*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-Cardinals Week 17 Dope Sheet. To read the full version, download the PDF by clicking here.
Here are some highlights from the Packers-Cardinals Week 17 Dope Sheet:*
**GREEN BAY (10-5) at ARIZONA (10-5)
Sunday, Jan. 3 - University of Phoenix Stadium - 3:15 p.m. CST
REGULAR SEASON WRAPS UP IN ARIZONA**
- One week after clinching a postseason berth, Green Bay will travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals to close out the 2009 regular season.
- Green Bay is coming off one of its most well-rounded performances in recent memory and will look to continue that momentum in Arizona.
- Though a postseason berth has been clinched, the outcome of three NFC games on Sunday will determine the final seeding. The possibility remains that the Packers could turn right around and make another trip to Phoenix to take on the Cardinals in the Wild Card round.
- Head Coach Mike McCarthy did not reveal any of the team's intentions regarding playing time for most of its starters. As a Wild Card entrant, Green Bay could be either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed.
- Depending upon the outcome of the games, Arizona has the opportunity to rise all the way up to the NFC's No. 2 seed.
- If past performance is any indication, Green Bay could provide a tough challenge. It is 14-1 in regular-season finales since 1994, the league's top mark in regular-season finales over that period.
- The two clubs already met in the preseason, a game that was highlighted by a near-flawless performance by the Packers' first units in the opening half.
- Dating back to 1921 when the Cardinals franchise resided in Chicago, this remains one of the oldest rivalries in football. Green Bay owns a 42-22-4 advantage in the all-time series, including wins in five of the last six regular-season games.
- Arizona improved to 10-5 with a 31-10 victory at home over St. Louis.
BACK IN THE PLAYOFFS
- Green Bay's convincing win over Seattle, coupled with a New York Giants loss, clinched the 25th postseason berth in Packers' team history.
- For the Packers, it is their 12 postseason appearance in 17 years and their second under Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
- Green Bay owns the league's second-best postseason winning percentage (.625, 25-15) among NFL teams behind Baltimore (.636, 7-4).
- Though it won't know when or where it is playing until the conclusion of Week 17, Green Bay has earned one of the NFC's two Wild Card berths. Not including the 1982 season, which involved a different playoff system due to a strike-shortened season, the Packers have made their way to the postseason via the Wild Card four previous times: 1993, '94, '98 and 2001. In three out of four appearances as an NFC Wild Card, Green Bay won its first game.
- Wild Card teams have achieved postseason success in recent years. Last season, both Philadelphia and Baltimore reached the conference title game, while the New York Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007 as a Wild Card entrant. Two Wild Card teams also reached the conference title games in '05 (Carolina and Pittsburgh), with the Steelers going on to win Super Bowl XL.
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 on the sidelines.
- 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.
- Sports USA Radio will broadcast the game with Larry Kahn (play-by-play), John Robinson (analyst) and Troy West (sideline reporter).
- 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 127 WTMJ feed) as part of the network's NFL Sunday Drive.
- DIRECTV subscribers can watch the game in HD on channel 715.
**THE DOPE ON THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT:
Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals
All-time, regular season:** 42-22-4
All-time, postseason: 1-0
All-time, in Arizona: 3-1-0
Streaks:The Packers have won five of the last six regular-season meetings.
Last meeting, regular season: Oct. 29, 2006, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 31-14
Last meeting, at Arizona: Sept. 21, 2003; Cardinals won, 20-13
Mike McCarthy:** 38-27-0, .584 (incl. 1-1 postseason); 4th NFL season
Ken Whisenhunt: 30-21-0, .589 (incl. 3-1 postseason); 3rd NFL season
Head to Head: Never met
vs. Opponent: McCarthy 1-0 vs. Cardinals; Whisenhunt 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.
KEN WHISENHUNT…Is in third year as the Cardinals' 34th head coach.
- In just his second season as an NFL head coach in 2008, led the franchise to its first Super Bowl berth.
