Ran into Lions PR man Bill Keenist leaving Dallas Monday, and he made this point: If not for the late-game ridiculousness in games of Dec. 19 in New Jersey and Tampa, the Packers would not be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy today.
Keenist is right. Green Bay finished 10-6, the last Wild Card team and sixth seed in the NFC, by virtue of winning tiebreakers with the 10-6 Giants and 10-6 Bucs. We all know the Giants story: Up 31-10 over Philly at home with eight minutes left in the game, the Giants gave up 28 points in the last half of the fourth quarter and lost 38-31. The killer was punter Matt Dodge blowing the game and keeping a punt to DeSean Jackson inbounds with 14 seconds left in a 31-all game. Jackson returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. Who knows what would have happened if that game went to overtime, but that'll stay a mystery.
The Detroit game, in many ways, was more painful because of who the Lions are. They hadn't won a road game in three years. They were in Tampa, trailing by a field goal with two minutes left, playing third-string quarterback Drew Stanton. He led a field-goal drive to tie it. The Lions won the toss in overtime. Stanton led another long drive to win it in overtime.
Dave Rayner kicked the tying and winning field goals that afternoon in Tampa Bay. He was Green Bay's kicker in 2006, the one fired to make way for new Super Bowl champion Mason Crosby.
Without the ex-Packer to help the current Packers, Green Bay's players would be in the fifth week of their offseason today, not getting confetti and love and cheers showed on them in Lambeau Field. Football is a funny game sometimes.
And now on to your e-mail:
Hmmm. Very interesting. Bob Papa, my Sirius Radio partner, has suggested something similar, and it's not a bad idea. The reason I wouldn't like it is because I think we need to keep the Hall exclusively the Hall of Fame, and not the Hall of Very Good. We'll catch up, I think, and put those who deserve to be in, in.
I PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE SAID "CANDIDATE."
Point made. Thank you.
I TRY TO CALL IT THE WAY I SEE IT.
I guess my definition of "big-time running back" is one of the best backs in the game. Say, one of the best 10 or so. I can name 10 I'd rather have than Mendenhall. He's a good back. He's not great. And as far as naming him the goat of the game Sunday instead of Ben Roethlisberger, it's simple. He made what I considered the biggest single mistake of the game for Pittsburgh, a fumble in the fourth quarter with the Steelers having overcome a 21-3 deficit and driving to take the lead. Don't tell me there's "not much you can do" when you get hit by a defender to avoid a fumble. A back's job, a very big part of it anyway, is to not fumble, and he fumbled twice in three playoff games at bad times.
I believe so, because none of the guys they signed to replaced injured players was expensive. Guys like Erik Walden came as low-cost guys in midseason after being cut elsewhere (by Miami, in Walden's case). So I don't think a cap would have had much to do with it.
LET'S SEE HOW HE PLAYS THIS SUMMER. BUT I DON'T THINK THIS IS A POINT TO SIMPLY DISMISS.
Look, it's obvious Polamalu has broken down each of the past two offseasons. I have the same gut feeling as you do -- that we may be seeing a great player in decline. But the operative word there is "may." If I were Mike Tomlin, I might consider cutting 20 snaps a game for Polamalu. I know it's a different position, but Mike Smith in Atlanta has done that with John Abraham and gotten much better production out of him.
MIKE WANTS A SECOND BYE.
JERRYWORLD'S FIELD DIDN'T LOOK GOOD SUNDAY NIGHT.
I don't know enough about those other injuries, but the Woodson injury seemed like it could have happened anywhere. Look at the violent way he landed on the perfect spot to wrench the collarbone and break it. So I'm not sure there's enough data to say the field is causing injury. But it sure seemed slippery the other night.