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-Bears NFC Championship Game Dope Sheet. To read the full version, download the PDF by clicking here.
Here are some highlights from the Packers-Bears NFC Championship Game Dope Sheet:
GREEN BAY (12-6) AT CHICAGO (12-5)
Sunday, Jan. 23 - Soldier Field - 2 p.m. CST
PACKERS TRAVEL TO CHICAGO FOR NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
- The NFL’s oldest rivalry continues this Sunday as the Packers and Bears meet for game No. 182 in the all-time series and for just the second time ever in the postseason with a berth in Super Bowl XLV on the line.
- No two franchises in NFL annals have met more than Green Bay and Chicago. The Bears hold a 92-83-6 edge in the series, which includes the one postseason matchup.
- The lone playoff meeting between the rivals came on Dec. 14, 1941, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. In a Western Division Playoff contest necessitated when both teams finished the year 10-1, each having given the other its lone loss, the Bears topped the Packers 33-14 behind their offensive trio of George McAfee, Norm Standlee and Hugh Gallarneau.
- Not only is this only the second postseason meeting between the Packers and the Bears, but this is just the fourth time that both teams advanced to the playoffs in the same season.
- Green Bay advanced to the NFC title game with a 48-21 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on Saturday night. It was only the second time since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990 that a No. 6 seed beat a No. 1 seed in the NFC. Combined with the Packers’ Wild Card win at Philadelphia, it was the first time in team history that the Packers won two road playoff games in a postseason.
- The Bears beat Seattle, 35-24, at Soldier Field on Sunday to advance to their second NFC title game in the past five seasons. Chicago hosted New Orleans in the 2006 NFC Championship.
- For the third straight week in the playoffs, the Packers will be traveling to face a team they also visited in the regular season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Green Bay is the first NFL team to play road contests against three teams in both the regular season and postseason in the same season. The 2008 Baltimore Ravens were the last NFL team to play three teams, regardless of location, in the regular season and the playoffs (Miami, Tennessee, Pittsburgh).
- The Packers and Bears split the season series, with each team winning on its home field. Chicago beat Green Bay, 20-17, at Soldier Field in Week 3 while the Packers clinched a playoff berth with their 10-3 victory at Lambeau Field in Week 17. With the games being decided by a total of 10 points, it was the lowest number in the season series since 1998 (Green Bay sweep, 26-20, 16-13).
WITH THE CALL
- FOX Sports, now in its 17th season as an NFL network television partner, will broadcast the game to a national audience.
- Play-by-play man Joe Buck and color analyst Troy Aikman will have the call from the broadcast booth with Pam Oliver and Chris Myers 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. Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Randy Cross (analyst) will call the action with Mark Malone reporting from the sidelines, and Scott Graham hosts pregame and halftime shows.
- Univison Radio will also broadcast the game with Eduardo Martell (play-by-play) and Mario Guzmán (color) calling the action.
FOR THE GEORGE S. HALAS TROPHY
- No franchise has won more NFC Championships (including NFL Championship Games, 1933-69) than the Packers, who have emerged victorious 10 times in 14 appearances.
- Sunday will be the fifth time Green Bay has played in the NFC title contest since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
- This will be Green Bay’s second NFC Championship appearance in the past four seasons (2007), which makes them the only team in the NFC to play in the conference title game twice over that span.
- The team’s first appearance came in 1995, when it traveled to Dallas. Green Bay held a fourth-quarter lead but fell behind after two fourth-quarter rushing TDs from Emmitt Smith as the Packers’ season ended in Dallas for the third straight year.
- The Packers reached the NFC title game again the following year, hosting the first title game at Lambeau Field since the ‘Ice Bowl’. The Packers overcame two early deficits to defeat the Panthers, 30-13, for their first Super Bowl appearance in 29 years. They would go on to win the club’s third Super Bowl and 12th NFL championship.
- In ’97, the Packers reached the title game for the third consecutive season, this time traveling to San Francisco. Green Bay built a comfortable 13-3 lead on a rain-soaked afternoon in an eventual 23-10 win as they bounced the 49ers from the playoffs for the third straight year.
- In ’07, the Packers hosted the Giants in the third-coldest contest in championship game history with a game-time temperature of minus-1 and wind chill of minus-23. Lawrence Tynes sent New York to the Super Bowl with a 47-yard field goal in overtime for the Giants’ 23-20 victory.
THE DOPE ON THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT:
Packers vs. Chicago Bears:
All-time regular season: 83-91-6
All-time, postseason: 0-1
All-time, at Soldier Field: 19-19-0
Streaks: The Packers have won four of the last six meetings.
Last meeting, regular season: Jan. 2, 2011, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 10-3
Last meeting, postseason: Dec. 14, 1941, Western Division playoff at Wrigley Field, Chicago; Bears won, 33-14
Mike McCarthy: 51-34-0, .600, (incl. 3-2 postseason); 5th NFL season
Lovie Smith: 66-51-0, .564 (incl. 3-2 postseason); 7th NFL season
Head to Head: 5-5
vs. Opponent: McCarthy 5-5 vs. Bears; Smith 8-6 vs. Packers
MIKE McCARTHY…Is in fifth year as the Packers’ 14th head coach.
- Has led his team to the playoffs three of the past four years, and to the NFC Championship twice in that span.
- 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 five 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.
LOVIE SMITH…Is in seventh year as the Bears’ 13th head coach.
- With 63 regular-season wins, ranks third in franchise history behind Hall of Famers Mike Ditka and George Halas.
- Guided the team to its first Super Bowl appearance in 21 years in ’06.
- Named the AP NFL Coach of the Year in 2005 after he led a worst-to-first revival in the NFC North. The Bears’ six-win improvement from the previous season was tied for the biggest in the NFL that year.
- Came to Chicago from St. Louis, where he served as defensive coordinator from 2001-03, helping the Rams return to the Super Bowl in 2001. Prior to that, coached LBs for Tampa Bay from 1996-2000.
THE PACKERS-BEARS SERIES
- No two teams have met on the gridiron more than the Packers and Bears. Sunday they face off for the 182nd time, but for just the second time in the postseason.
- The Packers swept the season series in ‘09 for the first time since 2003. That ‘03 sweep capped a seven-game win streak and an 18-2 stretch dating back to 1994. On only four occasions in NFL history has a team enjoyed a better 20-game stretch against a single foe.
- Chicago has swept the season series twice in the last five years (2005, ‘07), their only series sweeps since 1991.
- The Packers’ 37-3 win on Nov. 16, 2008, marked the largest margin of victory in the series since Green Bay’s 40-3 win on Dec. 11, 1994. Chicago’s win in December of that year was just the second OT game in series history and first since Sept. 7, 1980, when Packers K Chester Marcol returned his own blocked FG for the winning score.
- The last time Green Bay led the overall series? On the heels of its three straight NFL championships, 1932, when the Packers led 11-10-5. Two months after Babe Ruth allegedly called his shot at Wrigley Field in the 1932 World Series, the Bears stole from Green Bay a fourth straight title (which at the time was determined by league standings). Chicago barely finished atop the league standings, which unlike today did not count ties. Had the league counted ties in standings, the Packers would have won. The next year, 1933, the NFL began determining its champion with postseason games.
Green Bay RB coach Edgar Bennett finished his playing career in Chicago (1998-99)...Packers asst. O-line coach Jerry Fontenot was a third-round draft choice of the Bears in 1989 and was a mainstay at C in his eight seasons (1989-96) in Chicago...Lovie Smith was a Univ. of Wisconsin assistant in 1987, while Bears LB coach Bob Babich spent two seasons on the Badgers’ staff (1988-89)...Packers DE Ryan Pickett played in St. Louis for both Smith and Bears off. coord. Mike Martz, when Smith served as the Rams’ def. coord. and Martz as head coach...Bears assistant DB/safeties coach Gill Byrd served as the Packers exec. dir./player prog. and comm. affairs from 1999-2001...Packers T/G Bryan Bulaga earned all-state honors as a senior at Marian Central Catholic High (Woodstock, Ill.)...Bears TE coach Mike DeBord was the head coach at Central Michigan when Packers DE Cullen Jenkins played there...Packers WR coach Jimmy Robinson was on the staff of Memphis (USFL) in 1985 when Bears RB coach Tim Spencer played for the Showboats...Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy was a teammate of Bears WR coach Darryl Drake with the Redskins in 1979...Bears asst. special teams coach Chris Tabor was the special teams coach at Utah State for Packers CB Jarrett Bush’s final season there (2005)...Bears off. quality control coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker was a college teammate of Packers coaching admin. Curtis Fuller at TCU...Bears DE Julius Peppers was a key member of the Carolina defenses that Packers DL coach Mike Trgovac coordinated from 2003-08...Bears LB Nick Roach is a Milwaukee native who played in college at Northwestern...Packers QB Matt Flynn, FB Quinn Johnson and Bears S Craig Steltz led LSU to the BCS national title in 2007...Other former college teammates include Bears WR Rashied Davis and Packers WR James Jones (San Jose State), Bears WR Devin Aromashodu and Packers CB Pat Lee (Auburn), Bears CB Zackary Bowman, S Josh Bullocks and Packers RB Brandon Jackson (Nebraska), Bears DT Marcus Harrison and Packers LS Brett Goode (Arkansas), Bears LB Brian Iwuh and Packers K Mason Crosby (Colorado), Bears G Lance Louis and Packers WR Brett Swain (San Diego State), and Bears TE Greg Olsen and Packers CB Sam Shields (Miami).