- Before taking over the Cardinals in 2007, served as an NFL assistant coach for 10 seasons, the last six as tight ends coach (2001-03) and then offensive coordinator (2004-06) with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team that beat Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII.
- Is just the second Cardinals head coach to go .500 or better in his first two seasons (Arnie Horween 1923-24).
THE PACKERS-CARDINALS SERIES
- One of the oldest rivalries in sports, the series launched on Nov. 20, 1921, when the Packers and Chicago Cardinals tied 3-3. That afternoon marked one of four ties in the series, with the last tie coming in 1971.
- The series has been noted for its streaks, with the Packers winning 15 straight between 1937 and 1946, followed by the Cardinals winning seven straight through 1949, and the Packers winning 14 of the last 18 (with one tie) since.
- With the Cardinals franchise located in Chicago prior to 1960, the two teams played two or more times in a season 20 different years between 1926 and 1949.
- One postseason meeting following the 1982 season marked the Packers' first trip to the playoffs in 10 years and first playoff victory since winning Super Bowl II.
- In the teams' last meeting in Arizona in 2003, the kickoff temperature was 102 degrees, tied for the hottest game ever recorded in Packers history. The temperature reached 106 in the fourth quarter.
Arizona's Whisenhunt, assistant head coach Russ Grimm, special teams coach Kevin Spencer and linebackers coach Matt Raich, along with Packers safeties coach Darren Perry, coached together on the Pittsburgh Steelers staff for four seasons (2003-06), with Whisenhunt, Grimm and Raich on the offensive side...Cardinals defensive coordinator Bill Davis was a defensive assistant for one season with the Packers (2000)...Packers offensive coordiantor Joe Philbin and Cardinals defensive line coach Ron Aiken coached together for four seasons at the University of Iowa (1999-2002)...Cardinals defensive quality control coach Ryan Slowik played strong safety and coached one season at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh while his father, Bob, was a former defensive assistant coach for the Packers (2000-04)...Green Bay's director of football operations Reggie McKenzie played linebacker for the then-Phoenix Cardinals in 1989-90...Cardinals QB Kurt Warner got his NFL start in Green Bay at training camp in 1994. He was released before the regular season...Packers defensive quality control coach Scott McCurley was a four-year letterwinner at Pittsburgh, where he was teammates with Cardinals LB Gerald Hayes and WR Larry Fitzgerald...Packers QB Matt Flynn, FB Quinn Johnson and Cardinals WR Early Doucet and G Herman Johnson were teammates at LSU, as were Cardinals QB Matt Leinart and Packers LB Clay Matthews at USC, Cardinals C Lyle Sendlein and Packers TE Jermichael Finley at Texas, and Packers LB Brandon Chillar and Cardinals S Matt Ware at UCLA.
INDIVIDUALLY VS. CARDINALS
In four career games against Arizona, WR Donald Driver has 10 receptions for 87 yards...LB Nick Barnett has 1.5 sacks and one interception in his career against the Cardinals. He had 15 tackles in the 2003 contest...LB Aaron Kampman has two sacks, both in the 2006 meeting.
LAST MEETING, REGULAR SEASON
- Oct. 29, 2006, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 31-14.
- The Packers put together four touchdown drives of 70 yards or longer, fueled by two 100-yard rushers in Ahman Green (21 carries, 106 yards) and Vernand Morency (11-101). It marked the first time since 1985 the Packers had two 100-yard rushers in the same game.
- Green scored on two short TD runs in the second quarter to give the Packers a 21-0 lead. Brett Favre's 1-yard TD run in the third quarter preceded his first career "Lambeau Leap."
- The defense held the Cardinals to just 218 total yards, as rookie quarterback Matt Leinart had a rough day, completing just 14 of 35 passes for 157 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
- Donald Driver led the Packers' receivers with five catches for 48 yards. Greg Jennings sat out the game with an ankle injury sustained the previous week in Miami.
LAST MEETING, IN ARIZONA
- Sept. 21, 2003, at Sun Devil Stadium; Cardinals won, 20-13.
