Two years after he co-founded the Packers with Curly Lambeau, George Calhoun began writing a piece called The Dope Sheet, which served as the official press release and game program from 1921-24.
Honoring Calhoun, the first publicity director, the Packers are running this weekly feature as their release, which is being made available to fans exclusively on Packers.com.
This is an abbreviated version of the Packers-Eagles Week 1 Dope Sheet. To read the full version, download the PDF by clicking here.
Here are some highlights from the Packers-Eagles Week 1 Dope Sheet:
GREEN BAY (0-0) at PHILADELPHIA (0-0)
Sunday, Sept. 12 - Lincoln Financial Field - 3:15 p.m. CDT
PACKERS TRAVEL TO PHILADELPHIA FOR SEASON OPENER
- Green Bay kicks off its 92nd season in team history – and 90th as a member of the National Football League – at Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.
- The Packers open up the season against the Eagles for the sixth time in franchise history but for the first time in Philadelphia. The Packers are 4-1 in previous openers against Philadelphia, with matchups in 1934, 1940, 1968, 1991 and 2007. In the ’07 opener, Green Bay beat Philadelphia, 16-13, on rookie Mason Crosby’s 42-yard field goal with two seconds remaining.
- Opening the season on the road has been a rare occurrence for the Packers. Since 1986, 21 of Green Bay’s season openers have been at Lambeau Field, making Sunday’s game just the fourth time the in the past 25 years that the Packers have gone on the road to begin a season.
- Sunday’s contest will be the first time during Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure that the Packers have started their season away from Lambeau Field. The last time Green Bay started a season on the road was at Detroit in 2005.
- Even though it has become accustomed to opening at home, Green Bay has started fast on the road under McCarthy. The team is 4-0 in its first road contest of the season under him, and 5-2 (.714) in September road contests during his tenure.
- Green Bay enters Sunday’s contest having won three straight season openers, making the Packers one of only five teams in the NFL to accomplish that feat. Dallas, Denver, New England and Pittsburgh have also won their season openers each of the past three years.
- The last time the Packers won three or more consecutive season openers came from 1996-99.
- Sunday’s game is a matchup of two of the most successful teams in the league over the past decade. Since 2000, the Eagles have a regular-season record of 103-56-1 (.647), which is tied for third in the NFL and first in the NFC. The Packers have posted a mark of 95-65-0 (.594) over that span, good for fifth in the NFL and second in the NFC.
- There have been only two seasons (1999, 2005) since 1992 that didn’t include either the Packers or the Eagles in the playoffs. Since realignment in 2002, the Eagles lead the NFC with six playoff berths, while the Packers are tied for second in the conference with five appearances.
- Sunday’s contest is the 37th time that the Packers and Eagles have squared off in the regular season, with Green Bay holding a 23-13 advantage in the series.
- This year marks the 50th anniversary of the most famous matchup between the teams. On Dec. 26, 1960, Philadelphia beat Green Bay, 17-13, in the NFL Championship Game at Franklin Field.
- Green Bay couldn’t hold a 13-10 fourth-quarter lead, with Eagles RB Ted Dean scoring the game-winning TD with just over five minutes remaining. The Packers drove to the Eagles’ 22 on their final possession, but Philadelphia LB Chuck Bednarik stopped Green Bay FB Jim Taylor at the 8 as time expired.
- It was the only time Vince Lombardi lost a postseason game, and the legendary coach went on to lead the Packers to nine straight playoff wins after the loss in Philadelphia.
WITH THE CALL
- FOX Sports, now in its 17th season as an NFL network television partner, will broadcast the game to the majority of the country.
- Play-by-play man Joe Buck and color analyst Troy Aikman will have the call from the broadcast booth with Pam Oliver serving as the sideline reporter.
- Milwaukee’s WTMJ (620 AM), airing Green Bay games since 1929, heads up the 53-station Packers Radio Network, with Wayne Larrivee (play-by-play) and two-time Packers Pro Bowler Larry McCarren (color) calling the action. The duo enters its 12th season of broadcasts together across the Packers Radio Network, which covers 43 markets in five states.
- For out-of-town listeners, the broadcast is available to NFL Field Pass subscribers on www.packers.com as well as on Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 123 WTMJ feed) as part of the network’s NFL Sunday Drive.
- DIRECTV subscribers can watch the game in HD on channel 713.
THE DOPE ON THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT:
Packers vs. Philadelphia Eagles:
All-time regular season: 23-13-0
All-time, postseason: 0-2
All-time, in Philadelphia: 7-11-0 (incl. postseason)
Streaks: The Eagles have won five of the last six meetings, including the 2003 NFC Divisional playoff.
Last meeting, regular season: Sept. 9, 2007, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 16-13
Last meeting, regular season, in Philadelphia: Oct. 2, 2006; Eagles won, 31-9
Mike McCarthy: 39-28-0, .582, (incl. 1-2 postseason); 5th NFL season
Andy Reid: 118-75-1, .611 (incl. 10-7 postseason); 12th NFL season
Head to Head: 1-1
vs. Opponent: McCarthy 1-1 vs. Eagles; Reid 5-2 vs. Packers
MIKE McCARTHY…Is in fifth year as the Packers’ 14th head coach.
- Has led his team to the playoffs two of the past three years.
- One of only two coaches, along with New Orleans’ Sean Payton, to have his offense ranked in the top 10 in total yardage each of the last four years.
- Was named Packers head coach on Jan. 12, 2006, his first head coaching job after 13 years as an NFL assistant.
- Honored as the 2007 Motorola NFL Coach of the Year and NFL Alumni Coach of the Year.
- Became the first Packers coach since Vince Lombardi to lead the team to a championship game in his second season.
ANDY REID…Is in 12th year as the Eagles’ 21st head coach.
- Has compiled the highest win total (118), winning percentage (.611) and playoff victory total (10) in team history.
- Has captured five division titles and advanced to the NFC Championship Game five times, reaching the Super Bowl once (2004).
- Is the second-longest tenured head coach in the NFL behind Tennessee’s Jeff Fisher.
- Is one of only five active coaches to reach 100 career wins, and ranks second in winning percentage among all who have coached at least 100 games, behind only New England’s Bill Belichick.
THE PACKERS-EAGLES SERIES
- The clubs first met in 1933, the Eagles’ inaugural year in the NFL.
- Prior to the Packers’ 2007 win, the Eagles had won five straight meetings, including a 20-17 overtime decision in the 2003 NFC Divisional playoffs.
- Philadelphia was the only team to defeat Vince Lombardi in a postseason game. The Eagles edged the Packers, 17-13, at Franklin Field for the 1960 NFL championship. The legendary coach won nine straight playoff games after that loss.
- Before that 1960 game, the Packers had won 13 of the teams’ first 14 meetings, including the first nine in a row (1933-46).
- Both teams have enjoyed the homefield advantage recently in the series. Green Bay has won four of the last five at Lambeau Field, while Philadelphia has won the last nine contests played in the City of Brotherly Love.
