These are the nine other times the Packers started the season 3-0 in the Super Bowl era

JR Radcliffe
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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It certainly bodes well for an NFL team to jump out to a 3-0 start, especially in 2020 with an added wild-card playoff spot in the mix. 

How has it worked out for the Packers in years past? It's a mixed bag, from a couple of Super Bowl triumphs to a couple of notable letdowns and one strike-shortened season. One thing is constant: Every one of those Packers teams made the postseason.

RELATED:Dougherty: Beating Saints gives Packers' fast start an air of authenticity

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2019: Packers finish 13-3, fall to 49ers in NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur watches practice before  the Green Bay Packers vs. Denver Broncos game Sunday. September 22, 2019 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

The one-score wonders reach the doorstep of a Super Bowl with a rookie coach. 

First three wins: Bears (10-3), Vikings (21-16), Broncos (27-16).

The wins are emblematic of what the 2019 Packers became known for: close victories. All but six of Green Bay's games were decided by 10 points or less, and 8 of 13 wins were one score or less. That trend continued in a wild-card playoff win over Seattle (28-23) but not so much in the NFC title game. San Francisco followed up its 37-8 win over the Packers in the regular season with a 37-20 win to reach the Super Bowl.

The 3-0 start featured two games in which the Packers were outgained and a third in which Green Bay won the yardage battle by 2 yards. Go figure: Green Bay dominated its Week 4 opponent in total yards, 491-336, but lost to the Eagles to snap the perfect start, 34-27, after an interception in the end zone short-circuited Green Bay's last gasp.

Rookie coach Matt LaFleur was able to start off strong despite a new-look offense, bolstered by a healthy roster and the emergence of running back Aaron Jones and a top-10 scoring defense.

2015: Packers finish 10-6, fall to Cardinals in divisional round

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) returns an interception during the 4th quarter of the Green Bay Packers' 31-23 win against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, September 13, 2015 at Soldier Field.

There was a Hail Mary in there, too. 

First three wins: Bears (31-23), Seahawks (27-17), Chiefs (38-28).

Not only did Green Bay win its first three games, it started the year 6-0 with follow-up wins over the 49ers, Rams and Chargers. But that was followed by three straight losses to bring the Packers back to earth after the bye, starting with a dispiriting loss in Denver on Monday Night Football and follow-up setback to undefeated Carolina (the two teams that wound up facing off in the Super Bowl).

The Packers lost to the Lions at Lambeau Field for the first time since 1991 one week later, then sustained another Lambeau setback against the Bears on a rainy Thanksgiving two weeks later — the same day Bart Starr and Brett Favre returned for a halftime ceremony.

The eventful season continued with the Miracle in Motown in a win over the Lions, the first of three straight victories that got the Packers to 10 wins before two straight losses to close the year and a combined 21 points scored in those two games. In the playoffs, Green Bay toppled Washington in the first round, 35-18, before falling to Arizona in a wild overtime loss that featured another Hail Mary throw from Aaron Rodgers to Jeff Janis to force the extra session.

2011: Packers finish 15-1, fall to Giants in divisional round

Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) loses his helmet after getting hit by Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop (55) and cornerback Charles Woodson (21) in their 2011 game.

This one still hurts.

First three wins: Saints (42-34), Panthers (30-23), Bears (27-17).

Starting with an exciting win over the Saints on Thursday Night Football in the first game of the NFL season, Green Bay followed up its Super Bowl title with 13 straight wins to open the year. The threat of an undefeated season didn't die until Dec. 18 in a 19-14 loss to a mediocre Kansas City Chiefs team.

But the loss that everyone remembers is the flabbergasting 37-20 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants at Lambeau Field on Jan. 15, a setback that re-litigated the entirety of the dominant 2011 season. Sure, the offense was spectacular, but the defense struggled, yielding more than 30 points on four occasions and more than 21 points eight times. The Giants, who went 9-7 in the regular season, went on to stun the Patriots in the Super Bowl for a second time.

