The Green Bay Packers quest for a perfect season ended yesterday in Kansas City. I suppose most people thought the Packers would waltz out of KC with another victory, but as any football fan knows, Any Given Sunday and all that.
The Packers had won 13 in a row this season, 19 going back to last season, the 2nd longest streak in NFL history. Before yesterday, the Packers hadn't lost in 364 days.
I remember that game well. It was Dec. 19. The Packers played the Patriots on Sunday Night Football. Aaron Rodgers was unable to play due to a concussion he'd suffered a week earlier against Detroit. With a back-up quarterback, no one gave the Pack much chance. The team rallied behind Matt Flynn and battled admirably, in the end falling just short.
It wasn't the kind of game that most fans will remember, but it's a game I'll never forget. It was the last game I watched with my dad. He was in the hospital, but he thought he might go home the next day. He was in good spirits as we watched the game. When the Packers fell short, he characteristically went into positive spin mode, seeing the loss as a springboard to bigger things.
As it turned out, he was right about the Packers. Wrong about his health. My dad was technically still alive the following Sunday when the Packers beat the New York Giants, the beginning of their Super Bowl run, the first of 19 straight wins, but he was in a morphine haze in hospice, the game just background noise because it felt like the right thing to do.
So the Green Bay Packers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday, ending the quest for perfection. It was the first time the Packers lost a game since my dad died. Man, he would have loved those 364 days.
My dad would have said this was just a bump in the road, something to learn from. As I drove home from my friend's house, I could hear our conversation. It brought a smile to my face, and tears to my eyes.