Green Bay middle linebacker Nick Barnett, he with the chip on his shoulder the size of the state of Wisconsin for not making the Pro Bowl, stood at his locker Saturday night at Lambeau Field after the Packers had dismantled Seattle 42-20 to reach the NFC Championship Game.
The Packers defense, which has been overlooked at times, lost in the immense shadow cast by quarterback Brett Favre, had just limited the Seahawks to two field goals in the final 56 minutes after two Ryan Grant fumbles staked Seattle to a quick 14-0 lead.
With a thick gold highlight going straight through the middle of his hair—it looks like the designs for a mohawk—Barnett was basking in the glow of a complete effort as Green Bay had swallowed whole running backs Shaun Alexander and Mo Morris, and harassed quarterback Matt Hasselbeck thoroughly from start to finish.
Then he was asked, how in the name of Curly Lambeau, the Packers had managed to have two of their three losses this season come against the NFC North cellar dwelling Bears. How a team that is a 7-point favorite to reach Super Bowl XLII could blow a lead at home in the first meeting and then be completely blown out at Soldier Field in the rematch.
“I don’t know,’’ Barnett said. “I don’t know at all, man. That weather [in the second game], I think we just got sidetracked. But who cares? They’re at home watching our games right now.”
As the Bears go about the business of plotting their offseason, at least they can take solace in knowing they know what it takes to beat the Packers. Lovie Smith is 6-2 vs. Green Bay since being hired as head coach, and getting over the hump against their rivals was necessary to win consecutive NFC North titles.
But there isn't a man at Halas Hall who wouldn't trade two losses vs. Green Bay this team to be playing this coming weekend. Not a one.