Packers-Bears Week 14 Dope Sheet

The NFL’s oldest rivalry plays out in Chicago this Sunday as the Packers and Bears meet on the gridiron for game No. 179 in the all-time series. No two franchises in NFL annals have met more than Green Bay and Chicago, with the most-recent chapter coming down to the final moments of the fourth quarter. - More Packers-Bears Game Center | Printable Dope Sheet (PDF)

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*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-Bears Week 14 Dope Sheet. To read the full version, download the PDF by clicking here.

Here are some highlights from the Packers-Bears Week 14 Dope Sheet:*

**GREEN BAY (8-4) at CHICAGO (5-7)

Sunday, Dec. 13 - Soldier Field - 12 p.m. CST**

PACKERS-BEARS IN THE WINDY CITY

  • The NFL's oldest rivalry plays out in Chicago this Sunday as the Packers and Bears meet on the gridiron for game No. 179 in the all-time series.
  • No two franchises in NFL annals have met more than Green Bay and Chicago, with the most-recent chapter coming down to the final moments of the fourth quarter. Green Bay took the season opener at Lambeau Field, 21-15, thanks to a late 50-yard scoring pass from QB Aaron Rodgers to WR Greg Jennings, then sealed the win with its fourth interception of the night.
  • With its win in the season opener, Green Bay narrowed Chicago's lead in the series to a 81-90-6 advantage.
  • For the Packers, the late-season trip to Chicago is getting to be routine. Sunday marks the sixth consecutive year the Packers will play in Chicago in December or later.
  • Though they've lost two consecutive games at Soldier Field, both in frigid conditions, the Packers have still won 12 of the last 16 meetings in the Windy City. All-time at Soldier Field, Green Bay is an even 18-18-0.
  • Sunday marks the final division game of 2009 for the Packers, 3-2 in division play thus far, and matches up teams heading in opposite directions. Green Bay has reeled off four consecutive victories, while Chicago has dropped six of its last eight games.
  • Green Bay will have a short week to prepare for Chicago, having defeated Baltimore 27-14 at Lambeau Field Monday night.
  • Chicago defeated St. Louis at home on Sunday, 17-9, to improve to 5-7 on the season.
  • The roles are nearly reversed from last December's matchup, when Green Bay entered the game with slim playoff chances and hoped to knock its rival a step back in the playoff picture.

THE PLAYOFF PICTURE

  • Winners of four consecutive games, including a three-game stretch in 12 days against NFC opponents, Green Bay has thrust itself back into prime playoff contention in the conference.
  • At 8-4, Green Bay and Philadelphia currently hold the top positions for Wild Card berths, while the Dallas Cowboys (8-4) and New York Giants (7-5) both could be in that position as the NFC East picture clears up. Dallas will step out of the division to take on the San Diego Chargers, while the Eagles and Giants meet on Sunday night in New York.
  • 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. Green Bay is 6-3 against the NFC so far this season with three conference games remaining.
  • By virtue of its Week 10 win over the Cowboys, Green Bay would hold the first tiebreaker over Dallas should the two clubs be competing for a Wild Card berth.

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.
  • 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 147 WTMJ feed) as part of the network's NFL Sunday Drive.
  • DIRECTV subscribers can watch the game in HD on channel 711.

THE DOPE ON THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT:

**Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears

All-time, regular season: **81-90-6

All-time, postseason:0-1

All-time, at Soldier Field:18-18-0

Streaks:The Packers have won two of the last three meetings.

Last meeting, regular season:Sept. 13, 2009, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 21-15

Last meeting, in Chicago: Dec. 22, 2008; Bears won, 20-17 OT

COACHES CAPSULES

Mike McCarthy:36-26-0, .580 (incl. 1-1 postseason); 4th NFL season

Lovie Smith: 53-44-0, .546 (incl. 2-2 postseason); 6th NFL season

Head to Head: Smith 4-3

vs. Opponent: McCarthy 3-4 vs. Bears; Smith 7-4 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.

LOVIE SMITH…Is in sixth year as the Bears' 13th head coach.

  • With 50 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 179th time.
  • The Packers' 37-3 win last November marked the largest margin of victory in the series since Green Bay's 40-3 win on Dec. 11, 1994. Chicago's win last December was just the second overtime game in series history and first since Sept. 7, 1980, when Packers K Chester Marcol returned his own blocked field goal for the winning score.
  • Chicago has swept the season series twice in the last four years (2005, 07), their only series sweeps since 1991. The Packers last swept the season series in '03, capping 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 opponent.
  • 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.