In Green Bay, Andy Reid was a TE/O-line asst. coach from 1992-96 and QB coach from 1997-98. The following year, when he became the Eagles’ head coach in 1999, he was replaced as Green Bay’s QB coach by Mike McCarthy...Packers DL coach Mike Trgovac held the same post with the Eagles for four seasons (1995-98)...The Packers acquired CB Al Harris and the Eagles’ fourth-round pick in 2003 for Green Bay’s second-round selection in the same draft…Three Philadelphia assistant coaches spent time on Green Bay’s staff: asst. head coach/off. coord. Marty Mornhinweg (1995-96), senior asst./DB coach Dick Jauron (1986-94) and head strength & conditioning coach Barry Rubin (1999-2005)...Eagles offensive quality control coach Doug Pederson is a former Packers QB who backed up Brett Favre from 1996-98 and 2001-04...Eagles asst. LB coach Mike Caldwell, as a pro LB, was a teammate of Packers LB Clay Matthews’ father with the Browns in 1993, the elder Matthews’ final season in Cleveland. He also played for Carolina’s defense in 2003, Trgovac’s first season as def. coord. there...Eagles special teams quality control coach Jeff Nixon coached at Shippensburg when Packers RB John Kuhn played there...Packers off. coord. Joe Philbin spent four years coaching at Allegheny College (Pa.)....Eagles LB Stewart Bradley and Packers RB Brandon Jackson were teammates at Nebraska and were drafted 24 spots apart in 2007 (Jackson 63rd overall, Bradley 87th)...Eagles CB Asante Samuel and Packers S Atari Bigby played in the same defensive backfield for two years at Central Florida (2001-02), while Eagles S Kurt Coleman and Packers CB Brandon Underwood were both reserve DBs at Ohio State in 2006...Other former college teammates include Eagles DT Antonio Dixon and Packers CB Sam Shields (Miami), Eagles T King Dunlap and Packers CB Pat Lee (Auburn), Eagles LB Omar Gaither and Packers C Scott Wells (Tennessee), Eagles T Winston Justice and Packers LB Clay Matthews (USC), Eagles CB Trevard Lindlay and Packers P Tim Masthay (Kentucky), Eagles S Quintin Mikell and Packers G Daryn Colledge (Boise State), and Eagles T Jason Peters and Packers LS Brett Goode (Arkansas).
INDIVIDUALLY VS. EAGLES
While playing for St. Louis, DE Ryan Pickett had the first of his three career-best 12-tackle games at Philadelphia on Dec. 1, 2002...In seven career games against the Eagles, including playoffs, WR Donald Driver has 23 receptions for 292 yards...In three games, including playoffs, LB Nick Barnett has 29 tackles (24 solo), two fumble recoveries and one interception vs. the Eagles...WR Greg Jennings had five catches for 86 yards in the 2006 meeting...In the ‘07 encounter, RB Brandon Jackson totaled 75 yards from scrimmage (15 rushes for 40 yards, four receptions for 35 yards).
LAST MEETING, REGULAR SEASON
- Sept. 9, 2007, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 16-13.
- The Packers won without scoring an offensive TD, taking advantage of two muffed punts by the Eagles to account for 10 points.
- On the first, LB Tracy White recovered Greg Lewis’ fumbled punt for a TD less than 2 minutes into the game. Then J.R. Reed bobbled a punt with 59 seconds remaining in the game, and CB Jarrett Bush recovered to set up K Mason Crosby’s game-winning 42-yard FG with two seconds left.
- Crosby also had a 53-yard FG in the first quarter for his first NFL points. He became the first player in NFL history to kick a 50-plus-yard FG and a game-winning FG in the final minute of his first game.
- RB Brian Westbrook totaled 131 yards from scrimmage for Philadelphia (85 rush, 46 rec.) while WR Jason Avant had a 9-yard TD catch.
LAST MEETING, IN PHILADELPHIA
- Oct. 2, 2006, at Lincoln Financial Field; Eagles won, 31-9.
- In the third quarter with the Eagles clinging to a 10-9 lead, QB Donovan McNabb hit WR Greg Lewis on TD passes of 45 and 30 yards just one minute, 17 seconds apart.
- McNabb’s fourth-quarter TD run, his second of the game, sealed the Monday Night Football victory for Philadelphia.
- Green Bay K Dave Rayner hit three field goals in the contest, including a 54-yarder that tied a franchise record.
- The Packers dropped their ninth straight game in Philadelphia, a streak that began in 1974. The Packers last defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia in 1962, 49-0, under head coach Vince Lombardi.
A LOOK AT THE 53
- Faced with some of the toughest cuts of his tenure, General Manager Ted Thompson and the football operations staff finalized the opening-day roster this past weekend.
- It’s a balanced roster for Green Bay, which holds 26 offensive players, 24 defensive players and three specialists.
- Of the 53 players on Green Bay's roster, 36 of them (67.9 percent) were drafted by the Packers, and 39 of them (73.6 percent) played in a game for the Packers in 2009.
- Six of the team's seven draft picks from 2010 made the 53-man roster. The only one that didn't, sixth-round RB James Starks, is on the reserve/physically unable to perform list due to a hamstring injury. Three non-drafted free agents (G Nick McDonald, CB Sam Shields and LB Frank Zombo) also made the final roster.
- 11 players on the team have yet to play in an NFL regular-season game. The list is comprised of the nine rookies and two first-year players (P Tim Masthay and TE Tom Crabtree).
- The breakdown by position is fairly consistent with last year’s opening-day roster. The Packers kept one more offensive lineman and one more tight end with one fewer running back and one fewer linebacker on the final 53.
- Last year during the preseason, Green Bay’s No. 1 offense put together a string of impressive performances that it carried over into the regular season. With another strong preseason this year, the offense looks to do the same again in 2010.
- In a little more than four quarters of work this preseason, the No. 1 offense scored seven touchdowns, with all seven of those drives 70 or more yards in length.
- The first offensive unit put together several long scoring drives, but it didn’t take them much time to find the end zone. Of the seven touchdown drives, four of them were three minutes or less. Green Bay’s No. 1 offense had an average drive time of just 3:41 on its seven touchdowns.
- Leading the way was QB Aaron Rodgers, who ranked No. 1 in the NFL during the preseason with a 141.2 passer rating. Rodgers completed 41-of-53 passes (77.4 percent) for 470 yards and a league-leading six TDs with no INTs.
- Rodgers’ performance in the first three contests mirrored what he did during the 2009 preseason, when he posted a 147.9 passer rating on 29-of-41 passing (70.7 percent) for 465 yards and six TDs with no INTs. The No. 1 offense scored nine TDs and a FG on 13 possessions during the ’09 preseason.
- Over the last two preseasons, Rodgers connected on 70-of-94 attempts (74.5 percent) for 935 yards, 12 TDs and no INTs for a 145.2 passer rating.
