It’s getting to that point of the season for the Green Bay Packers. They are 11-0 and marching toward an unbeaten season. But are they going to go for the undefeated status rolling into the playoffs? Or will they pull an Indianapolis Colts and hold back?
The reigning Super Bowl champs have proven so far they are the best team in the league this year and maybe over the past several years. Aaron Rodgers is, according to many, the best quarterback in the league and may be playing the best at that position in several decades. And that is taking into consideration Peyton Manning’s outstanding seasons and Tom Brady.
Finishing unbeaten is considered the Holy Grail of the NFL. The last team to do it was the New England Patriots, but they fell to the Giants in the Super Bowl. Before that several tried but were never able to finish the quest. Except for the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins went 17-0, because they only played a 14 game regular season. The Dolphins were able to complete the dream season by beating the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl 14-7. Since then, anytime a team got close to winning every game, the old time Dolphin players would speak up and root against that team. They even go to the extreme of drinking champagne when the unbeaten team falls.
If anyone knows the rigors of going unbeaten, it’s the coach of the ’72 Dolphins Don Shula. Shula spoke about the Packers chances in an interview with Fox Sports earlier this week.
“I’m proud of being part of the only team to have had a perfect season. But the Packers are still going to have to do it. That’s a record that nobody else has done. It hadn’t been done for 50 years before we did it, and nobody has done it since. “They’re just so strong, Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback, and they’ve got a great coaching staff. Rodgers is at the top of his game, and you’ve got to have a great quarterback playing great to go undefeated.”
Its ironic Shula would speak of the quarterback position. In that ’72 season the Dolphins starting QB was Bob Greise. He went down in game 5 with a broken ankle and Shula had to turn to 39 year old Earl Morrall. Morrall directed the team through the first half of the AFC championship game. Greise then came back and directed the team past the Pittsburgh Steelers for the trip to the Super Bowl. The Shula made Greise the starter for the Super Bowl win.
The Packers have two road games left against the Giants this weekend and in two weeks at Kansas City. The rest are at Lambeau Field with Detroit, Chicago and Oakland. It’s not an easy trail to unbeatenville, but the Packers are up to the task.
If they want it.