NOTABLE CONNECTIONS

Green Bay running backs coach Edgar Bennett finished his playing career in Chicago (1998-99)...Packers assistant offensive line coach Jerry Fontenot was a third-round draft choice of the Bears in 1989 and was a mainstay at center in his eight seasons (1989-96) in Chicago...Lovie Smith was a University of Wisconsin assistant in 1987, while Bears defensive coordinator Bob Babich spent two seasons on the Badgers' staff (1988-89)...Packers NT Ryan Pickett played for Bears head coach Lovie Smith in St. Louis from 2001-03 when Smith served as the Rams' defensive coordinator. Pickett and LB Brandon Chillar were also teammates of Bears T Orlando Pace in St. Louis...Bears assistant defensive backs coach Gill Byrd served as the Packers executive director/player programs and community affairs from 1999-2001...Bears LB Hunter Hillenmeyer was taken by Green Bay in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft...Bears LB Nick Roach is a Milwaukee native who played in college at Northwestern...Bears WR Rashied Davis, DT Jarron Gilbert and Packers WR James Jones were teammates at San Jose State...Bears G Josh Beekman and Packers NT B.J. Raji were teammates at Boston College...Packers QB Matt Flynn and FB Quinn Johnson and Bears S Craig Steltz led LSU to the BCS national title in 2007.

INDIVIDUALLY VS. BEARS

QB Aaron Rodgers is a combined 64-of-97 for 671 yards with five TDs and two interceptions (94.5 rating) in three career games against Chicago...WR Donald Driver's career-long catch was an 85-yard TD reception at Chicago (Champaign) on Oct. 7, 2002, on Monday Night Football...S Nick Collins has four career interceptions against the Bears, including a two-INT game at Chicago on Dec. 31, 2006, that featured a 55-yard return for a touchdown...The first two-interception game of CB Charles Woodson's career came at Chicago on Oct. 5, 2003, while playing for Oakland. Woodson has had three games with two INTs since coming to Green Bay...Ryan Grant's 66-yard TD run in Chicago in 2007 was a career long, and his 145 yards in last year's game at Lambeau was a season-high. Grant also scored the lone receiving TD of his career against the Bears last year.

LAST MEETING, REGULAR SEASON

  • Sept. 13, 2009, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 21-15.
  • The Packers intercepted QB Jay Cutler four times in his Chicago debut, the final one by Al Harris with 58 seconds left to seal the win. Tramon Williams' INT and 67-yard return in the second quarter set up a Green Bay TD, while Johnny Jolly's INT in the red zone turned away a potential Chicago scoring drive.
  • Trailing 15-13, the Packers took the lead on a 50-yard TD pass from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings with 1:11 remaining. Jennings finished with six catches for 106 yards.

LAST MEETING, AT SOLDIER FIELD

  • Dec. 22, 2008; Bears won, 20-17 OT.
  • TD catches by Greg Jennings and Ryan Grant in the second quarter gave the Packers a 14-3 halftime lead. But Chicago tied it at 17 on Matt Forte's 3-yard TD run with 3:11 left in the fourth quarter, one play after Forte converted a fourth-and-1 run.
  • Green Bay had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Mason Crosby's 38-yard field-goal try was blocked by Alex Brown with 18 seconds left.
  • The Bears won the OT coin flip and scored on the first possession. Passes of 15 yards to Greg Olsen and 14 yards to Forte, plus a 15-yard horse-collar tackle penalty on Packers S Aaron Rouse, put Chicago in position for Robbie Gould's game-winning 38-yard field goal.

HEATING UP IN DECEMBER

  • With playoff implications on the line for both teams Monday night, Green Bay came out victorious in its first game of the season's stretch run.
  • The smash-mouth affair at Lambeau Field on Monday night is what December football in the National Football League is all about. A second-straight game in winter conditions is expected this Sunday in Chicago, and there will be no letup on either side in one of professional sports' most storied rivalries.
  • Armed with an incredible home-field advantage, Green Bay has been a consistently successful team this decade as the regular season winds down in December and January. Often times, as will be the case Sunday in Chicago, those games are the final determining factors in the race for playoff berths and seeding.
  • The Packers own one of the NFL's best home records since 2000 in regular-season games played in December and January. Now at 19-4 (.826), only New England (18-3, .857) and Denver (16-3, .842) own better home records over that period. Interestingly, each of the top three teams plays outdoors in what is usually cold temperatures.
  • But it's not just about wins at home, as Green Bay has proved to be one of the league's best teams in regular-season games played in December and January since 2000. A look at the top five records over that period:

Team: W-L in Dec/Jan (Pct.)

New England: 34-8-0 (.810)

Pittsburgh: 32-12-0 (.727)

Green Bay: 31-12-0 (.721)

Philadelphia: 29-13-0 (.690)

Indianapolis: 29-15-0 (.659)

ROSTER MOVES

  • The Packers made a roster move Monday prior to the Ravens contest, placing LB Aaron Kampman on injured reserve and signing LB Cyril Obiozor from the practice squad.
  • Kampman played in and started nine games this season for the Packers, totaling 55 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
  • Obiozor (pronounced SEER-uhl OH-bee-AH-zer) signed with the team in May as a non-drafted free agent from Texas A&M, where he played defensive end for the Aggies.
  • He cracked the lineup Monday night as well, seeing time on various special teams units. Given the neck sprain suffered by LB Jeremy Thompson in practice last week, and his uncertainty moving forward, it's likely Obiozor will be counted on to contribute again on special teams in Chicago and could see time from scrimmage in a backup role.