The Packers' regular season was capped with a 45-41 win over Detroit in which Rodgers didn't play but Matt Flynn famously threw for a franchise-record six touchdowns. Rodgers threw for 45 touchdowns and just six interceptions in his 15 games, racking up 4,643 yards, a completion percentage of 68.3 percent and a passer rating of 122.5. Every one of those marks is a career-best for a full season except the interception tally.

The fast start came at a high cost. In the win over the Panthers, three-time Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins was carted off the field with a neck injury. He would never play another NFL game.

2007: Packers finish 13-3, fall to Giants in NFC Championship

Brett Favre talks to the offense during a snowstorm at Lambeau.  The Green Bay Packers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 42-20 in the divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI Saturday January 12, 2007.

It was a chilly end to Favre's last season.

First three wins: Eagles (16-13) Giants (35-13), Chargers (31-24).

The Packers opened the year 4-0, then bounced back from a loss to the Bears with six more wins to start the season 10-1. Green Bay benefited from Philadelphia's muffed punts to win the opener, then trounced the Giants with a 21-point fourth quarter on the road; unfortunately, the Giants would get the last laugh.

Though it was a renaissance season for Favre (4,155 yards, 28 touchdowns) and the Packers dismantled Seattle in the snow globe of Lambeau Field during the divisional round, 42-20, the Packers took a crushing overtime loss to the Giants in the NFC title game, 23-20, in one of the coldest games at Lambeau Field.

Lawrence Tynes kicked the game-winner from 47 yards away in overtime to cap a drive set up by Favre's infamous interception at the hands of Corey Webster on the Packers' 34-yard line.

The offseason proved to be a roller-coaster, with the organization transitioning to Rodgers and Favre traded to the Jets. 

2001: Packers finish 12-4, fall to Rams in divisional round

Green Bay Packers Leroy Butler (36) knocks the ball away from Lions Johnnie Morton (87) during first quarter action against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, September 9, 2001

How many turnovers in that last game?

First three wins: Lions (28-6), Washington (37-0), Panthers (28-7).

The Packers didn't just win their first three games; they dominated, allowing just 13 points while racking up 93 of their own.

However, the Lions and Panthers wound up winning a combined three games that year, and Washington went 8-8, so the competition was far from excellent. A 14-10 loss to Tampa Bay broke the spell in Week 4, but the Packers finished the year with six wins in seven games. 

After a 25-15 win over San Francisco in the wild-card round, in which the Packers pulled away after the 49ers tied the game early in the fourth quarter, Green Bay ran into the Greatest Show on Turf and got battered.

The Rams, who went 14-2 in the regular season en route to a stunning loss to New England in the Super Bowl, dominated Green Bay, 45-17, forcing a mind-boggling eight turnovers. Six of those were interceptions, a career-high for Favre, and the Rams returned three of them for touchdowns, including two by Aeneas Williams. 

1998: Packers finish 11-5, fall to 49ers in Wild-Card Game

Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler is on his way to a touchdown after recovering a Lions fumble during the first quarter of their game Sunday, Sept. 6, 1998 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

Jerry Rice fumbled.

First three wins: Lions (38-19), Buccaneers (23-15), Bengals (13-6).

Green Bay moved to 4-0 with a win over Carolina and then suffered its first losses on both sides of the bye week in divisional games, at home against Minnesota (37-24) and on the road at Detroit (27-20).

The Packers were smarting from a Super Bowl loss the year before but still had the weapons to make a deep run; they had the three-time reigning MVP, after all, in Favre. And he was good again, leading the league in completion percentage (63 percent) and yards (4,212), with 31 touchdowns. But he also threw 23 picks.

The Packers closed the year on an upswing with three straight wins, although two were against the 4-12 Bears, and both of those were by a mere one score. In the playoffs, the Packers appeared to be on their way to beating host San Francisco, but Terrell Owens' touchdown catch with 8 seconds left lifted the 49ers to a 30-27 win that kept Green Bay from the divisional round of the playoffs for the first time in six years and marked the end of an era.

Of course, Packers fans remember something else about that game.

