*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-Buccaneers Week 9 Dope Sheet. To read the full version, download the PDF by clicking here.
Here are some highlights from the Packers-Buccaneers Week 9 Dope Sheet:*
**GREEN BAY (4-3) at TAMPA BAY (0-7)
Sunday, Nov. 8 - Raymond James Stadium - 1 p.m. EST
PACKERS HEAD SOUTH TO SUNSHINE STATE**
- Green Bay travels to Tampa for a Week 9 showdown against the Buccaneers, a renewal of an old NFC Central rivalry.
- It marks the second consecutive season the Packers will travel to Tampa. Green Bay dropped a Week 4 game, 30-21, at Raymond James Stadium last season.
- The Packers arrive at the halfway point of their schedule coming off a tough division loss to the Vikings at home. Down 24-3 at halftime, Green Bay rallied back to come within a touchdown two separate times but ultimately fell short in its comeback bid.
- The team's bid to avoid back-to-back losses will come at a stadium it has struggled in historically. The Packers are 1-6 all-time at Raymond James Stadium.
- Before the Buccaneers opened the stadium in 1998, Green Bay had been quite successful in Tampa. Its all-time mark in the city stands at 11-13-1.
- After its inaugural season in the AFC West in 1976, Tampa Bay moved to the NFC Central in 1977 and began its yearly series with the Packers.
- In the all-time regular-season series, the Packers own a 29-20-1 advantage over the Bucs and own the series' lone playoff win, which came in 1997. But since Tampa moved to the NFC South in 2002, the Bucs have won three of the last four meetings.
- Under new head coach Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay is still searching for its first victory of the season.
- It will be a well-rested squad Sunday, as the team had a bye in Week 8. Its last game came across the pond in London's Wembley Stadium, where it dropped a 35-7 decision to the New England Patriots.
- The Bucs will be looking to jump start an offense that ranks 28th overall behind new starting QB Josh Freeman, the team's first-round draft choice this past April.
THE NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
- As the NFL calendar hits an unofficial halfway point to the season, the playoff picture begins to become a little more clear after each passing week.
- Green Bay's loss to Minnesota last weekend puts it in a tie for second place with Chicago (4-3) in the NFC North. The Vikings (7-1) still have both games against the Bears on the schedule.
- The Packers' next stretch of four straight NFC games will go a considerable ways in their 2009 playoff push. Sunday's road contest in Tampa (0-7) kicks off the stretch, while a trip to Detroit (1-6) on Thanksgiving ends the stretch. In between, the Packers will host Dallas (5-2) and San Francisco (3-4), two teams it may be competing against for a postseason berth. Success in these next four games will help put the Packers in good position prior to the season's home stretch.
- Wild-card playoff berths are given to the conference's top two teams that do not win the 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.
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 Sam Rosen and color analyst Tim Ryan 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 126 WTMJ feed) as part of the network's NFL Sunday Drive.
- DIRECTV subscribers can watch the game in HD on channel 710.
**THE DOPE ON THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT:
Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
All-time, regular season: **29-20-1
All-time, postseason: 1-0
All-time, in Tampa: 11-13-1 (1-6 at Raymond James Stadium)
Streaks:The Buccaneers have won two straight and three of the last four meetings.
Last meeting, regular season:Sept. 28, 2008, at Raymond James Stadium; Buccaneers won, 30-21
Mike McCarthy: ** 32-25-0, .561 (incl. 1-1 postseason); 4th NFL season
Raheem Morris: 0-7, .000; 1st NFL season
Head to Head:Never met
vs. Opponent:McCarthy 0-1 vs. Buccaneers; Morris 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.
RAHEEM MORRIS…Is in first year as the Buccaneers' eighth head coach.
- Served as a Tampa Bay defensive assistant in two separate stints, from 2002-05 and from 2007-08, the last two years as defensive backs coach.
- In between coached one season at Kansas State, his third collegiate coaching stop following Cornell and Hofstra, his alma mater where he played safety.
- Broke into the NFL serving as a minority coaching intern on defense with the N.Y. Jets in 2001.
THE PACKERS-BUCCANEERS SERIES
-Sunday marks the 52nd overall meeting between these former NFC Central rivals. They launched the series in 1977, when the expansion Bucs moved to the Packers' division after an inaugural 1976 campaign in the AFC West.
- Including a 1997 playoff victory, the Packers hold a 30-20-1 advantage. But since the Bucs shifted to the NFC South before the 2002 season, Tampa has won three of the last four.
- The Packers' victory at Raymond James Stadium in 2003 ended a five-game losing streak in the venue and is their only win there in seven tries.
- From the second meeting in 1992 through the first meeting in 1998, the Packers won 12 of 13 contests. The Bucs' lone win in that stretch came in overtime (Dec. 10, 1995).