THE LEAGUE'S TOP-RANKED DEFENSE

  • Yielding just 185 total net yards to the Ravens, the Green Bay defense maintained its standing as the league's No. 1 overall defense. The Packers' defense has not ranked among the league's top-ranked units this late in the season since 1996, when it finished the year No. 1 overall and went on to win Super Bowl XXXI.
  • The last time the Packers ranked No. 1 overall at any point in the season was in 2001, when it was atop the league rankings after Week 3.
  • Behind new defensive coordinator Dom Capers and all-everything CB Charles Woodson, the Packers have thrived in their new 3-4 scheme. The team ranks No. 4 against the run and No. 3 against the pass.
  • Some would argue that a more important and telling statistic is scoring defense, and not how many yards a team allows. With 209 points allowed, Green Bay ranks 11th in scoring defense.
  • Green Bay's improved defense against the run has kept opponents in long down-and-distances, enhancing the defense's ability to get off the field on third down. Through the first four games, the unit ranked No. 28. As soon as Green Bay began to stop the run, it shot up the league rankings in third-down defense, now at No. 6. This week's opponent, Chicago, ranks tied for 19th in third-down offense.
  • One constant for the defense this season has been its ability to take the ball away, registering 30 of the team's 31 takeaways. The Packers and Saints (36) are the only teams with 30-plus takeaways on the year.
  • Whether they 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 (five INTs) and Woodson (seven), those 31 turnovers have led to 102 points, the second-most points-off-turnovers total in the NFL. New Orleans leads the category with 134 points.
  • In the first two years of the Mike 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.
  • 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.

QUITE THE PAIR

  • S Nick Collins and CB Charles Woodson tied for the NFC lead with seven interceptions last season and both were named to the Pro Bowl.
  • The pair continue to give opposing quarterbacks fits, as Woodson has seven interceptions to Collins' five. They are one of only two teammate combos in the league with five or more interceptions. Philadelphia's Asante Samuel (7) and Sheldon Brown (5) are the other pair.
  • Both are leading candidates to return to the Pro Bowl this season, as Woodson's 14 interceptions since '08 lead all NFL players and Collins' 12 picks rank tied for second with Baltimore's Ed Reed.

TAKING HIS PLACE AMONG THE GAME'S BEST

  • QB Aaron Rodgers has had to endure plenty of fanfare off the field since he took over the starting job for the Packers in 2008. What shouldn't be ignored is just how well he is playing on it.
  • Rodgers ranks near the top of the NFL in most passing categories and was honored as the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October, the first such award of his career.
  • He has engineered one of the NFL's most potent offenses, as the Packers have eclipsed 400 total net yards seven times this year, behind only New England (eight) and New Orleans (nine).
  • Through 12 games, his 103.3 passer rating ranks fourth in the NFL. In addition, he is the game's top-ranked passer on third downs (132.0).
  • The fourth-year pro has thrown for 3,399 yards through 12 games, fifth most in the league. At his current pace, Rodgers would finish with 4,532 yards at season's end. That would put him in a position to break Lynn Dickey's franchise record (4,458, 1983) for passing yards in a single season in the final weeks.
  • In addition to QB rating and passing yards, Rodgers ranks among the top 10 in touchdowns and both completion and interception percentage.
  • And just for good measure, the Cal product tops all QBs with 277 rushing yards on 45 carries (5.7 avg.).
  • Elias Sports Bureau never intended for passer rating to measure the effectiveness of a signal caller in one game, but rather over the course of a group of games or entire season.
  • Having said that, Rodgers' performance in Week 7 in Cleveland (15-of-20, 246 yards, 3 TDs) earned him a passer rating of 155.4, the highest single-game rating (minimum 20 attempts) in the history of the franchise. It bested the previous high, Brett Favre's 154.9 rating set in Oakland on Dec. 22, 2003.
  • It was Rodgers' fourth consecutive game with a passer rating over 110.0, becoming only the second signal caller in team history to eclipse the mark four straight times in a single season. The legendary Bart Starr accomplished the feat four straight weeks during the 1966 season (Sept. 18-Oct. 9) en route to an NFL Championship and Super Bowl title.
  • Rodgers just missed becoming the first to do it in five straight games, registering a 108.5 rating against Minnesota the following week.
  • Not only does the statistic explain his play this season, but just how efficient he has been since becoming a starter. In 28 career starts, Rodgers has eclipsed the century mark in passer rating 15 times.

TURNOVER RATIO TOPS THE LEAGUE

  • While many football statistics don't have far-reaching implications through a sampling of the season, turnover ratio is always a telling statistic when it comes to a game's final outcome.
  • The Packers' 31 takeaways ranks second in the NFL. New Orleans leads the league with 36 takeaways.
  • The offense is doing its part as well, with 13 giveaways on the year. That ranks tied for second-lowest in the league with Minnesota, while San Diego has a league-low 12.
  • 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 280 times without a fumble in 2009. For Grant, he enters play Sunday against the Bears with 236 consecutive carries without a fumble, a new career high.
  • With a defense that excels at the takeaway and an offense that protects the football as well as it does, it is no surprise Green Bay's plus-18 turnover ratio tops the league.
  • This week's opponent, Chicago, stands at minus-four, which ranks 23rd in the NFL. It has 21 takeaways (11 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries) and 25 turnovers (20 interceptions, five fumbles).
  • Of the Packers' takeaways, 21 have come via the interception, tied with Buffalo for the second-highest total in the league. The Packers also have 10 fumble recoveries.
  • In the first meeting of the season against the Bears, the Packers were plus-four in the turnover margin, picking off Bears QB Jay Cutler four times.
  • 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 11 forced fumbles on the year (one on special teams), 10 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.

