*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.
A complete edition of the Dope Sheet will be available each week during the season in PDF format, located in the Packers.com Game Centers.
This is an abbreviated version of the Packers-49ers Week 11 Dope Sheet. To read the full version, download the PDF by clicking here.
Here are some highlights from the Packers-49ers Week 11 Dope Sheet:*
**SAN FRANCISCO (4-5) at GREEN BAY (5-4)
Sunday, Nov. 22 - Lambeau Field - 12 p.m. CST
PACKERS WELCOME 49ERS TO LAMBEAU FIELD**
- Two teams battling for position in the NFC playoff picture – Green Bay and San Francisco – square off at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
- The Packers come into the game off one of their best performances in the three-plus seasons under Head Coach Mike McCarthy, a 17-7 victory over Dallas that propelled the team back into playoff contention.
- Coming into Lambeau Field is a team very much in the same position the Packers were one week ago. San Francisco has lost four of its last five games but could vault itself back into the playoff picture with a win.
- Frequent foes in the 1990s and early part of the decade, the Packers and 49ers have met just once since 2003. The rivalry took to new heights when the teams met four straight years (1995-98) in the postseason.
- Including playoffs, the Packers have won six consecutive games over the 49ers in Green Bay. In the overall series, the Packers have won six straight, and 11 of the last 12, including a 4-1 mark in postseason action.
- The two teams last met in 2006 in San Francisco, a 30-19 Packers win.
- McCarthy's last stop as an NFL assistant came in San Francisco, where he served as offensive coordinator in 2005. QB Aaron Rodgers, a Chico, Calif., native, will see his first regular-season action against the team he grew up rooting for.
- Packers fans will certainly recognize a familiar face on the opposing sideline. 49ers coach Mike Singletary was a Hall of Fame middle linebacker for the rival Bears for 12 seasons (1981-92). Chicago was 15-7 against Green Bay during Singletary's playing days.
- Singletary brings a rested club into Green Bay, as the 49ers last played on Thursday, Nov. 12. Facing his former team, Singletary defeated the Bears 10-6 to halt a four-game losing skid.
WITH THE CALL
- FOX Sports, now in its 16th season as an NFL network television partner, will broadcast the game to a regional audience.
- Play-by-play man Thom Brennaman and color analyst Brian Billick will have the call from the broadcast booth with Chris Myers serving as the sideline reporter.
- Milwaukee's WTMJ (620 AM), airing Green Bay games since 1929, heads up the 53-station Packers Radio Network, with Wayne Larrivee (play-by-play) and two-time Packers Pro Bowler Larry McCarren (color) calling the action. The duo enters its 11th season of broadcasts together across the Packers Radio Network, which covers 43 markets in five states.
- Westwood One will air the game across the country, with Howard David (play-by-play), Dan Reeves (analyst) and Scott Graham (sideline reporter) headlining the broadcast.
- 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 156 WTMJ feed) as part of the network's NFL Sunday Drive.
- DIRECTV subscribers can watch the game in HD on channel 709.
THE NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
- As teams play the 10th game of the 2009 schedule, the playoff picture begins to become a little more clear after each passing week.
- At 5-4, Green Bay has the same record as Atlanta, the N.Y. Giants and Philadelphia, all teams it will jockey with for playoff position over the final seven weeks. The 49ers, at 4-5, remain very much in the race.
- The Packers' stretch of three consecutive games against the NFC will go a considerable ways in their playoff push. A win over Dallas began a stretch of three games in 12 days.
- Wild-card playoff berths are given to the conference's top two teams that do not win a division. If teams within the same division are fighting for those spots, division tiebreakers apply. Should teams be competing against teams from another division, conference record is the second tiebreaker after head-to-head matchups.
**THE DOPE ON THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT:
Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers
All-time, regular season: ** 28-25-1
All-time, postseason: 4-1
All-time, in Green Bay:11-4 (incl. two postseason meetings)
Streaks:The Packers have won six straight, and 11 of the last 12, including a 4-1 mark in postseason action.
Last meeting, regular season: Dec. 10, 2006, at San Francisco; Packers won, 30-19
Last meeting, regular season, at Lambeau Field:Nov. 23, 2003; Packers won, 23-10
Mike McCarthy: **33-26-0, .559 (incl. 1-1 postseason); 4th NFL season
Mike Singletary:9-9-0, .500; 2nd NFL season
Head to Head: Never met
vs. Opponent: McCarthy 1-0 vs. 49ers; Singletary 0-0 vs. Packers
MIKE McCARTHY…Is in fourth year as the Packers' 14th head coach.
- 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.
