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Inbox: They get their chance to earn it

Big picture, might’ve been the play of the game


Ron from Mitchell, SD

That was awesome. And I don't recall hearing "that damn horn" after the start of the game!

I've learned to block it out, but it didn't require the effort it usually does.

Scott from Green Bay, WI

Do my eyes deceive me? 5-2 in our last seven. In that span our new QB has 16 TDs and one INT with an injured, young receiving corps. Our defense played well tonight. And oh yeah, with one to play we're on the inside of the playoff picture looking out. What the heck?

Funny how this league works sometimes. Love just keeps balling out no matter who's out there with him, the defense made a rookie fifth-round QB in his second start look the part with relentless pressure, and the Packers are suddenly right where they need to be.

Josh from Newhall, CA

I am so excited for this team. To have a performance like that and STILL leave points on the field is actually exciting. Next week will be the first Packer game I have ever attended and it's a win-and-in. I've gotta to believe the atmosphere will be absolutely electric. From your perspective, what do you feel is the biggest difference between this same scenario last year vs. this year?

It's where the offense is at this point. That's what I focused my entire Rapid Reaction piece on while writing on the bus.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

January football is here, Mike. Do the Packers have another gear? Based on Week 17, are the Packers one of the top seven teams in the NFC?

They get their chance to earn it. That's all that matters. I went into Sunday feeling the Rams and the Bucs were playing the best of all the NFC Wild Card contenders. I no longer think that.

Tony from Davenport, IA

The statistic that stood out the most to me from last night's game was that the Packers had only three penalties for 17 yards. What statistics stood out the most to you?

A 15-minute advantage in time of possession and 28 first downs. Seven first downs per quarter is crazy.

Ross from Hudson, WI

Wes sang his praises in camp and we all said, "Who?" Bo freakin' Melton that's who.

A guy in his shoes gets most of his practice reps all season on the scout team. Not with QB1. To get tossed in there like he has the past two weeks and look like he knows this offense inside and out is not as simple as it seems.

Jen from Kanab, UT

Spoff: … he might've earned himself a spot on the 53. We shall see. Bo Melton: hold my beer. Was his performance pure talent or did he have an advantage because of limited film and lack of expectation? He was so much fun to watch!

His last two weeks have been a product of hard work, a positive attitude, and adherence to the mantra of staying ready so you don't have to get ready.

Jacob from Zionsville, IN

Washburn alum here! Corey Ballentine had a heck of a game! Loved watching him work. Please pass on my congratulations to him!

With the way the Vikings have struggled to protect the football, and the way the Packers have struggled to take it away, I thought getting an INT on Minnesota's second possession was huge. It put all kinds of doubt in the Vikings' mind about their QB decision, and it gave the Packers' defense some much-needed mojo. Big picture, might've been the play of the game.

Mark from Westminster, CO

The Musgrave injury forced Tucker Kraft to step up and step up he has done. Will Kraft turn out better than Musgrave? Who knows, but for the Packers to get to see an accelerated development timeline for him has been a godsend.

I kept waiting for the Vikings to cover Kraft in the flat. They finally did in the fourth quarter. As much as he's producing in the passing game, his biggest strides have been made as a blocker. The receiving part has just developed from opportunity.

Gordon from Newport Beach, CA

Great win, but is Romeo Doubs getting outshined by the other receivers?

Statistically at times, yes, but no way that's a bad thing. Doubs had a couple of tough catches he couldn't quite pull in last night, but he's always where his QB needs him to be and that means a lot. Just look at last week in Carolina. If the individual shine shifts from one guy to the next any given week, the collective is better off.

Evan from Appleton, WI

This was as close to a complete game as you can get. I question why putting Samori Toure back on a punt instead of Keisean Nixon. Why?

Dunno. Fortunately, the Packers' offense turned the miscue into a minor blip after the Vikes' only TD. Their crowd really wanted to get into the game and it never was.

Sam from Melbourne, IA

Just a few observations. Aaron Jones will never cease to amaze me. As a mid-30s Packers fan seeing a No. 80 out there making plays brings a smile to my face. Lastly how fitting is this year's win and in mirroring last year's! Go Pack Go!

In line on the runway to get on the plane, Wes, John Kuhn and I were talking about how the Packers started 2023 with a blowout win over the Vikings (Jan. 1) and ended the year the same way (Dec. 31). Total score of 74-27 in the two games, if doing some math is OK. Now the Packers have to make it count.

Bill from Clive, IA

NOW, may we please have a "Path to the Playoffs" feature? It should be pretty short. :)

There's not much left to figure out. Maybe it's a good thing we kept it in mothballs this year.

Jr. Reporter James from Pittsburgh, PA

In Pittsburgh, we live down the street from the Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. Since we needed the Steelers to beat the Seahawks for us this week, my Dad and I got him some chocolates and left him a note on his door saying Happy Christmas and asking him to please beat the Seahawks…what a great neighborly thing for him to actually do it! :)

So Tomlin gets his 17th straight non-losing season while helping the Packers in the process and gets to celebrate with chocolates? Amazing.

Ted from Findlay, OH

Thanks for hanging in with the blog. Unfortunately the new platform did not enhance the interactive experience. Time to pony up for a platform that has a two-way valve. Otherwise I will assume it was sabotage by the Vikings.

Very disappointed the new blog platform fell flat. I'm blaming it on New Year's Eve gremlins for now. It's a change the NFL is forcing upon us, and their new platform was obviously not ready for primetime. It's out of our hands, but I'll apologize anyway because the loyal readers and followers deserve one.