- Rodgers’ favorite target this preseason was third-year TE Jermichael Finley, who led the team and tied for the NFL lead among tight ends with 12 receptions for 163 yards (13.6 avg.) and two TDs. Finley caught six passes for 85 yards (14.2 avg.) and a TD in just a half of work against Indianapolis in the third preseason contest.
- Credit must be given to the Packers’ offensive line, as it didn’t allow a sack of Rodgers in the three preseason games he played in. The No. 1 line didn’t yield a single sack in the 2009 preseason on Rodgers’ 41 attempts, and is made up of the same five players that started the final seven games in 2009.
- Green Bay’s offense as a whole was productive this preseason, ranking first in the league at 406.0 yards per game with an average of 296.0 yards passing per contest, also first in the NFL. The Packers also led the league with 106 first downs and 123 points in the preseason.
RETURNING TO HEALTH
- While the offense can credit some of its preseason sucess to the stability in the starting lineup each week, it was a different story for Green Bay’s defense during the preseason.
- Of the 11 projected starters for Week 1, only five played in each of the preseason games. The starting outside linebackers, Clay Matthews (hamstring) and Brad Jones (shoulder), missed four games and three games, respectively. DE Cullen Jenkins missed the final two games with a calf injury, inside linebackers Nick Barnett (knee) and A.J. Hawk (ankle) sat out games, while CB Charles Woodson rested for both road contests.
- Matthews and Jones both returned to practice as full participants on Monday with Jenkins expected to return to the practice field either Wednesday or Thursday, so the Packers should have their full complement of defensive players for the season opener against an Eagles offense led by new starting QB Kevin Kolb.
- “We’ll exercise a full game plan for Philadelphia,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “We will not play with any restrictions as far as volume or creativity. We trust the players that are coming back off of injury and we feel it is important to have quality preparation throughout the week and get ourselves ready to play at the level we are capable of playing.
- “Injuries are a part of the game. We had more than usual in the preseason for the defensive side of it, but it’s also the way the game goes in the NFL. I’m not concerned about it. I think it’s really just part of the path that is created in this league.”
- With veteran CB Al Harris out for at least the first six games as he continues his rehab from a major knee injury sustained in Week 11 last season, fourth-year CB Tramon Williams moves into the starting lineup on the right side. Second-year CB Brandon Underwood, who appeared to be the leading candidate to take over Williams’ nickel role, has been out since injuring his shoulder in the third preseason contest vs. Indianapolis. McCarthy said the team will take the week of practice before deciding on a nickel back if Underwood is out, with rookie CB Sam Shields in contention to fill that spot.
- One area that remained a constant from last year during the preseason was the Packers’ stout run defense, with Green Bay allowing opponents an average of just 80.3 yards per game on the ground in the first three preseason contests. The No. 1 defense played just one series in the preseason finale at Kansas City.
- The defense held each of its first three opponents to under 100 yards rushing, and allowed only one 15-plus yard run by a back in those three contests.
AHEAD THIS WEEK
- After a shells practice Monday, the team will settle into its “in-season” schedule.
- Players will have the normal Tuesday off, followed by practice on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The team will gather in the morning Saturday for meetings and a walk-through before departing for Philadelphia in the afternoon.
THE STORY OF THE ’09 PACKERS
- The story of the Green Bay Packers began Aug. 1 as a standing-room only crowd gathered for the unveiling of the new Ray Nitschke Field and the first day of training camp practice. Like their passionate fan base, the Packers were eager to erase the memories of 2008 and return to their place among playoff contenders in the NFC.
- A quick start in preseason action built buzz around the team as the regular season approached, and a fantastic finish in Week 1 over the rival Bears kicked off the 2009 campaign with a bang.
- A second loss to Minnesota put the team at 4-3 heading into Tampa in Week 9. A 10-point loss to the previously winless Buccaneers left the Packers at 4-4 at the midway point, with a number of tough games still looming ahead on the schedule.
- Green Bay showed its ability to bounce back from adversity the following week against Dallas in a pivotal NFC matchup. A fantastic defensive effort kept Dallas out of the end zone until the waning moments of the game and helped springboard the team to a five-game win streak that put it back into the NFC playoff picture.
- In what was one of the more memorable games of the ’09 regular season, Green Bay lost on the final play of the game in Pittsburgh, a tough finish to a back-and-forth fourth quarter.
- Again Green Bay responded, using all three phases to dominate Seattle at home and clinch a postseason berth in Week 16. Another fine performance in Arizona in the regular-season finale gave the Packers an 11-5 record and the No. 5 seed.
- Faced with a 31-10 deficit early in the second half at Arizona in the playoff game, Green Bay used a second-half flurry to tie the score at 38 and again at 45 in the back-and-forth affair. The season came to a bitter end on the Packers’ first set of downs in overtime, as Arizona scooped up a fumble and returned it for the winning score, capping one of the most exciting games in Wild Card playoff history.
ALL THREE PHASES
- Green Bay was one of two teams in the NFL in 2009 to have both the offense (No. 6) and defense (No. 2) rank among the league’s top 6. Division foe Minnesota (No. 5 offense, No. 6 defense) was the other.
- The Packers offense ranked among the league’s top 10 for the fourth consecutive season and was a unit that seemed nearly impossible to stop towards the latter part of the season. It topped the 30-point plateau in its last four contests and eight times overall in 2009.
- There was no shortage of statistical measures to show its strength, chief among them the 461 points scored, a new franchise record. The 1996 Super Bowl champion Packers had the previous team record at 456.
- It was just the third offense in franchise history that surpassed 6,000 total net yards, finishing No. 3 in team annals with 6,065.
- Though its perimeter players are as dangerous in big-play production as any group in the NFL, Green Bay dominated the ball and controlled the clock in its second-half run and finished No. 1 in the NFL with a time-of-possession average of 33:03, establishing a new franchise standard since the statistic began being recorded in 1977.
- Green Bay became the first team in NFL history to have a 4,000-yard passer (QB Aaron Rodgers), 1,200-yard rusher (RB Ryan Grant) and two 1,000-yard receivers (WRs Donald Driver and Greg Jennings) in back-to-back seasons.
- Driver and Jennings led a wideout group whose ability downfield and after the catch opened up the middle of the field for Grant and TE Jermichael Finley, two players whose production increased during the season’s second half.
- On defense, veteran coordinator Dom Capers installed the 3-4 defense and led a unit that finished the year with the highest league ranking by a Packers defensive unit (No. 2) since the ’96 Super Bowl team (No. 1).
- For the first time in team history, Green Bay ranked No. 1 in run defense. The unit allowed 83.3 rushing yards per game, the lowest average in franchise history.
- Its stellar run defense kept opponents in difficult down-and-distance situations, where the defense excelled in creating turnovers.
- The Packers led the league with 40 takeaways and led the NFL with 30 interceptions, the first time the Packers led the league in interceptions since 1965 (tied with Washington for No. 1 that season with 27).
- CB Charles Woodson led the team with as fine a season as any player in the NFL on the defensive side of the ball. His nine interceptions marked a new career high and tied for the league lead, while he returned three of those interceptions for touchdowns, also tied for the NFL lead.