- One of only three head coaches to lead an offense ranked in the top 10 in the league each of the past three years.
MIKE SINGLETARY…Is in second year as the 49ers' 16th head coach.
- Took over team seven games into 2008 season and produced a winning record over the final nine contests (5-4).
- Was 49ers assistant head coach beginning in 2005 until getting interim tag last year.
- Also coached inside linebackers for Baltimore Ravens in 2003-04.
- A Hall of Famer, played middle linebacker for 12 seasons (1981-92) for the Chicago Bears, playing in a team-record 10 consecutive Pro Bowls. During that time, the Bears beat the Packers in 15 of 22 meetings.
THE PACKERS-49ers SERIES
- Originally dating back to 1950, the Packers-49ers series featured two games per season from 1953 through 1966 with the teams trading dominant stretches.
- San Francisco won 13 times in a span of 15 games between 1950-58, while the Packers won 10 of 11 games between 1959-64.
- In more recent times, the series has been noted for its postseason clashes, including several defining moments in Packers history. Green Bay's 27-17 triumph in the 1995 NFC Divisional playoff was considered the breakthrough victory that established the Packers as an elite team for the next several years. The Packers also won the next two postseason meetings, a 35-14 home victory in the 1996 NFC Divisional playoff en route to the Super Bowl XXXI title, and a 23-10 win at San Francisco in the 1997 NFC Championship game.
- The two teams met in the playoffs for a fourth straight season in 1998, with the 49ers winning 30-27 on Steve Young's last-second touchdown pass to Terrell Owens, marking San Francisco's only win in these teams' last 12 contests.
- A fifth postseason clash took place in the 2001 NFC Wild Card game, a 25-15 Green Bay victory at Lambeau Field.
McCarthy was the 49ers offensive coordinator in 2005 and worked with QB and No. 1 overall draft pick Alex Smith. Singletary was on that 2005 coaching staff as assistant head coach/linebackers...Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene played for the 49ers in 1997…Packers tight ends coach Ben McAdoo served as assistant offensive line coach/quality control for the 49ers in 2005…Packers college scout Jon-Eric Sullivan's father, Jerry, is the wide receivers coach/senior assistant for the 49ers…49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye was the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs for McCarthy's final season there as QB coach, in 1998...Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is from Chico, Calif., in the Bay Area and played collegiately at Butte College and Cal...Other Packers from northern California include LB Desmond Bishop (Fairfield), CB Jarrett Bush (Vacaville), G/C Evan Dietrich-Smith (Salinas), S Matt Giordano (Clovis), TE Spencer Havner (Grass Valley), WR James Jones (San Jose)…49ers S Mark Roman played two seasons in Green Bay (2004-05)...Packers secondary – safeties coach Darren Perry was Roman's position coach in Cincinnati in 2002…Packers NT Ryan Pickett played in St. Louis with 49ers CB Dré Bly and WR Isaac Bruce and was a teammate of 49ers CB Nate Clements at Ohio State...Packers defensive quality control coach Scott McCurley was a teammate of 49ers P Andy Lee and CB Shawntae Spencer at Pittsburgh…Packers CB Charles Woodson and 49ers T Barry Sims were teammates with the Raiders…49ers T Chris Patrick spent time on the Packers practice squad in 2007...Former college teammates include Packers LB A.J. Hawk and 49ers LB Matt Wilhelm (Ohio State), Packers RB Ryan Grant and 49ers WR Arnaz Battle (Notre Dame), Packers P Jeremy Kapinos and 49ers RB Michael Robinson (Penn State), Packers TE Jermichael Finley and 49ers CB Tarell Brown (Texas), Packers LB Clay Matthews and 49ers T/G Chilo Rachal (Southern California), Packers C Scott Wells and 49ers DT Aubrayo Franklin (Tennessee), Packers QB Matt Flynn and 49ers DT Ricky Jean Francois and DB Curtis Taylor (LSU), Packers DE Johnny Jolly and 49ers C Cody Wallace (Texas A&M).
INDIVIDUALLY VS. 49ers
In five career games against San Francisco, WR Donald Driver has 18 receptions for 243 yards and two TDs, including nine catches for 160 yards and a 68-yard TD in the last meeting in 2006...One of LB A.J. Hawk's three career interceptions came against the Niners in 2006...NT Ryan Pickett had a career-high seven solo tackles against the 49ers on Oct. 6, 2002, while playing for the Rams.
LAST MEETING, REGULAR SEASON
- Dec. 10, 2006, at Monster Park; Packers won, 30-19.
- Brett Favre threw TD passes to Ruvell Martin (36 yards) and Donald Driver (68) as Green Bay snapped a three-game losing skid and began a four-game winning streak to conclude McCarthy's first season.