ROOKIE TRIO

  • Not to be overlooked in the Packers' ascension to the top of the league rankings in overall defense are the contributions of three rookies.
  • LB Brad Jones, who had to fill the rather large shoes of Pro Bowl honoree Aaron Kampman after a season-ending knee injury, collected his first career sack Monday night against the Ravens.
  • Jones became the third Packers rookie to collect a sack this season, joining first-round picks NT B.J. Raji (1.0) and LB Clay Matthews (7.0). The last time three Packers rookies recorded sacks was 1987.
  • Joining Jones with a sack against Baltimore was Matthews, who recorded the second multi-sack performance of the season. It marked the first time two Packers rookies have recorded sacks in a single game since Nov. 15, 1998, when Vonnie Holliday (2) and Jude Waddy both had sacks against the New York Giants.

WOODSON AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME

  • With Pro Bowl balloting nearing its finish, it'd be hard to imagine CB Charles Woodson not being named to the NFC squad later this year.
  • In fact, Woodson is being talked about as one of the leading candidates for Defensive Player of the Year. He was named to the Pro Football Weekly Midseason All-Pro Team, and that was prior to his career performances against the Cowboys and Lions.
  • 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.
  • Against the Lions, Woodson tallied two interceptions, including one he returned for a score, a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery, all while holding WR Calvin Johnson to 2 catches for 10 yards.
  • Woodson was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for both his Dallas (Week 10) and Detroit (Week 12) performances, and naturally won NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November. Woodson also was honored as the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September.
  • His Detroit performance marked the fifth multi-interception game of his career, and his fourth since coming to Green Bay.
  • Woodson's sixth INT return for a score moved him into second place on the franchise's all-time list behind Hall of Famer Herb Adderley (seven).
  • Woodson's sixth INT return for a TD since 2006 leads all NFL players. Overall, he has eight career.
  • In addition to his team-high seven interceptions, he has been credited with 63 tackles through 12 games, third most on the team. That pace would have him surpass his career high (79) before season's end, a total he has accomplished twice before (OAK, 2000; GB, 2008).
  • A skilled blitzer, Woodson has two sacks in his last four games. His five sacks since 2008 lead all NFL defensive backs (safeties and corners).
  • His four forced fumbles ranks second among all NFL defensive backs.
  • There's no doubt Woodson's career has undergone a revitalization since coming to Green Bay. He now has 43 career interceptions, fifth among active NFL players. For his career, 26 have come in 58 games with the Packers. In 106 games with the Oakland Raiders, he had 17.

D-LINE HEADLINES RUN DEFENSE

  • With each returning player adjusting to new positions in the 3-4 scheme, Green Bay's defensive line has created an imposing physical presence as the Packers' first line of defense.
  • DE Cullen Jenkins, who played both inside and outside in the old scheme, has 38 tackles and ranks second on the team in sacks (4.5) and forced fumbles (three).
  • Against Detroit in Week 6, Jenkins recorded his first NFL interception, sniffing out a screen pass to RB Kevin Smith.
  • Making the transition from an inside defensive tackle in the old scheme to an end this season, DE Johnny Jolly leads all defensive linemen with 56 tackles. His eight passes defensed show his ability to be a disruptive force at the line of scrimmage. Jenkins (nine in 2007) has the most for a defensive lineman since the team began recording the statistic in 1980.
  • Displaying rare athleticism for a 6-foot-3, 320-pound man, Jolly made a highlight-reel one-handed interception in the red zone against Jay Cutler and the Bears in Week 1. He also plucked another ball out of the air on a dive against St. Louis, though the ball was ruled a fumble because of a strip by LB Aaron Kampman.
  • That play came just minutes after Jolly blocked a field-goal attempt on the Rams' opening drive. It was the second block of his career.
  • It had been awhile since a Packers player recorded an interception, fumble recovery and blocked kick in the same season. That was CB Doug Evans in 1993.
  • Coupled with Jenkins' interception against the Lions, the duo became the first pair of Packers defensive linemen to record interceptions in the same season since 2002, when Kabeer Gbaja-Biamilia and Vonnie Holliday accomplished the feat.
  • NT Ryan Pickett, playing the position for the first time, has been a disruptive force in the middle with 46 tackles and a pass deflection. The recent emergence of rookie B.J. Raji should keep all four players in the unit fresh down the stretch, which should maintain their ability to penetrate opponents' backfields and stop the run.
  • Since the Packers gave up 117 yards to RB Steven Jackson in Week 3, they have allowed 660 yards in nine games (73.3 yards a game), the fewest allowed over that span.
  • Over that time, opponents' average of 3.4 yards per carry is the best in the NFL. Green Bay has allowed three rushing TDs over that span, tied for third-fewest in the league.

