If that title is an exaggeration, it’s not much of one. Maybe I should add some qualifier like “of the modern era” or something fancy like that. But I gave it a full 24 hours before jumping to conclusions. I spent that time thinking back on similar or comparable games I’ve watched, and one stuck out in my memory.
October 11, 2004. Titans at Packers on Monday Night Football. Green Bay had a rough start to the year and started out 1-3, looking for some MNF Lambeau magic. Instead, Steve McNair and Chris Brown gashed them for 48 points and the Packers offense gave up 6 turnovers.
Before that game, there was always this hope that Green Bay would get back to home field dominance. The Favre era was punctuated by years of being unbeatable at home. From 1995-2002, they were 61-8 at home.
I don’t remember when it was in the game. It was either at the end of the 3rd quarter or sometime in the 4th. But Packers fans at the game had seen enough, and those of us watching at home sat in shocked silence as we watched green and gold streaming out of the stadium before the game was over.
That doesn’t happen in Green Bay. I sometimes wonder how it even started. Who was the first to throw his beer and say enough is enough. It wasn’t talked about in the papers the next day, but we all saw it. The MNF cameras made sure of it.
That was the game I thought of Thursday night when I saw Broncos fans bailing on their team. The difference, of course, is Packers fans left because the team was getting crushed at home for the too-many-eth time in a row. Broncos fans left a game that was tied and going into overtime.
I don’t say that as some weird fandom comparison. I’m saying it as an acknowledgment of just how bad that game was. Because when I saw Broncos fans leaving, after I chuckled a bit, I accepted their reasoning. It’s one thing to watch a game where one team is playing well and the other one sucks. Thursday night, both teams were terrible. It was like they were trying to one down each other with every drive. I actually wanted a tie because the only acceptable result to that game would be neither team winning. I also would’ve accepted some kind of outcome where both teams lose.
There were 6 fumbles on Thursday night. Six (6). But that’s not the important fumble stat. The important fumble stat is that defenses recovered NONE OF THEM. Each time, all within one play, the offense was like, we’re this bad… and then the defense was like, hold my beer.
The good news for Broncos fans: That year, the Packers followed that game by ripping off 6 straight wins and 9 of their last 11 to get into the playoffs. Which they lost in the wildcard round.