- Nick Collins and A.J. Hawk both snagged interceptions for the Packers against QB Alex Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft.
- TE Vernon Davis, selected one spot after Hawk in the 2006 draft at No. 2 overall, caught a 52-yard TD pass for the game's final points.
LAST MEETING, IN GREEN BAY
- Nov. 23, 2003, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 20-10.
- Ahman Green ran for 154 yards on 27 carries as the Packers piled up 243 yards on the ground on a misty day. Up to that point, the 49ers' fourth-ranked run defense had allowed just one 100-yard game.
- Brett Favre attempted just 15 passes and had three interceptions, but he did throw for two TDs, a 66-yarder to Javon Walker and a 16-yarder to Robert Ferguson to give the Packers a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
- The Packers' defense held the 49ers under 200 yards of offense (192), and Ryan Longwell kicked his 174th field goal to break Chris Jacke's club record.
THE RODGERS-SMITH STORYLINE
- Football fans around the country remember the storyline of the 2005 NFL Draft. Armed with the No. 1 pick, San Francisco was seemingly choosing between quarterbacks – Alex Smith from Utah and Aaron Rodgers from nearby California.
- An All-Pac-10 selection and native of nearby Chico, Rodgers certainly would have been the 'hometown' pick. San Francisco opted for Smith and Rodgers was the second quarterback selected, arriving in Green Bay with the No. 24 selection.
- Head Coach Mike McCarthy, at that time the newly named offensive coordinator for the 49ers, had a role in the pre-draft evaluations and coached Smith in his rookie season before arriving in Green Bay.
- Once in the NFL, the two signal callers took divergent paths to arrive at this point. Smith started seven games as a rookie and all 16 as a second-year player in 2006. He started seven games in 2007 before being benched and missed all of last season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
- Recently, Smith reclaimed the starting role from Shaun Hill. In four games, Smith has thrown for 808 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions for a 79.5 QB rating.
- Rodgers, on the other hand, waited his turn to see the field, becoming a full-time starter for the first time in his fourth NFL season.
- Now fifth-year players, the two quarterbacks forever linked to the 2005 NFL Draft will play against one another for the first time.
PICK YOUR POISON
- QB Aaron Rodgers connected with a season-high 10 different receivers on Sunday against Dallas, showing what a balanced attack the league's No. 8 offense possesses.
- And with the possible return of TE Jermichael Finley, a mismatch because of his size and speed for the position, Rodgers may finally have his full complement of receivers at his disposal.
- Not only is it tough to study and gameplan for so many different players, but it becomes increasingly difficult when so many of those players have game-changing ability.
- When WR James Jones topped the 100-yard receiving mark in Tampa, hauling in four catches for 103 yards, he became the fourth player on the Packers to produce a 100-yard receiving game this season, making Green Bay the first NFL team in 2009 to have four different players top the mark.
- WR Greg Jennings has two 100-yard performances on the season, first in Week 1 and then Week 3.
- Finley maintains the single-game high in 2009 for receiving yards with his six-catch, 128-yard performance in Minnesota.
- WR Donald Driver topped the 100-yard mark in Week 6 against Detroit with 107 receiving yards.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 1994 was the last season the Packers had four different players top the 100-yard mark.
- WR Sterling Sharpe surpassed the mark five times that season, while WR Robert Brooks and WR Anthony Morgan topped it once. RB Edgar Bennett, the team's current running backs coach, also topped the 100-yard receiving mark in a game.
- It appears the Packers could be getting some key players back from the injured list this week as they continue to make a run at a playoff spot in the NFC. In the midst of a three-game stretch in 12 days, the need to stay healthy is a given.
- McCarthy said on Monday that he expects LB Aaron Kampman and TE Jermichael Finley to return to practice on Wednesday, while LB Brandon Chillar also is expected to practice this week with a club on his broken hand and be available to play.
- Kampman was held out of action against Dallas after suffering a concussion one week earlier in Tampa. He was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie seventh-round draft pick Brad Jones, who played well, but getting Kampman's experience and veteran presence back for the playoff push will be valuable for the defense.
- Finley has missed the last three games after injuring his knee on the opening possession at Cleveland back on Oct. 25. The medical staff has taken a cautious approach with Finley, and McCarthy declared Finley will be practicing on Wednesday for the first time since the injury.
- With Chillar out, LB A.J. Hawk's role has expanded from playing in just the base defense to also playing nickel, and Hawk played well each of the last two games. If veteran Brady Poppinga returns from a quadriceps bruise, along with the emergence of the rookie Jones, the Packers suddenly find themselves with an abundance of talent at the position.