Packers assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Winston Moss was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the 1987 NFL Draft and played four seasons (1987-90) in Tampa Bay...Raheem Morris spent one season on the Kansas State staff (2006), the junior season for Packers WR Jordy Nelson when he led the team in catches and receiving yards....Nelson's quarterback for his final two seasons at Kansas State was Bucs rookie QB Josh Freeman...Several Buccaneers assistant coaches previously worked in Green Bay, including DB coach Joe Baker (2005), defensive coordinator Jim Bates (2005), and DL coach Robert Nunn (2005-08). Nunn worked under McCarthy...Packers NT Ryan Pickett is from nearby Zephyrhills, Fla. ...Tampa Bay WR Maurice Stovall and Green Bay RB Ryan Grant played together at Notre Dame...Bucs S Will Allen and Packers LB A.J. Hawk played together at Ohio State...Bucs T Jeremy Trueblood and Packers NT B.J. Raji were teammates at Boston College...Bucs T Donald Penn and Packers CB Jarrett Bush were teammates at Utah State...Bucs DE Tim Crowder and DT Roy Miller were college teammates of Packers TE Jermichael Finley at Texas, and Crowder is from the same hometown (Tyler, Texas) as Packers QB Matt Flynn...Bucs LB Barrett Ruud and Packers RB Brandon Jackson were teammates for one season at Nebraska...Bucs DE Kyle Moore and Packers LB Clay Matthews played together at USC...Bucs FB Chris Pressley played collegiately at Wisconsin...Packers scout Alonzo Highsmith played for Tampa Bay for the final two seasons (1991-92) of his career...Packers defensive quality control coach Scott McCurley played at Pittsburgh with Bucs WR Antonio Bryant and CB Torrie Cox.
INDIVIDUALLY VS. BUCCANEERS
WR Greg Jennings' lone two-TD performance in 2008, and one of three in his career, came last season against the Bucs...LB Nick Barnett earned NFL 'Defensive Player of the Week' honors as a rookie for his performance at Tampa in 2003; Barnett notched 10 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery...Playing for Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII, CB Charles Woodson intercepted a pass on the third play of the game, leading to a field goal for the first points in Tampa Bay's eventual 48-21 triumph. Woodson also returned an interception for a touchdown in last year's game at Tampa.
LAST MEETING, REGULAR SEASON
- Sept. 28, 2008, at Raymond James Stadium; Buccaneers won, 30-21.
- The Packers lost DE Cullen Jenkins for the season to a torn pectoral muscle and nearly lost QB Aaron Rodgers to a shoulder injury, but Rodgers left the game only briefly before returning.
- Unfortunately, the first-year starter couldn't pull off the comeback, getting hit from the blindside and throwing an interception to Gaines Adams with just over two minutes to go and the Packers trailing 23-21.
- Tampa Bay converted the turnover into the clinching points, as Earnest Graham broke a 47-yard run to the Green Bay 1 and then scored on the next play.
- The Packers had taken an early 7-0 lead on a 25-yard TD pass to Greg Jennings and then rallied from a 20-7 deficit on a 48-yard TD strike to Jennings and Charles Woodson's 62-yard interception return for a score. Jennings finished with six catches for 109 yards.
SUN IS SHINING
- It's no secret that a team which calls northeast Wisconsin home has little regular-season experience in weather above 80 degrees.
- In fact, last season's Week 4 loss in Tampa (81 degrees) marked just the second time the Packers have played a regular-season game with the temperature at 80 degrees or above in the tenure of Head Coach Mike McCarthy (2006-present).
- The only other time the team played in temperatures reaching 80-plus degrees came in McCarthy's first season with the team in 2006. In Miami in late October, the game-time temperature was measured at 86 degrees.
- While the majority of the team hails from warm-weather states, not to mention practices and plays in such temperatures in July and August, the fact remains the team has little experience playing regular-season games in hot weather. Sunday's forecast calls for temperatures in the low 80s.
- Injuries continue to affect the line and skill positions on offense, while the team lost LB Brandon Chillar to a broken hand last weekend.
- Third on the team in tackles, Chillar had surgery Monday and could miss a few weeks. Coaches were confident he could play with a club cast once further damage wasn't possible.
- C Jason Spitz continues to be hampered by back spasms and missed the Minnesota contest. T Chad Clifton could return this weekend against the Buccaneers, so Green Bay may shuffle its offensive line later in the week if he is able to.
- Knee sprains to WR Jordy Nelson and TE Jermichael Finley limit the multiple-wide formations McCarthy and QB Aaron Rodgers like to run. McCarthy was more optimistic Monday about Finley's possible return, while he said Nelson may still be another week away.
- A number of other players were banged up in the Vikings game and could be limited in their practice reps this week, including Rodgers who is dealing with foot and toe issues.
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP
- QB Aaron Rodgers is playing the best football of his young career right now and is on pace to produce one of the strongest seasons by a quarterback in Green and Gold annals. Last week he was honored as the NFC's Offensive Player of the Month for October.
- 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, as he registered a 108.5 rating against Minnesota last weekend.
- Not only does the statistic explain his current hot streak, but just how efficient he has been since becoming a starter. In 23 career starts, Rodgers has eclipsed the century mark in passer rating 13 times.
- Through seven games in 2009, his 110.4 passer rating ranks tops among all NFL quarterbacks. Peyton Manning (109.3) is second, while Drew Brees (107.6) ranks third.