GRANT AND THE GROUND GAME

  • The nature of the rivalry dictates that a Bears-Packers game should always be a battle in the trenches, but Chicago has been vulnerable against the run this season, ranking 25th in the league.
  • While it was tough sledding against the Ravens (18 carries, 41 yards), RB Ryan Grant did produce a 100-yard effort (129 yards and a score on 21 carries) against a top-10 unit in San Francisco.
  • Though he has just two 100-yard performances on the season, Grant has surpassed the 90-yard mark on three other occasions.
  • Without much fanfare, Grant's numbers rank among the leaders in the NFC. His rushing total (931 yards) ranks fourth in the NFC and eighth overall in the NFL. Utilized more in the screen game this season, his 190 receiving yards already is a career high.
  • Grant's 1,121 total yards from scrimmage ranks fourth in the NFC and eighth in the NFL.
  • McCarthy has consistently stated in his time in Green Bay that the most important rushing statistic to him is attempts, and there is no doubting the team's success when the attempts are up, specifically for Grant.
  • When Grant gets 22-or-more carries, the team is 9-1 (10-1 with playoffs).
  • With veteran RB Ahman Green back in the fold, not to mention a quarterback whose feet are a weapon opposing defenses must account for, Green Bay has totaled over 100 net yards on the ground six times. Its record in those contests is 5-1.
  • RB Brandon Jackson still sits at No. 2 on the depth chart and has served as the team's third-down back in his two-plus seasons.
  • Jackson appears to be working his way back into form after missing the first four games with an ankle injury, while Green returned to game action against Baltimore after being sidelined by a groin injury. Both could begin to spell Grant from scrimmage and keep all three backs fresh as the team makes its push for a playoff spot in the NFC.
  • Traditionally the Packers have run more over the second half of the season as the weather turns. With one remaining home game, not to mention potential cold-weather games in Chicago and Pittsburgh, the offense may become a more ground-based attack.

284 AND COUNTING

  • Another packed house at Lambeau Field against the Ravens brought the stadium's consecutive sellouts streak to 284 games (268 regular season, 16 playoffs). Just one home game on the regular-season schedule remains.
  • 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.
  • Re-establishing home-field advantage after a 4-4 mark in 2008 was one of the goals of 2009, and with the Packers at 5-2 at home so far this season, they are on their way to accomplishing that goal.
  • With the victory over the Ravens, the team has won 18 of its last 25 regular-season games at Lambeau Field.
  • McCarthy stated consistently upon his arrival in Green Bay that one of the team's goals would be to reclaim the mystique of playing at Lambeau Field. Mission accomplished. The team is 18-7 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: 106-37-0 (.741)

Denver: 103-39-0 (.725)

Pittsburgh: 102-39-1 (.722)

Minnesota: 98-44-0 (.690)

Dallas: 96-46-0 (.676)

FINLEY'S RETURN A WELCOME SIGHT

  • Anyone needing to know how much the Packers missed TE Jermichael Finley in his three-game absence need only to watch the game tape from the last three contests.
  • Over the last three games, he has caught a team-high 17 passes for 158 yards and two TDs, with both scores coming against the Ravens. In fact, all three of Finley's touchdowns in 2009 have come on MNF.
  • Rodgers clearly loves his athletic ability down the middle of the field, as evidenced by his six catches of 20-plus yards. And in goal-line situations, as was seen Monday night, Rodgers is confident in Finley's ability to win a one-on-one battle on a fade route.
  • Though a knee sprain caused him to miss the better part of four games, he has already set career highs in nearly every statistical category.
  • Finley's coming-out party came on the team's first appearance on Monday Night Football in front of the largest television audience in cable history. That night, he set a new career high in receiving yards (128), highlighted by his 62-yard catch-and-run for a score. The catch marked the longest reception by a Green Bay tight end since Jackie Harris caught a 66-yard scoring pass against Denver on Oct. 10, 1993.
  • Finley's day also stands tied for the most productive day by a tight end in team history. His 128 yards matched Harris' output from that Broncos contest, tying the franchise high for most receiving yards by a tight end.
  • There's no doubting the Packers depth at the position. TE Donald Lee remains the unit's starter and is fourth on the team with 31 catches, and TE Spencer Havner filled in nicely in Finley's absence. Of Havner's seven catches on the year, four have gone for scores.
  • The team often likes to go with multiple-tight end sets, which should exploit the mismatches against linebackers and defensive backs this group is able to create.