- Among those players hurt in the Dallas game were LB Desmond Bishop (ankle), DE Cullen Jenkins (ankle) and WR Greg Jennings (knee). All three could miss practice time this week, but none of the injuries are thought to be serious at this point in the week.
- Perhaps the two players who will be watched closely in practice this week are FB John Kuhn and T Mark Tauscher. Kuhn broke his hand, but he will not require surgery as Chillar did. Kuhn will practice with a splint this week.
- Tauscher was inactive against Dallas one week after making his return to the field. He suffered a knee sprain to the same knee in which he tore his ACL in Week 14 last season, though the medical staff did not fear it to be serious. Tauscher will work out with the staff Tuesday.
DEFENSE BEGINS RISE IN RANKINGS
- Ever since a season-opening win over Chicago, Green Bay's defense has seen a slow and steady rise up the league rankings, finding itself as the league's fourth-ranked unit heading into Week 11.
- For Green Bay, this marks the latest in a season its defense has been ranked in the top four since 2001, when it ranked fourth after Week 13.
- Some would argue that a more important and telling statistic is scoring defense, and not how many yards a team allows. With 161 points allowed, Green Bay ranks 10th in scoring defense.
- Two weeks ago, Green Bay found itself as the league's No. 3 overall defense and could get back into the league's upper echelon with a solid performance against the 49ers. The last time it ranked in the NFL's top 3 at any point in a season was 2001, when it was No. 3 in Week 9.
- In the first two years of the McCarthy tenure, Green Bay's defense was close to being a top-10 unit, finishing at No. 12 in 2006 and No. 11 in 2007. Last season, it slipped to No. 20.
- Enter a new defensive coordinator, veteran coach Dom Capers, and a switch to the 3-4 scheme. The early results have been good, especially now that the defense is relatively healthy.
- Green Bay's improved defense against the run has put opponents in third-and-long situations.
- Keeping opponents in long down-and-distances has helped the defense's ability to get off the field on third down. Through the first four games, the unit ranked No. 28. Solid third-down defense over the past five games now has the unit at No. 2. This week's opponent, San Francisco, ranks No. 28 in third-down offense.
- One constant for the defense this season has been its ability to take the ball away, registering 20 of the team's 21 takeaways.
- Whether it be caused by pressure from a deep and talented front seven, or a fantastic read by a ball-hawking secondary led by Pro Bowlers Nick Collins, Al Harris and Charles Woodson, those 21 turnovers have led to 75 points, the third-highest points-off-takeaways total.
- In Capers' previous stints as a coordinator, his units have made a jump in the rankings in his first season. In Pittsburgh, the defense went from No. 22 to No. 13 in '92 under Capers, then continued to rise to No. 3 in '93 and No. 2 in '94. In Jacksonville, the defense climbed to No. 4 under Capers in '99 after ranking 25th the previous season. The Dolphins ranked No. 4 in 2006, Capers' first year, after ranking No. 18 in '05.
TURNOVER RATIO TOPS THE LEAGUE
- While many football statistics don't have far-reaching implications through the early part of the season, turnover ratio is always a telling statistic when it comes to a game's final outcome.
- The Packers' 21 takeaways ranks third in the NFL. New Orleans leads the league with 25 takeaways, while Philadelphia ranks second with 22.
- The offense is doing its part as well, with a league-low eight giveaways. Of the Packers' turnovers, five have come on interceptions and three have come on fumbles. All eight have come in the passing game. Two of the fumbles lost have come on sacks of QB Aaron Rodgers, while another came on a screen pass to RB Ryan Grant.
- While Rodgers has always been careful with the ball in the passing game, credit must be given to the Packers running backs, who have carried the ball 206 times without a fumble. For Grant, he enters play Sunday with 177 consecutive carries without a fumble.
- With a defense that excels at the takeaway and an offense that protects the football as well as it does, its no surprise Green Bay's plus-13 turnover ratio tops the league in turnover margin.
- This week's opponent, San Francisco, stands at plus-one. It has 15 takeaways (11 interceptions, four fumble recoveries) and 14 turnovers (eight interceptions, six fumbles).
- Of the Packers' takeaways, 13 have come via the interception, third highest in the league. The Packers also have eight fumble recoveries.
- Every single Packers practice, be it during OTAs, training camp or the regular season, has a period devoted to ball security.
- Headed by assistant head coach/inside linebackers Winston Moss, the drill has offensive skill players carry the ball while two defenders (linebackers and defensive backs) try to strip the ball. Once free, the offensive player then must run through a gauntlet of offensive and defensive linemen attempting to strip the ball loose.
