GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) _ So much of the Green Bay Packers' season has been predicated on fixing what went wrong on their infamous fourth-and-26 failure in Philadelphia.
After that flop cost them a chance to play in the NFC championship, Mike Sherman shuffled his coaching staff and secondary. Bob Slowik, who was promoted to defensive coordinator after Ed Donatell was fired, brought an aggressive, blitzing mentality.
Yet, some players insist redemption isn't on the agenda Sunday when the Packers (7-4) return to Philadelphia to put their six-game winning streak on the line against the Eagles (10-1).
We're motivated by winning,'' cornerback Al Harris said.Last year is last year. We're living in the present. That game is behind us.''
That's exactly the kind of talk Sherman wants to hear.
You can't go back and undo what's done,'' Sherman said.Now, when we hit the field and we go to the Philly stadium and we walk out of the locker room will there be a little something extra in their gut? I hope so, you know? I hope so.
``But as far as our preparation is concerned, I mean, it's totally focused on what we're trying to accomplish this year. We had our opportunity last year and we didn't take advantage of it and we have an opportunity to play a very good Philadelphia team this year, which we hope to take advantage of.''
Nevertheless, the loss still stings.
It's one of those games we looked forward to once we saw the schedule,'' safety Darren Sharper said.The main thing is if we get in that position again, I know we're going to execute whatever the call is a lot better and guys will be prepared to not let that happen again. So, you can use it as a learning tool.
``But I think more we want to avenge the loss that we had up there because we were so close and really, truly, honestly, we thought we outplayed them and we didn't come away with the victory.''
Linebacker Hannibal Navies might have put it best: ``It doesn't haunt us, but it's definitely not forgotten.''
Actually, the Packers haven't been able to get fourth-and-26 off their minds.
The coaching staff spent countless hours dissecting what went wrong on that fateful down and distance, when Philadelphia's Freddie Mitchell caught a 28-yard pass from Donovan McNabb that led to a tying field goal.
The Packers never spent much time on fourth-and-long situations at practice, focusing instead on third downs and stopping fourth-and-short runs.
Slowik made the fourth-down failure in Philly a big part of his curriculum this season.
And fans haven't forgotten, either.
One follower addressed his agony by putting
4th 26'' on his gold Packers vanity license plates _4th N 26'' was already taken_ sort of like keeping a photo of an old girlfriend to remind him of the heartbreak.
Another bought a billboard a few miles from Lambeau Field lamenting the Philadelphia flop.
They might be disappointed to hear the Packers talk about forgetting and moving on.
There shouldn't be any revenge,'' quarterback Brett Favre said.That should never cross our minds. They made the plays, we didn't. To say, they ended our season, so we owe them one, that's untrue. We have to win this football game for a lot of reasons, we just didn't play better than them last year.''
On fourth-and-26 in the closing minutes, the Packers lined up with three defensive linemen, two linebackers and six defensive backs. Cornerbacks Mike McKenzie (now with the Saints) and Harris and safeties Sharper and Marques Anderson (now with the Raiders) were in a four-across coverage, each responsible for one quarter of the field 25 yards from the line of scrimmage.
Sharper and Anderson inexplicably lined up behind the first-down marker, rendering their tackle of Mitchell too late. Also, rookie middle linebacker Nick Barnett stayed shallow with the tight end rather than drop back deep into the middle of the field.
Had Barnett been in position a few yards deeper, McNabb would have had to lob the ball over him and either of the safeties might have intercepted it or knocked it down and the Packers could have run out the clock and headed to Carolina for a shot at the Super Bowl.
Barnett didn't want to harp on the blown opportunity Wednesday.
This year is this year. This game is this game,'' he said.We can't think about the past. We've got to focus on the present.''