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Packers' history at FedExField has meant something

Another trip to Washington could be important once again

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY – Certain road venues have their place in Packers lore over the last dozen years or so.

AT&T Stadium in Dallas will always be where the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, as well as where backup QB Matt Flynn pulled off a miracle comeback in 2013 and where Mason Crosby's 51-yard walk-off field goal knocked the top-seeded Cowboys out of the 2016 NFC playoffs.

Soldier Field in Chicago was the site of the NFC title game victory in 2010 and fourth-and-8 from the 48 in '13. Ford Field in Detroit is where the Miracle in Motown occurred in '15.

FedExField just outside Washington, D.C., doesn't hold memories of that sort for the Packers. But the venue has its place in how certain seasons have unfolded, and with Green Bay heading there Sunday to try to snap a two-game losing streak and turn things around, perhaps it will have a role again.

Here's the rundown on the context surrounding FedExField in the Packers' recent history.

Oct. 10, 2010: Packers lost, 16-13 in OT

This was the game the Packers' well-chronicled injury situation in 2010 went from bad to worse. Green Bay had already lost linebacker Nick Barnett, right tackle Mark Tauscher and rookie safety Morgan Burnett the previous week, all for the season.

Then at FedEx Field, tight ends Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee, linebacker Clay Matthews, and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett all went down as well. Finley also was lost for the year, and while the others turned out to be short-term absences, the Packers began to form their next-man-up resolve that would serve them well the rest of the season.

Mason Crosby's 53-yard field-goal try on the final play of regulation clanked off the upright, sending the game to overtime, but a close loss seemed immaterial to the larger issues the Packers were facing. Another overtime defeat followed the next week, at home to Miami, before some reinforcements arrived and a banged-up team steeled itself and found its way.

Jan. 10, 2016: Packers won NFC Wild Card playoff, 35-18

Green Bay's four-year reign atop the NFC North came to an end with back-to-back losses to end the 2015 regular season against Arizona and new division champ Minnesota, and a banged-up team had no momentum heading into the playoffs.

It appeared a quick exit was on the horizon when Washington jumped out to an 11-0 lead that included a safety by rookie edge rusher Preston Smith, who sacked Aaron Rodgers in the end zone.

But once the Packers' offense got going, the game turned. Green Bay scored on five straight possessions (four TDs, one FG) through the second and third quarters, eventually pulling away. A playoff run that looked dead in the water wound up, the following week at Arizona, coming an overtime coin flip away from a possible return trip to the NFC title game.

Nov. 20, 2016: Packers lost, 42-24

Sunday Night Football was not kind to the Packers, as Washington got a measure of revenge for the previous playoff result in what turned into a runaway for Green Bay's fourth straight loss, dropping the team's record to 4-6.

But Rodgers saw and felt something about the way the offense was functioning, namely the return of injured tight end Jared Cook (six catches, 105 yards, TD), which left him feeling very differently about this loss than the three that preceded it.

He famously proclaimed at his locker the following Wednesday he believed the Packers could "run the table" to earn a playoff spot, which they proceeded to do. The Washington game became the team's last loss until the NFC title game in Atlanta nine weeks later.

Will a trip to Washington produce some sort of pivotal point once again? Time will tell.

More important, all indications are the Packers have attacked this week mentally the right way, learning what they've needed to from their six-quarter rough patch the past two weeks while not dwelling on it to the point of distraction.

"That's life in this league," LaFleur said earlier this week, referring to the work that goes into rebounding from tough times. "I do like the mindset of our guys. I think our guys are locked in and ready to go.

"We've got to have fun playing ball. Every time you step out on that field you've got to enjoy it."

The message all week amidst the struggles has been to loosen up, not tighten down. That's certainly not an old-school approach, but definitely more the here-and-now outlook LaFleur is counting on to get the most out of an experienced, annually successful team.

If it works, FedExField could create a more lasting memory than it ever has before.

"I do like the frame of mind everybody's in," LaFleur said. "Nobody's hanging their heads, because I promise you nobody's feeling sorry for us.

"So you've just got to go earn it."

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