It's the most meaningful game between Green Bay and Denver since Super Bowl XXXII, and that is sure to bring up bad memories for every Packers fan who witnessed that game in which the then-defending world champion Packers were upset 31-24 by a Broncos team led by John Elway and Terrell Davis.
Nearly eighteen years have passed since that game, and the wounds are still fresh for Packer Nation. It also didn't help that Bob Costas brought up that Super Bowl in a teaser for next Sunday's game during the Eagles/Panthers game.
Time does not exactly heal all wounds for sports fans, especially when a team loses a Super Bowl, but it's time to straighten one thing out about the Packers' only Super Bowl loss:
They did not deserve to win that game.
This might sound incredibly appalling to any Packer fan, but take a look back at that game again through the 20/20 vision of being retrospective. Yes the Packers were heavily favored going into the game with a 13-3 record and Denver being a 12-4 fourth seed wild card (this was before the NFL had four divisions in each conference). The Broncos lost two of their final three regular season games while the Packers finished with five straight wins.
Those are the numbers leading up to the game. Once kickoff occurred, Green Bay was in trouble. Sure they took a quick 7-0 lead, but Denver answered right back and the Packers were chasing the Broncos the rest of the way.
As the game wore on, it became crystal clear: the Packers were overconfident and underrated what the Broncos could do. It seemed the players and many fans expected the team to cakewalk to a second straight world title. No one was giving the Broncos, led by one of the all-time greats in John Elway, much of a chance to win the game. Some of it had to do with Elway's precious three Super Bowl losses and also that the NFC had beaten the AFC in the Super Bowl following each of the previous 13 seasons.
Green Bay was a juggernaut. They couldn't lose to the Broncos.
Overconfidence doomed the Packers and no further proof is need than the video NFL Films caught of Packers safety Eugene Robinson yelling at his gassed teammates on the sidelines that the Packers were "...playing the Indianapolis Colts right now. This team is not better than us, they're not even good!" Green Bay lost to an inept Colts team earlier in this season and one would think that would have taught them a lesson about overlooking their opponent.
It didn't. Even tied at 24, the Packers felt so good about their offense despite multiple turnovers against the Broncos that they let Denver go up 31-24 by allowing Terrell Davis to literally walk into the end zone for the go ahead score.
The decision backfired and because of that the Packers are a four-time Super Bowl winning franchise instead of a five-time Super Bowl winning franchise.
The consequences of this Super Bowl loss were severe. Mike Holmgren coached only one more season before leaving for full authority in Seattle. Reggie White retired after the 1998 season and Brett Favre never won another MVP.
The team became a "fart in the wind," as former general manager Ron Wolf had said. It was a brutal ending for a team some thought could be the league's next dynasty.
Time doesn't heal all wounds. Sometimes, time just rips off the band aid.