- The drill puts an emphasis on ball security to offensive players. For defensive players, the drill keeps the focus on stripping the ball from opposing players.
- Overall, the team has nine forced fumbles on the year (one on special teams), eight of which it has recovered.
- While the Packers can be proud of their place atop the league in turnover margin, it is a statistic that has trended upwards in each of McCarthy's three seasons.
- In 2006, the team finished at even in the category but improved to plus-four in 2007. Last season's plus-seven margin, No. 6 among NFL teams, was the franchise's best mark since 2002 ( 17).
- Prior to McCarthy's arrival, the team had a franchise-worst turnover ratio (-24) in 2005.
WOODSON AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME
- With Pro Bowl balloting having opened, it'd be hard to imagine CB Charles Woodson not being named to the NFC squad later this month.
- Woodson has made the adjustment from playing a man-to-man style to one that involves more reading of the quarterback and is thriving in the new scheme. Just last week he was named to the Pro Football Weekly Midseason All-Pro Team, and that was prior to his performance for the ages against the Cowboys.
- Against Dallas, Woodson became the first NFL player to record two forced fumbles, an interception and a sack in a game since Steelers linebacker James Harrison accomplished the feat two years ago to the day vs. Baltimore on Nov. 15, 2007. In that contest, Harrison posted three forced fumbles, 3½ sacks and an interception.
- Woodson came out of the gate fast too, as he was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September. It was the second such award of his career.
- Matched up against TE Greg Olsen in Week 1, Woodson limited one of Chicago's biggest offensive threats to one catch for eight yards.
- In Week 2 against the Bengals, Woodson recorded his fourth career multi-interception game, his third since coming to Green Bay in 2006.
- He raced one of the interceptions 37 yards for a touchdown, his fifth interception return for a score since coming to Green Bay. That number ties him with No. 2 Bobby Dillon and Darren Sharper on the team's all-time list.
- In addition to his team-high five interceptions, he has been credited with 55 tackles through nine games, a pace that would have him surpass his career high before season's end. Twice he has tallied 79, which he recorded two different times, first in Oakland in 2000 and again last season with Green Bay.
- There's no doubt Woodson's career has been revitalized since coming to Green Bay in 2006. Thanks to the ability of those around him, CB Al Harris and CB Tramon Williams among others, opposing quarterbacks can no longer decide to ignore throwing in Woodson's direction.
- Woodson now has 41 career interceptions, sixth among active NFL players. For his career, 24 have come in Green and Gold. Those 24 interceptions have come in 55 games with the Packers. In 106 games with the Oakland Raiders, he had 17.
MR. EVERYTHING FINDS THE END ZONE
- An unlikely star has emerged for the Packers over the last month, as TE Spencer Havner has found the end zone four times, tied for the team lead with WR Donald Driver and RB Ryan Grant.
- When TE Jermichael Finley went down on the opening drive in Cleveland, Havner (pronounced HAY-vner) made his presence felt thanks to a 45-yard catch-and-run touchdown. It was the first TD of his career.
- Coupled with a 62-yard scoring pass by Finley in Minnesota in Week 4, this marks the first time the Packers have had two tight ends with 45-plus yard TDs in the same season.
- Proving just how versatile, and valuable, he is to the Packers, Havner made the tackle of Browns WR Joshua Cribbs on the ensuing kickoff. Havner ranks second on special teams with 13 tackles.
- Against Minnesota in Week 8, Havner caught two TD passes in the third quarter, the first multi-TD game of his career, and caught another red-zone score against the Cowboys.
- Havner is the type of guy all players in the locker room root for, having spent parts of the last three seasons (2006-08) on the Packers' practice squad. He played the last four games of 2008, all on special teams.
- A decorated linebacker at UCLA, Havner spent the previous three years at linebacker before coaches had him begin practicing at tight end this past spring in OTAs. During two-a-days in training camp, he would practice once with each side of the ball.
- Havner remains on the depth chart at inside linebacker and would probably see action there in the event of an injury or two. Should he see time on defense this season, he would become the first three-way player in Head Coach Mike McCarthy's tenure.
- "Going through the personnel in the spring, we just felt we needed to create an opportunity to get Spencer on the 53," McCarthy said. "The opportunity was created with him playing both tight end and linebacker and trying to be a core special teams player, and he definitely took advantage of that in the preseason. I thought his special teams play was definitely exemplary coming off the way he played those last three, four games when he was up on our 53-man roster to finish last season. We just felt he's an instinctive football player. He's a young man that's taken full advantage of his opportunities. You love to see guys like Spencer have success."