INDIVIDUALLY VS. BEARS
QB Aaron Rodgers is a combined 133-of-194 for 1,396 yards with seven TDs and four INTs (92.6 rating) in six career games...WR Donald Driver’s regular-season career-long catch was an 85-yard TD reception at Chicago (Champaign) on Oct. 7, 2002, on Monday Night Football. Driver has 1,027 career receiving yards against the Bears...WR Greg Jennings has five career TD catches vs. Chicago...S Nick Collins has six career INTs, including a two-INT game at Chicago on Dec. 31, 2006, that featured a 55-yard TD return...The first two-INT game of CB Charles Woodson’s career came at Chicago on Oct. 5, 2003, while playing for Oakland. Woodson has had four games with two INTs since coming to Green Bay.
LAST MEETING, REGULAR SEASON
- Jan. 2, 2011, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 10-3.
- Needing a win to qualify for the postseason, the Packers trailed 3-0 in the third quarter when S Charlie Peprah intercepted QB Jay Cutler in the end zone to keep the Bears from extending their lead.
- CB Tramon Williams ran a punt back 41 yards to help set up the tying FG late in the third, and the Packers drove 75 yards for the winning TD early in the fourth. A 21-yard catch by Donald Driver was followed by a 46-yard grab by Greg Jennings and a 1-yard TD pass to Donald Lee.
- The Bears drove to the Green Bay 32-yard line in the final moments, but Cutler’s deep pass to WR Devin Hester was picked off by S Nick Collins with 10 seconds left.
LAST MEETING, POSTSEASON
- Dec. 14, 1941, Western Division playoff at Wrigley Field, Chicago; Bears won, 33-14.
- With both teams 10-1 and having beaten each other in the regular season, the Bears dominated to advance to the NFL title game.
- The Packers took an early 7-0 lead when the Bears fumbled the opening kickoff and scored on Clarke Hinkle’s 1-yard TD run.
- But Chicago rattled off 30 straight points by halftime to take control, begun when Hugh Gallarneau returned a punt 81 yards for a TD.
- The Bears rushed for 277 yards on the day, led by George McAfee’s 119 and Norm Standlee’s 79 yards with two TDs. Green Bay’s Don Hutson was held to just one catch for 19 yards.
- Green Bay’s 26th postseason berth in team history marks the franchise’s 13th appearance in the last 18 seasons and the third in the past four years under Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
- Sunday will be the second NFC Championship contest for the Packers in the past four seasons, and the fifth since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
- The Packers’ 26 playoff appearances rank tied for No. 4 in NFL history behind only the N.Y. Giants and Dallas (30 each) and Cleveland/L.A./St. Louis Rams (27).
- Green Bay’s win at Atlanta this past Saturday was its 27th in the postseason, third most in NFL history. The Packers now trail only Dallas (33) and Pittsburgh (32) for the most playoff victories.
- The Packers own the league’s best postseason winning percentage (.628, 27-16) among NFL teams ahead of Pittsburgh (.627, 32-19), Baltimore (.600, 9-6) and Carolina (.600, 6-4).
- Green Bay is 5-3 (.625) this season against 2010 playoff teams, with four of its wins coming on the road (Philadelphia, Week 1 and NFC Wild Card; N.Y. Jets, Week 8; Atlanta, NFC Divisional). The Bears are 4-3 (.571) on the year against ’10 playoff teams.
- The Packers (2007, 2009, 2010) are one of only two teams in the NFC to advance to the postseason in three of the past four seasons, with the Eagles (2008-10) the other team to do so. Since realignment in 2002, the Packers are tied for No. 2 in the NFC (with Seattle) with six playoff appearances behind only Philadelphia (seven).
- On Sunday, the Packers will look to become the first No. 6 seed in the NFC to advance to the Super Bowl since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990. The 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers are the only other No. 6 seed to advance to the Super Bowl since ’90.
PRODUCTION ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL
- Green Bay was one of four teams in the NFL to have both the offense (No. 9) and defense (No. 5) rank among the league’s top 10. That is the second straight year the Packers have had both units finish in the top 10 with the 2009 team featuring the No. 6 offense and the No. 2 defense, and the first time Green Bay has accomplished that feat since 1997-98.
- Green Bay’s offense ranked among the league’s top 10 for the fifth consecutive season and posted its most prolific performance against the Giants in Week 16 when it recorded a season-high 515 yards, the most since the Packers registered 548 at Oakland on Dec. 22, 2003.
- Despite missing the Week 15 contest at New England due to a concussion, QB Aaron Rodgers finished among the top 10 in nearly every significant passing category for the second straight season.
- Rodgers spread the ball around, with three wide receivers hitting the 50-catch mark for the first time in franchise history. Greg Jennings (76), Donald Driver (51) and James Jones (50) all posted 50 receptions on the season. The Packers were one of only five NFL teams in 2010 to have three WRs with 50-plus receptions.
- On the other side of the ball, the Packers posted their best scoring defense mark since the Super Bowl champion team of 1996 (13.1 ppg). Green Bay finished No. 2 in the league by giving up 15.0 points per game, trailing only Pittsburgh (14.5), highlighted by three games where its opponent did not get into the end zone.
- The Packers also posted 47 sacks, the most by a Green Bay defense since the 2001 team registered 52. With the 47 sacks, the Packers finished tied for No. 2 in the NFL behind only Pittsburgh (48), the highest ranking in franchise history.
- Green Bay finished No. 6 in the NFL with 32 takeaways, including 24 interceptions (No. 2). It was the second straight 30-plus takeaway season for the Packers, the first time they had accomplished that feat since 2002-03.
IN THE DIVISION
- Sunday will not only be just the second postseason meeting ever between Green Bay and Chicago, but playing a division rival in the playoffs is also a rarity for the Packers.
- Sunday will be just the fifth time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger that the
- Packers have faced a team from their division in the postseason.
- The last time Green Bay squared off against a division rival was on Jan. 9, 2005, when the Packers hosted the Minnesota Vikings in an NFC Wild Card contest at Lambeau Field.
- Prior to that, the Packers hosted Tampa Bay on Jan. 4, 1998 in an NFC Divisional contest when both teams were in the NFC Central.
- Green Bay also faced Detroit in back-to-back postseasons, traveling to Detroit on Jan. 8, 1994, for a Wild Card contest and hosting the Lions again for a Wild Card game on Dec. 31, 1994.
- The Packers have a 3-1 record against divisional opponents in the playoffs since 1970, with the lone loss coming to the Vikings in 2005.
- The Packers have a 21-9 (.700) regular-season mark against NFC North opponents under Head Coach Mike McCarthy, which ranks first among NFC North teams over that period and tied for No. 4 in the NFL. Chicago ranks No. 2 in the division with a 19-11 mark (.633) over that span.
- Green Bay posted a 4-2 record in the NFC North this season, the fifth straight season under McCarthy that the Packers won at least four contests in their division. The Packers joined New England as the only NFL teams to post four-plus wins in its division each year from 2006-10.
STAT OF THE WEEK
- Green Bay’s 48 points at Atlanta on Saturday night in the Divisional contest were a franchise single-game postseason record, topping the mark of 45 set just last season at Arizona in the Packers’ 51-45 Wild Card overtime loss to the Cardinals.
- The Packers became the first team in NFL playoff history to register 45-plus points in a game in back-to-back postseasons.
- Green Bay’s final scoring total against the Falcons wasn’t the only mark set on Saturday night. The Packers’ 28 points in the second quarter were the most in a quarter in team playoff history, besting the record of 24 vs. the N.Y. Giants in the 1961 NFL Championship (also in the second quarter).
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last NFL team to score that many points in a quarter in a playoff game was Philadelphia on Dec. 30, 1995, vs. Detroit (31 points in the second quarter).
- All three of the Packers’ top single-game postseason point totals have come during Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure. Green Bay beat Seattle, 42-20, in an NFC Divisional contest at Lambeau Field on Jan. 12, 2008.
- Saturday night was the third time this season that the Packers have posted 45-plus points in a game (45-7, vs. Dallas, Week 9; 45-17, vs. N.Y. Giants, Week 16). It is the first time Green Bay has recorded three 45-point games in a season (including playoffs) since the 1962 NFL Championship team accomplished the feat.
