Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers: Top 5 What if? Moments

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The Bucks season ended with Khris Middleton on the shelf. That led me to start wondering what were some of the top what if moments for the Green Bay Packers

Admit it. We’ve all been there. You’ve sat around after a tough loss for your favorite team and wondered what would happen if one thing went differently.

The Milwaukee Bucks were just in this position yesterday. They lost game 7 to the Boston Celtics, ending their bid to win back-to-back titles.

This all happened with their second-best player, Khris Middleton on the bench with a knee injury.

Would the Bucks have won another title if he were healthy? We’ll never know, but it is fair to wonder what if.

Here are some what-if moments the Green Bay Packers have faced in their storied history.

 

5.) What if they beat Tampa Bay?

Let’s start with the most recent. The 2020 Green Bay Packers were a bit of a surprise. They came off a season where they were dubbed the worst 13-3 team in the NFL. They were a popular regression pick for the 2020 season.

While it was painfully evident in the NFC Championship Game they were clearly behind San Francisco, they did not panic.

They continued their long-term approach. They infamously drafted Jordan Love, and the offseason of controversy began.

No new wide receiver. No defensive lineman. No safety. Nothing that will help the team now. Instead, they drafted someone that even Aaron Rodgers deemed his replacement.

On the field, Rodgers was unfazed. He won his third league MVP. The Packers had the best offense in football.

They secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

They had talked several times when asked about their issues in NFC Championship Games.

They earned a home game by beating the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional round, setting up the quarterback battle for the ages. Aaron Rodgers versus Tom Brady.

Instead of a coronation, it was a struggle. The Packers fell behind 28-10. They made a valiant comeback effort but fell short after Matt LaFleur decided to kick a short field goal to make the score 31-26 late in the game.

The Packers never saw the ball again, and the Bucs won the NFC title game.

After the game, Aaron Rodgers called his future a beautiful mystery. He told everyone that there were some uncertain futures. He included his own when he talked about that.

What ensued was a standoff. Draft night 2021, Adam Schefter reports Rodgers has told players he doesn’t want to return to the team.

That leads to a discussion about whether Rodgers was trying to force them to draft someone for him in the first round. They didn’t, they took Eric Stokes. (Who was good by the way, is there anything dumber than the first-round receiver narrative?)

The standoff reached into July. Jersey swaps, bad trade packages, you name it. It was all part of the offseason.

Eventually, Rodgers and company reconciled and he returned to Green Bay to win his fourth league MVP. They fell short of the Super Bowl again, but Rodgers signed another contract that should ensure he retires a Packer.

Does all of that happen if they just win that NFC Championship? The transitive property doesn’t work in professional sports, but the Bucs smacked Kansas City two weeks later 31-9.

The Packers had a pass rush of Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, and Kenny Clark to face off against a Kansas City offensive line that was decimated by injuries. Add in Green Bay had the best offense in football against a below-average Chiefs defense.

That Super Bowl is very likely a coronation for the Packers, and Raymond James Stadium is covered in green and yellow confetti.

Does all of it happen if the Packers have a second Super Bowl? We’ll never know.

 

4.) What if Favre doesn’t Favre?

Favre’s last game as a Packer. I used to say that was the worst day of my life. Unfortunately, that has since changed, but I am sure you remember it.

The Packers had a renaissance season. They went 13-3 when nobody expected them to. Favre finished second in the league MVP voting behind only Tom Brady, who set the single-season touchdown pass record that year.

The stars appeared to have aligned for the Packers when the New York Giants upset Dallas to give the Packers a home NFC Championship Game.

The Giants were a bit of a Cinderella story, but it seemed the clock was poised to strike midnight here.

They were playing in the tundra of Lambeau Field. Bart Starr was waving the Packers flag before the game started. This was going to be Favre’s swan song, that he capped off with another trip to the Super Bowl.

The Giants started the day with two field goals to get them a 6-0 lead, and pinned the Packers deep in their territory.

It seemed like the Packers were set to find their stride when Favre found Donald Driver for a 90-yard touchdown to give them a 7-6 lead. The crowd exploded. Surely the Packers were going to ride that momentum to the Super Bowl.