- Rodgers is the game's top-ranked passer on third downs (141.1), ahead of Eli Manning (124.4, No. 2) and Tom Brady (109.2, No. 3). Rodgers' 110.5 rating in the fourth quarter ranks seventh.
- The fourth-year pro has thrown for 1,989 yards through seven games, a pace that would put him at 4,546 passing yards at season's end. That would break Lynn Dickey's franchise record (4,458, 1983) for passing yards in a single season.
- His 8.84 yards per pass attempt ranks second in the league, just a hair behind Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger (8.85).
- Rodgers has thrown only two interceptions in 225 attempts, an interception percentage of 0.9. That ranks third in the league behind Kyle Orton (0.4%) and Donovan McNabb (0.8%).
- In other important numbers for a passer, including yards (1,989) andtouchdown passes (14), Rodgers currently ranks among the game's top 10.
- And just for good measure, the Cal product tops all QBs with 188 rushing yards on 29 carries (6.5 avg.).
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's rankings, now finding itself tied with Washington for the fourth-ranked unit heading into Week 9.
- Allowing an average of 283.4 yards per contest, Green Bay ranks behind only Denver (266.7), the New York Jets (273.4) and the New York Giants (278.1)
- Some would argue that a more important and telling statistic is scoring defense, and not how many yards a team allows. With 130 points allowed, Green Bay ranks tied for 10th in the NFL.
- A week 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 Tampa Bay. The last time it ranked in the NFL's top three at any point in the season was 2001, when it ranked 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, allowing Capers the opportunity to bring more pressure in different circumstances.
- 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 three games now has the unit at No. 10. This week's opponent, Tampa, ranks No. 25 in third-down offense.
- One constant for the defense this season has been its ability to take the ball away, registering 16 of the team's 17 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 17 turnovers have led to 68 points, the fourth-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.
THE BIG PLAY RETURNS
- Thanks to a bevy of talent around him at the skill positions, QB Aaron Rodgers has been doing plenty of damage through the air in the season's first seven games.
- Rodgers leads the NFL with nine passes of 40-plus yards, and is tied for the league lead (Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants) with 20 completions of 25-plus yards.
- The big plays have always been a staple of the offense under Head Coach Mike McCarthy, as the team ranked second in the NFL in gains of 20-plus yards when it went to the NFC Championship in 2007. That year, the team racked up 67 such plays, 52 of which came through the air.
- In 2008 when it went 6-10, the team had 58 plays of 20-plus yards, 12th best in the NFL, and 48 came via the pass last season.
- Though the team statistics are uneven as teams go through the bye-week process, the Packers currently rank tied for 10th overall with 30 plays of 20-plus yards.
- While the numbers do show the explosiveness of the Packers' offense through the air, it also tells the story of a run game that hasn't sprung the big play. The Packers have just three 'big' runs on the season, two from RB Ryan Grant and a career-long 35-yard scramble from Rodgers.
- The Packers had 10 "big-play" runs on the ground in 2008 and 15 in 2007. They must aim to get back into the double digits in the category to maintain their place among the NFL's most dangerous offenses.
- Through the air, it's been tough for opponents to pick just one player to stop. So far, five different players (Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, James Jones and Spencer Havner) have a reception of 45-plus yards on the season. The last time the team had five or more players post a gain of 45-plus yards was 1983, when a team-record six players accomplished the feat. The franchise mark of six was originally established in 1951.
TAKEAWAYS A PLUS
- 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' 17 takeaways ranks tied for the fourth-highest total in the NFL. Philadelphia and New Orleans share the league lead with 21, while Buffalo has 18. Atlanta also has 17 takeaways.
- Thanks also in part to an offense that has turned the ball over a league-low five times, Green Bay's plus-12 turnover ratio is tied with Philadelphia atop the league rankings.
- This week's opponent, Tampa Bay, stands at minus-two. It has 11 takeaways (eight interceptions, three fumble recoveries) but has turned the ball over 13 times (11 interceptions, two fumbles).
- Of the Packers' takeaways, 11 have come via the interception, one of just four NFL teams in double digits in the category. The Packers also have six fumble recoveries.
- Of the Packers' turnovers, two have come on interceptions and three have come on fumbles. All five 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.
- 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.
- The team has seven forced fumbles on the year, five 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 his arrival, the team had a franchise-worst turnover ratio (-24) in 2005.
WOODSON AND JENKINS PERFORMING AT ELITE LEVEL
- As Pro Bowl balloting opened last week, two of the veteran leaders on defense should start to garner serious attention when it comes to nominations: DE Cullen Jenkins and CB Charles Woodson.
- Jenkins, who played both inside and outside in the old scheme, seems to be thriving in his new position at end in the 3-4. Thus far, Jenkins has 24 tackles, including four for loss, and leads one of the league's top-ranked defenses in sacks (3.5) and forced fumbles (3). Jenkins' forced fumble total is tied for second highest in the NFL behind Pittsburgh's James Harrison (4).
- Against Detroit, Jenkins recorded his first NFL interception, sniffing out a screen pass to RB Kevin Smith. Jenkins said after the game it was his first interception since high school, though his one as a schoolboy was called back because of a penalty.