Imbassai from Oakland, CA

You guys both work so hard. I wait every morning for II to appear on the west coast. Your article tonight on the xx-xx victory shows how well you prepare. If a game is close, do you draft both win/loss versions? Thanks for all your great unbiased reporting.

Ha, you caught me. With the game in hand in the fourth quarter, I worked ahead on the quick bulletin story leaving places to update the final score in the headline and first graf, and then I forgot the first graf when the clock hit zero. We fixed it, but clearly I was in too big a hurry.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

I guess the schedule makers scripted it right. Packers vs. Bears in GB in the season finale for a playoff spot. I know you guys are positive thinkers, but did you see this coming before the year started? Add to that the Packers sitting at 8-8 with a win to get in against another division rival playing their best ball just as last year.

I didn't know what to expect when the season started, except for the offense to look very different in December than September. That part is no surprise. I said to Wes as we headed downstairs from the press box after the game, considering how they're playing right now, the Bears are the best team the Packers have played since the Chiefs. Buckle up, folks.

Mark from New London, WI

Please tell me Spoff will be keeping his shirt on and leaving the gold chains at home for the next Final Thoughts.

No worries, mate. That was just … weird. With that, I'll shift gears to a portion of the column I worked on during pregame.

Chad from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Here we go Steelers, here we go. *clap clap*

(I'm waving my Terrible Towel.)

Mutt from Blaine, MN

Good day II. Very sorry but Wes got it wrong on Week 18 scheduling. They leave it all TBD so they can try to ensure all games affecting other teams' playoff hopes are scheduled at the same time. I think this was one of the best things the NFL did for the fans and the game.

Oh, Wes is perfectly aware. The larger issue was leaving multiple games out there to be scheduled for Saturday or Sunday. Different days this late is a tad rude.

H.R. from Henderson, NV

Stokes placed in IR, effectively ending his season. This means he will have missed 22 games since the start of 2022 – more than a full season. Considering 2024 is the last year he is under contract, do the Packers have to just cut bait and replace him in free agency/the draft? How long do they wait to see if he can get over this injury bug?

He's got one year left on his rookie deal. He'll be supremely motivated after how the last two seasons went. Let him play it out and compete for time next year while building reinforcements at his position, which the personnel department routinely does. No reason to look at it any other way.

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

Wishing you all a healthy and happy 2024! Question: Would Joe Flacco be eligible for comeback player of the year?

Why not? Most likely Damar Hamlin is winning it, but Flacco is right behind him I would imagine.

Phil from Madison, WI

In answer to Kyle from St. Charles, in my younger years (way too long ago) I remember teams (maybe the '85 Bears?) choosing to defend after the coin toss. The idea was that a team with a dominant defense and iffy offense could give the offense better starting position by kicking than by receiving. A lot less likely in the modern game where passing is king and the rules favor the offense.

Your suggestion piqued my curiosity with the '85 Bears so I went and looked it up. Chicago won the toss nine times that season and chose to receive every time. Two times the Bears' opponent won the toss, goal to defend was chosen by that team due to (as best I could tell from the NFL's data) weather.

Allen from Fairhope, AL

II: I feel awful for Mason Crosby. The poetic justice if he had made the final kick would have been awesome.

It was almost a storybook setup for Packers fans, but then the Giants all brain-locked on offense and made that kick way too hard on Crosby.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

The overwhelming narrative is that the officials were in error at the end of the Lions-Cowboys game. There is another narrative that I adhere to regarding the controversial penalty on the two-point attempt. The Lions tried to get a little too cute when the game was on the line and it bit them. The players reporting as eligible were intentionally vague to fool the Cowboys and now the Lions are playing the victim card.

Yup, they were clearly trying to create confusion and they ended up confusing the official. Not an excuse for a veteran NFL referee, though. What was Brad Allen's hurry? He looked rushed. The clock's not running, and it's an untimed down anyway. Take your time and make sure you get it right. Here's another piece of the narrative getting lost, though – had Allen done everything correctly and told the Dallas defense that No. 68 was eligible, then maybe he's not wide open and the play doesn't work. Maybe it still does, but we'll never know. The assumption it was going to work exactly the same way had the Cowboys been informed correctly is too convenient.

Matt from Paris, France

Was that the same officiating crew for the Cowboys-Lions game as the Packers-Chiefs game? I really hope they don't get any postseason games.

Yes, that was Allen's crew again. There are reports nobody on that crew will be working in the postseason.

Richard from Madison, WI

So whatcha think? SHOULD undefeated Florida State have been in the CFP?

They don't seem to have much to cry about anymore. But the bigger issue is college football's bowl system is badly broken. Between NIL issues, the transfer portal and players entering the draft, the teams playing in non-playoff bowl games are not the same ones that played the entire season.

Stephen from Palos Park, IL

Mike, when do the Packers find out what teams they will play next season that are not in the same division? Happy New Year's Mike and Wes.

That'll all be determined as soon as Week 18 is in the books.

Don from Boise, ID

All we need to do is win the next one. Repeat.

It always sounds so easy but no matter how many times I say "Just beat the" whoever, every season shows how not easy it is.

Eric from York, PA

Happy New Year, Mike. Well after Mason missed a last-second winning field goal for NY (hopefully it's not his last NFL kick), Pittsburgh turned the tables on Seattle. Larry predicts an INT on Three Things and the Pack play an overall outstanding game. On to the Bears and hopefully a playoff berth. Our December friend has turned into our January opportunity. Just beat the Bears! GPG

Happy New Year, everybody.

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