Charles Woodson: “There are no benefits to losing”
By Tyler Dunne, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
~Kansas City, Mo. – Charles Woodson cuts the cliché short. It’d be easy for the Green Bay Packers cornerback to spin this stunning loss into perspective. But he won’t. Not a chance.
A heap of gym bags stacked in the middle of the locker room at Arrowhead Stadium, teammates exited one at a time. Some dejected, some upbeat. Woodson was the realist.
“There are no benefits to losing,” Woodson said. “None.”
Everyone wanted to go 19-0. Who wouldn’t? They’d receive a lifetime membership to football immortality, to history. And Sunday, that dream died. Moments after losing 19-14 to the Kansas City Chiefs, a sting lingered. But it wasn’t necessarily the end of a perfect season that irritated them.
A five-win team bruised, bloodied and battered the Packers. The Chiefs – dead to rights – knocked the Super Bowl champions to the canvas. That’s what is alarming. If any team realizes the importance of peaking in December, it’s the Packers. A wave of momentum carried them to North Texas last season.
Now, players are left wondering what happened.
“Everybody has to take it upon themselves and look in the mirror,” left guard T.J. Lang said. “I don’t think anybody thinks it’s OK for us to have a loss like that.
“You don’t want to sit here and say, ‘Oh that’s fine. We’ll be alright.’ Bottom line is you have to look in the mirror and make sure you’re taking care of your own business.”
Make no mistake, this was a Chiefs team spiraling into disarray.
Their coach was fired. Arguably their three best players – Jamaal Charles, Matt Cassel and Eric Berry – were on injured reserve. They’ve lost games by 34, 45, 28, 31 and 27 points this season.
And the offense? Quarterback Kyle Orton should have signed a waiver. Kansas City had scored three touchdowns in six games.
And here were the mighty Packers, getting bullied around.
The Chiefs didn’t consult a genie. Nothing innovative here. No witchcraft. They carefully avoided a shootout – 39 runs, 31 passes – and were relentless on defense.
Aaron Rodgers was sacked four times, hit five times and always on the move. With less than 5 minutes to go, running back Jackie Battle plunged into the end zone on third down to give Kansas City a 19-7 lead and streamers sifted onto the field.
Not too long later, interim coach Romeo Crennel received a Gatorade bath. What remains in Green Bay are questions – questions seemingly solved a long time ago.
Is Rodgers still invincible? Have the receivers’ drops reached plague status? How many injuries can the offensive line overcome? And is this really a championship defense?
Green Bay has two games left to sort it all out.
“We certainly don’t want to have another loss like this,” Lang said. “It’s tough to swallow. . . . After a game like that where we just played like (expletive) on offense, you have to take personal responsibility. You have to make yourself better before you try to make your teammates better.”
Defensively, as Lang notes, the Packers probably did enough to win. True, a unit that entered Sunday with nine more picks than any other team laid an egg. Sunday marked the first time since the season opener, Green Bay failed to have an interception.
Any concern, however, should probably be directed at an offense that’s been a juggernaut all season. The temporary absence of Greg Jennings (knee) probably hurts more than the team realized. At halftime, Rodgers was 6 of 17 for 59 yards. His receivers had six drops. The Chiefs had life.
After his fourth drop of the half – a difficult hanger deep right – tight end Jermichael Finley threw his helmet across the bench in disgust.
Compare this to last season. The Packers were just tapping into their Texas oil-rich offense. Fresh off an inspiring performance in Foxborough, the Packers’ offense blindsided the New York Giants, 45-17. One week later, the defense mashed the Chicago Bears, 10-3.
Forget the made-for-TV, “to rest or not to rest” drama. That’s irrelevant, old news. To the Packers, what’s most important is recalibrating into the team they’ve been all year.
The offense – Jennings or no Jennings – hopes to rediscover its rhythm. And the defense wants to get back to forcing turnovers. For one day, Kansas City lured Green Bay into a different game.
“Maybe more than the loss itself, we didn’t match their intensity and they beat us,” safety Charlie Peprah said. “You want to be playing your best football at the end. That’s more disappointing than losing the chance to go 19-0. It’s how we lost – not playing our best football in December.”
This feeling – this losing feeling – has been non-existent for 364 days. The Packers were one day shy of a perfect calendar year. How does it feel? Peprah paused for five seconds and shook his head.
“It sucks. That’s all you can say,” he said. “Disappointing, very disappointing.”
Added Woodson, “Losing is no fun. We have to put this one behind us.”
They can. Next up, two NFC North rivals.
OK, so the 16-0 and 19-0 talk is officially over. Perfectly fine, players say. Their Super Bowl plans remain on schedule.
“You get knocked down, you have to get back up and get stronger,” Peprah said. “We’re going to respond very positively to this. We’re not going to pack it in just because we can’t go undefeated. Feel sorry for yourself a little bit and get over it.”
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