Then and now: why this time against the Giants will be different
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Queasy feelings from that December squeaker against the Giants notwithstanding, Packers fans surely have some bitter memories flooding back before the teams meet in the playoffs this Sunday. It was little less than four years ago that the Giants doused the heavily favored Packers in overtime at Lambeau on their way to taking a big poop on the Patriots’ perfect season. But damn it, that just can’t happen again. Things are going to be different this time, and The A.V. Club can think of a few reasons why.
What’s the most obvious choice in the “Spot The ’08/’12 Difference” touch-screen bar game? The absence and/or presence of a certain fun-lovin’ gunslinger, that’s what. Back in the 2007 season, Brett Favre was still hanging around the palatial grounds of Lambeau Field, mulling retirement and enjoying another record-breaking year. But by the time the NFC Championship rolled around, Favre’s luck had run out. A monster 90-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver notwithstanding (the longest in Packers post-season history), the game is most remembered for Favre’s game- and season-ending interception in overtime. Fittingly, the pick by Giants defensive back Corey Webster would be Favre’s final pass as a Packer. The following season, the veteran QB packed his Wranglers and signed with the Jets, which worked out really, really well.
Dom Fucking Capers
Here’s a fun Packers drinking game: Whenever an announcer invokes the name of defensive coordinator Dom Capers for a third time, drink until the camera cuts away to the mysterious man himself. Sure, you won’t get very drunk (half a second is the typical cut-away time), but it’s still kind of fun. Of course, that fun would have been impossible the last time the Packers and Giants squared off in the playoffs: Capers had recently been fired by Miami, and was a full year out from being hired by Green Bay. The presence of The Dom hasn’t helped the Packers defense all that much this season (“sieve-like” continues to describe it best), and the team is rightfully wary of the Giants’ red-hot D. But Capers’ dyed, jet-black swimmers cap of a haircut is a nice distraction, and a good excuse to get shit-faced if the Packers somehow manage to blow this thing.
Manning sibling rivalry
Following the 2006 season when the Colts won the Super Bowl and Peyton Manning won the league MVP, it’s rational to think Eli went to his room, cranked some Saliva, and just pouted. “Peyton this, Peyton that. I hate him!” But he rose up the next season to win a Super Bowl of his own and become worthy of standing side-by-side with his big bro in an Oreos commercial. Of course this year, Peyton hasn’t cast much of a shadow for Eli to get out from under. All Eli has to do to stay the best “currently active Manning quarterback” in the NFL is retain the ability to turn his head, which might not have the same motivational effect as trying to follow up Peyton’s monster 2006 season.
Cold-activated football fun
The outlook for Sunday afternoon in Green Bay isn’t exactly shorts weather, but a wind chill of 19 degrees is doable. More so than the Packers and Giants last playoff match up, when the negative 24-degrees conditions had the home crowd wetting its pants in hopes that the brief bit of warmth would help prevent its vital organs from shutting down. If it was that inhospitable in the seats, it had to be murder on the field. This Sunday will be a lot more ideal for tossing the old pigskin—something we’ve heard Aaron Rodgers is good at. At the very least a ball in the air won’t come back down with frost on it.