- The Packers’ 27-point win over Atlanta was tied for the second-largest margin of victory in team playoff history behind only the 37-point win vs. the N.Y. Giants on Dec. 31, 1961 (37-0) in the NFL title game.
DEFENSE KEEPING THEM OUT
- Having finished No. 2 in the league’s final overall rankings and No. 7 in points allowed in 2009, the Green Bay defense enjoyed an even more productive year when it came to keeping opponents off the scoreboard.
- The Packers ranked No. 2 in the league in scoring defense, allowing the opposition an average of just 15.0 points per game, as they trailed only Pittsburgh (14.5) in the category.
- Including their 21-16 NFC Wild Card win at Philadelphia, the Packers have allowed 17 or fewer points in 10 of 18 games this season.
- In both of the Packers’ playoff wins this season, they have held their opponents under their regular-season scoring average. The Eagles (No. 3 at 27.4 ppg) posted just 16 points while the Falcons (No. 5 at 25.9 ppg) scored 21 points.
- Green Bay allowed just 24 TDs during the regular season, the fewest by the Packers since 19 in 1996, and that total was No. 2 in the NFL behind only the Steelers (22).
- The No. 2 scoring ranking was the Packers’ best mark since they finished No. 1 in the league in that category during the 1996 Super Bowl season (13.1 per game).
- In the final nine regular-season games, the Packers gave up 10.4 points per contest, including five games where they held their opponents to seven points or less. In Week 15 they allowed a season-high 31 points against a New England team that finished No. 1 in the NFL in scoring offense at 32.4 per game, but 14 of those points came courtesy of an INT for a TD and long kickoff return that put New England at Green Bay’s 4-yard line.
- Green Bay finished No. 5 in the NFL in overall defense, allowing an average of 309.1 yards per game, and No. 5 in the league in passing defense at 194.2 yards per game.
- With the No. 5 ranking this season and a No. 2 ranking in 2009, the Packers finished in the top five in overall defense in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1968-69.
- In two playoff contests, the Packers have allowed 273.0 yards per game, including just 194 total yards to Atlanta in Saturday night’s win. That was the fewest yards allowed by Green Bay in a playoff game since Dec. 31, 1994, vs. Detroit (171 yards).
- After leading the NFL in run defense for the first time in 2009 by allowing a franchise-record 83.3 yards per game, the Packers weren’t quite as productive against the run as they finished No. 18 in the league with 114.9 yards allowed per game this season.
- Green Bay allowed just six rushing TDs all year, which ranked No. 3 in the NFL. The Packers’ 11 rushing TDs given up over the past two seasons are the fewest in a two-year span in team history.
- The Packers have given up just 63.0 yards per game on the ground in the postseason, and limited Falcons Pro Bowl RB Michael Turner to only 39 yards on 10 carries on Saturday night, which matched his season low.
- Until Vikings RB Adrian Peterson rushed for 131 yards in Week 7, Green Bay’s defense hadn’t allowed a running back to rush for 100 yards for 19 straight games. Peterson and Turner (Week 12 this season) are the only backs to eclipse 100 yards vs. Green Bay since Week 3 of 2009.
- The 19-game streak was the second longest in team history since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, trailing only a 24-game game stretch from Sept. 20, 1970-Nov. 22, 1971.
- The defense limited the Eagles to a season-low 82 yards on 21 carries (3.9 avg.) in the Wild Card victory. Philadelphia was the only team in the league this season to average 4 yards per carry in all 16 games.
- Under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the Packers thrived in their new 3-4 scheme in 2009, finishing No. 1 against the run 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 in ’09, second behind the N.Y. Jets (252.3) and ahead of No. 3 Baltimore (300.5).
- In his first year as a full-time starter in 2010, CB Tramon Williams
- has delivered impactful performances throughout the season.
- In Saturday’s Divisional win at Atlanta, Williams became just the fourth player in franchise history to post two interceptions in a playoff game. That included a pick on the last play of the first half that he took 70 yards for a TD, the second-longest INT return in Packers playoff history behind only S George Teague (101t, at Detroit, Jan. 8, 1994).
- Williams’ interception of a Michael Vick pass in the end zone in the final minute clinched Green Bay’s 21-16 Wild Card win over Philadelphia.
- With three career postseason INTs, all coming in the past two games, Williams ranks tied for No. 4 in team postseason history behind a trio of players with four career INTs (CB Herb Adderley, CB Craig Newsome, S Eugene Robinson).
- Williams’ three INTs in this year’s playoffs rank No. 1 in the league, and he is the first player to register three picks in a postseason since Giants CB R.W. McQuarters also posted three in 2007.
- Williams ranks No. 1 in the NFL with a combined nine interceptions (regular season and playoffs) this season.
- In Week 5 at Washington, Williams posted a 52-yard punt return in the second quarter and a 64-yard interception return in the fourth quarter as he 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, joining Dallas’ Deion Sanders (Sept. 21, 1998) and the late Darrent Williams of Denver (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 posted his sixth interception of the season in Week 16 against the Giants, which topped his previous career high of five set in 2008.
- He led the Packers with a career-high 23 passes defensed, topping his previous mark of 22 in 2009, and was named the first alternate at cornerback for the Pro Bowl.
- All of Williams’ interceptions came in the last 12 regular-season games, and his six interceptions on the season tied him for No. 5 in the NFL.
- Williams posted four or more interceptions in each of the past three seasons. He is the only undrafted player in the NFL to accomplish that feat each of the last three seasons (2008-10).
- At the N.Y. Jets in Week 8, Williams recorded an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, the first time in his career he posted all three in the same game. It was the second straight season a Green Bay CB had accomplished that feat, with Charles Woodson registering all three last season at Detroit in Week 12.
TAKING HIS PLACE AMONG THE GAME’S BEST
- With 35 passing attempts at Atlanta in Week 12, QB Aaron Rodgers sur-
- passed the 1,500-attempt plateau for his career, the benchmark to qualify
- for career passer rating in the NFL.
- Rodgers has completed 1,038-of-1,611 passes (64.4 percent) in his career for 12,723 yards and 87 touchdowns with 32 interceptions for a 98.4 passer rating in the regular season.
- That rating ranks No. 1 in NFL history, ahead of San Diego QB Philip Rivers, who has a 97.2 career rating.
- Four of the top five rated passers in NFL history are active quarterbacks, with Steve Young (96.8), Tony Romo (95.5) and Tom Brady (95.2) rounding out the top five.
- With a passer rating of 101.2 this season, Rodgers became the first quarterback in franchise history to record a 100-plus passer rating in back-to-back seasons (103.2 in 2009).
- Rodgers joins Rivers as the only NFL signal-callers to register a 100-plus rating in each of the past two seasons, and Rodgers’ combined rating of 102.3 in 2009-10 ranks No. 3 in the league behind Brady (103.1) and Rivers (103.0).
- Having missed the Week 15 game at New England and half of the previous game at Detroit due to a concussion, Rodgers fell 78 yards shy of his third straight 4,000-yard season.
- With 3,922 passing yards this season, Rodgers brought his total in three seasons as a starter to 12,394. That ranks No. 2 in NFL history behind only Kurt Warner (12,612, 1999-2001) for the most passing yards by a QB in his first three seasons as a starter.
- Rodgers completed 312-of-475 passes on the season, a 65.7 completion percentage that ranks No. 2 in team history behind only Brett Favre’s 66.5 mark in 2007.
- Rodgers has thrown just 31 interceptions in his three seasons as a starter, a 2.0 interception percentage that leads the league over that span among quarterbacks with 40 or more starts.
- Rodgers also ranks No. 1 in NFL history (min. 1,500 attempts) in career interception percentage at 2.0, ahead of Neil O’Donnell (2.1) and Brady (2.2).
- Rodgers finished in the top 10 in nearly every major passing category again this season, despite missing the Week 15 contest at New England. He finished No. 3 in passer rating (101.2), No. 7 in yards (3,922), tied for No. 6 in TDs (28), and No. 2 in 25-yard passes (40).
- He joins Brady and Rivers as nominees for FedEx Air NFL Player of the Year, which will be awarded during the week of Super Bowl XLV.
- Rodgers threw four TD passes at Minnesota in Week 11, his regular-season career high. His passer rating of 141.3 (22-of-31, 301 yards), was the second-best single-game mark in his career behind only his 155.4 rating at Cleveland on Oct. 25, 2009.
- Rodgers joined Eagles QB Michael Vick (at Washington, Nov. 15) and Brady (at Detroit, Nov. 25, vs. N.Y. Jets, Dec. 6) as the only QBs to post a 140-plus passer rating, 300 yards passing and four passing TDs in a game this season.
- He matched that career-best TD total with four against the Giants in Week 16, and his 404 yards passing were a regular-season career best. It was the 10th game in which he had three-or-more TD passes and no INTs, the most by an NFL quarterback within three seasons of his first NFL start. It topped Warner’s mark of nine from 1999-2001.