282 AND COUNTING
- Another packed house at Lambeau Field last weekend against the Cowboys brought the stadium's consecutive sellouts streak to 282 games (266 regular season, 16 playoffs).
- This year's home game against Minnesota saw the largest regular-season crowd in Lambeau Field history (71,213).
- The league's longest-tenured stadium, Lambeau Field is hosting its 53rd season of football this year. A total of 565,460 fans came through the turnstiles in the eight home contests in 2008, an average of 70,683.
- Across American professional sports, only Boston's Fenway Park (1912) and Chicago's Wrigley Field (1914) have longer tenures.
THE LAMBEAU ADVANTAGE
- The crown jewel of the National Football League, Lambeau Field has long been known as one of the tougher venues to play in, particularly during the harsh Wisconsin winter.
- With the Packers 3-2 at home, the team has won 16 of its last 23 regular-season games at Lambeau Field.
- McCarthy has stated consistently that one of the team's goals is to reclaim the mystique of playing at Lambeau Field. Mission accomplished. The team is 14-7 at home since 2007, a marked improvement over the prior three seasons (10-14 combined).
- Since Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren began the revitalization of the franchise in 1992, Green Bay owns the best home record in the NFL. A look at the top home W-L records since the '92 season:
**Team - W-L record (Pct.)
Green Bay - 104-37-0 (.738)**
Denver - 102-38-0 (.729)
Pittsburgh - 102-38-1 (.727)
Minnesota - 96-44-0 (.686)
Dallas - 94-46-0 (.671)
GREEN RUNS INTO HISTORY BOOKS
- When RB Ahman Green left the Packers for the Houston Texans as a free agent in March 2007, few could have predicted that he would someday return to break the Green Bay franchise rushing record.
- After spending the 2007-08 seasons with the Texans, Green returned to the Packers prior to Week 7.
- In Tampa, his final rush moved him past Jim Taylor (8,207 yards) to become the Packers' all-time leading rusher. Green enters play Sunday with 8,217 career rushing yards with the Packers.
- It was perhaps the final rushing record to fall for Green, who already held the franchise marks for single-game (218) and single-season (1,883 in 2003) rushing yards. His six 1,000-yard seasons is also a franchise best.
CAPERS' INSTANT IMPACT
- Charged with orchestrating the Packers' new 3-4 defense is veteran coach Dom Capers, who is in his 24th season on the NFL level in 2009, his 17th as a defensive coordinator or head coach.
- Noted around the league as one of the game's best defensive minds, Capers is charged with transitioning the Packers to a 3-4 defense. Much of the depth chart on defense returned, including all 11 primary starters. The offseason was heavily focused on learning the new system, including position changes for some.
- In addition to serving as the head coach of two different expansion franchises (Carolina and Houston), Capers brings an impressive résumé as a coordinator. Green Bay's rise in the defensive ranks this season is typical of Capers' instant impact over the course of his NFL career. Pittsburgh ranked No. 22 in overall defense in 1991, the year before Capers' arrival. The Steelers' defense rose up in the defensive rankings to 13th in 1992, Capers' first season as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. The unit rose to No. 3 in 1993 and No. 2 in 1994, earning the moniker "Blitzburgh" with one of the decade's most feared defenses.
- Capers' impact also was seen in his stint as defensive coordinator with Jacksonville (1999-00) and Miami (2006-07). Ranking 25th in overall defense in 1998, the Jaguars' unit rose immediately under Capers in '99 to No. 4 overall in addition to allowing the fewest points in the NFL. The Dolphins ranked No. 18 in overall defense in 2005 but rose to No. 4 in 2006 under Capers, with DE Jason Taylor earning Defensive Player of the Year honors that season as well.
TAKEAWAY POINTS KEY FOR PACKERS
- Green Bay has continued to show its knack for the takeaways in the first nine games with 13 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries, which it has turned into 75 points.
- Green Bay's 21 takeaways rank third highest in the NFL, behind only New Orleans (25) and Philadelphia (22).
- The Packers' 75 points scored off those 21 takeaways also ranks third in the NFL, behind the Saints (100) and New York Giants (78).
- With its three takeaways against the Cowboys, Green Bay extended its own streak to 11 straight games with a takeaway. That is the second-longest active streak in the NFL behind Houston (15).
- Last season, the Green Bay defense led the NFL in defensive touchdowns (7) and interception returns for touchdowns (6).
- In 2008, Green Bay (plus-seven) finished with the sixth-best turnover ratio in the NFL, its best finish under Mike McCarthy.
