On Jan. 19, Damarious Randall watched some football before checking into the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
The Packers’ first-round rookie cornerback only caught the first half. The game, he said, wasn’t very good. For 30 minutes, one team dominated the other.
At halftime, the score was 16-0.
“I thought the game was pretty much over with,” Randall said of last season’s NFC title game.
Of course, the game was far from over. As the second half started, Randall followed the score from his smart phone. There were no signs of a collapse, hardly a competitive struggle.
The score was still 19-7 with about two minutes remaining, Randall remembers.
“So I was like for sure, for sure the game was definitely over,” Randall said, softening his voice inside the Packers’ locker room this week, his surprise still fresh. Then I kept updating my ESPN app, and I saw they were in overtime. I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ I just didn’t know what could possibly have happened.
“I ended up re-watching the game, and it was just a crazy moment. I was like, ‘I guess anything can really happen,’ because I thought for sure the game was over.”
For Randall, another crazy moment will come Sunday when the Packers host the Seahawks in a rematch of their shocking loss in Seattle last January. The stage is still a little surreal for the rookie. Before his first NFL game last Sunday at Chicago, Randall admitted feeling some nerves.
He played well anyway.
With the secondary shuffling to compensate for starting safety Morgan Burnett’s absence, Randall played regular snaps at perimeter cornerback. He said the highlight of his day was getting an up-close view of linebacker Clay Matthews’ game-clinching interception. Randall was covering Bears tight end Martellus Bennett on the play, until Matthews stepped in front of the pass.
“At first I was like, ‘Where did he come from?’” Randall said of Matthews. “And then once I saw him coming, I was like, ‘Maybe this might be a tip. So maybe I can get the tip.’ Once I saw he intercepted the pass, I just started running downfield to look and try to pitch some blocks, but he just started zig-zagging everywhere.
“So I didn’t want to block nobody up in the back. I was just trying to get out in front just in case he kind of got out of that traffic so we could go score.”
Randall might not receive as many snaps Sunday. Burnett’s return will likely slide Micah Hyde from safety to nickel, and cornerback Casey Hayward from nickel to the perimeter. Still, Randall said, he senses the urgency of winning Sunday.
Even if he wasn’t here for the Packers’ collapse, he understands the importance of beating the Seahawks inside Lambeau Field.
When the Packers drafted him this offseason, he said he didn’t think back to the NFC title game. It wasn’t until the team started watching film of the game when his mind flashed back to the Senior Bowl, when he realized no lead is safe in the NFL.
“Then I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, the Packers were the team that …’” Randall said, his voice trailing off. “So, I mean, that’s just some things that happened in the past, and we’ve got a different 53-man. We’re just looking forward to move past that, and just looking on to this year.”
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