GREEN BAY, Wis. – As Lawrence Tynes was about to kick off, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin stared out wrathfully onto frosty Lambeau Field, looking like he wanted to kick him where the sun doesn't shine.
Tynes, the Giants' first-year kicker by way of Scotland, Canada and the Kansas City Chiefs, had just shanked a 36-yard field goal that could have sent Coughlin to his first Super Bowl in 12 seasons as a head coach. Now it was overtime and the Giants' upset hopes in a taut NFC championship game seemed as hopelessly iced as the metal benches in the famed stadium – or the this-can't-be-happening glare frozen on the coach's reddened face.
For the third or fourth time on a frigid Sunday night, Coughlin looked to the sky and literally began to rail at the heavens before catching himself. There were 72,740 fans at Lambeau stomping and cheering and waiting for Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers to get the ball, get some points and get on with the Super Bowl dream matchup almost everyone in America wanted to see.
Then, in a subzero pressure cooker that appeared destined to bring them down, the Giants fought off presumed extinction the way they have so many times in this unlikely season – and like few NFL teams have before them. By rallying to claim a 23-20 overtime victory, its 10th consecutive road triumph and third of the playoffs, New York extended a remarkable run that, appropriately, leads to another seemingly insurmountable obstacle on Feb. 3 in Glendale, Ariz.
Sorry, Favre worshippers: The quarterback standing between the 18-0 New England Patriots and history in Super Bowl XLII won't be the graying 38-year-old legend. Rather, it'll be Eli Manning, whose inexorable team has already been installed as two-touchdown underdogs to the Tom Brady-led AFC champion New England Patriots.
"We know there's going to be a lot of hype about the Patriots, that everybody expects them to go out there and do their 19-0 thing and ride off into the sunset," middle linebacker Antonio Pierce said after the game. "That's how it's got to be – we would expect nothing but that. Trust me, we're going to go out there and battle."
Before reviewing the circumstances of the Giants' latest and most unexpected conquest, ask yourself this question: Can this fifth-seeded team which lost six regular season games possibly bring down the relentless and unblemished Pats?
If you've been following the Giants closely, the only reasonable answer is: Damn straight.
That doesn't mean Coughlin's team, which lost a 38-35 thriller to New England in the regular season finale at Giants Stadium, will win its first Super Bowl in 17 years. Bill Belichick's Patriots, going for their fourth championship in seven seasons, will surely be a tougher test in the desert than the Packers were on the legitimately frozen tundra Sunday. But when you've overcome what the Giants have in their '07 campaign, from an 0-2 start to a late-December crisis in a Buffalo mini-blizzard to playoff deficits at Tampa Bay and Dallas, no challenge seems overly daunting.
So it was that, after losing the toss at the start of overtime Sunday night in a game they could have closed out earlier, the Giants barely flinched. As Peyton's kid brother later recounted, "We're thinking, 'Hey, we've been in these situations before.' We've gone through so many moments when things were against us and nobody gave us a chance and we had to rely on each other and find a way to overcome adversity. And you know what? That's when we play our best. Just give us a chance, and we'll find a way to make something happen."
Gloriously, incomprehensibly, the NFL's defiant road warriors did it again. On Green Bay's second play from scrimmage in the extra quarter, Favre floated a sideline pass for wideout Donald Driver, and New York cornerback Corey Webster stepped in front of him for an interception that he returned to the Packers' 34.
Three plays later Tynes, who had missed consecutive fourth quarter field-goal attempts from 43 and 36 yards, was back on the field for a 47-yard try. He calmly slammed this one home – it was by far the longest field goal by an opponent in Packers playoff history – setting off a celebration nobody saw coming back in September, when the Packers had rolled into New Jersey and handed the Giants their second consecutive decisive defeat to start the season.
In Week 3, the Giants played at Washington and trailed the Redskins 17-3 at halftime. The players assumed Coughlin, a notorious taskmaster, would light into them. Instead, they got a rah-rah speech from Touchy-Feely Tom, who told them, "Just stay with it. You can fight your way back into this game."
The Giants responded with 21 second-half points and a last-minute goal-line stand to score a 24-17 triumph, propelling them to a six-game winning streak. They endured other precarious moments, including a stretch in December in which they lost a rematch to the 'Skins and trailed the Bills 14-0 on a snowy day in Buffalo before rallying to a 38-21 victory.