- Highlighting the defense’s ability to take the ball away also brings the spotlight back onto the offense, which finished the season with 16 giveaways, fewest in the NFL. Not since 1997 (New York Giants) had a team led the league in most takeaways and fewest giveaways.
- Green Bay’s plus-24 turnover margin also ranked atop the league standings, while its 141 points off takeaways tied the Super Bowl champion Saints for No. 1.
- Special teams, shaky in both the return and coverage units early, steadied later in the season. Kick-return coverage ranked tied for 17th, while the punt-cover unit finished No. 24. Injuries forced the team to look at a number of players in its own return game, but the Packers were never able to hit the long gain. The punt-return unit finished No. 23, while kick return was 19th.
WOODSON WINS TOP HONOR
- For a man whose list of football accomplishments includes the Heisman Trophy, not to mention numerous All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections, CB Charles Woodson added the highest individual honor for an NFL defender when he was awarded The Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
- Playing a number of different position in his first year in the 3-4 scheme under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, Woodson routinely lined up against the opposition’s top threat and wreaked havoc when it came to causing turnovers. It was those big plays that set Woodson apart from the pack in 2009 as he quarterbacked the league’s No. 2 defense.
- Big plays became a staple for Woodson, who picked off nine passes, tied for the NFL lead, and returned three of them for touchdowns, also tied for the league lead. All four of his forced fumbles were recovered by the Packers, none bigger than his two against Dallas. It was the performance against the Cowboys, in front of a national TV audience with the Packers’ season hanging in the balance, where Woodson truly shined.
- Credit too must be given to Capers, who utilized Woodson’s uncanny instincts all over the field. Woodson became the third player under Capers to win the award, joining CB Rod Woodson (Pittsburgh, 1993) and DE Jason Taylor (Miami, 2006).
FOUR PACKERS NAMED PRO BOWLERS
- S Nick Collins, LB Clay Matthews, QB Aaron Rodgers and CB Charles Woodson were named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad last season. Additionally, Woodson was named a starter on the NFC squad.
- For Collins, it was his second consecutive and second career selection. For the season, the fifth-year pro had 51 tackles, six interceptions, a sack and fumble recovery. His six interceptions were second most among NFC safeties and tied for fifth overall in the NFL.
- Collins became the first Packers safety to be named to consecutive Pro Bowls since LeRoy Butler, who went three consecutive seasons (1996-98).
- Matthews became the first Packers rookie to earn a Pro Bowl selection since WR James Lofton in 1978. He finished the season with 58 tackles, a franchise rookie-record 10 sacks, three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, six passes defensed and a defensive touchdown.
- Rodgers earned his first career selection in his second season as a starter. He became the first player in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons as a starter and ranked among the league’s top 10 in nearly every significant passing category.
- Woodson earned his sixth career Pro Bowl bid and second as a member of the Packers. He registered a career high in tackles (81) and interceptions (nine). Additionally, the 12-year pro had two sacks, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 21 passes defensed.
- With Woodson and Collins being named to the team, the Packers had two or more secondary players go to the Pro Bowl in consecutive years for the first time since 1973-74, when cornerbacks Willie Buchanon and Ken Ellis were selected. In 2008, Al Harris joined Collins and Woodson on the NFC Pro Bowl squad.
- T Chad Clifton, RB Ryan Grant and LB A.J. Hawk were all named Pro Bowl alternates.
IN THE FREE AGENCY ERA
- Talk of unrestricted free agency in the early ’90s led many to forecast tough times for the small-town Green Bay Packers.
- However, Green Bay has remained among the most successful teams since the advent of free agency in 1993. The Packers have won 10 or more games 10 times since ’93 and captured seven division crowns.
- A look at the most successful teams in the free-agency era:
Team, W-L since ’93 (Pct.) - Playoff berths
New England, 171-101-0 (.629) - 11
Pittsburgh, 169-102-1 (.623) - 11
Green Bay, 169-103-0 (.621) - 12
Indianapolis, 164-108-0 (.603) - 12
Denver, 162-110-0 (.596) - 8
TURNOVER RATIO TOPS THE LEAGUE
- While many football statistics don’t have far-reaching implications through a sampling of the season, turnover ratio is always a telling statistic when it comes to a game’s final outcome.
- The Packers’ 40 takeaways in 2009 led the NFL, while their 16 giveaways also led the league and established a new franchise record.
- The 1997 New York Giants were the last team to lead the league in most takeaways and fewest giveaways.
- While Rodgers has always been careful with the ball in the passing game, credit must be given to the running backs, who carried the ball 374 times with one fumble, which was recovered by Green Bay, in ’09.
- With a defense that excels at the takeaway and an offense that protects the football as well as it does, it was no surprise that Green Bay’s plus-24 turnover ratio topped the league.
- Of the Packers’ takeaways, 30 came via the interception, most in the NFL. It was the most for the Packers since 1981, when the team also had 30. In 2009, Green Bay also had 10 fumble recoveries.
- Every single Packers practice, be it during OTAs, training camp or the regular season, has a period devoted to ball security.
- Headed by assistant head coach/inside linebackers Winston Moss, the drill has offensive skill players carry the ball while two defenders (linebackers and defensive backs) try to strip the ball. Once free, the offensive player then must run through a gauntlet of offensive and defensive linemen attempting to strip the ball loose.
- The drill puts an emphasis on ball security for offensive players. For defensive players, the drill keeps the focus on stripping the ball from opposing players.
- Overall, the team had 11 forced fumbles on the year (one on special teams), 10 of which it recovered.
- Offensive skill players need only to look at RB Ryan Grant for a player who exemplifies ball security. Grant ranks No. 1 in the NFL for consecutive carries without a fumble, a streak he carries into play in 2010. Grant currently has a career-high 291 consecutive rushes without a fumble, the longest active streak in the league.
- While the Packers can be proud of their place atop the league in turnover margin, it is a statistic that has trended upwards in each of McCarthy’s four seasons.
- In 2006, the team finished at even in the category but improved to plus-four in 2007. In 2008, a plus-seven margin, No. 6 among NFL teams, had been the franchise’s best mark since 2002 (+17).
- Prior to McCarthy’s arrival, the team had a franchise-worst turnover ratio (-24) in 2005.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
- Green Bay finished 5-3 on the road in 2009, the third time in four seasons it had finished above .500 under Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
- The Packers have been able to stay above the .500 mark on the road during McCarthy’s tenure, a notable achievement in the National Football League.
- Since 2006, McCarthy’s first season as the head coach in Green Bay, only nine of 32 NFL teams have road records over .500.
Team, W-L-T (Pct.)