AROUND THE 'BLACK AND BLUE'

  • At 8-4, Green Bay stands solidly in second place in the NFC North with four games remaining on the schedule. It will need considerable help from Minnesota's opponents, not to mention a stellar record in the final four games, to challenge for the division crown.
  • Green Bay is 3-2 in division play and now heads to Chicago for its final NFC North game of the season.
  • Minnesota, off to a 10-2 start, lost in Arizona on Sunday night. It will host Cincinnati this weekend at the Metrodome.
  • 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 six of its last eight but is coming off a victory, having defeated the Rams at home this past weekend. After hosting the Packers on Sunday, the Bears will travel to Baltimore before finishing the season with two division games against the Vikings and Lions.
  • Detroit dropped a contest in Cincinnati over the weekend to fall to 2-10 on the year. The Lions will be on the road again this weekend, traveling to Baltimore to take on the Ravens.
  • Head Coach Mike McCarthy has always stressed the importance of division play. Through the first 12 weeks of the '09 season, the Packers own the best division mark over the three-plus seasons of McCarthy's tenure at 16-7. The Packers are trailed by Chicago (13-8) and then Minnesota (14-9) over that period.

MATTHEWS CONTINUES TO IMPRESS

  • Rookie LB Clay Matthews seems to have a knack for the football, twice pouncing on fumbles forced by CB Charles Woodson against Dallas.
  • Matthews is tied for second in the NFL with three fumble recoveries. Matthews also has forced two fumbles on the season.
  • According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last Green Bay rookie to recover two opponents' fumbles in a game was DB Val Joe Walker on Nov. 26, 1953, against the Detroit Lions.
  • If Matthews can recover another fumble over the final four games, he will tie the franchise's rookie record held by S Johnnie Gray (1975).
  • The first recovery of his career was in Week 4, when he forced a fumble on Vikings RB Adian Peterson and raced the ball 42 yards for a touchdown, the longest fumble return for a TD by a rookie in team history.
  • Matthews recorded the second multi-sack game of his career against the Ravens, giving him seven for the season. In addition to leading the Packers, his seven sacks ties Washington's Brian Orakpo for the lead among all rookies.
  • The last rookie to finish as the team leader in sacks was LB Tim Harris in 1986. Harris and Vonnie Holliday (eight in 1998) share the franchise mark for sacks by a rookie since the statistic became official in 1982.

STARTING FAST

  • Mike McCarthy, like all NFL coaches, stresses the importance of getting out to a quick start in the first portion of the 2009 schedule in order to springboard the team to greater successes.
  • This offseason, one of the main goals was an added emphasis on starting fast – literally – in the first quarter through an increased tempo at the line of scrimmage and ultimately more point production.
  • The Packers produced a total of 13 points (one TD, two FGs) on their first offensive possessions a year ago, second fewest among all NFL teams (Detroit, 10). Despite ranking No. 5 in total scoring (419 points) in 2008, the Packers produced their lowest output (61 points) in the first quarter. That total ranked tied for 20th.
  • The Packers notched a field goal on their opening drive against the Ravens, giving them 23 points on opening drives (two TDs, three FGs) through 12 games.
  • In terms of opening-quarter scoring, the Packers have already surpassed their 2008 output with 70 points in the opening frame. That first-quarter total is fifth highest in the NFL.
  • Thus far, the defense also has taken to beginning the game fast, with 17 of its 30 defensive takeaways coming in the first half.
  • In terms of holding opponents out of the end zone, Green Bay has done a good job in the first quarter, allowing just 38 points. That ranks seventh among NFL teams and is the fewest of any quarter for the defense.
  • Thanks to opportunities created in part by their ball-hawking defense, the Packers have scored 192 first-half points. Opponents have scored only 105 first-half points against the Packers' defense.
  • The Packers' TD drives on the opening possession this season came in Tampa and once at home. Of games played at Lambeau Field, Green Bay's opening TD drive against Detroit in Week 6 was its first time finding the end zone on the game's opening drive at home since the 2007 regular-season finale, also against Detroit.
  • An area of emphasis down the final stretch of the season will be maintaining first-half momentum. The lone quarter the Packers have been outscored in is the third, where opponents hold a 55-37 advantage.

TOP 10 AGAIN

  • For an offense that has registered over 400 yards in seven of its last 10 games, the unit finds itself back among the NFL's top-10 offenses, a familiar place under play caller and Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
  • For the third consecutive season in 2008, the unit finished among the NFL's top 10. Philadelphia and New Orleans are the only other teams to finish in the top 10 in offense each of the last three seasons.
  • Even with a new starting quarterback in 2008, the Packers finished No. 8 overall with an average of 351.1 yards per contest.
  • The unit finished No. 2 in 2007 (370.7 yards per game) and No. 9 in 2006 (341.1) under McCarthy.
  • McCarthy spent six seasons as an offensive coordinator and play caller prior to his arrival in Green Bay (New Orleans 2000-04, San Francisco 2005). Twice the Saints ranked among the NFL's top-10 offenses.