- Super Bowl XXXVII MVP Dexter Jackson saved Arizona's upset victory by intercepting Brett Favre's pass in the end zone in the game's final seconds.
- In record heat that reached 106 degrees by the fourth quarter (kickoff temperature was 102, tied for the hottest game ever recorded for the Packers), the Cardinals' Jeff Blake (20 of 31, 273 yards) threw a 1-yard TD pass to James Hodgins for the winning score with three minutes, 59 seconds left, breaking a 13-all tie.
- Favre (23 of 33, 245 yards) responded by driving to the Cardinals' 7-yard line in the waning moments, but on third-and-goal his pass intended for Javon Walker was picked off by Jackson.
- Rookie linebacker Nick Barnett recorded 15 tackles and an interception for the Packers.
WHOM COULD THEY PLAY?
- An already cloudy NFC playoff picture got a bit more mysterious with Chicago's win over Minnesota on Monday night.
- This weekend, three games (Green Bay vs. Arizona, Dallas vs. Philadelphia and New York Giants vs. Minnesota) will determine the playoff seeding. New Orleans has locked in home-field advantage as the No. 1 seed.
- The Packers know they will play on the road, but whom they will play and on which day (Jan. 9 or 10) remains up in the air.
- Essentially there are eight different possibilities to the seeding, six of which have Green Bay making a return trip to play Arizona. It would mark the third meeting between the teams this season in Arizona, as they also met in the preseason.
- Green Bay has a one-in-eight chance of playing either Dallas or Minnesota. It defeated Dallas 17-7 at Lambeau Field in Week 10, while it was swept in the season series by Minnesota.
- The Vikings and Giants will play at 12 p.m. CST, while the Cowboys and Eagles are a 3:15 p.m. CST kickoff.
THREE PACKERS NAMED PRO BOWLERS
- S Nick Collins, QB Aaron Rodgers and CB Charles Woodson were named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad Tuesday afternoon. Additionally, Woodson was named a starter on the NFC squad.
- For Collins, it is his second consecutive and second career selection. So far on the season, the fifth-year pro has 51 tackles, six interceptions, a sack and fumble recovery. His six interceptions are second most among NFC safeties and tied for fifth overall in the NFL.
- Collins becomes the first Packers safety to be named to consecutive Pro Bowls since LeRoy Butler, who went three consecutive seasons (1996-98).
- Rodgers earns his first career selection in his second season as a starter. He became the first player in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons as a starter and ranks among the league's top 10 in nearly every significant passing category.
- Woodson has earned his sixth career Pro Bowl bid and second as a member of the Packers. He has registered a career high in tackles (81) and has tied his career high with eight interceptions. Additionally, the 12-year pro has two sacks, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 18 passes defensed.
- With Woodson and Collins being named to the team, the Packers have two or more secondary players going to the Pro Bowl in consecutive years for the first time since 1973-74, when cornerbacks Willie Buchanon and Ken Ellis were selected. Last season, Al Harris joined Collins and Woodson on the NFC Pro Bowl squad.
- LB Clay Matthews was named a first alternate to the NFC squad. Other alternates include T Chad Clifton, RB Ryan Grant and LB A.J. Hawk.
LED BY THE DEFENSE
- Heading into the final weekend of regular-season football, the Green Bay defense remains at the No. 2 spot in the league's overall defensive rankings. Still, it hasn't been since 1996, when it finished the year No. 1 overall and went on to win Super Bowl XXXI, that the Packers' defense has ranked among the league's top units this late in the season.
- 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. 1 against the run and No. 10 against the pass.
- In Packers history, the team has never led the league in rushing defense. The top ranking in franchise history came in 1972, when the team finished No. 2.
- Green Bay is allowing 290.9 yards per game, second behind the N.Y. Jets (264.3) and ahead of No. 3 Baltimore (298.9).
- 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. 7. This week's opponent, Arizona, ranks 22nd in third-down offense.
