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Previous visits to Washington proved important

Packers’ recent history in the nation’s capital has produced defining moments


GREEN BAY – It may be too early in the season for the Packers' trip to Washington to become some sort of watershed moment of 2018.

But it's difficult to deny the franchise's last three visits to the nation's capital have defined Green Bay's season to one extent or another, so history would say there could be something important to learn about this version of the Packers on Sunday.

To review:

Back in 2010, the Packers left FedExField on the wrong end of an overtime loss, but it wasn't the result that mattered as much as how that game provided an overwhelming onslaught of adversity Green Bay would have to, and did, overcome.

By the end of the 16-13 defeat, tight end Jermichael Finley was on crutches on the sideline, linebacker Clay Matthews had his leg wrapped in ice, and defensive tackle Ryan Pickett and tight end Donald Lee had also left the game with injuries. All this on top of the Packers losing starting right tackle Mark Tauscher and inside linebacker Nick Barnett to season-ending injuries the previous week.

Finley was added to that season-ending list, but while the absences of Matthews, Pickett and Lee ended up being much shorter than feared, the next-man-up parade had begun in full force. Finley going down forced an almost complete revamping of the offense, which took close to a month to fully get back on track.

The resolve the Packers ultimately showed, of course, came to define a championship season that seemed anything but that day in Landover, Md.

Fast forward to 2015, and the Packers returned to Washington for an NFC Wild Card playoff that many on the outside thought would end Green Bay's Jordy Nelson-less season in quiet, disappointing fashion. The Packers stumbled into the postseason with two straight losses, ceding their streak of four straight NFC North titles to Minnesota in Week 17.

And when the game started 11-0 in Washington's favor, with converted center JC Tretter filling in for an injured David Bakhtiari at left tackle and allowing an early safety, it appeared the NFC East champs were a true team on the rise.

But again, the Packers didn't buckle, outscoring Washington 35-7 the rest of the way and proving that as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center, they can't be counted out. The following week in Arizona, with a depleted receiving corps, Rodgers pulled off Hail Mary II and came an overtime away from getting the Packers back to the NFC title game for a second straight season.

Then came the 2016 visit, in prime time, with the Packers scuffling through a three-game losing streak. A back-and-forth contest saw Green Bay trailing by just five points early in the fourth quarter before a barrage of big plays by Washington turned the game into a 42-24 rout.

That left the Packers 4-6, losers of four straight and with their backs against the proverbial wall. Rodgers saw something, though, namely the potential for the offense to explode with tight end Jared Cook healthy and making things happen. Cook had six catches for 105 yards and a TD in the loss, and that performance more than anything prompted Rodgers to declare at his Lambeau Field locker three days later that the Packers could "run the table."

The rest, as they say, is history. The Packers ripped off six straight wins to close the regular season and triumphed twice more in the playoffs before running out of steam in the NFC Championship at Atlanta.

So what does all this mean for Sunday's Week 3 tilt in Washington? Maybe nothing. Perhaps less than nothing.

Or maybe posterity will eventually look back at this game as a defining moment of some kind, where something will happen that provides a framework around which the 2018 Packers will move forward and/or be remembered.

If so, it'll be known soon enough.

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