Indianapolis, 24-8-0 (.750)
New England, 23-9-0 (.719)
New York Giants, 21-11-0 (.656)
Dallas, 20-12-0 (.625)
San Diego, 20-12-0 (.625)
New Orleans, 19-13-0 (.594)
Philadelphia, 18-13-1 (.578)
Green Bay, 18-14-0 (.563)
Tennessee, 18-14-0 (.563)
285 AND COUNTING
- Another packed house at Lambeau Field against the Seahawks in the regular-season home finale brought the stadium’s consecutive sellouts streak to 285 games (269 regular season, 16 playoffs).
- The 2009 home game against Minnesota saw the largest regular-season crowd in Lambeau Field history (71,213).
- The league’s longest-tenured stadium, Lambeau Field will host its 54th season of football this year. A total of 565,666 fans made their way through the turnstiles in the eight home contests in 2009.
- Across American professional sports, only Boston’s Fenway Park (1912) and Chicago’s Wrigley Field (1914) have longer tenures.
THE LAMBEAU ADVANTAGE
- The crown jewel of the National Football League, Lambeau Field has long been known as one of the tougher venues to play in, particularly during the harsh Wisconsin winter.
- Re-establishing home-field advantage after a 4-4 mark in 2008 was one of the goals of 2009, and with the Packers finishing at 6-2 at home, they accomplished that goal.
- Head Coach Mike McCarthy stated consistently upon his arrival in Green Bay that one of the team’s goals would be to reclaim the mystique of playing at Lambeau Field. Mission accomplished. The team is 19-7 at home since 2007, a marked improvement over the prior three seasons (10-14 combined).
- Since Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren began the revitalization of the franchise in 1992, Green Bay owns the best home record in the NFL. A look at the top home W-L records since the ’92 season:
Team, W-L record (Pct.)
Green Bay, 107-37-0 (.743)
Pittsburgh, 104-39-1 (.726)
Denver, 103-41-0 (.715)
Minnesota, 100-44-0 (.694)
Dallas, 97-47-0 (.674)
DOMINATING TIME OF POSSESSION
- Time of possession is a seldom-quoted statistic, but one that easily can underscore how a football game played out.
- The Packers’ final ranking at the top of the time-of-possession chart in ’09 should have been a sign the team was due to make the postseason.
- Of the teams that finished the season in the Top 3 in the category from 2000-09, 24 of those 30 teams made the playoffs.
- Of the six that didn’t qualify for the postseason, only one, the 2004 Kansas City Chiefs (7-9), finished with a record below .500.
- In Green Bay’s 30-24 win over San Francisco in Week 11, it controlled the ball for 41 minutes, 39 seconds. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, time-of-possession statistics have only been kept since 1977, but that mark for the Packers was a franchise record.
- Combined with the Packers’ 40:48 time of possession against the Lions in Week 6, it gave the team two games with 40-plus minutes of controlling the ball, which was also a single-season franchise record.
- Green Bay won the time-of-possession battle against the Cardinals in Week 17, helping it achieve the league’s No. 1 ranking in the category and a new franchise record.
- The Packers ranked No. 1 in the league with a time-of-possession average of 33:03, ahead of No. 2 New England (32:55) and No. 3 Minnesota (32:40). Pittsburgh (32:13) and Dallas (32:04) rounded out the league’s top 5, with Pittsburgh being the only team not to make the postseason.
- Green Bay’s previous best single-season mark came in 1992, when it posted an average of 32:30 per game.
- In the first nine games of the season, the Packers had just nine drives of 10 plays or more. Over their last seven games, they had 14 drives of 10 or more plays.
- As the weather turns, Green Bay has traditionally become a more ground-oriented team. Though the nature of a “big-play” offense suggests quick strikes, the Packers’ offense seemed more suited to a controlled offense led by a ground attack, capable of producing multiple 10-play drives in a game.
TAKING HIS PLACE AMONG THE GAME’S BEST
- Now firmly entrenched in his role as the face of the franchise, QB Aaron Rodgers went from solid first-year starter to one of the game’s top young signal callers in 2009.
- Rodgers ranked near the top of the NFL in most passing categories in 2009 and was honored as the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October, the first such award of his career. He was the youngest of the six quarterbacks named to the Pro Bowl last season.
- In 2009, he engineered one of the NFL’s most potent offenses, ranked No. 6 overall, and avoided costly mistakes, spearheading a team that had a league-low 16 giveaways (15 on offense).
- His 103.2 passer rating ranked fourth in the NFL. In addition, he was the game’s top-ranked passer on third downs (133.5).
- The fourth-year pro threw for 4,434 yards, fourth most in the league. That total finished just shy of Lynn Dickey’s franchise record (4,458, 1983) for passing yards in a single season.
- In addition to QB rating and passing yards, Rodgers ranked fourth in TD passes (30) and first in interception percentage (1.3).
- And just for good measure, he ranked second among QBs with 316 rushing yards on 58 carries (5.4 avg.), and added five rushing TDs.
- Rodgers joined Steve Young (San Francisco, 1998) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards and 30 TDs and rush for 300 yards and five TDs in the same season.
- The Elias Sports Bureau never intended for passer rating to measure the effectiveness of a signal caller in one game, but rather over the course of a group of games or an entire season.
- Having said that, Rodgers’ performance in Week 7 last year in Cleveland (15-of-20, 246 yards, 3 TDs) earned him a passer rating of 155.4, the highest single-game rating (minimum 20 attempts) in the history of the franchise. It bested the previous high, Brett Favre’s 154.9 rating set in Oakland on Dec. 22, 2003.
- It was Rodgers’ fourth consecutive game with a passer rating over 110.0, becoming only the second signal caller in team history to eclipse the mark four straight times in a single season. The legendary Bart Starr accomplished the feat four straight weeks during the 1966 season (Sept. 18-Oct. 9) en route to an NFL Championship and Super Bowl title.
- Rodgers just missed becoming the first to do it in five straight games, registering a 108.5 rating against Minnesota the following week.
- Not only did the statistic explain his play last season, but just how efficient he has been since becoming a starter. In 32 career starts, Rodgers has eclipsed the century mark in passer rating 18 times.
GRANT AND THE O-LINE
- RB Ryan Grant had one of the better seasons among running backs in the NFC in ’09 and was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate.
- Grant had a TD run over 20 yards in three straight weeks (Weeks 14-16), the type of play that typified his breakout season in 2007. He finished the year with a career-high 11 touchdowns on the ground, second most in the NFC.
- While he had three 100-yard performances on the season, he also surpassed the 90-yard mark on four other occasions.
- Without much fanfare, Grant’s numbers ranked among the leaders in the NFC. His rushing total (career-high 1,253 yards) ranked third in the NFC and seventh overall in the NFL. Utilized more in the screen game last season, his 197 receiving yards also was a career high.
- Grant’s 1,450 total yards from scrimmage ranked fourth in the NFC and ninth in the NFL.
- McCarthy has consistently stated in his time in Green Bay that the most important rushing statistic to him is attempts, and there is no doubting the team’s success when the attempts are up, specifically for Grant.
- When Grant gets 22 or more carries, the team is 9-1 (10-1 with playoffs).
