The Nick Davis scale: Packers edition

ON the Nick Davis scale it was about a 9.5.

Except this time it wasn’t “Bloody Nick Davis”. It was “Bloody Russell Wilson”. Or “Bloody Marshawn Lynch”. Either way, the feeling was the same. Optimism and confidence replaced despairingly with that feeling of realising you’ve just locked your keys in the house. Hopelessness.

Green Bay and Geelong are very similar. They’re both based in small towns in which the beating heart pumps from the centre of the football field. They both have a strong history of superstar players that have changed the game. They both start with “G”. And they both have a nasty habit of taking their fans on a tantalising rollercoaster ride of the highest highs and the lowest lows.

The NFC Championship game against the Seahawks was ultimately the latter, with early downpours of the former.

It’s always the Hawks. It doesn’t matter if it’s preceded by Hawthorn or Seattle. They always find a way of breaking my heart.

The Packers were up 19-7 in the last quarter of the game that decides who goes to the Super Bowl. The clock showed 5 minutes 13 seconds left in the game. Morgan Burnett had just intercepted Russell Wilson, who was having an absolute nightmare, and Brendan Fevola had just tweeted that the Packers were heading to the Super Bowl. The tweet alone should have been a clue that things were about to go wrong. It was the Fevola touch.

Burnett, who had a rain soaked paddock in front of him in which to run and potentially score, decided to slide down and end the play. At 19-7 it was understandable. He didn’t want to risk being tackled and have the ball knocked out of his hands. The Packers could run the ball a few times, get a first down or two, kill the clock and essentially kill the game.

But they couldn’t get that first down. Despite having the best quarterback in the league, they ran the ball three times into a wall of navy blue that would not relent. It took a paltry 1 minute 13 seconds off the clock, leaving Seattle four minutes to score two touchdowns.

Earlier in the game, Wilson had thrown three interceptions and just 12 yards for the entire first half. HaHa Clinton-Dix had picked him off twice. He probably had the voice of Nelson from The Simpsons echoing through his head. But the Wilson of the first half was long gone. Regular season Wilson was back. Through a lovely touch pass to Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch down the sideline, the young quarterback from Wisconsin got his team within striking distance – and strike he did, running the ball in himself to bring the score back to 19-14.

When you’ve been a Geelong fan for so long, you know your team can lose in the most unlikely of circumstances. This game had Geelong v West Coast of 2006 written all over it. Or Geelong v Brisbane of 2013. It was yet to be decided who was going to be Ashley McGrath, and who was going to be Dawson Simpson.

At the ensuing onside kick, it was decided that the part of Dawson Simpson would tonight be played by Brandon Bostick. All he had to do was hold on to the ball. As the Seattle players ran towards him, it slipped through his fingers. He fumbled. He panicked. Seattle recovered. Wilson had the ball again.

From there it was clinical. The Seahawks moved the ball cleanly, and with about 10 yards to go, Beast Mode did what he does best and ran the ball in with apparent ease. 19-20.

Hope was fading, but if they could stop the Seattle 2-point conversion, they could get the ball within field goal range and have the unflappable Mason Crosby nail it and win the game.

Early in the play it looked good. They had Wilson on ice. He ran, he looked, he saw nothing, and ran some more. In a move of complete desperation, he threw a Hail Mary pass to the endzone. Tight end Luke Willson caught the ball unchallenged in front of HaHa. The Seahawks were having the last laugh. 19-22.

There was still time. The Packers had more than a minute, they had three timeouts, and they had the best player in the league. Aaron Rodgers had been playing on one leg after suffering a calf injury earlier in the playoffs. It didn’t matter. His right arm more than made up for it. He managed to drag his team, limping and hopping, all the way within field goal range. Crosby did the rest. He was our Tom Hawkins. Our Jimmy Bartel. Our Billy Brownless. For a brief moment he was King of Green Bay. 22-22. The NFC Championship was going to overtime.

As the Seattle rain belted down into CenturyLink Stadium, the referee tossed the coin high in the air. Seahawks back-up quarterback Tarvaris Jackson called heads. It was literally the only thing he’d done on the field all season, and it could have very well won them a Super Bowl. They were given possession of the ball.