- This Sunday Jenkins returns to the stadium where he suffered a season-ending pectoral injury last season, a big reason for the defensive struggles that plagued the team toward the end of 2008. Stout enough to hold the point against the run and adeptly quick at getting past linemen in pass-rush scenarios, it's no doubt Jenkins is one of the most talented players on the defensive side of the ball.
- Woodson, who has also had to make an adjustment from playing a man-to-man style to one that involves more reading of the quarterback, also is thriving in the new scheme.
- Matched up against TE Greg Olsen in Week 1, Woodson limited one of Chicago's biggest offensive threats to just 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. Interceptions against the Rams and Browns give him a team-high four on the season.
- Woodson has been credited with 37 tackles through seven 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.
- The folks in the league office noticed how fast Woodson came out of the gate too, naming him the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September. It was the second such award of his career.
- 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 40 career interceptions, fifth among active NFL players. For his career, 23 have come in Green and Gold. Those 23 interceptions have come in 53 games with the Packers. In 106 games with the Oakland Raiders, he had 17.
JOLLY RECORDS RARE TRIFECTA
- Seven games into the season, DE Johnny Jolly has filled up the stat sheet in a number of categories.
- Making the transition from an inside defensive tackle in the old scheme to an end this season, Jolly leads all defensive linemen with 41 tackles. If he is to continue the pace, Jolly will surpass the career high of 82 tackles he set in 2008 when he became a full-time starter for the first time.
- Displaying rare athleticism for a 6-foot-3, 320-pound man, he made a highlight-reel one-handed interception in the red zone against Jay Cutler and the Bears in Week 1. Jolly 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.
- Jolly's athleticism isn't new to his teammates. To a man, they all credit him with being one of the best basketball players on the team.
- 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.
GRANT AND THE GROUND GAME
- Falling behind 24-3 to Minnesota last weekend forced the coaching staff to lean heavily on the pass to get quick scores and get back into the game. RB Ryan Grant finished with a season-low 10 carries.
- One week prior, Grant had his best performance of 2009, in which he set season highs in attempts (27), yards (148) and longest run (37).
- It was the second-highest regular-season rushing total in Grant's career, coming just shy of the 156 yards he produced against Oakland in 2007. The team's 202 rushing yards against Cleveland, including 31 from backup RB Brandon Jackson and 23 from QB Aaron Rodgers, marked a season best.
- Without much fanfare, Grant's numbers rank among the leaders in the NFC. His rushing total (525 yards) ranks sixth in the NFC and tied for 10th overall in the NFL.
- Being utilized more in the screen game this season, his 124 receiving yards through seven games is already challenging a career high, set in 2007 with 145 receiving yards.
- His 649 yards from scrimmage ranks fifth in the NFC.
- Grant is the Packers' lead back, and there is no doubting the success the team has had when he is able to get a significant amount of carries.
- When Grant gets 22-or-more carries, the team is 9-1 (10-1 including playoffs).
- A familiar face was brought back to 1265 Lombardi Avenue two weeks after the team placed RB DeShawn Wynn on injured reserve. RB Ahman Green, 45 yards shy of becoming the franchise's all-time leading rusher, was brought back to the team.
- He made his 2009 debut Sunday in Minnesota as the team's primary kick returner and did get a couple of chances with the ball in his hands from scrimmage.
- 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.
- As Green works his way back into football shape, not to mention Jackson who missed the first four games of the season with an ankle injury he suffered in the preseason, both could begin to spell Grant from scrimmage and keep all three backs fresh as the team makes its push to contend for a playoff spot in the NFC.
MR. EVERYTHING FINDS THE END ZONE
- An unlikely star has emerged for the Packers in the past two weeks, as TE Spencer Havner has found the end zone three times.
- 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 eight stops.
- Last weekend against Minnesota, Havner caught two TD passes in the third quarter, the first multi-TD game of his career. His three TD catches tie him with WR Donald Driver for the team lead.
- 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. He saw time at linebacker and tight end in training camp.
- 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."
- Taking on the nickname of his favorite comic book hero, RB Ahman Green is just 45 rushing yards away from entering Packers' lore.
- Green enters play Sunday in Tampa with 8,163 career rushing yards with the Packers. Jim Taylor ranks No. 1 on the franchise's all-time list with 8,207 yards.
- Signed two weeks ago as a free agent, Green was inactive in Cleveland but returned to the playing field for the first time in nearly a year last weekend against Minnesota.
- Green played seven seasons (2000-06) in Green Bay, which included four consecutive Pro Bowl appearances (2001-04). He began his NFL career in Seattle (1998-99) and also played two seasons in Houston (2007-08).
DRIVER MAKES HISTORY AT HOME
- WR Donald Driver, now in his 11th season with the Packers, had first begun to lay claim to some of the franchise's all-time receiving records in 2007. One by one they began to fall, but none had been more meaningful than the one he achieved in Week 6 against Detroit.
- With his first catch, Driver surpassed WR Sterling Sharpe (1988-94, 595) to become the franchise's all-time leader in receptions.
