Emotional Loss Difficult To Accept

Although the Packers may have exceeded nearly everyone’s expectations for the season, the red eyes and disappointing faces in the locker room following Sunday’s 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship demonstrated just how badly this one hurts. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Giants Game Center


The win-or-go-home mentality of the playoffs sends emotions to both ends of the spectrum.

For the Packers, last week's win over the Seahawks was as euphoric as this week's loss was devastating.

And although the Packers may have exceeded nearly everyone's expectations for the season, the red eyes and disappointing faces in the locker room following Sunday's 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship demonstrated just how badly this one hurts.

Many players felt that they let a golden opportunity slip away.

"To make it this far and go through what we went through and lose, it's a rough feeling," defensive tackle Corey Williams said.

"When you have a chance to win and don't, that makes it even worse. It's not like they came in and just dominated us. We had chances to win and we didn't. They made the plays, we didn't."

Like Williams, cornerback Charles Woodson acknowledged that coming so close makes the loss sting a little more.

"We had a great opportunity here to play in the Super Bowl," Woodson said. "As a unit, as a team, we didn't have our best game. For whatever the reason, I don't know. The only thing you can take from it is that you don't want to feel this way again.

"The one thing about these opportunities, sometimes they are few and far between. You don't know when you are going to have your next time. It was five years since I had even been in the playoffs. So, you can't take for granted the opportunities you have. Whenever you have these opportunities, you have to make sure you're at your best when you're time comes because you don't know when it will come back around."

Right tackle Mark Tauscher, an eight-year veteran, said that this was no question the toughest loss of his career. But he also added that one of the toughest aspects to deal with in a situation like this is that the locker room will be a little bit different when the Packers open up the 2008 regular season.

"You can't say right now how things are going to play out," Tauscher explained. "I can assure you this isn't the football team that we are going to have back next year. That much is a given. I've never been on a team where every player has been back the next year.

"Every year is a different starting point. You start in March and you hope to be playing in February. We had our opportunities to be that team and we let it go."

Williams, an unrestricted free agent, agreed with Tauscher's assessment.

"To lose like that at home, that's tough," Williams said. "For me not knowing if I'm going to be back here next year, that's tough."

For others, the loss was disheartening simply because there was so much at stake.

"To lose period, it's disappointing," Brady Poppinga said. "But the fact it's a championship-caliber game and it's a game where the winner gets to go to the Super Bowl and play for it all, obviously it makes it that much more disappointing.

"When you're defeated you feel disappointed. Anybody who is a competitor, obviously you're goal isn't to lose. So when you fall short of you're goals, it's disappointing and discouraging. But it's not demoralizing. There's a lot that can be learned from it and a lot that can be taken with you into the future if these situations arise again. And hopefully they do."

Of course, the players weren't the only ones who were disappointed in the defeat. General Manager Ted Thompson said that the loss is tough from an organizational standpoint as well.

"Right now, I think we're all caught up in the disappointment of not winning this game," Thompson said. "We (the front office) are just like the guys in here that lay it on the line. We're disappointed we didn't win the game. I feel bad for them and I feel bad for the organization."

Several players admitted that losing this game had never entered their mind. The fact that it came in overtime only made it more difficult.

"I think everyone is in shock," Aaron Kampman said. "I don't think anyone believed we weren't going to win the game. We were very confident. Now it's just kind of, where do we go from here?"

On to next season, unfortunately, but no one was truly focusing on that in the immediate aftermath.

"I didn't want to believe it," Jarrett Bush said. "My mind was saying, 'No, don't believe it.' But you've got to accept it. That's part of getting over it. You have to accept it and move on."

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