Tuesday, April 3, 2012

APR's top 25 regular season upsets: #19

#19: 1997 Week 12: Packers 38, Colts 41 (ρ=1.2826)
Packers' season: finished 13-3 with the #2 seed in the NFC, losing Super Bowl XXXII to the Broncos.
Colts' season: finished 3-13. Head Coach Lindy Infante was fired at the end of the season, and with the first overall pick of the following 1998 draft, the Colts selected Peyton Manning.
What happened: the conventional wisdom at the time was that the Packers didn't play well on AstroTurf, and there's some evidence to support that. From 1995 through 1997, the Packers lost 11 regular season games, with 8 of those losses coming on AstroTurf fields (including this game).
But another problem for the Packers is that their defense in 1997 wasn't nearly as good as it was in 1996 (in 1996, the Packers allowed 2 100-yard rushers; in 1997 they allowed 9). The Packers' 3 turnovers didn't help anything, but given that the Colts only scored more than 28 points 3 times that season, I have to conclude this was a major defensive breakdown.
Also of note: this was a classic "trap" game. The Packers played the Cowboys the following week. At the time, the Packers were on a 7-game (including playoffs) losing streak to the Cowboys, and it's a fair assumption that game was on everyone's mind.

Next week: the first game from the 2011 season.