For Packers, 4-0 starts used to produce championships

But not since the Lombardi era

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Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi is carried off Lambeau Field on the shoulders of fullback Jimmy Taylor, left, and Paul Hornung after winning the NFL championship from the Cleveland Browns 23-12 in Green Bay, Wis., on Jan. 2, 1966.

GREEN BAY – The Packers are 4-0 at the season's quarter pole for the first time in five years and for the 12th time in the team's NFL history, which dates back to 1921.

Curiously, every time the Packers started 4-0 prior to the 1970 league merger, they won the NFL title, seven of them in all. But every 4-0 start since '70 has come up short.

So for some bye weekend reading material, here's a rundown of the franchise's history of being 4-0.

1929-31

The Packers' first three league titles, which were all determined by league standing and had no playoff system, all began with 4-0 starts.

The '29 team finished unbeaten at 12-0-1, winning 10 straight to start the year before a 0-0 tie against the Frankford Yellow Jackets. The next year, the Packers started 8-0 before winning only two of their last six games, but 10-3-1 was still good enough for first place. In '31, a 9-0 start became a 12-2 mark and a third straight championship.

1944

The franchise's sixth league title began with a 4-0 start that became 6-0, with a non-league loss mixed in. From there, the Packers lost two of their last four, including one by a 24-0 score to the Giants, to finish 8-2. But it was good enough to get a rematch with the Giants in the NFL Championship Game at the Polo Grounds, which the Packers won, 14-7.

1962, '65-66

Three of Vince Lombardi's five titles as head coach began with 4-0 starts. The '62 team, considered one of the greatest in NFL history, was 10-0 before suffering its only loss, on Thanksgiving at Detroit. A 13-1 overall mark got the Packers in the NFL Championship against the Giants at Yankee Stadium, a 16-7 triumph.

The '65 club started 6-0 before two straight losses, and a 10-3-1 mark set up a Western Conference playoff game with Baltimore, which the Packers won in overtime, to get back to the NFL Championship. A 23-12 win over Cleveland at Lambeau Field took the crown.

In '66, the 4-0 start was halted by a 21-20 loss at San Francisco in the fifth game, but the Packers only lost one more the rest of the way and got revenge on the 49ers in the process. At 12-2, they won at Dallas to take the NFL title and advance to the first Super Bowl, a 35-10 victory over Kansas City.

1998

The Packers went more than three decades between 4-0 starts, but the one in '98 didn't get them very far in the end. They lost to Minnesota in Week 5, the first of five losses over a nine-game span, including a second one to the Vikings, who would win the NFC Central at 15-1.

Green Bay's 11-5 mark earned a trip to San Francisco for an NFC Wild Card matchup, where Terrell Owens' last-second touchdown catch turned out to be Mike Holmgren's farewell as head coach.

2007

Mike McCarthy's second season at the helm started 4-0, and the winning streak ended with a loss to the Bears in Week 5, but this time the Packers would be 10-1 before they lost another game. The 13-3 regular season led to a snow-globe home playoff win over Seattle in the divisional round, but the following week a frigid overtime loss in the NFC title game to the Giants at Lambeau Field ended the team's championship aspirations.

2011

The year after winning Super Bowl XLV, the Packers' 4-0 start became a 13-0 run (and 19 straight victories dating back to the previous December) before a loss at Kansas City squelched the perfect season. The 15-1 record earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but the Packers were promptly bounced in the divisional round by the Giants.

2015

Maybe the wildest of the seasons with 4-0 starts was the most recent, as the Packers got to 6-0 before losing three straight. Then a Hail Mary win at Detroit helped get things back on track before two consecutive defeats to end the regular season sent the Packers on the road for the playoffs.

A shorthanded, banged-up team managed to chalk up a wild-card win at Washington and take Arizona to overtime (thanks to another Hail Mary), but Larry Fitzgerald's long catch-and-run on the first series of OT abruptly extinguished hopes of another miracle victory.

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