The first season I started closely following the Green Bay Packers was way back in 1995. During this season Brett Favre won his first MVP and the Packers established themselves as Super Bowl contenders. It was also the season where the Packers began a streak on invincibility at Lambeau Field that my 10-year old self assumed would never end.
The Packers won 29 consecutive games (including playoffs) between 1995 and 1998. During this stretch I would watch home games and relax because the outcome was pre-ordained. In retrospect, this is exactly what should happen when Favre is leading your offense is Reggie White is terrorizing opposing quarterbacks. It was football heaven.
But the aura of invisibility began to crumble on January 4, 2003 when the Atlanta Falcons dismantled the Packers 27-7 in the Wild Card round – the Packers first-ever home playoff loss. Over the next decade the home playoff losses began to pile up, with four more seasons ending at Lambeau. The Packers were still exceptional at home during the regular season (minus a crummy stretch from 2004-2006), but the overwhelming expectation of victory was not there. This is back.
Aaron Rodgers has ascended to a plane of quarterbacking excellence Packers fans may never see again. This was evidenced on Monday night when he threw for five touchdowns and zero interceptions in Green Bay’s 38-28 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. In fact, Rodgers has thrown 486 consecutive passes at Lambeau without an interception. This dates back to December 2, 2012.
What’s also impressive is how the Packers offense has overwhelmed opponents at Lambeau since the beginning of the 2014 season. During that span the Packers have won games by scores of 55-14, 53-20, and 42-10. Those are the wacky blowouts that were common during their stretch of home-field invincibility in the mid-90s.
Of all the reasons for home field advantage, the most enjoyable has come in the form of offsides penalties. Rodgers has mastered the art of using his cadence to draw the defense offsides. These free plays have routinely turned into touchdowns and huge gains for the Packers. It’s like giving the Toronto Blue Jays four outs in an inning. Even if the defense does not jump offsides, Rodgers is able to tease enough movement from them to learn their intentions. This is a tremendous advantage that’s afforded by the friendly Lambeau crowd.
The experience of watching the Packers on Monday night harkened back to peak of the Mike Holmgren era. Even when the Chiefs made things a little too interesting in the 4th quarter, at no point during the game was I truly worried. It might be time to party like it’s 1996.
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