1996: Packers finish 13-3, win Super Bowl 

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre stiff arms Eagle linebacker James Willis while scrambling in the first quarter  during their game against the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, September 9, 1996 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won the game 39-13.

The Lombardi Trophy comes back to Titletown.

First three wins: Buccaneers (34-3), Eagles (39-13), Chargers (42-10).

The dominant start to the season foretold what many expected, that this Packers team was a serious Super Bowl contender. A 30-21 setback in Minnesota in Week 4 may have dampened the enthusiasm a little bit, but wins in the next five games, including an overtime win against San Francisco, rejuvenated the Packers.

Of course, the story has been told many times. The Packers won their final five games of the regular season, bounced San Francisco convincingly in the opening round of the playoffs, handled the Panthers at Lambeau Field and then won the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 26, 1997. Desmond Howard's kickoff return kept New England from getting back into the game. 

Favre won MVP honors, throwing for 3,899 yards and 39 touchdowns that season, with 13 picks. The defense was full of veteran stars like superstar lineman Reggie White and All-Pro safety LeRoy Butler, plus Eugene Robinson, Doug Evans, Gilbert Brown, Santana Dotson, George Koonce and Sean Jones.

1982: Packers finish 5-3-1, fall to Cowboys in divisional round

John Jefferson and James Lofton were a big part of the equation for the 1982 Packers.

It was a strange strike-shortened season.

First three wins: Rams (35-23), Giants (27-19), Vikings (26-7)

The third win came two months after the first two; the strike-shortened 1982 season featured a 57-day work stoppage, and it was an impressive win for coach Bart Starr over Vikings coach Bud Grant and his powerhouse football franchise. Eddie Lee Ivery caught a deflected touchdown pass late in the first half, and Maurice Harvey stripped the second-half kickoff and ran it back for a touchdown to turn the tide in Green Bay's favor.

The Packers bounced back from a narrow fourth-game loss to the Jets, 15-13, to beat the Bills and move to 4-1. But the Packers closed the year 1-2-1 from there before heading into the NFL's 16-team playoff tournament for the nine-game season.

The Packers dispatched the St. Louis Cardinals in the opening round, the only Packers playoff victory in a 25-year window. Lynn Dickey threw for four touchdowns in that game — two to John Jefferson — and Green Bay forced four turnovers to win handily despite being outgained by close to 60 yards.

Despite a second-half rally, the Packers were downed by the Cowboys in the next game, 37-26. The showing gave Packers fans a renewed sense of faith around an organization that hadn't even been to the playoffs since 1972, but another decade would pass before the Packers returned. 

1966: Packers finish 12-2, win Super Bowl

1966 SEASON: Coach Vince Lombardi is carried off the field after his Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-27 in the NFL championship game Jan. 1, 1967 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The Packers went on to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the first Super Bowl.

One of the milestone seasons in Wisconsin sports history. 

First three wins: Colts (24-3), Browns (21-20), Rams (24-13).

Jim Taylor's touchdown on a fourth-down play with 2:34 to go gave the Packers the decisive points in the second of those three games, and Lionel Aldridge recovered a fumble by Cleveland's Frank Ryan to put the game away. That enabled the Packers to start the year 4-0 before getting topped by the 49ers in Week 5, 21-20. Green Bay's only other loss that year also came by a narrow margin, a 20-17 setback against Minnesota. A 26-yard field goal miss by Don Chandler was costly in the first loss, and Fran Tarkenton orchestrated a Minnesota rally in the latter.

The Packers won the rest, including the first ever Super Bowl between the AFL and NFL champions. The 35-10 handling of the Kansas City Chiefs kicked off a new era of pro football and helped give Green Bay the Titletown moniker.

One other note, the 1967 Packers didn't start 3-0 but did open the year with a tie against the Lions, part of a 3-0-1 start. That team, of course, went on to win Super Bowl II. The defense didn't give up more than 23 points in any of the season's first 11 games, then allowed just 38 over three postseason wins (including the 21-17 win in the Ice Bowl).

Correction: The preceding paragraph was corrected; the 1967 tie came against the Lions, not the Raiders.

JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.

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