An early November cold spell in Wisconsin this week saw plenty of snow and temperatures in the teens hit the state. While Mother Nature may turn up the heat just a smidge into the mid-30s for the Green Bay Packers’ game Sunday afternoon, the cool front could give the Packers an edge over their southern opponent in the Carolina Panthers. Thinking back in time about memorable matchups between the two teams, one cannot help but remember another chilly meeting.
The weather this Sunday will not be as frigid as that January 13, 1997 day when the Packers clinched an NFC Championship over the Panthers in single-digit temperatures and a -17 degree wind chill. Green Bay broke a 29-year drought between Super Bowl appearances with a 30-13 victory, highlighted by an offense that controlled the game with nearly 500 yards from scrimmage and over 200 yards on the ground. Behind three defensive takeaways and under 50 rushing yards allowed defensively, the Packers dominated a Panthers team coached by Dom Capers and headlined on defense by Kevin Greene. Little would anyone know the role each individual would go on to play in the Packers’ next Super Bowl-winning season in 2010.
Despite an interception and fumble in the first half, the young gunslinging Brett Favre rebounded to pass for 292 yards and a pair of scores in the win as the Packers held the ball for 38 minutes. Running back Dorsey Levens was an instrumental part of the Packers’ gameplan and a key weapon for Favre, bruising his way through the Carolina defense for 88 yards on the ground to go along with 117 yards and a touchdown in the passing game. Levens’ second-half, 66-yard screen reception specifically helped pave the way for Green Bay to grab a commanding lead late in the third quarter. The advantage was one the Packers would take and never look back en route to earning the George Halas Trophy and a Super Bowl berth.
With some gusty winds expected in the 2019 version of the Packers-Panthers matchup, the Packers should be looking to win the ground game in similar fashion as that postseason meeting. After touching the ball 20 times for 226 yards as a rusher and receiver two weeks ago, Aaron Jones toted the ball just nine times against the Los Angeles Chargers last weekend. On a cold, windy day, Jones could be a multi-dimensional factor, like Levens in 1997, against the NFL’s 26th ranked rush defense (133 yards allowed per game) and one accustomed to weather roughly 30 degrees warmer than what they figure to play in at Lambeau Field.
Both in playoff contention once again, the Packers and Panthers prepare to square off midway through the regular season on the frozen tundra. Re-live that glorious Packers win in the video below!