- On a quick out, Driver took the pass and fought through a group of defenders for a first down, a play that typifies the career of the former seventh-round pick from Alcorn State.
- Though he is the second-oldest player on the roster at age 34, Driver has shown no signs of slowing down in 2009. He leads the team in catches (33), receiving yards (542) and is tied for the lead in TD catches (3). Those numbers rank near the top of the NFC and certainly put him in the conversation for a fourth career Pro Bowl selection.
- Driver has been the model of consistency for the Packers, catching at least one pass in 118 consecutive games, also a franchise record. His consistency also serves as a great example for younger teammates, as Driver has rarely missed a practice in his NFL career.
- And he's not slowing down, literally, either. Driver had another highlight-reel catch against the Browns, beating defenders down the sideline for a 71-yard scoring pass.
- While his reputation is as a slot guy who will make the tough catch over the middle, Driver has made his share of big plays already this season. His 10 catches of 20-plus yards is tied for the NFL lead.
FINLEY BREAKS OUT
- TE Jermichael Finley was a unanimous choice as the Packers' "breakout performer" in 2009 by the prognosticators. A knee sprain kept the second-year player out against Minnesota, but his possible return in Tampa would be a huge boost to the offense.
- It has been a breakout year thus far, as his 15.3-yards per catch average ranks second among NFL tight ends (min. 10 catches).
- Through the season's first seven games, he has become a clear favorite of QB Aaron Rodgers, ranking third on the team in receiving yards (260) and fourth in receptions (17).
- Finley's coming-out party came in Week 4 at Minnesota in front of the largest television audience in cable history as he established new career highs in receptions (six) and receiving yards (128). His 62-yard touchdown is the Packers' second-longest play from scrimmage on the season and 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 should Finley be unable to go. TE Donald Lee remains the unit's starter and is third on the team with 23 catches.
- TE Spencer Havner has filled in nicely in his absence, as the team often likes to go with multiple-tight end sets. His six catches for 110 yards prove defenses must respect his athletic ability over the middle of the field.
AROUND THE 'BLACK AND BLUE' DIVISION
- At 4-3, Green Bay stands tied in second place in the NFC North with Chicago through the first half of 2009.
- 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 a 7-1 start, has the weekend off. After the bye, three straight home games await the Vikings, including division games against the Lions and Bears.
- 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 stopped a two-game losing skid with a victory over Cleveland. After a home game against the Arizona Cardinals this weekend, Chicago faces a short week and a long road trip, as it travels out to San Francisco to play on Thursday night.
- Detroit dropped a home game over the weekend to St. Louis. Now, it hits the road for two straight weeks, first to Seattle and then Minnesota.
- 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 (12-9) over that period.
MEET THE NEWCOMERS
- Of the current 53-man roster, there are only a few new faces in the Packers' locker room. 11 players are new to the team this year, while 42 return.
- The rookie draft class, seven of whom made the opening-day roster, are led by first-round picks NT B.J. Raji and LB Clay Matthews. Raji made his professional debut in Week 3 after missing the first two weeks with an ankle sprain. He has played both the nose tackle and end positions. Matthews began the season as a backup but has now worked his way into a starting role. In his first start with the "base" defense against the Lions, Matthews registered a career high with two sacks.
- Sixth-round pick DE Jarius Wynn has seen action in four games on special teams and provided depth along the defensive line, while sixth-round pick CB Brandon Underwood made his professional debut against the Lions. LB Brad Jones also made his professional debut in Week 3 and has been a valuable member of the coverage units, collecting seven special teams stops.
- Rookies on offense include fourth-round pick G/T T.J. Lang, fifth-round choice FB Quinn Johnson and non-drafted free agent G/C Evan Dietrich-Smith. Lang and Dietrich-Smith both showed the ability to play multiple positions along the line, while Johnson packs a punch clearing holes for running backs. Lang has made two starts at left tackle.
- The only other newcomers to the 2009 team are in the secondary with S Derrick Martin, who was acquired in a trade with Baltimore on the roster cutdown day, and S Matt Giordano, who signed prior to Week 3. Martin arrived with a familiarity with the 3-4 defense and a reputation as a solid special-teams player. Martin saw considerable action from scrimmage against the Rams and Vikings given the injury to S Atari Bigby. Martin has made an early impact on special teams, where he has eight stops.
- Giordano, who played four seasons and won a Super Bowl ring with the Colts, tallied two special teams stops in his Packers debut at St. Louis.
- While he technically doesn't count as a returning player, RB Ahman Green has spent seven seasons in Green Bay, including the 2006 season with mostly the same offensive staff.
- Mike McCarthy, like all NFL coaches, stresses the importance of getting out to a quick start in the first half 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.
- That emphasis appeared to be paying off in the preseason, as QB Aaron Rodgers led an offense that scored touchdowns on nine of 13 possessions as he registered an NFL-best 147.9 quarterback rating.
- Not to be outdone, the defense finished its preseason action with 13 takeaways (eight interceptions, five fumbles) and 12 sacks.