Except they didn’t.

This was a game that would require overtime after Lawrence Tynes missed a field goal that could have won the game.

The Packers got the ball first (I know it seems wild, but they did win the coin toss.)

You’ve seen the view from behind the quarterback. Favre threw to the only covered receiver on his final pass as a Packer. Corey Webster picked off Favre, and the Giants would win 23-20 in overtime.

What would have happened if Green Bay had gone to the Super Bowl? The Giants famously followed that game up with an all-time upset over the 18-0 New England Patriots powered by their prolific pass rush.

The Packers had a pass rush that was good that year with Aaron Kampman and KGB leading the way. Cullen Jenkins had a nice year that year as well.

It seems unlikely, however, that the Packers would have been able to hold down the Patriots offense the way the Giants did that day. This would have been a shootout.

If it’s a shootout, usually it comes down to which quarterback makes a mistake. Favre is much more likely to make that mistake than Brady.

If Favre doesn’t Favre that day, he would have at some point. By that point in Favre’s career, we knew how the movie ended, just was a matter of when.

3.) What if Mike Sherman goes for it?

This game is famously known for a 4th and 26 conversion by Freddie Mitchell.

Sure, that was an all-time blunder by the Packers’ defense, but it also never should have happened.

Before 4th and 26, Mike Sherman faced a 4th and 1 from midfield. If the Packers get a first down, the game is over. They could kneel out the clock.

Earlier in the game with the Packers leading 14-0, they faced 4th and goal from the Eagles’ 1. Sherman decided to go for it. Ahman Green tripped over a pulling Mike Wahle and the Packers were turned away.

I am convinced their failure in that play, played a part in Sherman’s decision-making in this play.

Instead of going for it with the best running game in football, Sherman punted and the rest is history.

The Packers were on a wild run that season, dramatically getting into the playoffs when Nathan Poole knocked the Vikings out on the last play of the game in Arizona.

The week prior they beat the Seahawks when Al Harris picked off Matt Hasselbeck in the we want the ball and we’re going to score, game.

It felt like the Packers were on a magical run. Instead, the clock struck midnight, and Mike Sherman helped push the clock there.

2.) What if… well everything doesn’t go wrong?

Brandon Bostick, Morgan Burnett, Aaron Rodgers, Brad Jones, AJ Hawk, Mike McCarthy. You name it. Everything went wrong that day in Seattle.

What happened if one of those things goes differently? The Packers likely are in the Super Bowl against a Brady/Belichick-led Patriots group they had already beaten that season.

It’s hard to beat a Brady/Belichick team twice in 1 season, but at least we would have the chance to see a Rodgers/Brady Super Bowl.

Instead, the worst loss in the Aaron Rodgers era takes place, and the chance to win a fifth Super Bowl was turned away.

1.) What if they win Super Bowl XXXII?

This is the game that is almost forgotten by this point by Packers fans my age and slightly younger. That’s probably because we were young when the game happened. Maybe we thought the Packers were just going to be a regular participant on Super Sunday.

The Packers were double-digit favorites against these Broncos. Brett Favre was the reigning league MVP and played the best football of his career.

John Elway was trying to win his first title but was forever known as the man that couldn’t win the big one.

The Packers were the better team. If they play this game 10 times, Green Bay might win 9.

They made so many small mistakes that came back to haunt them. Add in the arrogance at halftime where legend has it that Mike Holmgren said he wanted to ensure Favre won the Super Bowl MVP he missed out on a season ago.

For all the talk about Terrell Davis’ Super Bowl MVP performance, Dorsey Levens was running just as well for the Packers. They simply stopped giving him the ball.

If the Packers win that game, there are so many dominoes that may never fall.

Maybe Holmgren never leaves as a two-time champion. If that happens, Ron Wolf never gives the GM reigns to Mike Sherman (yuck). They never waste a season with Ray Rhoades. They don’t hire Mike Sherman.

Favre doesn’t slip into the mediocrity that plagued him for the middle of his career. The stupid “only 1 Super Bowl each with Favre and Rodgers” narrative is dead.

There are so many things that change if the Packers win that Super Bowl that day. They didn’t, and here we are wondering what if?

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