Playoff football at Lambeau Field is back.
Just the phrase conjures up so many indelible, iconic images that one can’t help but get chills, and not just the temperature-related kind.
The venerable stadium has hosted 16 postseason games in its 54-year history, including six league or conference title games and three overtime contests.
Those 16 games have produced a number of historic, if not heroic, individual performances that are forever part of the story and are worth re-living as Lambeau Field prepares to host playoff football once again.
Here, ranked in ascending order, are the top 10 individual performances in a postseason game at Lambeau Field. It’s a subjective list that takes into consideration the stats, the value of the contribution, the importance of the game, the weather conditions and other factors. One caveat: No two individuals from the same game could make the list, hence, some honorable mentions are included.
10. Boyd Dowler, 1967 NFL Championship – In all the drama of the “Ice Bowl” finish, it’s often forgotten that the Packers took a 14-0 lead thanks to Dowler’s two touchdown receptions from Bart Starr in the first half. The 8- and 43-yard scores, the latter the Packers’ longest pass of the game, led to a four-catch, 77-yard game for Dowler.
9. Brett Favre, 2001 NFC wild-card – Trailing the 49ers 7-6 and with just 43 passing yards at halftime, Favre caught fire and threw for 226 yards in the second half, leading scoring drives of 72, 81, 49 and 93 yards to help hold off San Francisco in a 25-15 win.
8. Desmond Howard, 1996 NFC divisional – The muddy quagmire of a surface on an unseasonably warm and rainy January Saturday didn’t slow down Howard any. He ran a punt back 71 yards for a touchdown and then returned another 46 yards to the San Francisco 7-yard line to set up another score as the Packers took a 14-0 lead on their way to a 35-14 triumph.
7. Daunte Culpepper, 2004 NFC wild-card – The Packers have lost only three times in the postseason at Lambeau, but some opposing players still deserve notice. Culpepper’s big game (19 of 29, 284 yards, four TDs) led the Vikings to a convincing 31-17 win over a Packers team that had beaten them twice in the regular season. Two of Culpepper’s TD tosses went to Randy Moss, who of course is remembered for faux-mooning the Lambeau fans in the south end zone after his final score.
6. Lynn Dickey, 1982 first-round – In the Packers’ only playoff appearance over a two-decade span (1973-92), Dickey completed 17 of 23 passes for 260 yards, with four TDs and no interceptions, in a 41-16 rout of the Cardinals. That computes to a sparkling 150.4 passer rating. Honorable mention here goes to receiver John Jefferson, who was Dickey’s top target with six receptions for 148 yards and two TDs, including a 60-yarder.
5. Fritz Shurmur, 1994 NFC wild-card – The former Packers defensive coordinator didn’t make a single tackle, of course, but he devised the scheme that held Detroit running back Barry Sanders to minus-1 yard on 13 carries in Green Bay’s narrow, 16-12 victory. The Lions posted minus-4 rushing yards, still an NFL playoff record, and Shurmur’s defense also held off Detroit in the final moments as the Lions got as far as the Green Bay 11-yard line.
4. Plaxico Burress, 2007 NFC Championship – This might have been the performance that made the “back-shoulder” throw en vogue in the NFL. Burress and Eli Manning repeatedly employed the technique and torched the Packers for 11 receptions totaling 151 yards, as Burress singlehandedly accounted for two-thirds of Manning’s 251 passing yards on a frigid January evening. Honorable mention here goes to Donald Driver, whose 90-yard touchdown reception – which remains the longest in Packers postseason history – helped produce a five-catch, 141-yard game in the 23-20 overtime defeat.
3. Paul Hornung, 1961 NFL Championship – In the title game that kicked off Vince Lombardi’s run of five championships in seven years, Hornung set a (then) playoff record with 19 points. He rushed 20 times for 89 yards and a touchdown, kicked three field goals and added four extra points in a 37-0 blanking of the Giants. Honorable mention here goes to tight end Ron Kramer, who caught two TD passes from Starr in this game on his way to four receptions for 80 yards.
2. Ryan Grant, 2007 NFC divisional – Five minutes into this game, Grant was on his way to one of the worst playoff performances in Lambeau Field history. He fumbled twice within the Packers’ first three plays and the Seahawks capitalized with touchdowns for a 14-0 lead. As snow began covering the field, though, Grant’s power running took over as he carried 27 times and set Packers playoff records with 201 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Green Bay scored TDs on six straight possessions after the early fumbles, to win going away, 42-20.
1. Dorsey Levens, 1996 NFC Championship – In the first title game in Green Bay since the “Ice Bowl,” Levens emerged the star. Listed as fullback in those days, he piled up 205 yards from scrimmage, with 10 carries for 88 yards and five receptions for 117 more. With the Packers trailing 7-0, he broke free for a 35-yard run on third-and-1, and then hauled in a leaping 29-yard TD catch on the next snap. Later, he motored 66 yards down the sidelines on a screen pass, setting up a rushing score by backfield partner Edgar Bennett that gave the Packers a two-touchdown lead on their way to a 30-13 triumph.