Though that assured them of a playoff berth, the Giants went after the Pats in the season finale and took a 12-point lead in the third quarter before falling, 38-35. They carried that momentum into playoff upsets over the Bucs and top-seeded Cowboys and continued it Sunday against the Packers, a team they might have defeated soundly had they cleaned up a few rough edges.
With Manning (21 of 40, 254 yards) playing a third consecutive turnover-free playoff game, physical wideout Plaxico Burress (11 catches for 154 yards) fighting off press coverage from Pro Bowl cornerback Al Harris and backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combining for 130 yards on 37 carries, the Giants' offense moved the ball consistently. To combat the Green Bay attack, the defensive linemen sacrificed sacks for inside pressure, blowing up the pocket to force Favre to throw quicker than usual and holding halfback Ryan Grant to 29 rushing yards, 172 fewer than he gained in the previous week's triumph over the Seattle Seahawks.
The more they achieved success on each side of the ball, the more frustrated the Giants became by their inability to avoid crucial mistakes. As veteran defensive end Michael Strahan said, "We had so many opportunities to blow this game open – and so many opportunities to blow this game."
Along with Tynes' missed field goal attempts, the Giants struggled holding on to the ball. After cornerback R.W. McQuarters intercepted a Favre pass early in the fourth quarter, he was stripped by Packers halfback Ryan Grant with tackle Mark Tauscher's recovery giving it back to Green Bay. McQuarters also fumbled a punt near midfield with the score tied at 20 and 2:15 remaining in regulation, but teammate Domenik Hixon recovered.
On the next play, Bradshaw broke several tackles while slicing his way to a 48-yard touchdown, but it was negated by a holding penalty on guard Chris Snee, Coughlin's son-in-law. The coach, who had lost two previous conference title games while coaching the Jacksonville Jaguars and whose job was rumored to be in jeopardy heading into '07, felt as though a higher power was conspiring against him.
"I looked up (at the sky) a couple of times and I accused Him," Coughlin said later, "but I bit my tongue."
With the fourth-quarter temperature at three below zero (and a minus-24 wind chill), it's a wonder Coughlin could feel his tongue. It was the third coldest championship contest in NFL history, behind the famed 1967 Ice Bowl in Green Bay and the 1981 AFC championship game in Cincinnati. A team with less fortitude might have faded amid so many squandered opportunities.
"It was a brutal day," wideout Amani Toomer said. "If you have any quit in you – if there was any quit in this team, in anybody – this would have made you quit."
Instead, the Giants scoffed in the face of Mother Nature and had faith in their ability to pull out the game. Before the pre-overtime coin toss, Pierce swears he told punter Jeff Feagles, one of the captains who was headed to midfield, "to make sure he lost so the defense could go out there first. I know it sounds crazy, but that's the god-honest truth. We wanted to be out there. We'd been stopping them all game, but we'd been shooting ourselves in the foot. We knew we'd get it done."
Webster got the ball, and then Tynes finally made Coughlin smile that Super smile he's been waiting to experience his entire coaching career. Even the prospect of having to game plan against Belichick couldn't curb the coach's enthusiasm in a jubilant locker room long on hugs and refreshingly short on we-told-you-sos.
With the sternest of tests awaiting them, the Giants aren't about to get cocky, but they sure don't seem scared of the Patriots, either.
"We know what we're up against," Strahan said. "It'll be great."
It'll be a wild two weeks leading up to a Super Bowl that could live up to billing, a role-reversal rendition of the pre-2004 Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, replete with a clear-cut underdog that warms to the part.
"You know what? We wouldn't want it any other way," Giants center Shaun O'Hara said of the matchup. "At least now we know nobody will pick us."
Nobody, that is, save 53 determined players and a coach who, as Tynes' fateful kick sailed beautifully through the glacial night sky, finally looked up to the heavens with humility and gratitude – and a thirst for one more chance to watch his team kick conventional wisdom in the teeth.