- Thus far, the defense seems to be translating to the regular season. 11 of its 16 defensive takeaways have come in the first half, while it has allowed just 21 first-quarter points, fewest of any quarter.
- Thanks to opportunities created in part by their ball-hawking defense, the Packers have scored 115 first-half points, including 47 in the first quarter. Opponents have scored only 88 first-half points against the Packers' defense.
- Against Detroit in Week 6, the offense scored a touchdown on its first possession of the game, its first time finding the end zone on the game's opening drive at Lambeau Field since the 2007 regular-season finale, also against Detroit. Last year, its lone touchdown on the opening drive came at Tampa.
STATE OF THE O-LINE
- Playing against the Minnesota Vikings is about as difficult a challenge as there is for an offensive line in the National Football League.
- Against a talented defensive line that features three Pro Bowl players and a solid linebacking corps, the Packers allowed 14 sacks to their division rivals in two matchups, numbers that have skewed the Packers' pass protection numbers.
- In its five other games, Green Bay has allowed 17 sacks, just over three per game.
- That still ranks above the league average, highlighting what has been a consistent problem through the first half of the season. In total, the Packers have allowed 31 sacks, the highest total in the NFL.
- QB Aaron Rodgers has only gone one game (at Cleveland) without getting sacked.
- McCarthy has pointed out all year that pass protection involves more than just the offensive line, including making calls and adjustments that bring the tight end or back into the protection scheme.
- Injuries have not helped the unit in terms of continuity, as McCarthy has rarely had the starting unit he settled on midway through training camp. T Chad Clifton has been in and out of the lineup while battling an ankle injury, while C Jason Spitz has been sidelined with back spasms.
- The team has veteran C Scott Wells to fill in at center, a position he has been the starter at for the past three seasons. Likewise, the coaches have been impressed with rookie G/T T.J. Lang, who has gotten the call at left tackle each of the last two weeks. On the right side, G Josh Sitton and T Allen Barbre have started every game, but the return of T Mark Tauscher adds a veteran presence to the mix.
- Signed three weeks ago, Tauscher is working his way back to football shape and practiced in team reps for the first time last week. The starter each of the last nine seasons at right tackle, Tauscher tore his ACL in Week 14 last season.
- One of the issues in Tampa's 0-7 start has been a lack of a pass rush, which to this point has collected 11 sacks, third fewest in the NFL. Exactly half (5.5) have come from DE Jimmy Wilkerson.
- Considering the current pass-protection issues, one would be hard pressed to think the Packers would overlook the Buccaneers. In last year's meeting in Tampa, the Bucs collected three sacks of Rodgers.
TOP 10 AGAIN
- For an offense that has registered over 400 yards in four of its last five games, the unit is 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.
PRO BOWL SECONDARY
- While much is made of the transition to the 3-4 defense for the front seven, the secondary also undergoes a change from the man-to-man style it had been known for in the past.
- Now instead of playing bump-and-run, corners have to work in more space, while safeties now have more responsibility in making calls and checks at the line of scrimmage. Luckily for Capers and the Packers, the team can rely on three Pro Bowl honorees from a year ago to help ease the transition in the defensive backfield. With the team already in double-digit interceptions, it seems the transition has happened quite seamlessly.
- You'd be hard-pressed to find a more productive cornerback duo than Al Harris and Charles Woodson across the NFL. Harris, named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad each of the last two years, is one of the most physical corners in the game. Woodson, who has lined up all over the field in Capers' defense, was named to his fifth career Pro Bowl in '08.
- Harris will most likely continue to match up against opponents' top receivers, while Woodson seems to do more pre-snap reads and adjustments. Woodson also has been sent on different instances as a blitzer. The duo has already collected six interceptions (Woodson 4, Harris 2).
- S Nick Collins enjoyed a career season last year as he was named to his first Pro Bowl. Collins tied Woodson for the NFC lead with seven interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. His 295 interception return yards led the NFL and established a new franchise record. A tough defender in run support as well, he finished second on the team with 99 tackles.
- S Atari Bigby's return from a knee injury gives the team more experience in the defensive backfield. With the injury to LB Brandon Chillar, it remains to be seen whether the team will use its 'Big Okie' formation, which puts a fifth linebacker on the field in Bigby's place, or stay with Bigby and Collins in the secondary.
TAKEAWAY POINTS KEY FOR PACKERS
- Green Bay has continued to show its knack for the takeaways in the first seven games with 11 interceptions and six fumble recoveries, which it has turned into 68 points. That total ranks fourth in the NFL behind the Saints (86), Giants (75) and Eagles (69).
- Last season, the Green Bay defense led the NFL in defensive touchdowns (7) and interception returns for touchdowns (6).
- 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.
- On the other sideline, the Packers surrendered 75 points off the 21 turnovers last year – 24 of which came at Tampa in Week 4. That point total off turnovers tied for 16th in the NFL.
- 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 35 of 38 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 38 of their last 41 games without a giveaway.
RALLY FOR NAUGHT AS VIKINGS CONTROL DIVISION RACE
- Brett Favre made a triumphant return to Lambeau Field for the Minnesota Vikings, and much will be made of that, to be sure.