- Green Bay allowed only 10 sacks over the last seven games, a pace that would have put it among the league’s top five in terms of sacks allowed if kept up over a 16-game season.
- However, injuries and performance issues were a problem over the first half of the season, as Green Bay allowed 41 sacks over the first nine games. It finished 2009 having allowed a league-high 51 sacks. Pittsburgh finished No. 2 with 50 sacks allowed.
- Pass protection was paramount to the team’s overall success, as four of the five losses came when Rodgers was sacked six or more times.
- Injuries hurt the team’s early-season continuity up front, as McCarthy had to use six different starting lineups across the offensive line. The offensive line he settled on in training camp started the first two contests before it was beset by injuries.
EXCELLING ON THIRD DOWN
- Part of Green Bay’s success winning seven of its last eight games in 2009 was due in part to its ability to win the third-down battle on both sides of the ball. The third-down offense topped the NFC final rankings and was No. 3 overall, while the defense ranked No. 9 overall in the category.
- It would be hard to imagine a better performance on third down than what QB Aaron Rodgers did in Detroit on Thanksgiving.
- He finished 11-of-13 passing, good for eight first downs and two touchdowns for a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
- That’s not all that surprising when you consider Rodgers was the league’s top-ranked passer (133.5) on third down. No other quarterback threw for as many yards (1,710) or touchdowns (14) on third down as Rodgers, who threw all three of his scores on third down in Pittsburgh. In 157 third-down attempts, he had a 67.5% completion rate and did not throw an interception. Tom Brady was the only other quarterback to not throw an interception on third down (min. 100 attempts).
- Rodgers’ third-down rating was the best in the NFL since Kurt Warner’s 137.3 rating in 1999 with St. Louis.
- Now after two seasons as a starter, his third-down success is becoming a trend. He finished 2008 as the league’s third-ranked passer on third down with a rating of 105.8. Of his 28 TD passes in 2008, 14 came on third down.
ANOTHER FRANCHISE MARK
- WR Donald Driver, entering his 12th season with the Packers, established yet another team mark last year in Week 13. Last season, it seemed as though franchise records fell on a weekly basis for Driver.
- Driver became the 10th player in franchise history to reach the 50-touchdown plateau. No other NFL franchise has 10 players with 50-plus TDs.
- Earlier, Driver topped the 50-catch plateau for an eighth straight season (2002-09), a new franchise record.
- Though he was the oldest player on the active roster at age 34, Driver showed no signs of slowing down in 2009. He led the team in catches (70), ranked second in receiving yards (1,061) and first in touchdown catches (6).
- Driver also extended his own franchise record by recording a seventh overall season and sixth straight with 1,000 yards.
- The most significant record still within Driver’s grasp is career receiving yards. James Lofton ranks No. 1 with 9,656 yards. Driver is No. 2 with 9,050. Driver should surpass the mark sometime this season.
- Driver has been the model of consistency for the Packers, catching at least one pass in 127 consecutive games, also a franchise record. His consistency also serves as a great example for younger teammates, as Driver has rarely missed a practice in his NFL career.
- While his reputation is as a slot guy who will make the tough catch over the middle, Driver made his share of big plays this season. His five catches of 40-plus yards tied for ninth in the NFL.
FINLEY BREAKS OUT IN YEAR TWO
- Anyone needing to know how much the Packers missed TE Jermichael Finley in his three-game absence in 2009, which really should be considered a four-game streak because his injury occurred on the first series in Cleveland, need only to watch the game tape from the last seven contests.
- Over the last seven games, he caught a team-high 38 passes for 416 yards and four TDs. His reception total over that time was third among tight ends, trailing only Jason Witten (45) and Tony Gonzalez (39).
- His nine catches at Pittsburgh matched the single-game team record for receptions by a tight end, and Finley finished tied for the No. 2 spot for catches in a single season by a Packers tight end with 55.
- Rodgers clearly loves Finley’s athletic ability down the middle of the field, as evidenced by his nine catches of 20-plus yards. And in goal-line situations, as was seen against the Ravens, Steelers and Cardinals, Rodgers is confident in Finley’s ability to win a one-on-one battle.
- In a season in which he set career highs in every statistical category, Finley’s coming-out party came on the team’s first appearance on Monday Night Football at Minnesota in front of the largest television audience in cable history. That game, he set a new regular-season career high in receiving yards (128), highlighted by his 62-yard catch-and-run TD. The catch marked the longest reception by a Green Bay tight end since Jackie Harris caught a 66-yard scoring pass against Denver on Oct. 10, 1993.
- Finley’s day also stands tied for the most productive day by a tight end in team history. His 128 yards matched Harris’ output from that Broncos contest, tying the franchise high for receiving yards by a tight end in a regular-season contest.
- There’s no doubting the Packers’ depth at the position. TE Donald Lee remained a favorite target of Rodgers, ranking fourth on the team with 37 catches. Finley and Lee were the only NFL tight-end combo with at least 37 catches each.
- And if the Week 4 game at Minnesota served as a coming-out party, the Wild Card playoff game at Arizona showed Finley’s potential to take over a game. His 159 receiving yards set a new franchise postseason record and ranked second in NFL postseason history for a tight end.
TOP 10 AGAIN
- The offense registered over 400 yards against Seattle in Week 16, the ninth time in ’09 it went over the mark. That ranked as the second-best single-season mark in franchise history (2004, 10 games). The unit found its stride toward the end of the year and again ranked among the NFL’s top-10 offenses, a familiar place under play caller and Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
- Each year under McCarthy, it has finished among the league’s top 10 offenses. Since 2006, New Orleans is the only other NFL team to have ranked in the top 10 each of the last four seasons. In 2009, the Packers averaged 379.1 yards per contest, its top average under McCarthy.
- In 2008, the Packers finished No. 8 overall with an average of 351.1 yards per contest. The unit finished No. 2 in 2007 (370.7 yards per game) and No. 9 in 2006 (341.1) under McCarthy.
- McCarthy spent six seasons as an offensive coordinator and play caller prior to his arrival in Green Bay (New Orleans 2000-04, San Francisco 2005). Twice the Saints ranked among the NFL’s top 10 offenses.
LED BY THE DEFENSE
- The Green Bay defense finished No. 2 in the league’s final overall defensive rankings in 2009. Not since 1996, when it finished the year No. 1 overall and went on to win Super Bowl XXXI, had the Packers’ defense ranked among the league’s top units.
- Behind new defensive coordinator Dom Capers and all-everything CB Charles Woodson, the Packers thrived in their new 3-4 scheme. The team finished the season ranked No. 1 against the run, a first in team history, and No. 5 against the pass.
- The previous top ranking in franchise history in run defense came in 1972, when the team finished No. 2.
- Green Bay allowed an average of 284.4 total yards per game, second behind the N.Y. Jets (252.3) and ahead of No. 3 Baltimore (300.5).
- Green Bay’s improved defense against the run kept opponents in long down-and-distances, enhancing the defense’s ability to get off the field on third down. Through the first four games, the unit ranked No. 28. As soon as Green Bay began to stop the run, it shot up the league rankings in third-down defense, finishing the year at No. 9.