I'm hot 'cause I'm fly …
• It's one thing when Tom Brady completes 26 of 28 passes and leads the Patriots to victory. But when Brady looks oddly human, as he did in New England's 21-12 triumph over the San Diego Chargers in Sunday's AFC championship game, the Pats have this scary ability to pick up the slack from unexpected sources. A prime example being the outstanding effort of third-down back Kevin Faulk (eight catches, 82 yards). Or was it Marshall Faulk? At times it was tough to tell. All I know is this: If you're the Chargers, and you intercept Brady six times in two playoff games and lose both of them, you have a right to be very, very depressed.
• Yeah, I know many of you don't like Philip Rivers because he talks a lot and is still growing into his role as a franchise quarterback, with plenty of choppy fits and starts. But the second-year starter grew up in a big way Sunday, fighting through a significant knee injury and doing a very capable job of leading his team in a potentially combustible situation. He even made some throws on the move and, for the most part, bit his lip and gave San Diego a chance to compete with the best team in the league. Like Eli Manning, the man for whom he was traded on draft day in 2004, Rivers is on his way to becoming a big-time player.
• Why Jerry Jones is one of the league's best two owners (along with the Patriots' Robert Kraft): He successfully convinced offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to turn down potential head coaching opportunities with the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons and stay with the Dallas Cowboys, where he'll almost certainly succeed current coach Wade Phillips. Jones paid for the privilege, giving Garrett a deal that reportedly will pay him $3 million a year (as much as Phillips, though Jones may have adjusted the head coach's pay accordingly). Jones is so adept at aggressively generating revenue, and so willing to spend it in the pursuit of winning, that I can't imagine that any Cowboys fan would complain about him, ever. Bringing back Hudson Houck as offensive line coach (to replace Tony Sparano) was another great move by Jones.
• Speaking of blast-from-the-past hires I love, good call by Titans coach Jeff Fisher to bring back Mike Heimerdinger to replace fired offensive coordinator Norm Chow. Heimerdinger will demand discipline and accountability from quarterback Vince Young, a necessary step in the talented player's development as he attempts to become an elite leader. I remain convinced that Young is well on his way, and this will help him get there faster.
• Whatever Tony Dungy decides to do, I respect his decision, and I'm fully on board with owner Jim Irsay's pick of current assistant head coach Jim Caldwell as Dungy's replacement when the time comes. This is one case in which continuity is something to be valued, and making Caldwell the successor will ensure that.
• So, Roger Goodell, the NFL is going back to the UK in 2008? Behave, baby!
• If you're wondering what the most happening sports site on the Internet is – and if you want to see one of its more recent hires talk a little trash – check out Patrick J. Sauer's strong piece in the current issue of Fast Company magazine.
… You ain't 'cause you're not
• The Patriots may have eliminated the Chargers for the second consecutive year, but the contentious relationship between the two franchises shows no signs of abating. According to the Boston Herald, here's what San Diego center Nick Hardwick had to say after the game about Pats defensive lineman Richard Seymour: "There are 10 (expletive) good players on that team. But Richard Seymour is a dirty, cheap, little pompous (expletive). He's cheap and dirty and the head man just let him get away with it the whole time. They've got 10 great players on that team and when Jarvis Green comes on the field, they've got 11 great players who compete how you're supposed to play. But Richard Seymour is the biggest (expletive) I've ever played." Can the NFL Network please get Hardwick a microphone and camera crew and send him to media day to interview a certain Pats player?
• I'm sorry to see that former NFL defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in the BALCO steroids case and may face up to six months of jail time as a result. It's a reminder that, no matter who you are and how important you believe yourself to be in your chosen field, no preferential treatment exists when you are being questioned under oath. For all of the criticism Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi has received for his steroid use, at least he was smart enough to tell the truth after placing his hand on the Bible.
• When coaches exhort defenders to "Put a hat on somebody," the first somebody I think of is old friend Ed Werder, who filed the first of many reports for various ESPN entities early Sunday morning in sub-zero temperatures without the benefit of headwear. "You've got to be a man," Werder joked later in the Lambeau press box. I've also got to give it up for a pair of tough and talented women, ESPN's tireless Rachel Nichols and Fox's fabulous Pam Oliver, who stood tall on the sidelines in weather that rendered California-born-and-raised wimps like me utterly non-functional. Oliver's colleague Chris Myers gets a shout-out, too, for being yet another journalistic pro while most of us took shelter in the toasty press box. Two thoughts I had over the weekend: I'd like to thank my late grandparents for leaving Milwaukee and Detroit, because I obviously couldn't have hacked it. And after experiencing the extreme chill while cavorting through greater Green Bay on Saturday night, I'm questioning whether life on Venus might in fact be preferable.