- But the more lasting impact of Sunday's 38-26 decision was on the NFC North Division race.
- Falling to the Vikings for the second time in a month after a valiant second-half comeback fell short, the Packers at 4-3 have dropped two games behind the 7-1 Vikings in the loss column and face a daunting uphill climb if they want to capture the division crown.
- This loss essentially puts Green Bay three games behind Minnesota because the Vikings will own any tiebreaker scenario based on the season sweep, and that's the part that hurts the Packers the most, far more than seeing their former quarterback win on the turf he called home for 16 seasons.
- "These division games are worth a game and a half, sometimes two," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "This was a tough one. No doubt about it. It was a tough one for everybody."
- Things couldn't have started any rougher for the Packers, who tried to rally from a 21-point deficit in the second half. They pulled within four points once and five points another time, firing up the Lambeau regular-season record crowd of 71,213, but it wasn't enough.
- Like he was in the Metrodome a month ago, Favre was the star once again against his old team. He completed 17-of-28 passes for 244 yards with four touchdowns (128.6 rating) and wasn't intercepted or sacked once.
- Favre and the Vikings took control early while the Packers were sputtering. Green Bay managed just 47 yards of offense and three first downs in the entire first half. The Packers had to settle for a field goal after recovering a fumbled shotgun snap at the Minnesota 21-yard line, and on four of their other five possessions in the half never moved the ball beyond their own 24.
- Meanwhile, a 77-yard kickoff return by Percy Harvin set up a 1-yard TD run by Adrian Peterson on fourth-and-goal, Favre hit tight end Visanthe Shiancoe for a 12-yard score, and - after the Packers stopped the Vikings on fourth-and-1 at the Green Bay 7 - former Packers kicker Ryan Longwell still managed to add a field goal before halftime.
- By the time Favre opened the second half by converting a third-and-17 with a rocket throw to Bernard Berrian, and followed on the next snap with a 51-yard TD pass to Harvin between three Green Bay defenders, Minnesota led 24-3 and seemingly could do no wrong.
- Then the Packers finally got going.
- Quarterback Aaron Rodgers directed three straight scoring drives worth 17 points and by the end of the third quarter were back in the game.
- A 62-yard march for a field goal followed by a fumble on the ensuing kickoff set up a 16-yard TD pass to Spencer Havner. Then after a three-and-out by the defense, Rodgers drove the Packers 84 yards, with the help of a 42-yard catch-and-run by James Jones, to another Havner TD reception from 5 yards out.
- Suddenly the Packers had racked up 187 yards of offense in about 11 minutes and had given themselves a chance, down only 24-20.
- "I told them at halftime that this second half was going to be a turning point in our season," McCarthy said. "It was important for us to go out there and turn this game around and make a run and win this game. I felt that was happening there in the third quarter."
- So it was. Unfortunately, Harvin and the Vikings weren't done. The rookie speedster struck again with a 48-yard kickoff return to the Green Bay 38, setting up a seven-play drive capped by a 2-yard TD pass to Jeff Dugan on third-and-goal.
- The Packers responded with a 74-yard scoring drive, highlighted by a career-long 35-yard scramble by Rodgers and a 10-yard TD pass to Greg Jennings, who had all eight of his catches for 88 yards in the second half. A failed 2-point try left the Packers down 31-26 with 10:26 left in the game, but it seemed as though the offense was rolling.
- "I started hitting guys who were open," was the simple explanation from Rodgers, who finished 26-of-41 for 287 yards with three TDs (108.5 rating). "In the first half I struggled. Missed a couple of throws I should have hit. When we get into a rhythm on offense, we're tough to stop."
- The Vikings did get the one stop they needed, though. The only time the Packers got the ball trailing by only one score in the second half, they drove all the way to the Minnesota 28-yard line, only to see a sack on second down - the sixth sack Rodgers took in the game - an incompletion on third down and a missed 51-yard field goal stall the rally.
- "We just couldn't get that score to take the lead there in the fourth quarter," Rodgers said. "So that's frustrating."
- Equally frustrating was yet another answer by Minnesota. Peterson was held in check most of the game, gaining 54 of his 97 yards on two carries and just 43 yards on his other 23 rushes.
- But he broke loose for a 44-yard gain on a swing pass into the left flat, which set up Favre's fourth TD pass of the game, a 16-yarder to Berrian with 3:48 left that sealed the game and the two-game sweep in the season series.
- While some of the numbers will look comparable in the inevitable Favre vs. Rodgers comparison - Favre threw for 515 yards with seven TD passes and no interceptions in the two games, while Rodgers threw for 671 yards with five TDs and one pick - one stat sticks out like a sore thumb. Favre wasn't sacked once while Rodgers absorbed a whopping 14 sacks in the two contests.
- "This one will hurt for a couple days," Rodgers said. "Physically and mentally."
- Mentally is where the Packers must bounce back the strongest, because with nine games left and a record on the plus side of .500, there's still plenty to play for even if the Vikings are comfortably in front at the moment.