- Green Bay had 28 takeaways (22 interceptions, six fumble recoveries) on the season against 21 turnovers (13 interceptions, eight fumbles). The 21 turnovers tied the second-lowest total in franchise history.
- Thanks to an opportunistic defense, with its seven touchdowns, and an offense that was able to capitalize after an opponent's mistake, Green Bay led all NFL teams with 124 points off takeaways. Baltimore (123) finished just behind the Packers at No. 2.
- If the Packers don't commit a turnover, they're almost guaranteed to win – the lone exception being games against the Vikings. They have now won 36 of 39 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 against Minnesota: twice in Minneapolis (2005, '08) and once at home (2009).
- Including playoffs, the Packers have won 39 of their last 42 games without a giveaway.
INT RETURN YARDAGE A HABIT
- The Packers finished 2008 with an astounding 685 return yards on their 22 interceptions, tops in the NFL. That was over 200 yards better than the next closest team, Baltimore, which finished the year with 477 return yards on 26 interceptions.
- The 685 return yards set a new franchise record, besting the previous record established in 1943, when the team had 616 yards on 42 interceptions. In the modern era, the two previous highs were 561 return yards on 27 interceptions in 1965, and the following season when Green Bay had 547 return yards on 28 interceptions. The Packers won the NFL Championship both seasons.
- While it may not be on a franchise-record-shattering pace this season, it still ranks among top teams in the NFL when its defenders have the ball in their hands. With 233 return yards on 12 interceptions, Green Bay ranks third in the NFL.
- McCarthy has said his team's ability to make a play after an interception is something the team has repped after every turnover in practice since he arrived in 2006. Every offensive player, whether part of the 11 on the play or the group on the sidelines, attempts to catch the defender before he can advance up the field.
PACKERS GRAB MUCH-NEEDED VICTORY
- In many respects the season was on the line for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Having dropped two straight games to fall to .500, and facing NFC East-leading Dallas on a four-game winning streak, the Packers needed a win for a variety of reasons -- to stymie a potential free-fall, to stay in the thick of the NFC Wild Card chase, and to prove they could beat a playoff contender, which they hadn't done since Week 1.
- Behind a stellar defensive performance and a dynamite, clock-eating touchdown drive in the second half, the Packers accomplished all of the above in an impressive 17-7 victory at Lambeau Field in front of 70,894 and a national television audience.
- "It was an important time in our season to get back in this race," QB Aaron Rodgers said. "I think a lot of people were thinking this was going to be the end of the road for us and going to be a turning point for the negative for us this season. But it was a big win for our team."
- It's a win that doesn't entirely erase the fourth-quarter meltdown that cost the team a victory over previously winless Tampa Bay a week ago, but it does show what this team is capable of.
- The defense, behind five sacks and three turnovers, held the No. 3-ranked offense in the league scoreless until the final minute of the game just one week after a allowing a game-winning 72-yard touchdown drive to the Buccaneers late in the fourth quarter.
- Meanwhile, the offense overcame a sluggish first half to put together its best drive of the season to give that defense some breathing room. And the special teams, whose breakdowns had cost the team mightily in losses the last two weeks, shored things up and didn't allow a punt or kickoff return longer than 25 yards.
- "The resolve of the team I think was tested, and we proved some stuff not only to our fans but to ourselves and to the rest of the league," Rodgers said. "A lot of people were thinking this was definitely going to be a Cowboy roll today, and our defense played great and our offense did just enough."
- The Packers (5-4) also got their share of breaks, which any team needs to pull out a tight game that was 3-0 until early in the fourth quarter. Mason Crosby's 48-yard field goal on the final play of the first half was all the scoring in the first two quarters, in part because Crosby and Dallas kicker Nick Folk both missed field goals early.
- In that first half, Dallas (6-3) had a sack and fumble recovery by cornerback Orlando Scandrick at the Green Bay 15-yard line wiped out by an illegal-hands-to-the-face penalty on fellow corner Mike Jenkins. The Packers also got a huge turnover when Cowboys receiver Roy Williams beat the coverage downfield for a 42-yard gain, but just as he looked to make a move on CB Charles Woodson that might spring him for a touchdown, Woodson punched the ball out and LB Clay Matthews pounced on it.
- Later, Packers punt returner Tramon Williams had a fumble at midfield overturned by a replay challenge, as he had fallen on his own but had been touched down just before losing control of the ball. And Roy Williams again blew a chance for a big play when a perfect Tony Romo throw into zone coverage went right through his hands instead of for a long gain.