• Georgia Frontiere, who died Friday after an extended battle with breast cancer, had her share of detractors during the 29 years she owned the Rams. But she was always very nice to me, and I'll never forget the time I sat with her after a game in St. Louis and heard stories from her extremely entertaining past. A former nightclub singer and showgirl who was married seven times, Frontiere dated Joseph Kennedy and maintained a friendship with him even after marrying then-Colts (and future Rams) owner Carroll Rosenbloom. She told me about how, in the aftermath of a particularly biting playoff defeat, Kennedy calmed the couple by reminding them to put things in perspective – a particularly poignant moment given the tragedies his family endured. I'll hold onto those memories, and I extend my thoughts and prayers to Ms. Frontiere's family.
• Herschel Walker, hang in there. People are making a lot of jokes about your reported admission in an upcoming book that you suffer from a multiple-personality disorder, but none of them is funny.
Two things I can't comprehend
1. How I can eat about four bites of asparagus on a flight to Chicago, use the restroom less than an hour later and notice an unmistakable scent confirming that the curious vegetable is in my system.
2.What Pacman Jones is thinking – or if he's thinking at all. After lying to his head coach and essentially abandoning his teammates by screwing up enough to receive a one-year suspension from commissioner Roger Goodell, Jones watched the Tennessee Titans make a surprising playoff run without him. Rather than clean up his act and try to earn his way back into their good graces, Jones is popping off (in a video interview to RollingOut.com, according to profootballtalk.com) about wanting to bolt, as if the Titans somehow are to blame for his continued inability to act like a law-abiding grownup. "Hopefully I can get out of Tennessee," Jones said in the interview. "I want to go up to Dallas. So we'll see how it goes and I am just going to keep my head up." I can think of two ideal words with which to finish that sentence for him, the first being "my."
Over-the-top, ephedrine-laced diatribe at 4:19 a.m.
After being one of my profession's most vocal Norv Turner-bashers, I've had to do a lot of recanting lately – and I certainly don't want to give the impression that he didn't do a masterful job in his first season with the Chargers. That said, it is my job to question coaches' decisions during big games, and I thought Turner made a major mistake Sunday when, on fourth-and-10 from the New England 36 with 9:21 to go, he punted the ball back to the Patriots rather than go for it. I understand the rationale and the percentages involved, and I'm sure Turner, whose team trailed by nine points at the time, felt he could pin the Pats, force a three-and-out and have time enough for two scoring drives. But you don't beat an undefeated team on the road by playing it safe – you go after it and hope your best and most aggressive effort is good enough, caution be damned. Besides, the Pats had driven it right down San Diego's throat the previous two series, and the tired Chargers defense was going to have a hard time coming up with a stop in that context. Sure enough, after the Pats fair-caught Mike Scifres' punt at the 13, they kept the ball for 15 plays and ran out the clock. I'm not sure it would have mattered, anyway, but Turner's conservative call kept his team from having a shot at an amazing comeback. The Chargers showed up in Sunday's game and overcame a lot this season, and I give them and their coach a lot of credit, but that was a weak way to go out.
Trippin' on E(mail)
"… the New York Giants – 35-13 losers to the Green Bay Packers a couple hundred miles to the south on that same mid-September day that the Chargers got sliced up at Gillette.' Wow. I had no idea that Wisconsin was 'a couple hundred miles to the south' of Massachusetts. I suppose we both know why you chose to be a writer. P.S.: How's my grammar? I have a writing course I'm trying to prepare for and I'll need all the criticism I can get. Don't be afraid to dumb down the point of my comment by diverting your answer to how superior your writing skills are compared to mine. In all reality, I think you're a funny guy. You just tend to be an ass on occasion."
Try this: That Sept. 16 game to which you refer was played at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Is that dumbed-down enough for you?
"Way cool. Loved the rework of the Beatles song run for your life. You even got the last part right … .na na na, na na na ,na na na … your the best! Damn near god-like. But go easy on us dumb ass grammerless folk … some of us didnt pay much attention in shcool."
