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Packers: Destiny Has Nothing To Do With It


Team Of Destiny.

Certainly, there are worse things to be called than that. But while the label that has been attached to the Green Bay Packers in recent weeks is meant to flatter, there are a good number of players who wish all the talk of predetermined fate and divine intervention would simply go away.

"If we end up winning this thing, then you can say destiny," starting right guard Mark Tauscher said. "I don't think destiny leads to winning the first round of (the playoffs). I think destiny leads you through the whole way.

"I think we've worked very, very hard to get where we're at. I don't think it's a team of destiny until we actually accomplish something."

The problem here is that in the minds of many fans, the Packers have already done that.

A 3-4 team at the bye week, the Packers won seven of their final nine games down the stretch -- including four straight in December -- to clinch their second consecutive NFC North title in the final week of the regular season.

Along the way, they played almost flawlessly in a 41-7 trouncing of the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football, just over 24 hours after the death of Brett Favre's father, Irvin, and a week later received help from the Arizona Cardinals, who rallied from a 17-6 deficit in just over 2 minutes to hand the Minnesota Vikings a division-deciding loss.

Then, just last week, in the Wild Card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, the Packers came back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter and went on to win 33-27 after Al Harris' 52-yard interception return for a touchdown ended things in overtime.

So that now, heading into Philadelphia for their NFC Divisional playoff game, the magical moments that got the Packers this far have become impossible to miss. But, just like a David Copperfield act, the human element of that magic shouldn't be ignored.

"We still have to go out and play the game," wide receiver Javon Walker said. "You don't win a game on luck. You win a game on making plays."

If motivation is a factor, the 'team of destiny' tagline could work against the Packers this week.

According to reports out of Philadelphia, a message posted near the Eagles locker room notes that the Packers have been labeled destiny's darlings and then asks, "Where does that leave us?"

It's a fair question. The Eagles might not have locked up their place in the postseason in quite as fantastic a fashion as the Packers, but they did rally from a 2-3 start to finish the regular season 12-4 and grab the NFC's No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

"No team is the team of destiny when they're 10-6 and barely win their division," Tauscher said. "I think you're a team of destiny when everything has (gone) your way, and for the first half of the season, nothing went our way."

One theory made by outsiders is that the Green Bay's inspired second-half run is the result of a team rallying behind their emotionally-wounded leader, Favre, who lost his father to a heart attack, Dec. 21.

That makes for a good story, but it ignores the fact that five of the Packers' eight victories since the bye -- including crucial road wins at Minnesota and Tampa Bay -- came before Irv's sudden death.

"You can say what you want," Brett Favre said this week, "but hard work and determination is a big key to our success and where we are right now. Some luck is involved, but we've had to work extremely hard to get here."

Moving on from here could be even harder. Since 1990, no NFC No. 1 seed has lost a Divisional playoff game, and no No. 4 seed has advanced to the NFC Championship game.

In that sense, the Packers are looking for an upset Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. But with the recent hype surrounding the Packers, the favored Eagles now have something to prove as well.

"I'm sure they're thinking they're the team of destiny," safety Marques Anderson said. "I think the team of destiny is going to be whoever plays the hardest.

"The speculation is even. Now we've just got to see who wins."

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