It was early in the season when Green Bay Packers fans proclaimed that this year would be different than all of the ones that had come before it. They took great pride in hammering the final nail in the Minnesota Vikings’ coffin at Lambeau Field, sending the Vikings into an offseason of uncertainty. Now it looks like the cleat is on the other foot. The No. 1-seeded Packers were eliminated at the ever-so-frightening Frozen Tundra by the San Francisco 49ers and what comes next for the Green and Gold is anyones guess.
The second half of the Packers game was flat-out sad. The 49ers dominated every statistical category in the second half as Aaron Rodgers did his best Checkdown Charlie impersonation, only completing three passes of over 10 yards. Yes, they were without star left tackle David Bakhtiari, the Packers did still have Whitney Mercilus, Za’Darius Smith, and Jaire Alexander return from injury. It was hard for the offense to get anything going after the opening drive. Rodgers was hyper-fixated on Jones and Adams while treating every other target like they were members of his family. It was a bold move indeed to try to win the game on the back of these two alone — and it made every play after the opening drive tough to watch.
Green Bay’s offense was invisible, and their special teams looked as confused as a Wisconsinite trying to get drunk on O’Douls. The Packers were lethargic and, for some reason, didn’t stop any of San Francisco’s players from blocking their kicks. The 49ers wisely went back to the well, blocking a field goal before the half and a punt late in the fourth quarter near the end zone to tie it up at 10. If it’s any consolation, at least Amari Rodgers had a kick return that got across the 30 that the Packers can celebrate on film this week. Outside of that, the whole scenario warranted crime scene tape around the sidelines.
Saturday’s loss was a dagger in two respects. For Green Bay, it is the second-straight season where, even after clinching a first-round bye and home-field advantage through the playoffs, they somehow manage to lose at home in an utterly embarrassing fashion. It’s also the second time in two consecutive seasons that the Packers’ fanbase and front office have to pray that Rodgers decides to come back next season and lift this team from potential football purgatory. The loss eliminated Green Bay from the playoffs, and thank goodness it did. Nobody should be subjected to another clip of Rodgers complaining about the front office or the “woke mob” trying to cancel him. The only thing people from San Francisco canceled was the Packers season.
The Niners should be praised for putting the Packers out of their misery in the divisional round so fans weren’t forced to watch Rodgers go 1-5 in the NFC Championship. It was the humane thing to do. Unfortunately, the fans who are deluded enough to call their “city” Titletown USA (despite being fifth in Super Bowl wins) have too much pride for that. Personally, I would rather watch videos of Giannis Antetokounmpo shivering at the idea of taking a 3-pointer than shirtless Green Bay fans with frozen tears on their cheeks after a championship-round loss.
Now 2022 begins for the Packers in earnest. Their fans can come together and bond over going through all five stages of grief in their hopes of Rodgers returning for yet another Last Dance.
It’s a repeating cycle that Packers fans won’t get out of soon. It happened over a decade ago when the front office drove Brett Favre out of town. This season it will be much of the same while they hope that Jordan Love can somehow magically transform into a generational quarterback.
Fans will talk about Love potentially developing into a Hall of Fame quarterback. Lord knows he will need to do some developing — he looked so raw against the Kansas City Chiefs you could get salmonella from watching. They will rely on Rodgers and Adams returning or hoping that the rest of the NFC North is bogged down by ineptitude. Neither will happen, but they will buy in anyways because, truth be told, they have nothing much to be happy about outside of the Packers.
Saturday night was an end in more ways than one. Sure, the obvious part is that the season is over and Rodgers could be gone. But this time, it feels like the sun has set on the Packers’ alleged dynasty, which was only able to win two Super Bowls with 30 years of Hall of Fame quarterback play.
They will always find solace in the win over the Vikings at Lambeau this year, and in asking “hOw mANy rINgS dO yOU hAVE?” on the Vikings’ social media accounts. But Packers fans are a lot like Jay Gatsby. They are forever trying to live in the past of their own re-creation. (Alas, Wisconsin’s literacy rates suggest that most of them won’t appreciate this sick The Great Gatsby burn.)
What the 49ers did on Saturday night was something akin to a cheesy ‘80s movie where the bully finally gets taken down. Here we are in the Championship round where the 49ers, who Rodgers swore would be disappointed for not drafting him, are now 4-0 against him in their post-season meetings.
Thanks for coming out, Green Bay. You were as predictable as ever. See you next season, and give Aaron our best regards as he focuses on his true passion as the weekly co-host of The Pat McAfee Show.