- "This was the game to put us back in first place in the NFC North, and now we're in a hole and we've got to dig ourselves back out," linebacker Aaron Kampman said. "No one is going to help us with that. We've got to find a way to do that ourselves."
- As painful as it might be, they'll do it by looking at the chances they had in the two losses to the Vikings, chances that got away. As linebacker Nick Barnett said, "We're not throwing the season away," but looking up at their border rivals in the division race for the foreseeable future will be tough to stomach because of what might have been.
- "Both games against Minnesota were playoff-like atmospheres I guess you could say, but it doesn't benefit you when you lose in those games," Rodgers said. "We have to store up some confidence in winning these kind of games.
- "The way we played in the second half, we were really one big play away from taking the momentum entirely and taking the lead there. The great teams find a way to win those games. I think we're a good team with the potential to be great, but we're going to have to really improve."
281 AND COUNTING
- Last weekend's game against Minnesota brought the largest regular-season crowd in Lambeau Field history (71,213) and the stadium's consecutive sellouts streak to 281 games (265 regular season, 16 playoffs).
- In two weeks, the team welcomes Dallas to Lambeau Field, another game that could challenge stadium attendance records.
- Lambeau Field, the league's longest-tenured stadium, 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.
- Lambeau Field also saw the then-four largest regular-season crowds in stadium history in 2008 (vs. Minnesota, vs. Dallas, vs. Indianapolis, vs. Chicago). The Dallas game (71,113) set a new regular-season attendance record, surpassed this past weekend by the Vikings game.
WITH THE GAME ON THE LINE
- Three of the Packers' first seven games have come down to plays in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, most notably the season opener.
- QB Aaron Rodgers hit WR Greg Jennings with the game-winning touchdown pass with just over one minute remaining. In Green Bay's three losses, the team has tried to rally from double-digit deficits but fell short each time in the closing moments.
- In eight of the 10 losses from 2008, the Packers either led or were behind by no more than one score in the fourth quarter. In those same eight games, the outcome was decided in the final two minutes.
- Even though the Packers finished the season plus-39 in scoring differential, they finished 6-10 because of their failure to make a play when they needed it.
- The "lessons of 2008", as Coach McCarthy referred to them this entire offseason, center around the Packers coming up with the critical play in crunch time, whether it be on offense, defense or special teams.
- Their seven losses in games decided by four points or less tied the second-highest total in NFL history.
- It wasn't a problem of putting up points in the final frame, as Green Bay's 150 fourth-quarter points were second in the NFL behind San Diego (152).
- Perhaps most telling was the fact that the Green Bay defense allowed the second-most fourth-quarter points (135) in the league. Only Houston (136) allowed more.
- The two-minute drill was heavily stressed on both sides of the ball all offseason and still occurs in the course of a regular-season week. The drill almost always comes toward the end of practice to help simulate the fatigue and end-of-game conditions.
PROTECTING THE FOOTBALL
- 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.
- Even under heavy duress, Rodgers has been careful with the football and in his decision-making.
- 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 Mike McCarthy tenure. 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. Early in the season, he had a 142-pass streak (third longest of his career) and followed up with a 139-pass streak (fourth) later in the season.
- For the season, Rodgers has thrown two interceptions in 225 attempts, or 0.9% of his passes. In his first season as a starter, he threw 13 interceptions on 536 attempts (2.4%).
- Rodgers brings a smaller streak into play Sunday at Tampa. He has thrown 61 consecutive passes without an interception.
- Each season, the NFL compiles the number of miles each team will travel during the season, including preseason trips.
- Green Bay's first road trip of the regular season, a short trip to St. Louis, covered just under 500 miles, a relatively quick flight by NFL standards.
- Green Bay had a short flight to Minnesota for its second road contest, and traveled just over 550 miles for its third trip of the year Oct. 25 to Cleveland.
- This weekend's trip to Tampa marks one of the longest flights of the year, save for the regular-season finale in Arizona. Green Bay also traveled to Phoenix in the preseason.
- All collected, the team will fly 12,260 miles according to numbers compiled by the NFL league office.
- That total is the fourth-lowest mileage total among the 32 teams in 2009. Perhaps not surprisingly, five West Coast clubs head the list when it comes to logging miles through the air this season: Seattle (29,054), San Francisco (29,020), San Diego (28,628), Arizona (27,840) and Oakland (27,232).
THE SECOND QUARTER
- The 16-game NFL schedule allows teams to break down their season into quarters, with the Packers now in their second.
- Opening up the second quarter of their season with two decisive victories gave the team a high level of confidence. Even with the loss to Minnesota, the team will have the chance this weekend to go 3-1 in the second quarter of its schedule.
- Though Tampa Bay stands winless thus far, the Packers are unlikely to overlook the road trip given the team's 30-21 loss at Raymond James Stadium last season.
- Plus, the Packers have won only once in Tampa in their last seven attempts, that coming in 2003, when the Bucs were coming off their Super Bowl triumph.
- The third quarter of the season begins with three straight NFC matchups which will most likely go a long way in determining the Packers' playoff hopes in 2009. Home games against Dallas and San Francisco come before the team heads to Detroit for a Thanksgiving matchup.