- One constant for the defense was its ability to take the ball away, registering 39 of the team’s 40 takeaways. That takeaway total led the NFL in 2009, and it’s something that has become a habit for the defense. It has registered at least one takeaway in 18 of its last 19 games.
- Whether they be caused by pressure from a deep and talented front seven, or a fantastic read by a ball-hawking secondary led by Pro Bowlers Nick Collins (six INTs) and Woodson (nine), those 40 turnovers led to 141 points, tied with New Orleans for the most points-off-turnovers total in the NFL.
- In the first two years of the Mike McCarthy tenure, Green Bay’s defense was close to being a top-10 unit, finishing at No. 12 in 2006 and No. 11 in 2007. In 2008, it slipped to No. 20 before making the jump up to No. 2 last year.
- In Capers’ previous stints as a coordinator, his units made a jump in the rankings in his first season. In Pittsburgh, the defense went from No. 22 to No. 13 in ’92 under Capers, then continued to rise to No. 3 in ’93 and No. 2 in ’94. In Jacksonville, the defense climbed to No. 4 under Capers in ’99 after ranking 25th the previous season. The Dolphins ranked No. 4 in 2006, Capers’ first year, after ranking No. 18 in ’05.
AS GOOD AS HE’S EVER BEEN
- At age 33, CB Charles Woodson enjoyed the finest season of his career in 2009, his first year in the 3-4 scheme.
- Woodson achieved the highest individual honor bestowed upon a defensive player, taking home The Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year award. He also was named an AP first-team All-Pro.
- Woodson became the fourth player in NFL history since sacks became an official statistic to record at least nine interceptions and two sacks in a single season. One of the players who previously accomplished the feat (Ed Reed - 2004) also went on to win Defensive Player of the Year. Woodson also led the Packers with four forced fumbles.
- Against Dallas, Woodson became the first NFL player to record two forced fumbles, an interception and a sack in a game since Steelers linebacker James Harrison accomplished the feat two years ago to the day vs. Baltimore on Nov. 15, 2007. In that contest, Harrison posted three forced fumbles, 3½ sacks and an interception.
- Against the Lions in Week 12, Woodson tallied two interceptions, including one he returned for a score, a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery, and held Calvin Johnson to two catches for 10 yards.
- Woodson was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for both his Dallas (Week 10) and Detroit (Week 12) performances, and naturally won NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November. Woodson also was honored as the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September and December, becoming the first NFC player to win the award multiple times.
- His Detroit performance marked the fifth multi-interception game of his career, and his fourth since coming to Green Bay.
- Woodson’s INT return for a score against Arizona in Week 17 was his seventh with Green Bay, giving him eight defensive touchdowns with the Packers to establish a new franchise record. The seven INT returns for scores with Green Bay ties him for first on the franchise’s all-time list with Hall of Famer Herb Adderley.
- In addition to his team-high and career-best nine interceptions, he established a new career high with 81 tackles, third most on the team. His previous career high had been 79, a total he accomplished twice before (OAK, 2000; GB, 2008).
- A skilled blitzer, he had two sacks on the year. His five sacks since 2008 is tied for the NFL lead among defensive backs (safeties and corners).
- His four forced fumbles tied for second among NFL defensive backs in 2009.
- There’s no doubt Woodson’s career has undergone a revitalization since coming to Green Bay. He now has 45 career interceptions, fifth among active NFL players. Of his interceptions, 28 have come in 62 games with Green Bay. In 106 games with the Raiders, he had 17.
SECONDARY BRINGS SOME PASS RUSH, TOO
- Part of the reason Capers was able to trust in his defense as the Packers made the transition to the 3-4 in 2009 was his ability to rely on a secondary that included three Pro Bowl players.
- The team had to play its last stretch without CB Al Harris (knee injury), a physical corner who routinely lined up against the opposing team’s top wide receiver. Harris was a Pro Bowl honoree in 2007-08.
- The team leaned on the all-around skill of CB Charles Woodson, who enjoyed a career year in the new defense. Woodson, who lined up all over the field in Capers’ defense, was named The Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year and selected to his sixth career Pro Bowl.
- The team also relied heavily on CB Tramon Williams, who filled in with the No. 1 defense when Harris went down with a spleen injury in 2008 for four games. Williams, whose five interceptions in ’08 highlighted a breakout season, finished 2009 with four interceptions and led the team with 22 passes defensed, a new career high.
- Capers and the defense also were able to rely on Pro Bowl S Nick Collins, who intercepted six passes on the season. His 13 interceptions over the last two seasons are tied for second most in the NFL behind Woodson’s 16. In addition to consecutive Pro Bowl selections, Collins’ inclusion on the AP second-team All-Pro list for the second straight year solidifies his place as one of the game’s best young safeties.
- S Atari Bigby played his best football at the end of the season, totaling three interceptions in his last two games. A knee injury suffered in the season opener kept him out of three games, two of which the team lost.
- Collins, Williams and Woodson all notched sacks last season, which for Collins and Williams were the first of their careers.
- Harris notched one earlier in the year, giving the Packers four defensive backs with sacks in the same season for the first time since 2003, when it also had four members of the secondary record sacks.
- The Packers gave up a league-low 1,333 rushing yards, the lowest total in a 16-game season in team history. The average of 83.3 yards per game set a franchise record for any season.
MATTHEWS BURSTS ONTO NFL STAGE IN ’09
- Rookie LB Clay Matthews seems to have a knack for the football, leading all rookies and tying for third in the NFL with three fumble recoveries in 2009, including two against Dallas in Week 10.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Green Bay rookie to recover two opponents’ fumbles in a game was DB Val Joe Walker on Nov. 26, 1953, against the Detroit Lions.
- He just missed tying the the franchise’s rookie record held by S Johnnie Gray (4, 1975). Matthews had a strip-sack and recovery of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger that was overturned after a Pittsburgh challenge.
- The first recovery of his career was in Week 4, when he forced a fumble on Vikings RB Adian Peterson and raced the ball 42 yards for a touchdown, the longest fumble return for a TD by a rookie in team history.
- Matthews recorded the third multi-sack game of his career against the Steelers and had 10 sacks on the season, a new Green Bay rookie record. In addition to leading the Packers, his 10 sacks ranked second behind Washington’s Brian Orakpo (11) for the lead among all rookies.
- LB Tim Harris was the only other rookie to finish as the Packers’ team leader in sacks. Harris (8, 1986) and Vonnie Holliday (8, ’98) had shared the team rookie record for sacks since the stat became official in 1982.
- Matthews was also one of three rookie linebackers selected to the Pro Bowl and joined his father Clay Jr. (four Pro Bowls) and uncle Bruce (14 Pro Bowls) as family members to be selected.
TAKEAWAY POINTS KEY FOR PACKERS
- Even with a new defensive scheme, Green Bay continued to show its knack for the takeaways with 30 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries in 2009, which it turned into 141 points.