It was over in less than a minute. A couple of small gains, before Wilson unloaded deep to Jermaine Kearse for the touchdown. Kearse. Even more appropriately named than HaHa had been earlier in the game. I Kearsed Russell Wilson. I Kearsed Brandon Bostick. I Kearsed God for ever letting me support both Geelong and Green Bay at the same time. It’s often joked that Geelong supporters live shorter lives due to poor heart health. I shudder to think how long I have left given I have the Packers in my life.

As Wilson spoke to reporters with tears streaming down his face, I sat in shocked silence. Numb.

Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson! I see it, but I don’t believe it.

 

 

About Kyle Pollard

Geelong Cats. Green Bay Packers. Heartbreak. Never been a sports reporter but somehow ended up on the sports desk at a metro newspaper. Weekends be damned.

Comments

  1. Oh man, your Packers were on the wrong end of the result, but that was one of the best playoff games in the entire history of the NFL (even before the AFL/NFL unification in 1960).

    I was at my gym getting in a work out and when Russell Wilson walked in for that QB sneak TD, there ended up being about 10 guys stop their workouts (yours truly included) and start watching the game. When the on-side kick worked, another bunch of people started watching with us.

    As a Bombers man, Fraser Brown is to the red sash what Nick Davis is to the hoops. I feel you.

  2. Kyle Pollard says

    Thanks Steve. I do keep saying that as a neutral supporter it was a brilliant game. Apparently Bostick (the guy who muffed the onside kick) was specifically told to block and not even try to to catch it. He must be having a difficult day today.

    So many things went wrong though.

  3. Bit harsh to say that was the only thing Tarvaris Jackson has done on the field all season, he also won the coin toss against Peyton Manning.

  4. Terrific write up. Thanks Kyle.
    Liked your Nick Davis analogy going back to that 2005 Prelim final, but that is about where the Cats/Packers comparison ends. Your Cats have got enough cream in recent years, unlike the Wisconsin milk drinkers.
    I watched the last quarter and a half over brekky in Perth. One of the most enthralling sporting contests I have even seen. A large part because I didn’t see it coming. Just like the Seahawks fans that flooded the exits in the last quarter, and weren’t allowed back in.
    I watched the Pats come back twice from 14 points down against the Ravens, but that always seemed likely. The Seahawks were dead and buried and waiting for the last rites.
    Packers saw the finishing post and fainted – a la Greg Norman. Like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Awful and captivating.
    Grantland have kicked the shit out of McCarthy the Packers coach for his conservative calls all game.
    http://grantland.com/the-triangle/nfl-run-shootaround-packers-seahawks-go-full-wtf-in-nfc-championship-game/
    http://grantland.com/the-triangle/afc-nfc-championship-patriots-colts-seahawks-packers/
    Pats and Hawks Superbowl is a must see. I can feel the influenza coming on now. Do Brady and Belichuk have one shot left to seal greatness? Hope so. Hawks (everywhere) are insufferable.

  5. Great to hear the match got some attention in Aust. It was a cracker, one of the best games I’ve watched of any sport. Well timed too from my perspective – with a week-old bub and a wet weekend outside, I was always going to be housebound, so best that there be some decent sport on (it was a great weekend for that, the NHL game between Nashville and Washington was a ripper too, even despite the wrong result).

    Peter, I’ll have to differ from you on Super Bowl loyalties. The Pats are a loathesome bunch of serial cheaters. If we’re likening NFL sides to AFL clubs, they’re basically a successful version of Essendon. I would barrack for Vladimir Putin against them. Go Seahawks!

  6. Paul Campbell says

    Hi Kyle,

    As a Seahawks / Hawks fan, I’m the double enemy.

    I enjoyed your piece, which summed up one of the very best NFL games, with a wildly improbable ending.

    Overcoming a 16-0 deficit was the largest comeback in NFC Championship history.

    And very late, the Seahawks put up 15 points in 44 seconds (that’s American Football seconds. Actual time: 4-5 minutes).

    I agree they couldn’t have done it without a number of plays from the Packers that let it slip. But Seattle had the daring. They executed a fake field goal, the on-side kick and desperate 2-point conversion. Then in OT, Wilson throws long to Kearse, same guy he was 0 for 5 in the game.

    Hope the Super Bowl is as good and Seahawks emulate Tree Hawks.

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