You could always try to become a rock star.
"It is one of those mornings where you wake up and are blessed with a hearty breakfast and then you sniff around for a good article to jump start your day! I very much enjoyed the language, the depth of the analysis and the coherence of your report on the San Diego Chargers and the Pats. Thanks."
This is one of those emails that jump-starts my day, at least for a few seconds.
"Actually its a comment. First off, your unibrow disgusts me. Second of all, the Charger have no chance they are too busy (expletive) to realize that they suck. Your an idiot for even creating this article Yahoo! needs some good sports analysts not some queer like you. So take a seat (expletive)."
No, Billy Clabby, you take a seat. Lesson No. 1: The correct way to hurl an insult questioning someone's intelligence is " You're an idiot." Lesson No. 2: It's not a unibrow; I have two large eyebrows. Lesson No. 3: Ah, never mind.
"Is it your job to write a counter to the pro-Patriots articles? How in the world can you deny the Patriots are the best team going, and if they win the Super Bowl, they have to be considered one of the greatest teams of all time? Camera-gate you say. BS I say. The cameraman was caught in the first quarter of the first game; no information could have been gleaned from that. Since that, no infraction has been claimed against us and we still went the first undefeated 16-game regular season in history. The (individual) records? They don't matter – not a team achievement – and I'm only talking about the team here. Why don't you and Peter King, Cris Collinsworth, Dan Marino, Mercury Morris, and whatever other Patriots deniers you can find go have a drink and a hug together. Your time is over. You're bitter and your points are wholly invalid. You sound like a sore loser."
As a matter of fact, Peter King and I had a few drinks together this weekend. We talked about how great the Patriots are, how we don't hate them and we need to write more articles that their very sensitive fans perceive as favorable. As for you last remark, it's tough to paint me as a sore loser when I, like the Pats, am 18-0 this season.
"I'd venture that nobody recognized you in the greater Green Bay area due to a Holmgren-esque amount of snow attached to your extra large forehead-warmers, thereby covering up your dashingly handsome mug … but that's just a theory. Keep up the good work and never lose that mean sense of sarcastic humor … no matter how many people don't get it!"
Forehead warmers? Why didn't I know about those before the subzero temperatures came? In the past, I've always relied on my large eyebrows to do the job.
"My question is simple: Most of the media's sports analysts and announcers have openly dubbed Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback of all time. Does that mean 'if' Green Bay meets and defeats the Patriots in the Super Bowl, that Bret Favre (who by the way is stacking up NFL quarterback records like Lincoln Logs with no end in sight), and not Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, or, unlike the New England Patriots, will the credit instead be spread around Favre's offensive and defensive lines like one should expect?"
Michael G. Mumblow
No. Whatever the outcome of the Super Bowl, it will mean that Joe Montana is the greatest quarterback of all time.
"I would just like to say that I have been following your column for quite some time now and greatly enjoy reading it from week to week. Being a life long Chargers fan, but also a realist, I often find myself agreeing with the things you state about my favorite time. One of my favorite things is reading your responses to reader e-mails. I am sure (and hopeful) that you will thoroughly critique my poor grammar skills. I would also like to say of my fellow Chargers fans: If you disagree so much with what the articles have said about the Chargers all season, why did you continue to read? It seems to me that the finger of idiocy has been pointed the wrong direction. I look forward to reading more of your grammatically impeccable work and beautifully articulated sarcasm."
"You have taken a lot of abuse for your criticism of the Chargers all season. I guess everyone forgot they were shouting 'Marty!' after that 1-3 start, me included. At the time, most Chargers fans wanted A.J. Smith's head on a platter, and maybe some still do. Most of your 'criticism' has been on target. The truth hurts sometimes. I just find it ironic that suddenly you are the 'Chargers basher' when we were all bashing the Chargers right along with you. Maybe the fans should point the finger at themselves before making you a target. I don't know if the Chargers are gonna win on Sunday. There are a lot of similarities between this team and the '94 team that went to the Super Bowl. … I actually enjoy your column. It's nice to know that not all the writers are on strike. And besides, it could be worse for Chargers fans: We could be Dolphins fans."
Nags Head, N.C.
I covered that '94 AFC championship game upset in Pittsburgh, and it was one of my all-time favorite games. The postgame locker room was full of unfettered joy and gritty defiance, and I loved covering that team.
