Janesville59°

Packers still face a long road

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Michael Hunt
January 13, 2011
— It has become somewhat fashionable to call the Green Bay Packers the most dangerous sixth-seeded team in the history of the Super Bowl tournament, but I’m not sure how you’d quantify that.

“I wouldn’t, either,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday.


That might be a better designation to pin on the Seattle Seahawks if not for the NFL’s bracketing methodology, and anyway.....


“We know we can’t be the most dangerous ever,” defensive end Cullen Jenkins said.


That’s because the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers have outright claim to the title as the only No..6 to win a Super Bowl.


“I know no six seed has ever done it in the NFC,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.


Let’s just say the Packers have a keen appreciation and awareness for the kind of history they’re trying to make as one of the precious few to run the table on the road.


“Yeah, because one did it on us,” Jenkins said.


And that would be the ’07 New York Giants, a No.5 that won at Tampa Bay, at Dallas and, yes, at Green Bay to qualify for maybe the most stunning Super Bowl victory ever, the KO’ing of the previously undefeated New England Patriots.


Besides those Giants and the heretofore-mentioned Steelers, only the 1985 Patriots have won three road playoff games to reach the Super Bowl.


“It’s the path least traveled for a championship, but we know this is the situation we’ve put ourselves in,” left guard Daryn Colledge said.


Don’t tell anyone, but the Packers kind of dig the Robert Frost way.


“We like it when everybody is against us,” left defensive end Ryan Pickett said. “Going on the road and beating somebody, we love it.”


So imagine how they’ll feel when they follow up Philadelphia by beating Atlanta at Atlanta and then—skip this part if you find appeal in a certain team just across the border —Seattle at Seattle.


Of course, the Packers will entertain no such thoughts of the future. McCarthy is fairly handy when it comes to installing a pollution filter at the locker-room door, guaranteed to trap at least 95 percent of all airborne hype.


But these guys don’t necessarily need it. They know exactly what they are, which would be not your typical No.6. To a high-functioning defense and quarterback they’ve suddenly added —all right, maybe added—a professional-quality running game, at least enough of one to make the Falcons think about it.


Put all that together, and it has created a level of confidence immune to the effects of a No.1 and the near invincibility of its sealed habitat. The Packers began preparing for the Falcons three days before Philadelphia, and it shows by their secure locker-room manner.


As much as we media types were trying to get James Starks to bite on becoming Jim Taylor in Super Bowl I, he would only smile and say, “I’m just a rookie.”


So how about when the rest of the world was howling for Marshawn Lynch at a time when only the most committed fantasy geeks knew Starks existed?


“I didn’t think about it that way. I was just focusing on getting healthy and being productive,” Starks said.


Right about now, Starks is making Ted Thompson look like the second coming of Ron Wolf and McCarthy as Holmgren Jr. for the way the coach has managed a lot of injuries and one collective mind-set.


But such talk wouldn’t penetrate McCarthy’s hype-o-filter. He has no time to think about the kind of history the Packers are trying to make.


“That’s not going to help me get one more first down Saturday,” he said.


And anyway.....


“I don’t know about being the most dangerous this or that,” Pickett said. “But we know we’re a good team.”



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