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Packers Prepare to Return to Site of Previous Super Bowl Exploits

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Packers Prepare to Return to Site of Previous Super Bowl Exploits

Cowboys Stadium for Super Bowl XLV. Photo by Corey Behnke of CheeseheadTV.com.

The last time the Green Bay Packers paid a visit to Dallas, Tex., the circumstances were quite different.

At stake was Super Bowl glory, the fourth in team history, and the franchise's 13th world championship.

The Packers spent eight days in Dallas in late January and early February of 2011, four times as long as the typical road trip, culminating in a 31-25 defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV at what was then known as Cowboys Stadium.

It was an experience those within the organization will never forget.

"I think everybody will feel it when you pull into the tunnel," said Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. "That's something that you don't ever forget, and it will never go away."

It's not as if Aaron Rodgers was an unknown entity prior to February 6, 2011, but by the end of that evening, he was catapulted into superstardom after having been named Super Bowl MVP.

What remains of that fateful night are fond memories, but the challenge this week for the Packers stands in stark contrast.

"I was going through the photo a few weeks ago in the team room of that group of guys, and it was interesting," said Rodgers, reminiscing on Thursday. "There was, I believe, only 28 of those guys in that picture are still with us. I think there's over 60 guys in that picture. Teams change year to year, and there's a big rollover. That's the nature of our game. But there's 28 of us who have some really good memories from that stadium."

Those 28 players and a slew of new ones will be looking to recapture some of the magic from that fateful night in North Texas.

Sunday's matchup between the Packers and Cowboys will be the first regular-season the Packers at the stadium that cost more than $1 billion to build, affectionately known as "Jerry's World," now complete with corporate sponsorship.

"Reality is, this is a different year, a different opportunity," said McCarthy. "We're going down there to play the home team, but Dallas, AT&T Stadium, will also have a special place for the Green Bay Packers."

It won't be like 2011 when the Packers were facing a neutral-site opponent. They're entering hostile territory to face a team with as much at stake as the Packers themselves. Both team are clinging to playoff hopes, Dallas with a 7-6 record while Green Bay stands at 6-6-1.

"The fact of the matter is, it's the fourth quarter of the season," said McCarthy. "Everything's on the line, and you just got to stay focused on what they do schematically, understand what the challenges are. "

The challenge for the Packers is to win and stay alive in the chase to win the NFC North division title. They have to hope the Detroit Lions lose at least once more, but that's out of Green Bay's control.

Not only will the circumstances on Sunday be different from 2011 when they played in the Super Bowl, they'll be different from just a week ago when the Packers beat the Falcons and the Cowboys lost to the Bears.

McCarthy knows the Packers can't just rest on their laurels riding their small wave of momentum. He knows he'll see a different Cowboys team than the team that allowed the Bears gain 490 yards on offense, convert 33 first downs and score 45 points on Monday Night Football.

He also knows it will be an entirely different habitat and conditions than the one the Packers recently experienced on grass at Lambeau Field in single-digit temperatures, as well as the one the Cowboys felt at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Said McCarthy, "Obviously the environment they played in Chicago is entirely different than the one that we'll be playing in on Sunday. ... It will be a fast track from my understanding, from the play surface"

There's one thing that will remain static for the Packers, however.

They'll be hoping that Rodgers is able to come back from a broken collarbone originally suffered back in early November in order to suit upon Sunday. But whether it's Rodgers or Matt Flynn under center, the challenge and what's at stake will stay the same.

If the Packers want to keep the dream of another Super Bowl alive, they'll have to be prepared no matter who's directing the offense.

"They're a good football team, a very talented football team," McCarthy said of the Cowboys. "They have excellent coaches, the whole ten yards. It will be a great environment for us to play in."

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (10) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

4thand1's picture

Rodgers is great in a dome. Maybe the Packers can buy the Vikings old rag of a roof and put it over Lambeau. Ahh memories, I was lucky enough to attend SB 45. I can die a happy Packer fan. The rest is icing on the cake.

TommyG's picture

Very cool! attending a Packers Super-bowl is still a life goal of mine.

4htand1's picture

I won free tickets through work . the whole thing was paid for. TYTYTY Gatorade!

CtSharpe Cheddar's picture

I went to 31 paid 900$ Snuck in at the end of 32 just to take a picture of me in the stadium.I went to Dallas to hang out for 45.Great time found a bar in Texas with over 200 hundred Packer fans.It was freezing outside 20 degrees under a large canopy but I didn't care. Ticket for 45 were like 3000$ Glad went to 31

Joe's picture

Brian isn't it that time of year when TT analysis his 2013 draft picks. Also like to get feedback on how players on IR are and their timetable for return in 2014.

Are TT and MM on same page with who there starting OTs going forward.

Does TT feel it's time to go after another eligiment QB after what happen this season.

Does AJ McCarrens from Alabama or the kid from LSU make his day.

Is TT finally going to spend a high draft pick on a safety. Last one was the second round on Nock Collins.

What do you think...

Stroh's picture

Why do you have to ask for your opinions? Don't you have your own? State what you think man! Don't rely on what someone else says for your opinion.

Brian Carriveau's picture

Lots of good questions, Joe, and lots of good offseason fodder. I think I'll wait for the rest of the season to play out before I address any of these in written form, but believe me, I'm game to discuss the draft like no other Packers blogger once the season is over.

4htand1's picture

The season is over. Like RGIII they're gonna sit Rodgers the rest of the year.

Pack Morris's picture

Great read, Brian.

Brian Carriveau's picture

Thanks, Pack.

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