"I was so happy to see the New York Giants prove you wrong week after week during the playoffs as you consistently placed them at the bottom of your team rankings (and)e they continued to knock other teams off. Better luck next year, loser!"
Charbel G. Balloutine
I'm so happy that you're so happy.
"For Daniel in Manchester, I believe that losing to the Colts last year was the best thing that happened to the Pats in this era. Management had proven reluctant to spending the money to surround Brady with the talent they have now. That loss equated to Welker, Moss and Stallworth. That trio has made the difference this year or did I miss something? To Michael, nice work. I spend half of my time in Thailand and you can't get the games unless you have a 70-foot dish, a Death Star and the private number for Bill Gates. I was there for all of October and only kept in touch with reality through columns such as yours. It is very much appreciated by all the ex-pats out there. It didn't help all that much. I still finished near the bottom of my Fantasy League. You couldn't have mentioned that Y.A. Tittle had retired?"
That's a great point about the loss to Indy and the ramifications. Give the Patriots credit for recognizing a missed opportunity and aggressively rectifying it.
"Been a Cowboys fan for 49 moons; want to know who really controls NFL football 'cause the 'Boys an da Colts had to be set up in order to complete the cheating Pats' fairy tale. …"
Now, now. I am the person who really controls the NFL, and I assure you all of the previous weekend's outcomes were fair and square.
"What if the Chargers (hired) Rachelle Washington to stand on the sideline Sunday? (When) Randy Moss (walked) on the field, (he could have been) arrested (for) violation of the 500 ft. restraining order. Brilliant!"
Hmmm. I have to admit, that's a reasonably creative idea that might have actually worked.
"Wouldn't it be wonderful, to have Payton Manning make another commercial? I can picture it now. He's sitting in front of his Sony HDTV, the kid behind him is whispering, 'You should have thrown to Clark!' and he's on his Sprint phone, talking to his bro Eli, who is yelling into the phone, 'You blew your chance! I'm the better QB!' Ahhhhh, I'm so glad we'll be able to leave all the Manning commercials behind. Anyone for some Smart Water? Now that guy is cute!"
This is retaliation for the Colts fans booing that girl who won the Punt, Pass and Kick competition, isn't it?
"Cover the Eddie." Do you surf?"
No, I just boogie board, in increasingly embarrassing fashion. But if I did surf, I definitely wouldn't surf Waimea.
"I'm a bit distraught you posted Annie from North Carolina's comment on lynching. I personally felt the need to comment on the lynching statement as well, such idiocy shouldn't be tolerated. But hearing a mid-westerner trying to make herself feel better by saying no one from where she grew up would say such a thing as lynching makes me want to puke. Give me a break! I spent the holidays in New York where I heard racist epithets dropped like litter on the ground. I've personally witnessed racism in California, Hawaii and many, many places. To call racism a southerner's unique disease is disgusting and misses the point entirely. Racism unfortunately is everywhere and there are many southerners who have worked very hard to try and tackle this American dilemma. But let's keep stereotyping different regions. I'm sure that will help us all evolve."
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Those are excellent points, and I agree that racism is not a problem that fits inside a geographical box. Thanks for adding to the dialogue.
"I was wondering how come you are always so stuffy on all of your interviews I watch on Yahoo!? Is this a permanent nasal condition or are you totally addicted to sniffing foreign substances? A lot of what comes out of your mouth would seem to verify that you're high on something. Sincerely interested."
What you would suggest I do to my nose, I would suggest that you do to me.
"Up until this year, I would get all my NFL news from Fox Sports … then along came Silver. Your columns are on a whole new level far higher than any other sportswriters. If I see you at the Super Bowl in a couple weeks, I'm buyin' you a whole damn bottle of Don Julio Silver. – You single-handedly do more to stop illiterateness than any school!"
I think it's illiteracy, but you just offered to buy me a bottle of tequila, so I'm going to let it slide.
Text/IM/email/phone moment of the week
"Fire hot!!! It was there for us to grab it and we let it slip out of our hands!!!"
– Text late Sunday night from Packers middle linebacker Nick Barnett, expressing his anger (and status as perhaps the only hot person in Green Bay) about the outcome.