- One constant for the defense has been its ability to take the ball away, registering 36 of the team's 37 takeaways. The Packers rank only behind the Saints in total takeaways in 2009 and have had a takeaway in 17 of their last 18 games.
- 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 (six INTs) and Woodson (eight), those 37 turnovers have led to 134 points, the second-most points-off-turnovers total in the NFL. New Orleans leads the category with 141 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.
STAT OF THE WEEK
- When WR Donald Driver totals four more receiving yards against the Cardinals on Sunday, NFL history will be made.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it would be the first unit in league history to produce a 4,000-yard passer, 1,200-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers in back-to-back seasons.
- That statistic shows how balanced, and dangerous, the Packers' offensive unit can be. QB Aaron Rodgers became the first passer in league history to top 4,000 passing yards in his first two seasons as a starter and needs 260 yards against Arizona to break the single-season franchise mark.
- RB Ryan Grant became the third running back in team annals to post back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons. He already has a career-high 10 rushing touchdowns and is two yards shy of a career yardage mark.
- WR Greg Jennings topped the 1,000-yard mark against the Seahawks, becoming the fifth player in team history to top the mark in consecutive seasons. He enters play Sunday with 1,084 yards.
- Driver could extend his own franchise record by recording a seventh overall season with 1,000 receiving yards. It's almost a certainty that Driver will surpass the mark in Arizona, as the 11th-year pro has caught at least one pass in 126 consecutive games.
TAKING HIS PLACE AMONG THE GAME'S BEST
- Now firmly entrenched in his role as the face of the franchise, QB Aaron Rodgers has gone from solid first-year starter to one of the game's top young signal callers.
- 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, ranked No. 4 overall, and avoided costly mistakes, spearheading a unit that has a league-low 15 giveaways.
- Through 15 games, his 102.4 passer rating ranks fourth in the NFL. In addition, he is the game's top-ranked passer on third downs (135.1).
- The fourth-year pro has thrown for 4,199 yards, fifth most in the league. Rodgers needs 260 yards Sunday in Arizona to surpass Lynn Dickey's franchise record (4,458, 1983) for passing yards in a single season.
- In addition to QB rating and passing yards, Rodgers ranks tied for third in TD passes (29) and first in interception percentage (1.4).
- And just for good measure, the Cal product tops all QBs with 314 rushing yards on 56 carries (5.6 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 31 career starts, Rodgers has eclipsed the century mark in passer rating 17 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' 37 takeaways ranks tied for second in the NFL with Philadelphia. New Orleans leads the league with 39 takeaways.
- The offense is doing its part as well, as its 15 giveaways on the year ranks as the league's lowest total. The franchise record for fewest in a season is 19, set in 1972.
- 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 345 times without a fumble in 2009.
- 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-22 turnover ratio tops the league.
- This week's opponent, Arizona, stands at minus-five, which ranks tied for 22nd in the NFL. It has 28 takeaways (20 interceptions, eight fumble recoveries) and 33 turnovers (15 interceptions, 18 fumbles).
- Of the Packers' takeaways, 27 have come via the interception, most in the NFL. It is the most for the Packers since 1984, when the team also had 27. It also has 10 fumble recoveries.
- Every single Packers practice, be it during OTAs, training camp or the regular season, has a period devoted to ball security.
- Headed by assistant head coach/inside linebackers Winston Moss, the drill has offensive skill players carry the ball while two defenders (linebackers and defensive backs) try to strip the ball. Once free, the offensive player then must run through a gauntlet of offensive and defensive linemen attempting to strip the ball loose.
- The drill puts an emphasis on ball security to offensive players. For defensive players, the drill keeps the focus on stripping the ball from opposing players.
- Overall, the team has 11 forced fumbles on the year (one on special teams), 10 of which it has recovered.