- Last season, Rodgers threw for 4,434 yards as he became the first QB in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons as a starter.
- In 2009, Rodgers joined 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.
- In 47 career starts, Rodgers has eclipsed the century mark in passer rating 25 times and recorded 14 games of 300-plus yards. He posted his 20th career 100-plus passer rating game in just his 36th career start, which ranks third among NFL QBs since 1970 behind only Warner (33) and Romo (34).
- Rodgers threw 70 TD passes in his first 40 career starts, a Packers franchise record.
HEATING UP ON THE BIG STAGE
- As productive as Rodgers has been during the regular season in his three
- years as the starter, his numbers have been even more impressive in the
- With his three-TD performance Saturday night at Atlanta in his third career playoff start, Rodgers etched his name in the NFL postseason record books.
- Combining Saturday’s outing with his four-TD passing game last season at Arizona in an NFC Wild Card contest and his three-TD game at Philadelphia in the Wild Card round this year, Rodgers’ 10 touchdown passes in his first three postseason starts are the most in NFL history. It topped the mark of nine held by Jeff George, Daryle Lamonica and Dan Marino in their first three playoff starts. Rodgers is also the first QB in NFL postseason history to throw for three-plus TDs in each of his first three playoff starts.
- Rodgers connected on 31-of-36 passes (86.1 percent) for 366 yards and three TDs with no INTs against the Falcons for a 136.8 passer rating. The 31 completions and the percentage were single-game team postseason records.
- The 86.1 completion percentage ranks No. 5 in single-game NFL postseason history, and No. 1 among QBs with 35-plus attempts in a game.
- Along with his 121.4 passer rating against the Cardinals in the playoffs last season (28-of-42, 423 yards, four TDs, one INT) and his 122.5 rating two weeks ago against the Eagles (18-of-27, 180 yards, three TDs, no INTs) Rodgers is the only quarterback in league history to register 120-plus passer ratings in each of his first three playoff starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. No other NFL quarterback has posted a 120-plus rating in each of his first two postseason starts.
- Rodgers’ career postseason passer rating of 129.4 ranks No. 1 in NFL history. His rating of 134.5 during the 2010 playoffs currently ranks No. 3 in NFL annals (min. 50 attempts) for the top mark in a single postseason behind San Francisco’s Joe Montana (146.4 in 1989) and Green Bay’s Bart Starr (135.6 in 1966).
- Rodgers’ career postseason completion percentage of 73.3 (77-of-105) ranks No. 1 in NFL postseason history (min. 50 attempts).
- He holds both of the top single-game passing yardage marks in Green Bay postseason history with the 423-yard outing at Arizona last season and the 366-yard performance at Atlanta this past Saturday. He has also recorded three of the franchise’s top seven single-game passer ratings in playoff history.
- He also ran for a 7-yard TD on Saturday night in Atlanta, the second postseason rushing score of his career. With that rushing TD, he became the first QB in NFL postseason history to throw for 350 yards/three TDs/no INTs while also running for a score in a game.
- The Packers matched their season high with six sacks in the regular-
- season finale against Chicago, a fitting end to a 2010 campaign that saw
- them have their most productive year in the category since 2001.
- With 47 sacks as a team, Green Bay was tied for No. 2 in the NFL behind only Pittsburgh (48), and the Packers finished No. 1 in the league in sack yardage with 333.
- The Packers’ No. 2 finish in the league was the best mark in franchise history since sacks began to be recorded as a team stat in 1963. The previous high ranking in sacks for Green Bay was No. 3, a spot held on three occasions (1965, 1966, 2001).
- The team had 15 different players record at least a half-sack on the season, the most by the Packers since sacks became an official individual statistic in 1982 (excluding the 1987 season when replacement players contributed to a total of 17). Green Bay’s total of 15 players was tied for No. 3 in the the NFL this season behind only San Diego (18) and New England (16).
- Green Bay’s six-sack performance in Week 17 against the Bears was the Packers’ sixth game with four-plus sacks this season. That is the most by a Green Bay team since the 2006 team also posted six four-sack games. The Packers went 5-1 in those four-sack games this season.
- Green Bay sacked Atlanta QB Matt Ryan five times on Saturday night in the Divisional contest, the most the Falcons allowed in a game all season. The Packers’ five sacks were the most in a playoff game since they recorded eight sacks at Philadelphia on Jan. 11, 2004, and Green Bay’s defense has posted eight sacks combined in the two postseason contests.
- Since Dom Capers took over as defensive coordinator in 2009, the Packers have registered 84 sacks as a team. That ranks tied for No. 2 in the NFL over that span behind only Philadelphia (95) and is the best two-year total by Green Bay since it registered 95 from 2001-02.
- Led by LB Clay Matthews (13.5), DE Cullen Jenkins (7.0) and NT B.J. Raji (6.5), the Packers were one of only six NFL teams to have three players with six-plus sacks this season. The last time a Green Bay defense did so was in 2007 (Aaron Kampman, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Corey Williams).
CONTROLLING THE CLOCK
- The Packers led the NFL in 2009 in time of possession, and the team has won the battle in that category in eight of the last 10 games (including playoffs).
- Against an Atlanta team that finished No. 3 in league in time of possession this season at 32:15 per game, Green Bay controlled the clock for 38:19.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that mark was the best by the Packers in a postseason game since the statistic began to be recorded in 1977. The previous best for Green Bay was 38:03 against Carolina in the 1996 NFC Championship.
- The Packers have had the edge in time of possession in both postseason games this year, averaging 35:09 in the category.
- Facing a Giants team in Week 16 that entered the game ranked No. 1 in the league at 33:14, the Packers dominated the time of possession at 37:01, the second time in three games that Green Bay had controlled the clock for 37-plus minutes. New York had won the time-of-possession battle in 11 of its first 14 games, and the 22:59 mark by the Giants at Lambeau Field was a season low.
- In the Packers’ Week 15 loss at New England, they controlled the clock for 40:48, their best mark since a 41:39 effort vs. San Francisco last season in Week 11.
- It was also the most time of possession any opponent had registered against New England since the Steelers held the ball for 42:58 at Pittsburgh on Oct. 31, 2004.
- The Packers finished the season ranked No. 8 in the NFL with a time-of-possession average of 31:36. Of the seven teams that were ahead of the Packers, five qualified for the playoffs.
- The Packers’ league-leading average of 33:03 last season was the team’s best mark since 1977, the year the Elias Sports Bureau began keeping the statistic.
- In 2010, Green Bay led the NFL this season with 30 drives of five-plus minutes, an improvement over last season’s mark of 22 (tied for No. 14).
- The Packers also checked in at No. 5 with 30 10-play drives, a jump up from 2009 when they finished No. 22 in the NFL with 23 drives of 10-plus plays.
- All three of Green Bay’s TD drives at Philadelphia in the Wild Card contest were 10-plus plays and took at least 5:30.
- Green Bay carried that over this past Saturday at Atlanta with a pair of five-minute TD drives to start its scoring. That made five straight five-minute TD drives for the Packers as they became the first NFL team to do so in a postseason since the 1990 N.Y. Giants.
- Four of the Packers’ TD drives on Saturday night were at least 80 yards in length, the first time they accomplished that feat this season and the first time ever in the postseason. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last NFL team to have four 80-yard TD drives in a playoff game was Carolina on Feb. 1, 2004, vs. New England (Super Bowl XXXVIII).
- Of Green Bay’s eight TD drives this postseason, five have been 80-plus yards.
KEEPING THE CHAINS MOVING
- Green Bay’s offense didn’t enjoy quite the same level of success as it did last season on third down when it finished No. 3 at 47.0 percent, but the unit significantly improved its play during the second half of the season and has carried that over into the playoffs.
- In the two playoff games, the Packers have converted 16-of-25 third-down opportunities (64.0 percent), topping the 60-percent mark in each contest.
- At Atlanta on Saturday night, Green Bay posted a 66.7 conversion rate on third down (8-of-12), following up their 61.5 percent outing (8-of-13) the previous week in Philadelphia.
- Entering the Week 9 contest vs. Dallas ranked No. 26 in the league with a 35.1 conversion rate on third down this season, the offense was successful on 10-of-15 third-down opportunities against the Cowboys, including 7-of-8 in the first half.
- That 66.7 rate was the best single-game performance by a Green Bay offense since the Packers were successful on 71.4 percent of their third-down opportunities (10-of-14) vs. Cleveland on Sept. 18, 2005.
- The Packers followed that up with an 8-of-15 outing (53.3 percent) on third down in Week 11 at Minnesota, the first time this season Green Bay topped the 50-percent conversion mark in two straight games.
- After a 4-of-12 performance in the Week 12 loss at Atlanta, the Packers bounced back with a 9-of-15 showing (60.0 percent) in the win over San Francisco the following Sunday.
- Over the final eight regular-season games, the Packers converted at a 46.8-percent clip (52-of-111) on third down compared to the 35.1 mark (33-of-94) in the first half of the season.
- Green Bay moved up 18 spots in the league rankings since Week 9, finishing at No. 8 in the NFL with a 41.5 conversion rate. That was the fourth straight season that the Packers finished in the top 10 in the category.
- This Sunday, Green Bay will be facing a Chicago defense that kept them in check on third down in the two regular-season meetings. The Packers were successful on 6-of-21 opportunities (28.6 percent) against a Bears team that finished the season No. 6 in the league in the category at 34.7 percent.
WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE
- Green Bay’s six losses this season came by a combined 20 points, a 3.33 margin of defeat that ranked No. 1 in the NFL.
- The Packers never lost a game by more than four points this season, but even more impressive, they never trailed by more than seven points at any point in a game this season.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Green Bay became the first team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to never trail by more than seven points in a game at any point in a season, with the 1969 Minnesota Vikings the last to do so.
- The Packers’ 3.33 average margin of defeat was the lowest in franchise history since the team lost two games by a total of four points (2.0 avg.) in 1966.
- In 2010, Baltimore ranked No. 2 (4.00) in the category with Indianapolis checking in at No. 3 (7.17). The next closest teams in the NFC were Atlanta and Philadelphia (7.67).
- According to STATS, the average margin of defeat in NFL games this season was 11.75, and the average among playoff teams was 10.64. Of the 32 teams in the league, 17 had an average margin of defeat of 10 or more points this season.
- Green Bay’s average of margin of defeat this season was the lowest by a team with five or more losses since San Francisco’s 3.00 mark in 1995 when the 49ers finished 11-5.
- The Packers’ average margin of defeat was the lowest by a playoff qualifier since San Diego recorded a 3.00 margin of defeat in its two losses in 2006.
- Green Bay spent an average of 35:12 per game in the lead this season compared to an average of 9:44 per game trailing its opponents.
NOT IN A GIVING MOOD
- Last season the Packers set a franchise mark with a league-low 16
- giveaways, and while this year’s team had 22 (No. 10 in the NFL), it also
- did something that even the record-setting one could not.
- In the five games from Oct. 31-Dec. 5, Green Bay turned the ball over just one time. That came at Atlanta in Week 12 when QB Aaron Rodgers fumbled at the goal line in the second quarter.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in franchise history that the Packers turned the ball over just one time over a five-game span in a season.
- In the Week 13 win over San Francisco, Rodgers did not throw an INT for the fifth straight game, his career high. The last Packers QB to not be picked off in five straight starts in a season was Bart Starr in 1966.
- Rodgers was intercepted in Week 14 at Detroit when a deep pass down the middle went off WR Greg Jennings’ hands and into S Amari Spievey’s. That snapped a streak of 181 attempts without an interception for Rodgers, good for No. 2 in franchise history. It put him behind only Bart Starr (294 in 1964-65) for the franchise record. Starr’s mark ranks No. 3 in NFL history.
- The 22 giveaways on the season brought the Packers’ three-year total (2008-10) to 59 turnovers. That is the fewest over a three-year span by the Packers since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, besting the previous mark of 67 from 1994-96.
- If the Packers don’t commit a turnover, they’re almost guaranteed to win. They have now won 44 of 48 games (.917) 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.
- Green Bay is 20-3 (.870) in the regular season under Head Coach Mike McCarthy when it doesn’t commit a turnover.
- Including playoffs, the Packers have won 47 of their last 51 games when they don’t turn the ball over.
MAKING THEM PAY WITH TAKEAWAYS
- After tying for the league lead in points off of takeaways in 2009, the Packers were productive in that area once again this season.
- Green Bay finished No. 5 in the NFL with 111 points off of takeaways this season, the Packers’ third straight top-5 ranking in the category. The Packers are the only team in the NFL to finish in the top 5 in points off of takeaways in each of the last three seasons.
- The Packers have been especially productive at Lambeau Field, having scored points off a turnover in 16 of their last 18 home games.
- The Packers posted a plus-10 turnover ratio on the season, good for No. 4 in the NFL.
- Of the Packers’ 32 takeaways this season, 15 of them were converted into touchdowns. That 46.9 TD percentage ranked No. 4 in the NFL, and Green Bay’s 15 TDs off of takeaways were tied for No. 2 in the league behind New England (18).
- Green Bay averaged 3.47 points off of turnovers this season, good for No. 8 in the league.
- The Packers were No. 2 in the league with 24 interceptions behind only New England (25) and were tied for No. 2 in INTs for TDs (three).
- With LB Clay Matthews’ INT for a TD in Week 9 vs. Dallas, the Packers have posted at least three INTs for TDs in each of the last three seasons. That is the first time in franchise history that Green Bay has accomplished that feat. The Packers have posted at least three INTs for TDs in four of five seasons under Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
- The Packers had 11 different players post an interception this season, the most by a Green Bay team since 11 in 2002.
- In Green Bay’s 48-21 win at Atlanta on Saturday night, the defense posted four takeaways, the most by the Packers in a postseason game since they recorded the same number vs. New England in Super Bowl XXXI.
- The Packers registered 20 points off the four takeaways against the Falcons, highlighted by CB Tramon Williams’ 70-yard interception return for a touchdown on the final play of the first half.
- Green Bay posted 30 INTs 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 takeaways tied New Orleans for most in the NFL.
- The 30 interceptions led the league and was the team’s highest single-season total since 1981, when it also had 30.
- 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.
- During McCarthy’s tenure, the Packers have a 36-6 (.857) regular-season record when they come out ahead in the game in turnover ratio, and a 6-20 (.231) record when they lose the takeaway battle. Under McCarthy, Green Bay is 20-3 (.870) when its turnover margin is plus-2 or better.
- The Packers rank No. 3 in the NFL with a plus-45 turnover ratio since 2006 behind only New England (plus-59).
BALANCED PASSING ATTACK FOR PACK
- The Packers pride themselves on having one of the deeper wide-receiver corps in the NFL, and that was on display in 2010.
- Green Bay had four wide receivers post 40 catches and three register 50 receptions in the same season for the first time in franchise history. Greg Jennings led the way with 76, with Donald Driver (51), James Jones (50) and Jordy Nelson (45) checking in behind him.
- All four receivers topped the 500-yard mark on the season, also a franchise first.
- In Saturday night’s playoff win at Atlanta, Jennings (101), Nelson (79), Driver (76) and Jones (75) became the first foursome in NFL history to all hit the 75-yard receiving mark in a postseason game.
- With Jennings (119), Nelson (61), Jones (44) and No. 5 wideout Brett Swain (40) all hitting the 40-yard mark at Atlanta in Week 12, it was the first time since 2004 that the Packers had four 40-yard receivers in a game. Driver was a part of that foursome, joining Antonio Chatman, Robert Ferguson and Javon Walker in the game against Jacksonville on Dec. 19, 2004.
- RB Brandon Jackson added a career-best 43 receptions on the season, giving Green Bay five players with 40-plus receptions.
- The last time the Packers had five players, regardless of position, with at least 40 catches in the same season was 1980 (WRs James Lofton and Aundra Thompson, RB Eddie Lee Ivery, FB Gerry Ellis and TE Paul Coffman).
FEWER FLAGS ON THE FIELD
- One area of emphasis for the Packers this season was reducing the number of penalties, and that focus paid significant dividends.
- Green Bay was tied for No. 3 in the league with 78 accepted penalties (4.9 per game), the fewest by a Packers team since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. The previous season low was 80 in 1983 and 2001.
- The Packers finished No. 3 in penalty yardage with 617, an average of 38.6 yards per game. Atlanta was the least-penalized team in the league with 58 penalties and ranked No. 2 in penalty yardage at 598.
- The Packers’ performance in the category was a 40-penalty drop from last season when they were the most-penalized team in the NFL with 118 (7.4 per game) while ranking second in penalty yardage with 1,057 (66.1 per game), the third straight year that they finished among the top five most-penalized teams.
- With just three penalties for 31 yards in Week 16 against the Giants, it was the ninth time this season that Green Bay had been called for three or fewer penalties in a game, the best single-season mark since nine contests in 1967.
- Green Bay’s eight penalties over a four-game span earlier this season (Oct. 24-Nov. 21) were the fewest by the Packers since they had eight from Nov. 19-Dec. 9, 1967.
- The performance at Minnesota in Week 11 was especially notable. The one penalty at the Metrodome was the fewest by Green Bay in 28 games at the stadium, and the last time a team posted just one penalty at Minnesota was San Diego on Nov. 28, 1999. The last time the Packers were only penalized once in a game came at Chicago on Dec. 23, 2007.
- The nine games this season topped the number of combined games with three or fewer penalties in the first four seasons under Head Coach Mike McCarthy, and Green Bay didn’t do it once last season. The Packers were 7-2 (.778) this season when they are penalized three or fewer times in a game.
- Green Bay recorded two games with three or fewer penalties in 2008, two in ’07 to end the regular season, and three in ’06.
- In Week 13 against San Francisco, the Packers didn’t commit a defensive penalty for the first time in a game this season, and the defense wasn’t flagged again in Week 15 at New England and in Week 17 vs. Chicago.
- Green Bay’s offense had an even more impressive penalty-free streak as it wasn’t flagged in the win over the Giants in Week 16, the second straight game with no penalties. The last penalty against the offense had come in Week 14 at Detroit in the second quarter, a streak of 11 straight quarters without one before the offense was whistled for one in the second quarter against the Bears.
- After the Packers were flagged a franchise-record 18 times for 152 yards in a 20-17 loss at Chicago in Week 3, they committed just 52 penalties for 401 yards over their final 13 games, an average of 4.0 penalties for 30.8 yards per game.
- Green Bay’s stinginess carried over to the postseason as well. The Packers’ two penalties at Philadelphia in the Wild Card contest were the fewest by Green Bay in a postseason game since it was flagged just once vs. San Francisco on Jan. 4, 1997.
- Punting indoors at Detroit in Week 14 for the third and final time this season, P Tim Masthay made the most of the opportunity.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Masthay became the first punter in franchise history to post a 50-yard average in a game with eight or more attempts.
- Masthay recorded a 50.3-yard gross average on his eight punts against the Lions, as well as a season-high net average of 43.4 (min. three attempts).
- He posted four punts of 50-plus yards on the afternoon, including a career-long 62-yard kick in the first quarter.
- Masthay became the first Packers punter to register four 50-yard punts in the same game since Jon Ryan did so on Nov. 12, 2006, at the Metrodome against the Vikings.
- He placed 25 punts inside the 20 this season, the most by a Packers punter since Josh Bidwell recorded 26 punts inside the 20 in 2002.
- Masthay was especially productive over the final nine games, ranking No. 3 in the NFL in net average (39.9), No. 9 in gross average (44.2), and tied for No. 4 in punts inside the 20 (20) over that span.
- Masthay earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his performance at the N.Y. Jets in Week 8 as he became just the second punter in franchise history to win the honor (Craig Hentrich, Week 11, 1994).
- With five punts dropped inside the 20 against the Jets, Masthay tied a single-game franchise record (stat kept since 1976), tying David Beverly, who accomplished the feat on Oct. 8, 1978, against Chicago. He registered a 41.5-yard net average on eight punts.
- In the three Lambeau Field games in Dec./Jan., Masthay recorded a 36.8-yard net average and a 42.3 gross.
- Masthay finished the season with a 37.6-yard net average, which matched the best mark by a Packers punter since 1976 (Ryan, 2007).
- Facing Bears Pro Bowl returner Devin Hester in Week 17, who finished the season with the best mark in NFL history (min. 30 attempts) at 17.1 yards per punt return, Masthay placed four of eight punts inside the 20 and recorded a 36.6-yard net average. Hester only had two punt returns on the afternoon for a total of 35 yards.
- Masthay became the first Packers punter (since 1976) to place four-plus punts inside the 20 in two games in the same season.
- With nine points in Week 16 against the Giants, K Mason Crosby went over the 500-point mark for his career.
- By hitting that mark in his 63rd career game, he became the second fastest to 500 points in franchise history behind only RB Paul Hornung (60 games).
- Crosby also went over the 100-point mark for the season against the Giants, his fourth straight season with 100-plus points. He finished the season with 112 points.
- His four points against the Bears in Week 17 gave him 509 for his career. That ranks No. 2 in NFL history for the most points by a player in his first four seasons in the league. New England’s Stephen Gostkowski (513 points, 2006-09) holds the current mark.
- Crosby recorded 397 points from 2007-09, an NFL record for the most by a player in his first three seasons.
PACKERS DRAW IMPRESSIVE TV RATINGS
- For the second straight season, a Wild Card contest featuring the Packers headlined the opening weekend of the playoffs when it came to television ratings.
- The Packers’ win over the Philadelphia Eagles earned the highest television rating for a Wild Card game in 12 years.
- The game drew a 22.1 rating and 37 share, the best since a Packers-49ers matchup during the 1998 playoffs. The 39.3 million viewers for Green Bay-Philadelphia were the most ever for a Wild Card game.
- Last season’s thrilling overtime Wild Card playoff game between the Packers and Cardinals drew 34.4 million viewers.
STINGY AGAINST THE PASS
- Green Bay had its most productive pass-defense season of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure, finishing near the top of the league in several categories.
- The Packers finished the season ranked No. 5 in the league in pass defense, allowing their opponents just 194.2 yards per game. That topped the best mark under McCarthy, ahead of the 201.1 passing yards per game allowed in 2009, and was the best since 2005 (167.5).
- After Washington QB Donovan McNabb passed for 357 yards against Green Bay in Week 5, the Packers allowed opposing QBs to pass for just 185.9 yards per contest in the final 11 games, No. 3 in the NFL over that span.
- The defense limited opposing signal-callers to a passer rating of just 67.2 this season, which ranked No. 1 in the NFL. That rating is the best by Green Bay since 1997 (59.0).
- The Packers recorded 24 interceptions, good for No. 2 in the league, and opposing quarterbacks completed 56.2 percent of their passes (No. 4).
- Green Bay gave up only 16 TD passes this season, which ranked No. 4 in the NFL, after allowing 29 TDs through the air in 2009. The 16 passing TDs were the fewest given up by Green Bay since 2001 (14).
- In Week 15 at New England, the defense limited Patriots QB Tom Brady to just 163 yards through the air on 15-of-24 passing. Entering the game, Brady had eclipsed the 300-yard mark in four of the previous five games, averaging 314.4 yards per contest over that span.
- Bears QB Jay Cutler came into the Week 17 game with a 104.6 passer rating in his previous five games, but Green Bay’s defense held him to just a 43.5 rating on 21-of-39 passing for 168 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions.
- In Saturday night’s win at Atlanta, the defense limited Falcons Pro Bowl QB Matt Ryan to just a 69.0 passer rating, well below his season average of 91.0. Green Bay held Eagles Pro Bowl QB Michael Vick (100.2 for the season) to a 79.9 rating in the Packers’ Wild Card win.
PRODUCTION APLENTY INSIDE THE 20
- After strong showings in 2008 and 2009, Green Bay once again found itself among the most efficient teams in the league in the red zone this season.
- The Packers scored touchdowns on 32 of 53 trips inside the opponent’s 20. That 60.4 percent touchdown rate was No. 6 in the NFL and No. 2 in the NFC, and the 32 TDs ranked No. 6.
- Green Bay’s 260 points in the red zone this season (32 touchdowns, 12 field goals) were good for No. 8 in the league, and its average of 4.91 points per red-zone trip ranked No. 8 in the NFL as well.
- The Packers posted their finest performance of the season in Week 16 against the Giants, scoring on 5-of-6 (83.3 percent) red-zone chances. That percentage was their best in the regular season (min. three opportunities).
- Green Bay topped that showing at Philadelphia, posting touchdowns on all three trips inside the 20 in the 21-16 Wild Card win.
- In Saturday night’s 48-21 win at Atlanta in the Divisional contest, the Packers scored touchdowns on 4-of-6 red-zone chances, posting field goals on the other two. That brings their red-zone touchdown percentage in the playoffs to 77.8 (7-of-9).
- The Packers’ production this season came in fewer opportunities than 2009, as they finished tied for No. 10 in the league with the 53 red-zone possessions. Last season, Green Bay finished No. 6 in the league with 62 red-zone drives.
- Green Bay matched its highest red-zone conversion mark under Head Coach Mike McCarthy, when the Packers ranked No. 6 in the NFL with a 60.4 percent touchdown rate in 2008. The previous high mark came in 2003 when the Packers finished No. 2 in the NFL with a 65.4 conversion rate.
- Some of Green Bay’s success in the red zone has to be attributed 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.
- In Week 7 against Minnesota, Rodgers threw a red-zone interception for the only time in his 47 career starts to date. Since 2008, he has registered a 107.4 rating on 132-of-213 passing (62.0 percent) for 818 yards and 55 touchdowns with one interception in the red zone.
- According to STATS, Rodgers connected on 47-of-71 passes (66.2 percent) for 280 yards and 19 TDs with one INT in the red zone in 2010 for a 107.4 passer rating (No. 3 in the NFL, min. 50 attempts).
PLAYOFF CAPTAINS ELECTED
- During the regular season, the Packers rotate game captains each week. One player is selected to represent the offense, defense and special teams as a captain for a particular game.
- But for the playoffs, the team votes on its captains for the duration of the postseason -- selecting two players from each of the three phases. Players voted for their captains early last week.
- This year Green Bay’s playoff captains are WR Greg Jennings and QB Aaron Rodgers (offense), LB A.J. Hawk and CB Charles Woodson (defense), and CB/S Jarrett Bush and K Mason Crosby (special teams).
- Rodgers and Woodson were both playoff captains last year. Woodson and Jennings were selected to the NFC Pro Bowl squad this year, while Rodgers and Hawk are Pro Bowl alternates.
- Rodgers posted his second consecutive season with a passer rating above 100 (101.2), Woodson set career highs in both tackles (105) and forced fumbles (five) this season, Jennings tied his career high with 12 TDs, and Hawk led the team in tackles (134) for the third time in five years and set a career high with three INTs. Bush tied for second on the team with 12 special teams tackles, and he also had a forced fumble that resulted in a TD and a fumble recovery on the coverage units. Crosby topped 100 points for the fourth consecutive year.
- All six players sported a special ‘C’ sewn onto their jerseys for the first two playoff games, and they will continue to wear the ‘C’ this Sunday and for the Super Bowl should the Packers advance.
FIRST TIME IS THE CHARM
- Rookie RB James Starks made a splash in his regular-season debut in Week 13 after missing the first 11 games, but he made an even greater contribution in his first career playoff game.
- In Green Bay’s 21-16 Wild Card win at Philadelphia, Starks led the team with 123 rushing yards on 23 carries (5.3 avg.), including a 27-yard run on his first carry. His 123 yards set a rookie franchise postseason record, eclipsing RB Travis Williams’ 88-yard mark on 18 carries vs. the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 23, 1967.
- Starks’ 123-yard day on the ground also ranks No. 3 in franchise postseason annals behind only Ryan Grant (201, vs. Seattle, Jan. 12, 2008) and Ahman Green (156, at Philadelphia, Jan. 11, 2004).
- In Saturday’s Divisional playoff win at Atlanta, Starks led the offense with 66 yards on 25 carries (2.6 avg.). Starks’ 189 yards on 48 carries (3.9 avg.) lead the NFL this postseason.
- After missing nearly two years due to injuries, Starks carried the ball 18 times for 73 yards (4.1 avg.) in his pro debut vs. San Francisco in Week 13. The 18 carries matched the single-game high during the regular season to that point for a Packers RB (Brandon Jackson, Week 1).
- Starks’ 73 rushing yards were the most by a rookie Packers RB in his first game since Ralph Earhart posted 78 yards in his debut at Boston on Sept. 17, 1948.
- The 23-year-old Starks was drafted in the sixth round this past spring out of the University at Buffalo, but he spent the opening nine games of the season on the physically unable to perform list due to a hamstring injury suffered at the start of training camp.
- Starks also was sidelined for his entire senior season at Buffalo due to a shoulder injury that required surgery but still ranks No. 1 in school history in career rushing yards (3,140) and rushing TDs (34).
- Prior to his NFL debut in Week 13, Starks’ last game action came vs. Connecticut on Jan. 3, 2009, in the International Bowl in Toronto.
CLAY FINDS A WAY
- 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 finished No. 2 in the NFC and No. 4 in the NFL with 13.5 sacks this season.
- Matthews was named to his second straight Pro Bowl this season and was named NFL Defensive MVP by Pro Football Weekly/PFWA. He also earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year recognition from Sporting News and the Committee of 101.
- With a sack of QB Jon Kitna in the second quarter in Week 9 against Dallas, Matthews became the first Packer since the stat became official in 1982 to register a double-digit sack total in each of his first two seasons in the NFL.
- Matthews also posted his first career interception in Week 9, and returned the pick 62 yards for a TD on his way to earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for the third time in his career. It was the second TD of his career, and both of his scores have come in prime-time games. Matthews returned a fumble 42 yards for a TD last season in Week 4 at Minnesota on Monday Night Football.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Matthews is the first NFL player since sacks became an official statistic in 1982 to register double-digit sacks and a defensive TD in each of his first two seasons in the NFL.
- 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, and he also won the award last season for his two-sack outing vs. Baltimore in Week 13 on MNF.
- Matthews’ six sacks in the first two games were the most ever by a Packer to start a season.
- Matthews’ 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.
- 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 ranked No. 2 in the league with 93.5 sack yards on the season, trailing only Dallas LB DeMarcus Ware (110.5).
- Matthews forced two fumbles this season, including a strip of RB Brandon Jacobs that halted a Giants’ drive with New York trailing 31-17 in the third quarter in Week 16.
- With two sacks of Falcons QB Matt Ryan on Saturday, Matthews became the first player in team history (since 1982) to post at least one sack in each of his first three career postseason games. With four career sacks in the postseason, Matthews already ranks tied for No. 2 in team playoff annals behind only DE Reggie White (eight).
- In 31 career regular-season games played, Matthews has posted two or more sacks in a game five times. All five of those two-sack games came in Matthews’ first 18 games in a Packers uniform, breaking White’s franchise mark of four in his first 18 games with Green Bay (1993-94).
- Matthews’ 23.5 sacks since 2009 rank tied for No. 3 in the NFL.
- 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.
- After outscoring their opponents a combined 221-94 over the final seven games, the Packers finished near the top of the NFL’s scoring differential column.
- The Packers outscored their opponents 388-240 this season, and that 148-point differential ranked No. 1 in the NFC and No. 2 in the NFL behind only New England (205).
- Among teams with nine or more wins, Green Bay ranked No. 3 in the NFL with an average margin of victory of 16.80, trailing only San Diego (19.56) and New England (17.07).
- Last season, the Packers also ranked No. 3 in the league with an average margin of victory of 18.27, their highest mark since a 21.31 mark in their Super Bowl season of 1996.
- Green Bay was especially productive opening the second half as it outscored its opponents 110-36 in the third quarter. That differential of 74 points ranked No. 2 in the NFL behind only San Diego (76).
- The Packers finished No. 2 in the NFL in scoring defense at 15.0 points per game and ranked No. 10 in scoring offense at 24.3 ppg.
- Green Bay was one of four teams in the league ranked in the top 10 in both scoring offense and defense, joining San Diego, Atlanta and New England.
- The Packers’ 45-point outing in Week 16 against the Giants was their second 45-point game of the season (Week 9 vs. Dallas). The last time a Green Bay team posted two 45-plus point games in a season was 1983.
FIGHTING THROUGH ADVERSITY
- Every team in the league has to battle injuries at some point, but the Packers had to deal with a season’s worth of significant ones in just the first half of the season.
- From the season-opening depth chart, the Packers have lost six starters for the remainder of the season due to injuries, three 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. T Mark Tauscher, who sustained a shoulder injury in Week 4 vs. Detroit, was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 12.
- 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. LB Brad Jones saw his season come to an end after sustaining a shoulder injury in Week 7 vs. Minnesota.
- The Packers finished the regular season with 15 players on injured reserve, and eight of those players started at least one game this season.
PROTECTION THE KEY
- The Packers cut down on the number of sacks they allowed this season, and the effect that had on QB Aaron Rodgers’ production was evident.
- Over his past 18 regular-season starts, Rodgers was sacked either once or not at all in eight of those contests, including the Week 12 contest at Atlanta when the line allowed just one sack.
- In his three seasons as the starting quarterback, there were 16 games where the line gave up either one sack or no sacks of Rodgers. The Packers had a 12-4 (.750) mark in those contests.
- Rodgers was very efficient in those games, completing 372-of-530 passes (70.2 percent) for 4,390 yards and 32 TDs with just seven INTs for a 109.7 passer rating.
- There were three games this season where the line didn’t give up a single sack of Rodgers.
- Prior to Rodgers being sacked in the second quarter vs. Detroit in Week 4, the offensive line had not allowed a sack in 11 straight quarters, the longest streak for the team since 2007.
- The Packers allowed 38 sacks this season, tied for No. 19 in the NFL, but it was a marked improvement from 2009 when they gave up 50 sacks of Rodgers on the season, 41 in the first nine contests.
- In Week 16, the line limited a Giants defense that entered the game ranked No. 2 in the NFL with 42 sacks to just two sacks of Rodgers.
- When Rodgers has been sacked four or more times in a game during his career, the Packers are 5-9 (.357).
- Injuries and performance issues affected the offensive line in the first half of 2009. Once the line regained some continuity down the stretch, it allowed just 10 sacks of Rodgers over the final seven games.
- Green Bay has had stability along the line in 2010, with four linemen, LT Chad Clifton, LG Daryn Colledge, C Scott Wells, and RG Josh Sitton starting every game, and rookie RT Bryan Bulaga opening the last 12 at RT with veteran Mark Tauscher sidelined due to injury. Tauscher was placed on injured reserve (shoulder) on Nov. 12.
- The Packers utilized just two starting combinations along the line this season compared to six in 2009.
SPREADING IT AROUND
- When back-to-back 1,200-yard rusher Ryan Grant was lost for the season after sustaining an ankle injury in Week 1 at Philadelphia, the Packers turned to several backs to help carry the load for the offense.
- Brandon Jackson, who excelled in his role as a third-down back in 2009, led the team with a career-high 709 rushing yards on 190 carries (3.7 avg.). He also posted a career-high 1,045 yards from scrimmage.
- Jackson posted 99 yards on 22 carries at New England in Week 15, his second-highest yardage total of the season.
- He recorded 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 also had 43 receptions for 342 yards (8.0 avg.) this season, career highs in both categories, including a career-best 37-yard pickup on a screen against the 49ers in Week 13. His 43 catches were the most by a Green Bay running back since Ahman Green posted 46 receptions in 2006.
- Jackson became the first Packers RB since Green in 2006 to register 700 rushing yards and 300 receiving yards in the same season.
- Against Dallas in Week 9, Jackson posted a rushing TD and a receiving TD, only the second time in his career that he scored on both in a game (vs. Seattle, Dec. 27, 2009).
- 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, was given more opportunities to carry the ball at RB. Against Detroit in Week 4, Kuhn posted 34 of his 39 rushing yards on the final series, as the Packers ran out the final 6:32 in the 28-26 win. He finished with a career-best 281 rushing yards and four rushing TDs on 84 carries (3.3 avg.) in 2010. Entering this season, Kuhn had 46 rushing yards on 18 carries in four NFL seasons.
- Kuhn recorded career highs in both carries (13) and rushing yards (50) against the Cowboys in Week 9, highlighted by a 17-yard run in the second quarter to convert a third down.
- Rookie RB Dimitri Nance saw the most significant action of his career at Minnesota in Week 11, posting 37 yards on 12 carries (3.1 avg.), and he finished with 95 yards on 36 attempts for the season (2.6 avg.).
- Fellow rookie RB James Starks made his NFL debut in Week 13, registering 73 yards on 18 carries (4.1 avg.) vs. San Francisco.
PACKERS DOMINATE IN DIVISIONAL ROUND
- On the road again. In a dome this time. None of that seems to matter to
- these Green Bay Packers.
- Behind a jaw-dropping performance from quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a pair of momentous interceptions by cornerback Tramon Williams, the Packers chalked up another road playoff victory on Saturday night. This one was less dramatic than last week but undoubtedly more impressive, a 48-21 NFC Divisional-round beating of the No. 1 seed Atlanta Falcons in front of 69,210 fans in what became an awfully quiet Georgia Dome by evening’s end.
- With the win, the No. 6-seeded Packers advance to next Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against either Chicago or Seattle, one win away from a trip to the Super Bowl and two wins away from the league title. To these Packers, the playoff journey is only half over.
- “We’ve had 16 quarters on our mind, we’ve completed eight of them, and we have an opportunity to play in four more next week,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “We feel very good about who we are, the way we’ve played, our brand of football in all three areas. And that’s what we’re sticking to.”
- That brand of football was downright dominant against the Falcons, who under quarterback Matt Ryan had been 20-2 on their home turf over the past three years. But the Packers became just the second No. 6 seed to knock off the No. 1 in the NFC since the league went to this playoff format in 1990 (Philadelphia beating the New York Giants in the 2008 playoffs was the other).
- The Packers overcame a couple of early blunders but did so swiftly and efficiently. A fumble by receiver Greg Jennings at the end of a 30-yard gain set up Atlanta’s first score, a 12-yard run by Michael Turner. Then after the Packers answered with wide receiver Jordy Nelson’s 7-yard touchdown to cap an 81-yard drive, Atlanta’s Eric Weems returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for another score and it was 14-7 Falcons early in the second quarter.
- But the Packers took over from there, stunning and quieting the Georgia Dome crowd with an almost unfathomable 35 unanswered points over the next two quarters. As the offense put together four consecutive touchdown drives of 92, 80, 80 and 50 yards, Williams made his two big plays right in the middle of the barrage, both in the final three minutes of the first half.
- First, with the score tied at 14, he picked off a deep ball from Ryan to Michael Jenkins in the end zone, thwarting what turned out to be Atlanta’s last chance to take the lead. Then, with the Packers leading 21-14 in the final moments of the first half and the Falcons trying to run one more play to get in field-goal range, he stepped in front of wide receiver Roddy White along the sideline and returned his second interception 70 yards for a momentum-changing score to make it 28-14 as the clock hit zero for halftime.
- “That’s hard to come back from,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “It was probably pretty demoralizing, but we couldn’t have asked for it at a better time.”
- The entire sequence showed just how complete this Packers team has become. The response to the long kickoff return – a 92-yard march capped by John Kuhn’s 1-yard plunge behind “new” fullback B.J. Raji – sent a message the Packers weren’t going to be rattled on this night, and they went on to thoroughly shake their opponent instead.
- “We had to get back in control of the game, so that was a big one,” guard Daryn Colledge said of the tying TD drive. “But Tramon’s touchdown before halftime, that’s the swing there. That’s the one that puts you over the top.”
- In the meantime, Rodgers was nothing short of superb. He preceded Williams’ pick-six with an 80-yard TD drive in the 2-minute drill, hitting wide receiver James Jones for a 20-yard score with 42 seconds left in the half to give the Packers their first lead at 21-14. Jones, making up for a much-discussed drop of a deep ball in Philadelphia last week, made a tremendous catch, outjumping cornerback Brent Grimes in the end zone and hauling the ball in as he fell to the ground.
- Given the double-dose of momentum going into halftime, Rodgers came out and didn’t let up, scrambling for a 7-yard touchdown and then hitting Kuhn for a 7-yard TD pass on the first two drives to make it 42-14 with less than 3 minutes to go in the third quarter.
- “He was on fire,” McCarthy said. “He likes playing in domes, and you could see why.”
- It wasn’t just the impeccable stats Rodgers compiled – 31-of-36 for 366 yards with three TDs and no interceptions for a 136.8 rating – but the way he did it. He repeatedly shook free from pressure or spun away from blitzers, buying time and then firing a strike.
- His execution led to the Packers converting 7-of-8 third downs through the first three quarters as the offense, aside from the early Jennings fumble, could do no wrong.
- “Mike just got us in a rhythm early,” Rodgers said. “I felt good about the calls, guys made some big plays, and I got into rhythm not only throwing the football but moving around the pocket. Special night.”
- Special doesn’t quite do it justice.
- “That was unbelievable,” Matthews said. “I have not seen a performance like that in a very long time, if at all. He was just throwing the ball at will on them, just dicing them up. It was pretty amazing to know if we gave him the ball, 80 yards and he was driving down and scoring.”
- The Packers’ top four receivers all posted at least 75 yards, led by Jennings with eight catches for 101 yards. Nelson added eight for 79, Donald Driver had six for 76 and Jones finished with four for 75.
- “We’re dangerous, and we knew that,” Driver said. “It’s a scary thing. When we’re clicking, we’re unstoppable.”
- The Falcons tried to rally but made a few crucial mistakes in the process. Following a touchdown pass to White early in the fourth quarter that made it 42-21, receiver Brian Finneran touched the ensuing onside kick before it had gone 10 yards, negating his recovery.
- Then on Atlanta’s next two possessions, Ryan fumbled on a third-and-1 sneak and Jenkins fumbled after a fourth-down reception, running Atlanta’s total to four turnovers on the night – this from the team that led the NFC with just 17 giveaways all season coming in.
- In the Packers’ first trip to Atlanta back in Week 12, the Green Bay defense didn’t generate a single turnover. The Packers also had sacked Ryan only twice but got to him five times in this one, with Matthews getting two sacks.
- The key to such an active, productive defense was two-fold. The Packers got such a stronghold on the game that they took the Falcons out of their ball-control game plan, which McCarthy referred to as the defense playing “downhill.”
- In addition, even when the Falcons were running the ball with Turner, who had 110 yards against the Packers back in November, they weren’t getting much. Turner had just 10 carries for 39 yards, getting loose only on his early TD run and averaging 3 yards per carry on his other nine attempts.
- “We were able to stop the run, and anytime you get an offense in a situation that’s more predictable, Dom (Capers) was able to dial up some of his great blitzes,” said Raji, who had one of the sacks of his former Boston College teammate. “Matt is a great quarterback. I’ve known him for quite some time, but when you can put any quarterback in that situation, it’s going to be tough for him.”
- Right now the Packers appear tough for anyone to handle, but there’s no satisfaction in getting this far. The postgame locker room was more businesslike than celebratory, a reflection not only of how convincing this win was, but of how much work still lies ahead.
- “Championship-caliber to us is not getting to the NFC Championship game,” linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “We have a lot higher goals than that. We’ve been saying all year, ‘Just give us a chance.’”
- That chance is now, and the Packers know it.
- “We don’t play this game to get to the NFC Championship,” Matthews said. “We play to get to the Super Bowl and win it. We just feel like this is another step of getting to that game, getting to that point in the season, so we feel good about where we’re at.”