GREEN BAY—Only a few years ago, the Packers were being labeled a team built to play in a dome, not the frosty air of Lambeau Field. Times have changed.
These days, the Packers are 7-0 at home and embrace the cold as their ally. The colder it gets, the better they play.
Why the change?
"I think the offensive line has been playing so good that we've been controlling the line of scrimmage. When the line plays like that, we can be balanced. We used to be pass first. Now we're a little more balanced," Aaron Rodgers said.
The Falcons opened the game in a double-high safety look known affectionately as cover two. It's meant to give the run and take away the pass. A couple of years ago, everybody played it against the Packers, because the Packers lacked a running game.
Monday night, Eddie Lacy went 22 yards on the second play of the game and 12 on the next play of the game, and the Falcons were already reconsidering their game plan.
How balanced were the Packers? Well, they ran for 179 and threw for 327. How do you wish to die?
Remember the team that was at the bottom of the league in time of possession average? Well, they held the ball six minutes longer than the Falcons.
The Packers can hit you quick, or they can drain the life from their opponent by pounding Eddie Lacy and James Starks at the defense's midsection. Starks rushed for 75 yards; Lacy for 73, before leaving the game with a sore hip. How's that for balance?
Balance between run and pass is what's made the Packers unbeatable at home this year. Lambeau Field rewards old-fashioned virtues.
How important is homefield advantage to these Packers?
"No. 1 goal," Rodgers said.
You bet it is. Would you rather play the Seahawks here or there? Yeah, you got it.
So, we've reached that point in the season that it's becoming long. Bodies are beginning to tire. The focus is beginning to change.
"Yes, but it's also the excitement. It's 10 wins. You can't talk about the playoffs until 10 wins. Now it's starting to come together. It's an exciting time for the league and the fans. It's an exciting time for football, and for the last three weeks and the playoffs," Rodgers said.
"I'm excited about our team. There have been some ups and downs on both sides of the ball, but we're really getting the homefield advantage thing going."
These are not the dome Packers of a few years ago. These are the real Packers, the ones that smile at the sight of snowflakes. These Packers are embracing their heritage.
This is the last place an opponent wants to play, and as fall turns to winter, that's as it should be.
COMPLETE GAME COVERAGE