Packers look like old selves in 'new season'
Mike McCarthy noticed when Green Bay Packers fans filled the lower bowl of FedEx Field on Sunday evening. A cluster of fans formed a sea of green behind the Packers’ bench, replacing the departed Washington fans.
On the sideline, McCarthy heard their chants.
“It was unbelievable,” McCarthy said. “The whole lower bowl of the stadium was green and gold. So that part was awesome. It was a lot of fun. I get goosebumps thinking about it, and playoff wins definitely bring a lot of confidence.”
The question is whether the Packers’ playoff win at Washington will bring enough confidence. They could certainly use some before traveling to Arizona for their NFC divisional playoff game Saturday night. You remember the last time the Packers traveled to Arizona. It was a little more than two weeks ago. Their 30-point loss was the most lopsided defeat in quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ career.
Momentum turns quickly in the NFL. Maybe that was a different Packers team that left Arizona with what seventh-year guard T.J. Lang called one of the most “embarrassing” losses in his career. Although the Packers had won three straight games before their blowout defeat, they hadn’t played particularly well in quite some time.
This Packers team enters Arizona after arguably its best — and certainly its most important — game of the season. Their offense hit the 35-point mark for the second time all year, the first since September.
“It’s a new season,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. “It’s the playoffs. That’s what the playoffs are all about. That urgency, that focus, and wanting to make the most of your opportunity. That’s truly what it’s about. I think our guys were really in tune with that, and they knew going in we have a great opportunity in front of us – no different than this week.
“It’s another challenge ahead of us, but our plan is to go to Arizona with one goal in mind, and that’s to win the football game and continue our path to greatness.”
The challenge increases this week. That’s another thing the playoffs are about. With each game, the opponent gets better and better.
In theory, the Packers should also get better and better each week. McCarthy wouldn’t say there was a “weight lifted” Sunday in Washington, but the postgame atmosphere felt different. There was more excitement, more energy.
“Winning's hard in this league,” McCarthy said, “but more importantly it's a great time. It's a great locker room. The plane ride was awesome. Getting home, the guys from the equipment room had our cars warmed up. So it was nice to come home to minus-5 (degrees) and have your car running. It's all those little things.
“The fans at the airport, that was great. It's much appreciated, and it's really part of being a Green Bay Packer, and the experience of our great fans and this organization and this city.”