Mike Vandermause column: Written off at halftime, 'we just kept fighting'

Dec. 15, 2013

Loading Photo Galleries ...

Green Bay Packers running back James Starks celebrates his touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of Sunday's game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette Media


ARLINGTON, TEXAS — The Green Bay Packers’ come-from-behind 37-36 victory Sunday over the Dallas Cowboys was so stunning that it left guard T.J. Lang in tears.

“I don’t think I’ve ever cried after a win before,” said Lang.

“The heart we showed as a team is just amazing man. That’s the best one I’ve ever been part of…. Just so proud of the guys and the way we responded in the second half. It was just incredible.”

The Packers trailed 26-3 after an abymal first half and were left for dead by most observers.

But in the locker room at halftime, there were no fire-and-brimstone speeches, no thrown chairs and no angry outbursts.

Just like they did last week when they came back from a 13-point halftime deficit against the Atlanta Falcons, the Packers took a sober assessment of their bleak situation, steadied themselves and looked like a different team in the second half.

The Packers offense, limited to a field goal in the first half, scored a touchdown on every second-half possession except for the final kneel-down series.

The defense held the dangerous Cowboys to 10 points and forced a pair of game-turning interceptions in the fourth quarter.

It matched the largest comeback in franchise history, and it left some of the Packers players at a loss for words to explain the incredible turnaround.

“Honestly I don’t even remember what happened,” said guard Josh Sitton. “I think I just blacked out out there. I couldn’t even tell you the score of the game.”

What Sitton could say is that it was the best victory he has been a part of, in the regular season at least.

“This might even be better than the Super Bowl,” said Sitton with a smile. “Not really, but it was definitely up there.

“It just shows the character of these guys. It was unbelieveable. We just kept fighting.”

AT&T Stadium was the site of the Packers’ Super Bowl victory three years ago, the shining moment of Mike McCarthy’s coaching tenure. Now it will also go down as the stadium where the Packers produced their greatest regular-season victory under McCarthy.

The Packers’ playoff possibilities were fading fast. They needed a victory to keep those hopes alive, but when they fell behind by 23 points, everyone seemingly had given up.

Everyone, that is, except the players in a resolute Packers locker room at halftime.

“You look at the scoreboard, just watching, it looks like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s no way they can win,’” said defensive lineman Mike Daniels. “(But if) you’re playing you said, ‘We’re not giving up.’

“That’s how we’re built. We have character, quality guys. … That’s why you see us rally together rather than point fingers and give up.”

Under McCarthy, the Packers have responded to adversity well. They don’t turn on each other or feel sorry for themselves. Instead, they rally around each other.

“You just have to keep fighting, take it one play at a time, keep scratching, fighting, finding a way to come back,” said safety Morgan Burnett. “You can’t hold your head down. You’ve got to have that warrior mentality.

“Dividing and pointing fingers is not going to help so we stuck together. Everyone had a positive attitude, and we had a positive outcome.”

The stirring comeback gives the Packers a huge shot of confidence heading down the stretch run. It also puts them in the thick of the NFC North title chase. And if Aaron Rodgers returns next week, there’s no telling what kind of damage the Packers could do in the postseason.

But that was too far down the road for the players in the jubilant Packers locker room Sunday evening who wanted to savor one of the most remarkable victories in franchise history.

“That was pretty righteous right there,” said cornerback Jarrett Bush. “I definitely got to tip my hat to everybody in the organization. The coaches, players, rallying back, staying true to what we know, having a lot of confidence in ourselves, even though the score didn’t give us much confidence.”

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @Mike Vandermause.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
579 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
862 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
1025 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
1279 votes

Catch up on the latest in our pregame show every game day.

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports


Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports