GREEN BAY (4-3) AT N.Y. JETS (5-1)
Sunday, Oct. 31 - New Meadowlands Stadium - Noon CDTPACKERS HEAD EAST TO TAKE ON THE JETS
KEEPING IT CLOSE
- Green Bay goes on the road after back-to-back home games to visit the New York Jets in the Packers’ first-ever game at New Meadowlands Stadium, which opened this season.
- Sunday’s game will be Green Bay’s first trip to New York to face the Jets since the teams squared off on Dec. 29, 2002. New York won, 42-17, in that ’02 season finale.
- It will be only the fifth meeting between the teams in New York, with the Packers also traveling there in 1981, 1982 and 1991, all Jets wins.
- Green Bay trails 2-8 in the all-time series. The teams last met in Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s first season when the Packers hosted New York on Dec. 3, 2006. The Jets won that contest, 38-10.
- The Jets are coming into Sunday’s game off of their bye, and they are tied with New England and Pittsburgh for the best record in the league at 5-1. New York enters the matchup with Green Bay on a five-game winning streak, its longest since a five-game streak in 2008.
- Sunday’s matchup with New York will be Green Bay’s third game of the season against a team from the AFC East. The Packers hosted Buffalo in Week 2 and Miami in Week 6, beating the Bills, 34-7, while falling in overtime to the Dolphins, 23-20. Green Bay wraps up its AFC East slate in Week 15 at New England.
- Green Bay will be playing on Halloween for just the second time since 1995, with the only other contest coming at Washington in 2004, a 28-14 Packers win.
- Next Sunday, the Packers return home to host the Dallas Cowboys in a nationally televised contest at 7:20 p.m., the second straight Sunday night home contest for Green Bay. The following week the Packers will have their bye, with the Week 10 bye being the latest ever for Green Bay.
WITH THE CALL
- On Sunday night, the Packers snapped a two-game losing streak with a thrilling 28-24 victory over the division-rival Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field to improve to 4-3 on the season.
- For Green Bay, it was yet another game that was decided in the closing seconds, something the team has become accustomed to so far this season.
- Of the Packers’ seven games this season, six have been decided by seven points or less, with the last five decided by four points or fewer.
- That total of six games with a touchdown or smaller margin already matches the number of contests they were involved in with that scoring differential in 2009.
- The Packers join Baltimore and Washington as the only teams in the NFL to have six games decided by seven points or less this season.
- Green Bay has already been involved in two overtime contests this season, going to the extra session in back-to-back games against Washington in Week 5 and Miami in Week 6. It was the first time the Packers played consecutive overtime games since Oct. 11-18, 1987.
- This weekend the Packers will be facing a Jets team that has been involved in only two games this season that were decided by seven points or less. New York’s average margin of victory in its current fivegame winning streak is 11.8 points.
THE DOPE ON THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT:Packers vs. New York Jets:All-time regular season:
- FOX Sports, now in its 17th season as an NFL network television partner, will broadcast the game to a regional audience.
- Play-by-play man Kenny Albert and color analyst Daryl Johnston will have the call from the broadcast booth with Tony Siragusa reporting from the sidelines.
- 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.
- Westwood One radio will air the game across the country. Howard David (play-by-play) and Tony Boselli (analyst) will call the action, and Scott Graham hosts pregame and halftime shows.
- 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 90 WTMJ feed) as part of the network’s NFL Sunday Drive.
- DIRECTV subscribers can watch the game in HD on channel 709.
2-8-0All-time, in New York
: The Jets have won the last three meetings. Last meeting, regular season
: Dec. 3, 2006, at Lambeau Field; Jets won, 38-10Last meeting, regular season, in New York
: Dec. 29, 2002; Jets won, 42-17COACHES CAPSULESMike McCarthy
: 43-31-0, .581, (incl. 1-2 postseason); 5th NFL seasonRex Ryan
: 16-9-0, .640 (incl. 2-1 postseason); 2nd NFL season Head to Head
: Never metvs. Opponent
: McCarthy 0-1 vs. Jets; Ryan 0-0 vs. PackersMIKE 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.
…Is in second year as the Jets’ 15th head coach.
THE PACKERS-JETS SERIES
- Led the Jets to two playoff victories and an appearance in the AFC Championship Game in his first season in 2009.
- Coached the Jets to the league’s No. 1 ranking in rushing offense and total defense last season.
- Previously spent 10 seasons (1999-2008) as a defensive assistant for the Baltimore Ravens, first as defensive line coach (1999-2004) and then as defensive coordinator (2005-08).
- Is the son of former NFL head coach Buddy Ryan and the brother of current Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
- Broke into the NFL in 1994 with the Arizona Cardinals as a defensive assistant on his father’s staff.
- The Packers have won just two of 10 meetings, their worst winning percentage (.200) against any NFL team.
- The teams first met in 1973, in Milwaukee, a 23-7 Green Bay victory.
- Since then, the Jets have won eight of the last nine, including the last two by a combined score of 80-27. Green Bay’s only other victory in the series came in 1994, a 17-10 triumph at Lambeau Field.
- There has been one overtime game in the series, a 19-16 Jets victory in New York in 1991. In all, five of the 10 meetings have been decided by seven points or less.
Jets off. coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is the son of Marty Schottenheimer, the former NFL head coach who gave Mike McCarthy his first NFL job with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993, and the nephew of former Packers DB coach Kurt Schottenheimer (2004, ‘06-08)...McCarthy and Brian Schottenheimer coached on Kansas City’s staff together in 1998...Jets QB coach Matt Cavanaugh was on the same offensive staff at the Univ. of Pittsburgh with McCarthy in 1991-92...Packers special teams asst. Chad Morton played two seasons for the Jets (2001-02)...Jets asst. head coach/off. line Bill Callahan was on the staff of the Univ. of Wisconsin’s 1993 Rose Bowl champions...Packers RB Brandon Jackson played at Nebraska for Callahan when he was head coach there, and Packers CB Charles Woodson played for Callahan in Oakland when he was head coach...Callahan and Packers defensive line coach Mike Trgovac coached on the staff together in Philadelphia...Jets def. asst. Jim O’Neil was the recruiting coordinator at Eastern Michigan for Packers OL T.J. Lang’s final three seasons there (2006-08)...Jets QB Mark Brunell was a 1993 fifth-round draft choice of the Packers and was Brett Favre’s backup in 1994...Jets WR David Clowney was Green Bay’s fifth-round pick in 2007...Jets S Jim Leonhard played collegiately at Wisconsin and is from the small town of Tony, Wis. ...Jets LB Jason Taylor won NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in Miami in 2006 when Dom Capers was running the Dolphins’ defense...Jets DT Kris Jenkins (on IR) is the older brother of Packers DE Cullen Jenkins...During the first four years of Jets FB Tony Richardson’s career with Kansas City (1995-98), McCarthy was on the Chiefs’ offensive staff...Jets C Nick Mangold and Packers LB A.J. Hawk were childhood friends growing up in Centerville, Ohio, attended Ohio State together, and were first-round draft picks in 2006; Hawk was also OSU teammates with Jets DE Vernon Gholston and TE Ben Hartsock at different times...Packers asst. offensive line coach Jerry Fontenot and Jets defensive line coach Mark Carrier were teammates with the Chicago Bears...Packers OLB coach Kevin Greene and Jets WR coach Henry Ellard were teammates with the Los Angles Rams...Jets DB coach Dennis Thurman played at USC with Packers LB Clay Matthews’ father, Clay Jr. ...Packers WR coach Jimmy Robinson was born in New York City...Packers coaching administrator Curtis Fuller and Jets RB LaDainan Tomlinson were teammates at TCU...Jets DE Shaun Ellis and Packers T Chad Clifton were teammates at Tennessee and 2000 draft picks...Other college teammates include Jets T Patrick Brown and Packers G Josh Sitton (Central Florida), Jets RB John Conner and Packers P Tim Masthay (Kentucky), Jets RB Shonn Greene, DE Matt Kroul and Packers T Bryan Bulaga (Iowa), Jets S Dwight Lowery and Packers WR James Jones (San Jose State), Jets QB Mark Sanchez, RB Joe McKnight and Packers LB Clay Matthews (USC), Jets G Matt Slauson and Packers RB Brandon Jackson (Nebraska), and Jets CB Kyle Wilson and Packers FB Korey Hall (Boise State)...Before coming to Green Bay in 1993, Packers head athletic trainer Pepper Burruss spent 16 seasons (1977-92) with the Jets as an assistant athletic trainer...Packers scouting assistant Chad Brinker signed with the Jets as a non-drafted free agent in 2003 and played for New York that preseason.LAST MEETING, REGULAR SEASON
LAST MEETING, IN NEW YORK
- Dec. 3, 2006, at Lambeau Field; Jets won, 38-10
- The Jets scored on five straight possessions in the first half, getting two TD passes from QB Chad Pennington and two TD runs from RB Cedric Houston to take a 31-0 halftime lead.
- The Packers intercepted two passes, one by CB Charles Woodson, and got a 20-yard TD reception from WR Donald Driver to get within 31-10 late in the third quarter. Green Bay then recovered an onside kick but went three-and-out and lost the momentum.
- Pennington finished 25-of-35 for 263 yards for the Jets, while Houston had 22 rushes for 105 yards. RB Ahman Green posted 102 yards on 14 carries for the Packers.
TAKEAWAY POINTS KEY FOR PACKERS
- Dec. 29, 2002; Jets won, 42-17
- The Packers had a chance to clinch a first-round NFC playoff bye and home-field advantage throughout the postseason but got blown out in the second half and were forced to play the following week in the wild-card round.
- Meanwhile, the Jets got the win and enough other help to win the AFC East title with a 9-7 record.
- Pennington tied a career high with four TD passes, two to WR Wayne Chrebet, while RB Curtis Martin chipped in 83 yards rushing and a TD.
- The Packers drew within 14-10 at halftime on QB Brett Favre’s 14-yard TD pass to WR Terry Glenn with 5 seconds left in the first half, but the Jets got TDs from four different players in the second half (Martin, WR Santana Moss, Chrebet and RB LaMont Jordan) to pull away.
CLAY FINDS A WAY
- Points off of turnovers have been a vital part of Green Bay’s makeup the past three seasons, and that was on display in Sunday night’s game vs. Minnesota when the Packers scored two touchdowns off of turnovers in the 28-24 win.
- Of the Packers’ 12 takeaways this season, eight of them have been converted into touchdowns. That 66.7 TD percentage ranks No. 2 in the NFL behind only Kansas City (6-of-8, 75.0 percent), and Green Bay’s eight touchdowns off of takeaways lead the NFL.
- Green Bay’s 56 points off of takeaways so far this season rank No. 2 in the league behind only Tennessee (63), and the Packers’ 10 interceptions rank tied for No. 4 in the NFL.
- Scoring points off of turnovers has become a trend for the Packers at Lambeau Field, as they have a current streak of 14 straight games at home with points scored that were set up by a takeaway. That home streak ranks first in the NFL.
- Green Bay posted 30 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries in 2009, which it turned into 141 points. The 40 takeaways led the NFL, and the 141 points scored off those 40 takeaways tied New Orleans for most in the league.
- The 30 interceptions led the league and was the team’s highest single-season total since 1981, when it also had 30.
- The Packers (13) are one of only five teams in the league to have 13 or more players pick off a pass since 2009.
- Last season Green Bay surpassed its 2008 total of 124 points off takeaways, which led the NFL. 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 in 2009.
- If the Packers don’t commit a turnover, like they didn’t against Buffalo in Week 2, they’re almost guaranteed to win. They have now won 39 of 43 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 last year at Pittsburgh.
- Including playoffs, the Packers have won 42 of their last 46 games when they don’t turn the ball over. Under Head Coach Mike McCarthy, Green Bay is 16-3 when its turnover margin is plus-2 or better.
THE MEDICAL REPORT
- Despite sitting out Green Bay’s Week 6 matchup vs. Miami due to a hamstring injury, the first time he missed a game in his career, LB Clay Matthews leads the NFL with 8.5 sacks this season.
- With three sacks against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2, Matthews became the first Packer to post three sacks in back-to-back games since it became an official league statistic in 1982.
- The performance vs. Buffalo came a week after Matthews registered a career-high three sacks in the Packers’ 27-20 season-opening victory at Philadelphia.
- Matthews was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 2, the second time in his career he has earned the honor. He also won the award last year for his two-sack outing vs. Baltimore in Week 13 on Monday Night Football.
- Matthews’ six sacks in the first two games of the season were the most ever by a Packer to start a year.
- His 33 sack yards vs. Buffalo were the most by a Packer since DE Reggie White’s 35 on two sacks vs. Minnesota on Oct. 22, 1995. Matthews leads the league with 53.5 sack yards on the season.
- His six sacks over a two-game span rank second in team history behind only Bryce Paup, who recorded 6.5 sacks in Weeks 3-4 in 1991. Paup posted 4.5 sacks vs. Tampa Bay on Sept. 15, and then followed that up with two more the next week at Miami on Sept. 22.
- In just 22 career games played, Matthews has posted two or more sacks in a game five times. Those five set a franchise record for the most two-sack games over the first 18 games in a Packers uniform, breaking White’s mark of four in his first 18 games with Green Bay (1993-94).
- Matthews’ 18.5 sacks since 2009 are tied for No. 2 in the NFL over that span behind only Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware (19).
- Matthews’ 17 sacks in his first 20 games were the most ever by any NFL player to start a career. It topped the previous mark of 16.5 set by San Diego’s Leslie O’Neal (1986, 1988) and the N.Y. Jets’ John Abraham (2000-01).
- In 2009, Matthews set a Packers rookie record with 10 sacks on his way to earning Pro Bowl honors, the first Green Bay rookie to be named to the all-star game since Hall of Fame WR James Lofton in 1978.
STAT OF THE WEEK
- Every team in the league has to deal with injuries at some point in the season, and the Packers have already had to deal with a season’s worth of significant ones in just the opening seven weeks.
- The Packers have lost four players who started in Week 1 for the remainder of the season due to injuries, two on each side of the ball.
- RB Ryan Grant, coming off back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons, sustained a season-ending ankle injury in Week 1 at Philadelphia. TE Jermichael Finley, whose 301 yards receiving in the first four games was the best start ever to a season by a Green Bay tight end, was lost for the year after suffering a knee injury on the second play from scrimmage at Washington in Week 5.
- Rookie S Morgan Burnett, who became only the second Packers rookie safety to start a season opener since 1988, sustained a season-ending knee injury against Detroit in Week 4. In the same game, LB Nick Barnett, the No. 2 tackler in franchise history, suffered a wrist injury that brought an end to his season.
- Against Minnesota on Sunday, the Packers were without starting DE Cullen Jenkins, who injured his calf in pre-game warmups, and starting DE Ryan Pickett for most of the game after he re-injured an ankle that forced him to sit out the Week 6 game vs. Miami. Starting RT Mark Tauscher (shoulder) was also sidelined for the third straight game.
- Green Bay did welcome the return of LB Clay Matthews on Sunday night, the NFL sack leader, after he missed the previous game vs. Miami due to a hamstring injury, as well as nickel LB Brandon Chillar, who saw limited action in the nickel package after being sidelined for the previous three games due to a shoulder injury.
- For a team that has been hit hard by the injury bug, any good news is welcomed, and the Packers welcomed the return of S Atari Bigby, CB Al Harris and RB James Starks to the practice field last week. The status for all three players heading into this Sunday’s game is uncertain.
OFFENSE STARTING FAST
- Green Bay’s offensive line faced one of the more formidable fronts in the league on Sunday night in the Vikings, and it responded in a big way.
- The offensive line did not allow a single sack of QB Aaron Rodgers, the third no-sack game posted by the line already this season.
- The last time a Green Bay offensive line did not give up a single sack in three of the first seven games of a season was in 2006.
- Minnesota’s defense has been one of the best in the league at pressuring opposing quarterbacks over the past four seasons, as the Vikings rank No. 6 in the league since 2007 with 137 sacks.
- Over the past 54 regular-season games, the Vikings have failed to register a sack only six times. Three of those have come against Green Bay (Sunday night, Week 10 in 2007, and Week 1 in 2008).
- Since Rodgers took the starting-quarterback reins in 2008, there have been nine regular-season games in which he was not sacked. The Packers are 8-1 in those contests.
- The effect of that protection is felt not only in the W-L column, but also in Rodgers’ production. In those nine games that he was not sacked, Rodgers has a passer rating of 105.8, completing 196-of-274 passes (71.5 percent) for 2,198 yards and 15 TDs with five INTs.
- The opening drives of a half set the tone for a team, and Green Bay’s offense is off to a productive start in that department this season.
- In the first seven games this season, the Packers have come away with points on their opening offensive drive four times, twice scoring touchdowns while also kicking two field goals. Their 20 points this season on first drives rank tied for No. 4 in the NFL. Green Bay ranked tied for No. 6 in the NFL in 2009 with 37 points on opening drives.
- The Packers have also scored two TDs and one field goal on their opening drive of the second half. Those 17 points rank tied for No. 6 in the NFL, and Green Bay is already on the heels of the 2009 team that scored 20 points all season on opening second-half-drives (No. 20).
- The Packers did not score a touchdown on the first drive of the second half all of 2008, part of a 34-game span without a TD on the first possession after halftime that started late in 2007 and ran all the way until Week 16 vs. Seattle last season.
- Green Bay snapped that streak with a 6-yard TD run from RB Brandon Jackson against the Seahawks last season, and have now scored a TD on the opening drive of the second half in four of the past nine regular-season games. The Packers have scored points on the first possession of the second half in five of those games.
Team - Interceptions 1. Green Bay - 62
- Leading the way when it comes to takeaways for Green Bay has been the defensive-back tandem of CB Charles Woodson and S Nick Collins.
- No NFL duo has been more prolific since 2008 when it comes to taking the ball away and making plays after the interception.
- Woodson leads all NFL players since 2008 with 17 interceptions, with Collins tied for the No. 3 spot with 14 over that span behind only his teammate and Philadelphia CB Asante Samuel (16).
- Collins ranks No. 2 among all NFL players (Baltimore S Ed Reed, 421) with 408 interception return yards since ’08, and Woodson inched closer with his 48-yard INT return for a TD vs. Detroit in Week 4. He has moved into the No. 3 spot in the league, checking in with 396 INT return yards over the past two-plus seasons.
- Collins has some work to do if he hopes to keep up with Woodson’s pace of return TDs. Woodson leads the league since 2008 with six INT returns for touchdowns, with Collins tied for the No. 2 spot with three scores.
- The Packers rank tied for No. 4 in the NFL with 10 interceptions this season, including a season-high three picks on Sunday night vs. QB Brett Favre in Green Bay’s 28-24 win over Minnesota. That included a 32-yard INT return for a TD by LB Desmond Bishop. Green Bay is tied for No. 2 in the league with four INT returns of 20-plus yards.
- Woodson and Collins helped put the Packers at the top of the leaderboard in all three interception categories since 2008.
2. Baltimore -53
3. Tennessee - 52Team - INT return yardage 1. Green Bay - 1,366
2. Tennessee - 941
3. New Orleans - 883Team - Interception TDs 1. Green Bay - 11
2. Tennessee - 8
3. Baltimore - 7Team - INT return average
1. Kansas City - 22.52. Green Bay - 22.0
3. New Orleans - 19.6PLENTY OF PRODUCTION INSIDE THE 20
MAKING PLAYS ANOTHER WAY
- Green Bay has had one of the more efficient red-zone offenses in the league over the past two seasons, finishing in the top 10 in the NFL in 2008 and 2009.
- Through seven games this season, the Packers are off to another productive start, having scored touchdowns on 14 of 21 trips inside the opponent’s 20. That 66.7 percent touchdown rate ranks tied for No. 2 in the NFL behind only Houston (70.6), and the 14 TDs rank tied for No. 3.
- Green Bay’s 107 points in the red zone this season (14 touchdowns, three field goals) rank tied for No. 8 in the league. Its average of 5.1 points per red-zone trip ranks No. 5 in the NFL.
- The highest red-zone conversion mark under Head Coach Mike McCarthy came in 2008, when the Packers ranked No. 6 in the NFL with a 60.4 percent touchdown rate.
- Much of Green Bay’s success in the red zone has to be credited to the play of QB Aaron Rodgers, who has been one of the more efficient signal-callers in the league inside the 20 since taking over as the starter in 2008.
- On Sunday night against Minnesota, Rodgers threw a red-zone interception for the first time in 39 career starts. Since 2008, he has registered a 107.1 rating on 107-of-173 passing (61.8 percent) for 677 yards and 44 touchdowns with one interception in the red zone.
- According to STATS, Rodgers’ passer rating of 106.0 this season in the red zone ranks No. 7 in the league (min. 20 attempts). He has connected on 22-of-31 passes (71.0 percent) for 139 yards and eight TDs with one INT in 2010.
Quarterback - Rushing yards 1. Aaron Rodgers, GB - 443
- When QB Aaron Rodgers scrambled for a key 16-yard pickup to convert a second-and-13 in Week 4 against Detroit on the final drive of the game, it was just an another example of his ability to make plays with his feet.
- With 127 yards on 26 attempts (4.9 avg.) this season, Rodgers ranks No. 3 among NFL QBs in rushing yards, behind only Philadelphia’s Michael Vick (187) and Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman (154).
- In 2009, Rodgers finished second among all NFL quarterbacks (David Garrard, 323) with 316 rushing yards, the most by a Green Bay QB since Don Majkowski posted 358 yards on the ground in 1989.
- Rodgers also led all NFL signal-callers with five rushing touchdowns in ’09, the most by a Packers QB since Majkowski’s five in ’89.
- It was the second straight year Rodgers had posted four touchdowns in a season, making him just the third QB in franchise annals to accomplish that feat (Tobin Rote, 1954-56; Scott Hunter, 1971-72).
- With his third rushing TD of the season this past Sunday vs. Miami, Rodgers became the first Packers QB since Rote (1954-56) to rush for three or more TDs in three straight seasons.
- Of his 84 rushing attempts since 2009, nearly a quarter (20) have been for 10 or more yards. He has posted a 10-yard run in five of seven games this season.
- A look at where Rodgers ranks on the ground among QBs since 2009:
2. David Garrard, JAX - 417
3. Vince Young, TEN - 369Quarterback - Rushing TDs 1. Aaron Rodgers, GB - 8
2. David Garrard, JAX - 4
3. Three players - 3Quarterback - 10-yard runs 1. Aaron Rodgers, GB - 20
2t. Josh Freeman, TB - 15
2t. David Garrard, JAX - 15
2t. Vince Young, TEN - 15TRAMON’S TALENTS
289 AND COUNTING
- CB Tramon Williams etched his name into the team’s record books with
- a pair of big plays in Week 5 at Washington.
- With a 52-yard punt return in the second quarter and a 64-yard interception return in the fourth quarter, Williams became the first player in franchise history to post a 50-yard punt return and a 60-yard interception return in the same game.
- Showing just how rare the feat is, no player in team annals has ever posted both of those returns in the same season.
- Williams became just the third NFL player since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to accomplish the feat in a game, joining Dallas’ Deion Sanders (Sept. 21, 1998) and the late Darrent Williams of the Denver Broncos (Nov. 13, 2005).
- Explosive plays are nothing new to the fourth-year CB who went undrafted out of Louisiana Tech in 2006. Williams recorded a 94-yard punt return for a score vs. Carolina on Nov. 18, 2007, as well as a 67-yard kickoff return vs. Chicago that season (Oct. 7). Last season he posted his career-long INT return with a 67-yarder vs. Chicago (Sept. 13).
- Williams is only the third NFL player whose career began since the 1970 merger to post a 90-yard punt return and interception and kickoff returns of 65 yards in a career, joining Adam Jones and Lemar Parrish.
- Williams is tied for the team lead this season with two interceptions, having posted a pick in Weeks 5 and 6. It was the fourth time in his career that he had registered an interception in back-to-back games, with the most recent instance coming in Weeks 12-13 last season.
- Williams posted a career-high 22 passes defensed in 2009, and ranks second on the team this season with eight (Nick Collins, nine).
LOMBARDI, THE PLAY
- Another packed house at Lambeau Field against the Vikings this past Sunday brought the stadium’s consecutive sellouts streak to 289 games (273 regular season, 16 playoffs).
- Sunday night’s crowd of 71,107 vs. Minnesota was the third-largest regular-season crowd in Lambeau Field history.
- The league’s longest-tenured stadium, Lambeau Field is hosting 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.
SPREAD IT AROUND
- Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy will be among a contingent of Packers staff and members of the organization’s board of directors who will make the trip to New York to see the Broadway play ‘Lombardi’ and take in the game vs. the Jets.
- Members of the Packers organization first became acquainted with the play’s production team during its June 21 research visit to Green Bay, an outing that saw them visit several Lombardi “sites” around Green Bay, including Lambeau Field, St. Norbert College and Lombardi’s home.
- The trip culminated with a special “Evening with Lombardi” event at the Lambeau Field Atrium where attendees learned about the play’s production and were treated to a special closing performance by Dan Lauria (‘The Wonder Years’), the actor who is portraying the Packers’ coaching legend. Proceeds from the event benefited the Peninsula Players Theatre Foundation in Fish Creek, Wis.
- With back-to-back 1,200-yard rusher Ryan Grant lost for the season after sustaining an ankle injury in Week 1 at Philadelphia, the Packers have turned to a couple of backs to carry the load.
- Brandon Jackson, who excelled in his role as a third-down back in 2009, posted a career-high 115 yards on 10 carries (11.5 avg.) at Washington in Week 5, highlighted by a career-long 71-yard run on his first carry of the game.
- Jackson leads the team with 363 yards on 80 carries this season (4.5 avg.), and yards from scrimmage with 513. He is one of eight NFL running backs with 350 yards rushing and 150 yards receiving.
- Jackson posted one of the finest all-around performances of his career vs. Minnesota, recording 104 yards from scrimmage (58 rushing, 46 catching). His 36-yard pickup on a first-quarter screen pass was his career-long reception.
- ”I thought that was Brandon’s best game that I have seen him play,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday. “I thought Pittsburgh was a statement game for him last year, the way he played in that game, but I thought he played a complete football game (Sunday).”
- The Packers rushed for 157 yards as a team at Washington in Week 5 on just 17 carries (9.2 avg.). It was the first time in team history that the Packers rushed for 150 yards in a regular-season game on fewer than 20 carries.
- The Packers’ rushing average of 9.2 yards per carry against the Redskins was the best single-game performance (min. 15 attempts) in a regular-season game in team history.
- John Kuhn, primarily at fullback during his first three seasons in Green Bay, has been given more opportunities to carry the ball at RB. Against Detroit in Week 4, Kuhn posted 34 of his career-high 39 rushing yards on the final series, as the Packers ran out the final 6:32 in the 28-26 win. He has 154 rushing yards on 41 carries (3.8 avg.) this season.
- Green Bay’s 21 runs of 10-plus yards rank tied for No. 13 in the NFL. Last season the Packers ranked No. 23 in the league with 42 runs of 10 yards or more.
CLIFFY GETS TO 150
- With injuries to MLB Nick Barnett and nickel LB Brandon Chillar, BLB A.J. Hawk and MLB Desmond Bishop have stepped into the role of every-down linebackers the past few weeks, and the tandem has taken advantage of the opportunities.
- Hawk leads the team with 66 tackles (48 solo) through seven games, including a season-high 16 stops in Week 6 vs. Miami and a team-high 13 tackles this past Sunday against Minnesota.
- Those 29 tackles over the past two weeks rank second in Hawk’s career for the most tackles over a two-game span, trailing only a combined 33 tackles during his rookie campaign of 2006 (Nov. 27-Dec. 3).
- Hawk is also tied for the team lead with two interceptions, which matches his career high set in 2006 and 2009. With the two INTs, Hawk ranks tied for No. 1 among NFL linebackers in that category this season.
- He is the only linebacker in the league to intercept two passes in each of the past two seasons, and Hawk’s four interceptions over the past 12 regular-season games leads all NFL linebackers over that span.
- Hawk has been one of the most reliable Packers defenders since coming to Green Bay in the 2006 NFL Draft. He hasn’t missed a game in his career, playing in all 71 contests with 68 starts. The only non-starts came in both Minnesota games in 2009 and the 2010 opener at Philadelphia when the team opened in nickel.
- Prior to this season, most of Bishop’s playing time came on special teams, a role he excelled in from 2007-09 as he led the team over that span with 49 tackles.
- Ever since Barnett went down with a season-ending wrist injury in Week 4 vs. Detroit, Bishop has moved into the starting lineup and made his presence felt.
- In three starts, Bishop has registered 40 tackles, which tops his best season total of 27 tackles in 2008. His 41 tackles on the season (23 solo) rank No. 3 on the team.
- On Sunday night vs. Minnesota, Bishop made one of the game’s key plays when he picked off QB Brett Favre in the third quarter and returned the interception 32 yards for a touchdown. It was the first INT and TD of the fourth-year linebacker’s career, and the first INT return for a TD by a Packers LB since Barnett posted a 95-yarder vs. New Orleans on Oct. 9, 2005.
- With Hawk adding an INT of his own on Sunday night, the duo became the first Packers LB tandem to each post an INT in the same game since Barnett and Brady Poppinga posted picks at Miami on Oct. 22, 2006.
PRESSURE GOES BOTH WAYS
- When T Chad Clifton lined up as the starting left tackle on Sunday night vs. Minnesota, he became just the 19th player in Packers history to appear in 150 career games in a Green Bay uniform.
- Clifton is just the sixth offensive lineman in franchise annals to hit the 150-game mark, joining Forrest Gregg, Larry McCarren, Ron Hallstrom, Ken Ruettgers and Frank Winters.
- Against the division-rival Vikings, Clifton posted one of his finer performances in recent memory, limiting Pro Bowl DE Jared Allen to just one tackle and no sacks. The line as a whole didn’t allow a sack all evening, the third time this season that QB Aaron Rodgers has not been sacked in a game.
- Clifton was sidelined for both games against Minnesota in 2009 because of an ankle injury, and Allen registered 7.5 sacks in those two contests.
- An unrestricted free agent this offseason, Clifton re-signed with the Packers in March and has started all seven games at LT, bringing a veteran presence to a line that has allowed just 14 sacks this season.
- The N.Y. Jets are known for their wide array of blitzes under head coach Rex Ryan, and handling pressure is an area the Green Bay offense has had some success in over the past two seasons.
- According to STATS, Green Bay’s offense ranks No. 5 in the NFL in blitz-situation passing with a 106.7 passer rating. QB Aaron Rodgers has completed 48-of-68 passes for 668 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions. He has been sacked only three times, a 4.2 sack percentage that ranks No. 8 in the NFL.
- The Jets defense has limited opposing quarterbacks to a 76.8 passer rating in blitz situations this season, with signal-callers completing 66-of-137 attempts for 977 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions against them. New York has posted seven sacks, good for No. 7 in the league.
- The Jets were the best team in the league in blitz-situation passing in 2009, limiting opposing quarterbacks to just a 54.0 passer rating on 136-of-280 passing (48.6 percent) for 1,507 yards, two TDs and nine interceptions.
- No offense was better in the league in blitz-passing situations than the Packers were in 2009, as Rodgers connected on 125-of-180 passes (69.4 percent) for 1,699 yards, 11 TDs and three INTs for a 112.7 passer rating.
THIS TIME, CLOSE ONE GOES PACKERS’ WAY
- After Green Bay’s offense struggled on third down in back-to-back overtime losses to Washington and Miami in Weeks 5 and 6, the Packers bounced back on Sunday night with a solid performance in that area against the Vikings.
- In the two losses to the Redskins and Dolphins, the Packers converted on just 5-of-26 third-down opportunities (19.2 percent).
- On Sunday against Minnesota, Green Bay got above the 50 percent mark for the second time this season, picking up the first down on 6-of-11 third-down situations (54.5 percent). That percentage ranked second this season for Green Bay behind only the 7-of-12 performance (58.3 percent) in a 34-7 win over Buffalo in Week 2.
- Through Week 7, Green Bay’s offense ranks No. 17 in the league on third down, converting at a 38.8 percent clip (31-of-80).
- Green Bay was one of the best teams in the league on third down in 2009, as the Packers ranked No. 3 in the league at 47.2 percent (103-of-219), the highest mark posted by Green Bay since 2004 when it converted on third down 47.3 percent of the time.
- QB Aaron Rodgers was the league’s top-ranked passer (133.5 rating) on third down in 2009, the highest rating by an NFL QB since Kurt Warner’s 137.3 rating in 1999 with St. Louis. No quarterback threw for as many yards (1,710) or touchdowns (14) on third down as Rodgers, and he was one of only two quarterbacks (Tom Brady) in the league (min. 100 attempts) to not throw an interception on third down in ’09.
- While Rodgers hasn’t had the kind of production he had last season on third down, on Sunday night against the Vikings he posted a 125.8 passer rating on 7-of-10 passing for 77 yards and a TD with no INTs.
- Some of the Packers’ struggles this season on third down have come when they need to pick up 4 yards or less, as they rank No. 31 in the league at 40.7 percent (11-of-27) in those short-yardage situations.
- Ironically, the flip side of that is that no offense in the NFL has been more efficient in third-and-long situations than Green Bay. The Packers rank No. 1 in the league when needing 6 or more yards on third down, converting at a 36.8 percent clip (14-of-38).
- Defensively, the Jets rank No. 24 in the league on third down (42.0 percent), down from last season when they led the NFL (31.5 percent).
- Back-to-back overtime losses will sap any team’s resolve, but in another
- down-to-the-wire finish on Sunday night, the Packers somehow found
- enough deep down inside to reverse their fortunes.
- Back-to-back overtime losses will sap any team’s resolve, but in another down-to-the-wire finish on Sunday night, the Packers somehow found enough deep down inside to reverse their fortunes.
- Holding off what in all likelihood was Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre’s final drive at Lambeau Field, the Packers hung on for a 28-24 victory over the Vikings as Favre came up 20 yards short of the potential game-winning touchdown in the final seconds.
- “An excellent team win and an excellent character win,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “And it was definitely something that we needed.”
- That’s for sure. The consecutive overtime defeats the past two weeks had dropped the Packers to 3-3, and as the former Green Bay legend drove Minnesota from its own 17 as far as the Packers’ 15-yard line, it looked as though Favre might overcome his three second-half interceptions, pull off one last miracle in front of a sold-out Lambeau crowd (71,107), and drop the Packers below .500 with their third straight last-second defeat.
- But a false start followed by a facemask penalty on right tackle Phil Loadholt as he was trying to block linebacker Clay Matthews cost the Vikings 20 yards, pushing them all the way back to the 35. Ultimately, after replay correctly reversed a typical Favre rocket of a touchdown pass to Percy Harvin with 48 seconds left – Harvin’s second foot was out of bounds in the back of the end zone – the game came down to two throws intended for Randy Moss on third and fourth downs from the 20.
- But both sailed high and incomplete, out of the back of the end zone, and with a huge sigh of relief the Packers not only had beaten their former quarterback for the first time in three tries but had pulled into a first-place tie in the NFC North with the Chicago Bears at 4-3. Minnesota dropped to 2-4.
- “All the stuff we’ve been going through, these guys show so much heart, so much dedication just to go out there and fight, fight fight ‘til the end,” safety Nick Collins said. “This team can battle through anything.”
- Including more injuries on defense, as if that even seemed possible. The Packers got Matthews back from his hamstring troubles but defensive end Cullen Jenkins strained a calf muscle during warm-ups about an hour before the game and couldn’t play. On top of that, defensive end Ryan Pickett re-injured the ankle that forced him to sit out last week, and he was out again early on.
- But the defense overcame all that and was able to slow down the Vikings after they got on a roll in the first half.
- The Packers had grabbed a 14-7 lead on the strength of some big plays by receiver James Jones (four receptions, 107 yards), a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Brandon Jackson and a 9-yard TD catch by tight end Andrew Quarless. But the Packers had squandered other chances to score in the half, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw two interceptions in scoring territory, one to defensive end Jared Allen on a screen pass, and the other to safety Madieu Williams, who snagged a bullet into the end zone intended for wide receiver Greg Jennings that had been deflected by cornerback Frank Walker.
- In the meantime, Minnesota’s big-play guys were starting to take over as the Vikings grabbed the lead by halftime.
- Receiver Percy Harvin, who had 106 yards from scrimmage (65 receiving, 41 rushing), took an inside handoff and scored from 17 yards out for Minnesota’s first touchdown, tying the game at 7. Then, running back Adrian Peterson (28 carries, 131 yards) scored from a yard out to tie the game at 14 and Ryan Longwell’s 28-yard field goal gave Minnesota scores on three straight possessions for a 17-14 advantage.
- But the Green Bay defense shifted the momentum back in a big way in the second half.
- On Minnesota’s first possession, linebacker A.J. Hawk intercepted Favre as he was being pressured from behind by linebacker Brad Jones. The offense took advantage of the turnover and drove 41 yards for the go-ahead score, as Rodgers (21-of-34, 295 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 84.8 rating) connected with Jennings from 14 yards out to make it 21-17.
- Then just two snaps into the Vikings’ next drive, Favre was trying to avoid pressure again as he threw a short pass right to linebacker Desmond Bishop, who returned the pick 32 yards for a TD. Suddenly, with two scores less than a minute apart, the Packers led 28-17.
- “It’s huge to get the momentum in a game,” Hawk said. “We came out on fire as a defense (in the second half). They were really rolling against us, running the ball well, completing big third downs and scoring touchdowns, so we needed something, and luckily we got that. It’s crazy how fast it can switch, though.”
- It did, as Favre and the Vikings answered with a 58-yard TD drive, capped by a 4-yard pass to Moss, to get within 28-24 with 4:12 left in the third quarter.
- Strangely enough, there would be no more scoring in the game, but not for a lack of trying.
- The Packers drove all the way to the Minnesota 34-yard line early in the fourth quarter, only to have running back John Kuhn stuffed on fourth-and-inches. Then the Vikings countered by getting all the way to the Green Bay 35, but Collins made an incredibly athletic play, jumping over and around Harvin to intercept a third-down pass for Favre’s third interception in a span of four drives.
- Taking over with 9:18 left, Green Bay could only kill three minutes on the clock and punted, with Minnesota taking over on its own 17 for what turned out to be the final, nail-biting possession.
- “Obviously it was a gut-check time,” said cornerback Tramon Williams, who was the primary reason Moss had just three catches for 30 yards on the night. “We’d pretty much been in this situation all year and been coming up on the short end of the stick.”
- But not this time. After Favre’s final two heaves to Moss were no good, he was left with numbers (16-of-29, 212 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT, 50.4 rating) that paled in comparison those from last year against Green Bay, when he threw seven TDs with no picks, torching the Packers in two big victories.
- The Packers had come so agonizingly close to victories the past two weeks, but this time it was their opponent who was left to lament what might have been.
- “We knew it was going to be a grinder, character, gut-it-out type of performance and our guys stepped up big,” McCarthy said. “I was very, very proud of those guys today.”
- As Collins said, the players were proud of each other, too, and rightly so after what the team has been through.
- “We all have the intestinal fortitude to pull these games out,” nose tackle B.J. Raji said. “Early in the season it didn’t go our way. Tonight it did.
- “This was a long time coming. I’m glad we got this one. Hopefully we can continue this like we did last year get on a roll.”