Sharpe is having a Pro Bowl year. On Sunday he hauled in eight passes for 169 yards, including two for touchdowns, to raise his season total to 77 catches and break Hutson's single-season Packer record for receptions by three. His fifth grab, the one that tied the record, was a typical Sharpe reception. He broke three tackles to turn a short catch into a 14-yarder. He has become the Pack's monster downfield, a guy capable of turning something small into something big, Jerry Rice-style.
THE COACH. After Green Bay's dismal performance last year, Infante said, "I see definite improvement." Everyone thought he was nuts.
"He had a plan, and he had patience," says Bob Harlan, the Packers' president. "Above all, he was a gentleman. He never said, 'We've got to clean house, we can't win with what we've got here.' He had faith in his system, and he felt that when it finally caught on, we'd be winners—with the same guys."
That's the amazing thing. Aside from Bush, a Plan B pickup, and Jacke, the starters were all around last year. "I believe in the character of people," says Infante, "and in this group I saw just deep-down good people. Knock on wood—since I've been here, I don't think I've drafted a bad person. I knew it would take a year to learn our offense. Our defense was already solid. I felt there was enough talent on both sides of the ball to win—if I was patient."
THE MYSTIQUE. "In the old days," says Noble, "that call Sunday against the Tampa Bay defense would have gone against us. The call against us in the Bears game that was reversed—and gave us the win—would have stood, and we would have lost. We found ways to lose. Now we find ways to win.
"We're destiny's team, and I think people around the country are enjoying our success. I think somewhere deep down every fan has got a little Packer in him. It's like the Rocky scenario. People have seen a team punched down and dragged through the mud so long. Now they're rejoicing in its rebirth."