CAPERS HEADLINES NEW STAFF

  • On the heels of a disappointing 6-10 season, a new defensive staff and scheme headlined the changes for 2009 at 1265 Lombardi Ave.
  • Dom Capers was brought in as defensive coordinator, and the Packers began the transition to a 3-4 scheme in offseason workouts.
  • Joining Capers on the defensive staff are Mike Trgovac (defensive line), who spent the last six years in Carolina as defensive coordinator; outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene, third on the NFL's all-time sacks list and a former player under Capers; and safeties coach Darren Perry, who most recently coached in Oakland and also played under Capers in Pittsburgh. Assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Winston Moss remains on the staff, as does Joe Whitt Jr., who spent 2008 as defensive quality control before his promotion to cornerbacks coach this offseason.
  • Shawn Slocum was promoted to special teams coordinator after serving as the unit's assistant each of the last three seasons. Curtis Fuller, a former Packers safety and training camp coaching intern, serves as his assistant. New strength and conditioning coordinator Dave Redding is in his 23rd season at the NFL level, while Scott McCurley (defense) and John Rushing (offense) are the quality control coaches.

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.

WINNING STREAK HITS FOUR

  • The Green Bay Packers are approaching every game these days like it's a playoff game, and in the process they keep moving closer and closer to an actual playoff spot.
  • Monday night's 27-14 win over the Baltimore Ravens in front of 70,286 at Lambeau Field was the Packers' fourth straight victory, putting them at 8-4 and keeping them among the leaders for an NFC Wild Card berth.
  • In an ugly contest that featured seven turnovers and 23 penalties for a combined 310 yards, the Packers overcame enough of their miscues to survive and keep their winning streak and postseason aspirations very much alive.
  • "Games like this are ugly sometimes, and no matter what it looked like on the exterior, on the interior it feels very beautiful," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "They were fighting for their playoff chances and we were fighting for ours, and it was a battle.
  • "It's huge. Every game from here on out the rest of the year is important. There's so much relevance and so much significance in these games. We can't afford to go into a game with any other attitude than our back is against the wall."
  • It seemed at intermission like the Packers might have an easy time of it against the Ravens (6-6) after an early field goal, a Baltimore turnover in the red zone, and two Green Bay touchdown drives in the second quarter staked the Packers to a 17-0 halftime lead.
  • Touchdown receptions by Jermichael Finley and Donald Driver in the final five minutes of the first half had the Packers in control, and a good drive to start the second half had a chance to put the Ravens away early.
  • But after catching a slant pass that would have converted a third-and-6 inside the Baltimore 35-yard line, Driver fumbled. Baltimore's Chris Carr recovered, and the momentum shifted.
  • The Ravens responded with a 71-yard touchdown drive - after managing just 72 yards of offense in the first half - and Joe Flacco's 12-yard TD pass to Kelley Washington made it 17-7.
  • On Green Bay's next offensive snap, a low throw by Aaron Rodgers deflected off Driver's leg and into the arms of linebacker Jarret Johnson, giving Baltimore the ball on the Packers' 42. One of nine pass interference penalties in the game, this one on Green Bay's Tramon Williams in the end zone against receiver Demetrius Williams, put the ball on the 1 and running back Willis McGahee ran it in from there.
  • Suddenly, in a span of 30 seconds, the Ravens had two touchdowns and were within 17-14. And when Mason Crosby subsequently missed a 38-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, the game had the look of one that was slipping away.
  • But it didn't.
  • "I was very proud and excited the way they overcame the adversity throughout the football game," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "The adversity that we overcame throughout the football game is something that we'll definitely carry forward with us."
  • First it was the defense that rose up, getting a three-and-out with the help of an offensive pass interference penalty on Baltimore receiver Derrick Mason that wiped out his 46-yard reception against cornerback Charles Woodson.
  • Then it was the offense, going 49 yards in a quick four plays, with Finley hauling in a 19-yard TD pass for his second score of the night to make it 24-14.
  • And finally it was the defense again, getting two huge turnovers on Baltimore's next two possessions to preserve the two-score lead.
  • The Ravens were poised to score quickly once again after a 68-yard kickoff return by Baltimore's Lardarius Webb and another pass interference call on Tramon Williams in the end zone made it first-and-goal on the 1. Woodson knifed through to take down McGahee for a 2-yard loss and then Williams redeemed himself by intercepting a scrambling Flacco, who tried to throw back across his body to Demetrius Williams in the end zone and paid dearly for the bad decision.
  • Linebacker A.J. Hawk then punctuated the defensive effort with an interception on the first play of the Ravens' next drive, as he blanketed tight end Todd Heap on a middle seam route and snagged Flacco's throw near midfield.
  • "I thought we did a great job today finally finishing that fourth quarter," Barnett said. "We were able to prove ourselves as a finishing defense, but we're far from where we need to be.
  • "I'm not going to say we're the Steel Curtain, back in the day or anything. But we're just going to keep doing what we do, and hopefully we can prove to everybody else we're one of the best defenses."
  • Indeed, the defensive effort was impressive, and good enough for the Packers to hold onto the league's No. 1 ranking in yards allowed. Baltimore finished with just 185 total yards - penalty yards don't count in the offensive statistics - as the Packers contained running back Ray Rice (54 yards rushing, 17 receiving) and made things generally miserable for Flacco, who completed less than 50 percent of his throws (15-of-36 for 137 yards), was sacked three times, intercepted three times and posted just a 27.2 passer rating.
  • "Their defense is notoriously known for being a good defense and being physical and shutting teams down, and we thought it would be a good game for us to go out and do what they say they do," Barnett said. "I have so much respect for that defense, ... but we wanted to come out and show that we're a good defense, too, and it's not just a floozy ranking that's out there. We're playing hard."
  • That goes for the whole team, as Rodgers had just his second multi-interception game of the season but still produced (26-of-40, 263 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT, 87.8 rating) against a formidable defense, with a big assist from Finley (7 catches, 78 yards, 2 TDs). Rodgers also had the team's longest rush of the night, a key 23-yard scramble up the middle to help set up one of the second-quarter touchdowns.
  • With the win, the Packers remained ahead of both the New York Giants (7-5) and Atlanta Falcons (6-6) in the NFC Wild Card chase. Dallas and Philadelphia are also 8-4, with Dallas currently holding the tiebreaker for the NFC East lead, so for the time being the Packers are even with the Eagles as the top two Wild Card contenders with four games remaining.
  • "We control our own destiny, so that's always kind of what you want," Rodgers said. "We did a nice job winning last three home games knowing what we had to do. Big wins against Dallas and San Francisco, and tonight against a football team that was fighting, still is fighting for their playoff lives. It's a big win for us."

