The Green Bay Packers keep finding novel ways to lose in the playoffs. Their latest Rube Goldberg machine of sadness culminated with a 4th and 20 conversion, a Hail Mary as time expired, and a three-play overtime period that ended without Aaron Rodgers taking the field. It was just another game for the ages against the Arizona Cardinals that ended in agony. While there were not any warm and fuzzy feelings of victory to be had, there were a few valuable lessons to be learned.
1) Always go for the win
Mike McCarthy absolutely, positively should have gone for two at the end of regulation. The rationale is simple: going for two guarantees Aaron Rodgers will have a chance to win the game; playing for overtime does not guarantee Aaron Rodgers will have a chance to win the game. Once again the Packers lost an overtime playoff game without Rodgers touching the ball. The risk of that happening is too significant to take. But that’s not the only reason you play for the win.
The Arizona Cardinals are better than the Green Bay Packers. When you’re an underdog you want to shorten the game, especially on the road. Playing for overtime gave the Cardinals more opportunities to demonstrate their superiority, which they did. Conversely, a two-point attempt would have reduced the game to a single play against a shell-shocked defense. You can’t ask for a better situation than that.
2) Making the playoffs is all that matters
This was the worst Packers team since Rodgers’ first season as the starting quarterback (2008). They limped into the playoffs and appeared poised for a quick exit. Yet instead of bowing out early they throttled Washington and took Arizona to the absolute brink. Oddly enough, this team had a much stronger post-season showing than the 2011 team that finished the season 15-1, only to get shut down by the New York Giants in their one and only playoff game.
The playoffs are a brand new season where anything can happen – good or bad. If you keep making the playoffs eventually the stars will align in your favor.
3) Aaron Rodgers is super human
The Hail Mary against the Detroit Lions involved the most incredible throw I’d ever seen. Now it’s the second most incredible throw. Rodgers’ most recent feat of strength involved him rolling to his left, falling backwards, escaping heavy pressure, and heaving a 60-yard throw to Jeff Janis as time expired in the fourth quarter. Only Aaron Rodgers can make that throw.
Even though Rodgers had the least prolific season of his career, he still demonstrated why he’s one of the most terrifying quarterbacks in the NFL. The Packers are always a threat to win if Rodgers is on the field and time is left on the clock. (Then again, 0:00 was left for the Hail Mary in Detroit, so that last sentence is not entirely true.)
Let’s hope Rodgers gets to the playoffs next season. The Packers just might end the season with a win.