QB goes fly­ing near the goal line in Su­per Bowl XXXII in San Diego. The Pack­ers missed their chance at another Su­per Bowl ti­tle.

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