TAKEAWAY POINTS KEY FOR PACKERS

  • Green Bay has continued to show its knack for the takeaways in the first 12 games with 21 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries, which it has turned into 102 points.
  • Green Bay's 31 takeaways rank second behind only New Orleans, which has 36 takeaways.
  • The Packers' 102 points scored off those 31 takeaways also ranks second, again to New Orleans (134).
  • With four takeaways against the Ravens (three interceptions, one fumble recovery), Green Bay extended its own streak to 15 straight games with a takeaway. That is the second-longest active streak in the NFL behind Houston (18).
  • Last season, the Green Bay defense led the NFL in defensive touchdowns (7) and interception returns for touchdowns (6).
  • 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 37 of 40 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 40 of their last 43 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 325 return yards on 21 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.

ANOTHER INTERCEPTION-FREE STREAK FOR RODGERS

  • It took QB Aaron Rodgers until his fourth game of the season to record his first interception, a second-quarter pass intended for WR Greg Jennings that was picked off by Vikings CB Antoine Winfield.
  • Prior to that second-quarter throw against Minnesota, his last interception came in Week 16 of last season, a streak that stretched 159 consecutive attempts. Rodgers' streak had been the second-longest streak among active quarterbacks and longest among starting signal-callers.
  • The streak of 159 passes without an interception was a new personal best for Rodgers, topping a record established last year, when it wasn't until the fourth game of the season that he threw an interception. That snapped a streak of 157 consecutive passes without an interception, a streak that began in 2005 and is now the fourth-longest in team history. Rodgers' new career high (159) ranks third all-time among Green Bay signal callers for consecutive passes without an interception.
  • Bart Starr holds the franchise record with an astounding 294 straight passes without an interception, second-most in NFL history.
  • Brett Favre stands at No. 2 on the team's all-time list with 163 consecutive passes without an interception.
  • The interception-free streaks have come in bunches in the tenure of Head Coach Mike McCarthy. Much credit must be given to McCarthy, who works closely with those under center, and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements.
  • In addition to Rodgers' two long streaks (159 and 157) over the past two seasons, Favre had two of the longest streaks of his career under the duo in 2007. He had a 142-pass streak (third longest of Packers' career) and followed up with a 139-pass streak (fourth) later in the season.
  • Rodgers has not thrown an interception in eight different games this season, tied for the third highest single-season mark in team history.
  • In his first season as a starter, he threw 13 interceptions on 536 attempts (2.4%).
  • For the season, Rodgers has thrown seven interceptions in 420 attempts, or 1.7% of his passes.
  • He had a smaller streak snapped against the Ravens. His first interception ended a streak of 133 consecutive passes without an interception.

WILLIAMS WITH THE BALL IN HIS HANDS

  • CB Tramon Williams, whether it be on a punt return or after an interception, is dangerous once he has the ball in his hands.
  • In Week 1, he had a 67-yard interception return against the Bears that gave the Green Bay offense the ball inside the 5-yard line.
  • In Week 6 against the Lions, he filled in for WR Jordy Nelson on punt returns and returned his only opportunity for 45 yards, the team's longest punt return of the season.
  • Throughout Packers history, no player has had an interception return of 65-plus yards and a punt return of 45-plus yards in the same season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
  • Individual interception records were not kept until 1940.
  • Williams is now being pressed into a starting role on defense, so his return duties will be limited. He remains an option should in-game injuries occur.

THE THIRD QUARTER

  • The 16-game NFL schedule allows teams to break down their season into quarters, with the Packers about to wrap up their third.
  • Coming off back-to-back losses, Green Bay knew it was entering the pivotal stretch of its 2009 schedule. With wins over Dallas, San Francisco, Detroit and Baltimore, the team finished the third quarter 4-0, with the first three wins coming in a span of 12 days.
  • The last four games of the season look formidable, especially considering the Packers and some of their opponents will be fighting for playoff contention. Tough road games at Chicago, Pittsburgh and Arizona are looming, with just one home game against Seattle.
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