NFC PLAYOFFS Packers try to find blowout bright side



Losing home-field advantage hits this team especially hard.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The Green Bay Packers don't have a lot of time to ponder what might have been.
A victory Sunday over the New York Jets would have given them a first-round bye and the home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
But after getting blown out 42-17, the Packers will have to face Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field in a wild-card playoff game Saturday night.
"I've got to be honest with you, that really is a challenge for me and our team, to be able to come back and (not) be disappointed about what we had in front of us," coach Mike Sherman said. "And what a tremendous opportunity we had staring us right in the face.
"But there are other opportunities out there for us. If we can take advantage of the next one, maybe we'll forget about this one."
Home boys
Home-field advantage means so much in the NFL, but especially to the Packers, who have never lost a home playoff game, are 35-0 with Favre in cold-weather starts and are the only team that didn't lose at home in the regular season.
"Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think we'd get blown out of a game with so much meaning," cornerback Tyrone Williams said.
And with their next game just five days away, leading receiver Donald Driver (shoulder) and Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper (knee) might not have enough time to return to the lineup.
The Packers (12-4) are desperately trying to find something positive about their worst regular-season defeat since Brett Favre became their starting quarterback in 1992.
"Things happen for a reason. Maybe it gives us a chip on our shoulder," Sherman said. "Maybe it motivates us to greater heights. Maybe it brings us closer together because everyone is down on them."
No NFC team has ever won three games to get to the Super Bowl except for the Washington Redskins in the strike-shortened 1982 season.
Several AFC teams have done so, most recently the Baltimore Ravens, who won the Super Bowl two years ago despite having just one home playoff game. The Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl in 1998 as a wild-card and Tennessee made it as a wild-card a year later.
"I don't know if there's any magic formula to doing it other than just playing well and executing your offense, defense and special teams," Sherman said. "But I think part of the thing that helped (those teams) was a lack of injuries."

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