- But the Packers took advantage of those breaks and then started making some of their own. Taking over at their own 20 with 6:50 left in the third quarter, Green Bay embarked on a 15-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that consumed 8 minutes, 36 seconds, and was capped by Rodgers' 1-yard QB sneak for a 10-0 lead with 13:14 left in the fourth quarter.
- "I thought it was a big moment in the game," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said of the long march, the team's longest scoring drive of the season by four plays and 2½ minutes. "I really thought it illustrated how you want to play."
- The drive featured three third-down conversions, including two where the yardage needed was 11 and 13 yards, respectively. The first was converted with a 14-yard pass to WR Greg Jennings on which he made a last-second route adjustment against the Dallas coverage, according to Rodgers. The second was a 17-yard strike over the middle to TE Donald Lee after RB Brandon Jackson picked up blitzing LB Keith Brooking to give Rodgers time to fire downfield.
- Coming into the game, the Packers were just 4-of-38 on the season when needing 10 or more yards on third down, but they converted two straight, plus a third-and-6 from the Dallas 8-yard line on a pass to WR Jordy Nelson, who nearly scored but was down at the 1. Rodgers took it in on the next snap.
- "We converted some long third downs, and guys made plays when they had to," LG Daryn Colledge said. "Those were the plays we weren't making in the first eight games. We let games slip away, not because we gave up, but because we didn't make the plays when we had to have it."
- The defense made a couple more big ones as well. On the third play of the ensuing Dallas drive, Woodson came unblocked on a blind-side blitz, sacking Romo and knocking the ball out. It appeared Dallas running back Felix Jones had recovered, but Green Bay's Johnny Jolly stripped the ball from Jones and it continued bounding toward the goal line, where Matthews eventually recovered at the Dallas 3.
- Three snaps later, Rodgers (25-of-36, 189 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 91.1 rating) found TE Spencer Havner for the converted linebacker's fourth TD reception of the season and a commanding 17-0 bulge.
- Then, with the defense looking to lock down its second shutout of the season - a feat the Packers haven't accomplished since 1967 - Woodson ended a 76-yard Cowboys drive by picking off a pass intended for TE Jason Witten at the goal line with 5:57 left.
- Unfortunately the shutout wasn't to be, as Dallas finally found the end zone on its final drive, scoring on a 9-yard pass to Williams with 38 seconds remaining. But the defensive effort was superb nonetheless, especially considering the field-position edge the Cowboys had early, starting their first three drives of the game at their own 39-, 42- and 49-yard lines.
- "Maybe I was a defensive coach wannabe, but that's the way the game is supposed to be played in November," said McCarthy, who noted he felt the team was very quiet and focused in the locker room before the game. "I speak about it all the time to the football team. We are a defensive first priority. They are the thermostat for our football team and when they play like that, we're going to win a lot of football games."
- How many more remains to be seen. For all the positive vibes generated by the win, the Packers know they've won two straight games only once all season, and that was against two teams with a combined two wins on the year.
- But at 5-4, and with NFC playoff hopefuls Philadelphia and Atlanta losing Sunday to fall to that same mark, the Packers also know they've pulled themselves into a four-way tie that also includes the New York Giants for what will be two NFC Wild Card bids come season's end.
AROUND THE 'BLACK AND BLUE' DIVISION
- At 5-4, Green Bay stands in second place in the NFC North with seven games remaining on the schedule.
- After losing to the Vikings for the second time this season, Green Bay is 2-2 in division play. Division matchups remaining include a Thanksgiving game in Detroit (Week 12) and in Chicago (Week 14).
- Minnesota, off to an 8-1 start, beat Detroit at home over the weekend. The Vikings will remain at home for the next two weeks, first hosting Seattle before playing its first game of the season against Chicago.
- The defending division champion Vikings broke a string last season of seven straight years when either the Packers or Bears won the NFC North/Central. This year, Minnesota is working against history again, trying to become the first team other than Chicago or Green Bay to win back-to-back division crowns in three decades. The Vikings were the last to do it, in the 1977-78 seasons, which concluded a string of six straight division championships for Minnesota in the Bud Grant era.
- Chicago has lost four of its last five, dropping a road contest in San Francisco last Thursday. A rested Bears team returns home to host Philadelphia on Sunday night before traveling to Minnesota the following weekend.
- Detroit dropped a game in Minnesota this past weekend. Like Green Bay, it will face a short turnaround this weekend in advance of the Thanksgiving game. On Sunday, the Lions host the Browns.
- Head Coach Mike McCarthy has always stressed the importance of division play. Through the first seven weeks of the '09 season, the Packers own the best division mark over the three-plus seasons of McCarthy's tenure at 15-7. The Packers are trailed by Chicago (13-7) and then Minnesota (13-9) over that period.