- The 30 interceptions led the league and was the team’s highest single-season total since 1981, when it also had 30.
- Green Bay’s 40 takeaways also led the NFL, and its 141 points scored off those 40 takeaways tied New Orleans for most in the league.
- Green Bay did not register a takeaway against the Steelers, snapping a streak of 16 straight games with at least one takeaway, but responded with four interceptions against the Seahawks and three against the Cardinals in Weeks 16-17. The Seattle game marked the third time last season that the team recorded four interceptions, which it also did against Chicago (Week 1) and at Detroit (Week 12).
- Green Bay surpassed its 2008 total of 124 points off takeaways, which led the NFL in ’08.
- It also eclipsed its ’08 total in interceptions (22) and fumble recoveries (six) while at the same time protecting the ball at a better clip. Green Bay’s 16 giveaways was the lowest total in the NFL.
- If the Packers don’t commit a turnover, like they didn’t against Seattle in Week 16, they’re almost guaranteed to win. They have now won 38 of 42 games playing turnover-free football, since a loss at Dallas, Nov. 18, 1996. Green Bay’s only losses in such games during that stretch came three times against Minnesota, twice in Minneapolis (2005, ’08) and once at home (2009), and in Week 15 this year in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.
- Including playoffs, the Packers have won 41 of their last 45 games without a giveaway.
INT RETURN YARDAGE A BRIGHT SPOT AGAIN
- Three interception returns against Arizona in Week 17 helped add to what was an already impressive team yardage total on interceptions. Over the last two seasons, Green Bay defenders proved to be among the most dangerous when the ball was in their hands.
- With 477 yards on a league-best 30 interceptions, Green Bay finished second in the category in 2009 behind New Orleans (652).
- The Packers finished 2008 with an astounding 685 interception return yards, tops in the NFL and a new franchise standard.
- Combined with the 685 return yards in ’08, it is just the second time in franchise history that the Packers have posted back-to-back seasons of 475-plus INT return yards. The only other time was 1965 (561) and 1966 (547).
- The Packers led the NFL in interceptions (52), interception yards (1,162), and interception TDs (nine) from 2008-09.
- McCarthy has said his team’s ability to make a play after an interception is something the team has repped after every turnover in practice since he arrived in 2006. Every offensive player, whether part of the 11 on the play or the group on the sidelines, attempts to catch the defender before he can advance up the field.
GETTING AFTER THE QUARTERBACK
- The Packers’ defense finished the 2009 season with 37 sacks, tied for 11th best in the league.
- Three times in ’09 the Packers had five or more sacks. The last time Green Bay had five or more sacks in three games was ’02. The team record is four games, a number that was hit in three separate seasons (1985, 2000, 2001).
- LB Brad Jones, who filled in following a season-ending knee injury to Aaron Kampman, recorded the first multi-sack game of his career against Pittsburgh, joining LB Clay Matthews (three multi-sack games) as the first rookie duo to post multi-sack games in a season.
- Jones became the third Packers rookie to collect a sack last season, joining first-round picks NT B.J. Raji (1.0) and Matthews (franchise rookie-record 10.0). The last time three Packers rookies recorded sacks was 1987.
- For the first time in franchise history, two rookies had four or more sacks.
- With another sack against the Bears in Week 15, Matthews became the first rookie in Packers history to record a sack in three consecutive games. His team rookie record ultimately rose to four after a two-sack effort against Pittsburgh.
A LOOK AT THE SCHEDULE
- The Green Bay Packers’ 90th NFL regular-season schedule – headlined by six nationally televised games – was released in late April.
- Though the 2010 opponents have been known since the end of last season, the arrival of the complete NFL schedule is a day circled on the calendar of all football fans.
- Green Bay opens the 2010 slate on the road at Philadelphia before kicking off the home schedule with the Buffalo Bills in Week 2.
- Its first prime-time appearance – against the rival Bears in Chicago on Monday Night Football – will come in Week 3. The NFL’s oldest rivalry will be on display in prime time for a fifth straight season, with this first meeting of the year marking game No. 180 in the all-time series.
- 2010 marks the 18th consecutive season the Packers have appeared on Monday Night Football, the NFC’s longest streak.
- Three games are slated for Sunday night on NBC, including home games against the Minnesota Vikings (Week 7) and Dallas Cowboys (Week 9). In Week 15, the Packers are scheduled to take on the Patriots on Sunday night in Foxborough, though the game is subject to the NFL’s flex scheduling.
- The Packers will get their first look at the new stadium in New Jersey in Week 8 against the Jets, where they may experience some cool fall temperatures. While games at Lambeau Field later in the season always provide a home-field advantage for the Packers, the 2010 schedule is nearly void of cold-weather road games. After the Jets, three consecutive road contests will be played in domes (Minnesota, Atlanta, Detroit).
- That’s good news for a Green Bay offense that seems to thrive in domes. Including playoffs, the Packers played in a dome five times last season, exceeding 400 total net yards in four of those games.
- A number of games on the Packers’ 2010 schedule – namely those on national TV – are beginning to have a familiar feel. In addition to taking on the Bears for a fifth consecutive year in prime time, Green Bay will take on Minnesota in prime time for a third straight season. The Packers and Cowboys will meet on national TV for the fourth straight season.
- The schedule concludes with two home games for the first time since 2005. One of the NFL’s best teams in regular-season games played in December and January, Green Bay may need to call upon that previous success for what could prove to be two very important contests surrounding the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Games against the Giants (Week 16) and Bears (Week 17) could determine not only the NFC North Division crown but conference playoff seeding.
2010 SCHEDULE NUGGETS
- Green Bay’s bye week comes in Week 10, the latest possible week for NFL teams. It marks the latest time in which the Packers have had a bye in franchise history, besting the Week 9 bye in 2004. The Packers will play nine games before the bye and seven after the open date.
- Three of four games before the bye come at Lambeau Field, while four of five games after the bye are road contests.
- Immediately following the bye comes an important division game against Minnesota, the first of three straight road games played in domes. Under McCarthy, the team has won three of four games after the bye week and 10 of its last 14 after the bye dating back further.
- Green Bay has always been a successful team after the bye and 2009 was no different, as the team compiled a 9-3 (.750) mark after the bye week. Since 2000, the team is 61-36 (.629) overall after the bye.
- Fifteen games are slated for Sunday, the most since 1993 (also 15).
- Seven of the final eight games are against NFC opponents.
- The Packers have six games on the schedule against 2009 playoff teams, beginning right away in Week 1 at Philadelphia. Beginning in Week 7 vs. Minnesota, Green Bay has a stretch of four straight games against playoff teams from a year ago. The team will travel east to take on the Jets in Week 8 and host the Cowboys in Week 9 before the bye. The stretch concludes in Minnesota in Week 11.
- The NFL’s oldest rivalry will see a first in 2010. For the first time in series history, Green Bay will host Chicago in the regular-season finale, set to be game No. 181 between the Packers and Bears.