Once the Vikings upset the Saints in New Orleans this weekend, the Green Bay Packers’ Divisional Round opponent would be decided by the outcome of the Philadelphia Eagles/Seattle Seahawks game. Many fans likely hoped to face the Eagles, because the scars from the last playoff match between Seattle and Green Bay still run deep.
No one wants to relive the worst loss in Green Bay Packers history, but it’s the story of the week leading into this game. Let’s rip that band-aid off now: on January 18, 2015, the Packers faced the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game. The Packers seemed to be dominating the favored Seahawks on their home turf. Russell Wilson threw four interceptions, and the Packers went into halftime with a 16-0 lead. But victory would elude the Pack.
The team was forced to settle for multiple goal-line field goals, unable to breach the end zone. The Seahawks mounted a comeback, and when Green Bay had a chance to end the game, the worst happened. Brandon Bostick blew his assignment on a crucial onside kick, and Seattle recovered the ball, scoring shortly after and taking the lead. Mason Crosby tied the game up to go to overtime, but Seattle marched down the field without Aaron Rodgers ever getting a chance with the football.
2014, a promising year where Aaron Rodgers won MVP and beat the eventual Super Bowl Champion Patriots in the regular season, ended in heartbreak. One could argue the team never really recovered from that loss, as the following seasons were ripe with issues.
That game sucked, and Packers fans will never forget it. But you know what? We should. Now that we’ve faced that uncomfortable game again, it’s time to focus on the present. Maybe this new matchup ends in heartbreak, maybe it ends in triumph. But this is not the same team from 2014. And in fact, the Seahawks have their owns demons to face as well. Russell Wilson has never won a game at Lambeau Field and hasn’t won a game in Wisconsin since college. Against the Packers, he has his worst passer rating against any team while throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. And, hey, remember how that season ended for that team, too.
But again, history and career stats won’t mean anything this Sunday. Even with the same quarterbacks under center, these are completely different teams, with different strengths, weaknesses, regrets, and goals.
Of the team that last faced Seattle in the playoffs, only a few Packers remain. The only defensive starter from that game still with the team is Tramon Williams, who spent time with other teams since then. Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Richard Rodgers, and Eddy Lacy are all gone. Mike McCarthy is the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and John Kuhn works for the Packers’ media department.
This is Matt LaFleur and Brian Gutekunst’s version of the team. Surely they look to make their own history, rather than relish in the regrets of those that came before. Aaron Rodgers has never been afraid to look forward. This team has been called “the worst 13-3 team ever” by many pundits, and the team is fired up and ready to prove them wrong. They aren’t looking to exorcise demons. They’re trying to capitalize on this season’s momentum.
Seattle isn’t the team it used to be either. The Legion of Boom, one of the most terrifying defensive units of the modern era, is no more. In fact, this defense got shredded by former Packers’ quarterback Brett Hundley just weeks ago. Seattle lives and dies on the play of Russell Wilson, similar to many of the teams Rodgers has led.
Let’s focus on this game for its own merits. There is a strong history between these teams in the playoffs, but it’s irrelevant. Right now, all that matters is this specific game.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.