- Offensive skill players need only to look at RBs Ryan Grant and Ahman Green for two players who exemplify ball security. The pair ranks No. 1 and No. 2 in the NFL for consecutive carries without a fumble. Green currently has 381 consecutive rushes without a fumble, the longest active streak in the league, while Grant has a streak of 280 consecutive carries without a fumble, second longest among active streaks. Both streaks are individual career highs.
- 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.
AS GOOD AS HE'S EVER BEEN
- At age 33, CB Charles Woodson is enjoying one of the finest seasons of his career in his first season in the 3-4 scheme.
- In fact, Woodson is being talked about as one of the leading candidates for The Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year.
- Woodson is the eighth player in NFL history since sacks became an official statistic to record at least eight sacks and two interceptions in a single season. Two of the players who previously accomplished the feat (Ed Reed - 2004; Rod Woodson - 1993) went on to win Defensive Player of the Year. Woodson also leads the Packers with four forced fumbles.
- 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 in Week 12, Woodson tallied two interceptions, including one he returned for a score, a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery, and held Calvin Johnson to two 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 six INT returns for a TD since 2006 leads all NFL players. Overall, he has eight career.
- In addition to his team-high eight interceptions, he has established a new career high with 81 tackles, second most on the team. His previous career high had been 79, a total he accomplished twice before (OAK, 2000; GB, 2008).
- A skilled blitzer, he has two sacks on the year. His five sacks since 2008 is tied for the NFL lead among 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 44 career interceptions, tied for fourth among active NFL players. Of his interceptions, 27 have come in 61 games with Green Bay. In 106 games with the Raiders, he had 17.
D-LINE HEADLINES STOUT RUN DEFENSE
- With each player adjusting to new responsibilities in the 3-4 scheme, Green Bay's defensive line has created an imposing presence as the first line of defense and is the main reason the team ranks No. 1 against the run.
- DE Cullen Jenkins, who played both inside and outside in the old scheme, has 47 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 70 tackles and also has a sack and forced fumble. His 11 passes defensed show his ability to be a disruptive force at the line of scrimmage and is a new team record for linemen since the team began recording the stat in 1980. Jenkins (nine, 2007) held the previous mark.
- 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, the duo became the first pair of Packers linemen to record interceptions in the same year since 2002, when Kabeer Gbaja-Biamilia and Vonnie Holliday both had picks.
- 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, with 32 tackles and a sack, should keep all four players in the unit fresh down the stretch.
- The Packers have given up a league best 1,285 rushing yards. If the Packers can hold Arizona to a total of 77 yards rushing or fewer, they will set a franchise record for the fewest rushing yards allowed in a 16-game season. The franchise record is 1,363 allowed in 1994 (85.2 per game, also a franchise record for any season).
GRANT AND THE GROUND GAME
- RB Ryan Grant is having one of the better seasons among running backs in the NFC and seems to be rounding into top form as the playoffs near.
- For the third straight week, Grant had a TD run over 20 yards, eventually finishing the Seattle game with 97 yards and two scores on 16 carries (6.1 avg.).
- While he has three 100-yard performances on the season, he also has surpassed the 90-yard mark on four other occasions.
- Without much fanfare, Grant's numbers rank among the leaders in the NFC. His rushing total (1,202 yards) ranks third in the NFC and eighth overall in the NFL. Utilized more in the screen game this season, his 197 receiving yards already is a career high.
- Grant's 1,399 total yards from scrimmage ranks third in the NFC and seventh 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 eight times in 2009. Its record in those contests is 7-1.
- 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 has worked his way back into form after missing the first four games with an ankle injury, and his three-TD performance against Seattle shows he too is ready for the postseason. Green also had some hard runs against the Seahawks, and both could see considerable action this weekend if the team decides to rest Grant.
- Traditionally the Packers have run more over the second half of the season as the weather turns, and it's no doubt the run game appears to be in top form heading into January. With NFC playoff seeding still up in the air, there is no telling whether Green Bay will get a game in an outdoor, winter environment or one in a dome.
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 continues to give opposing quarterbacks fits as both remain among the league leaders in interceptions. With eight, Woodson has tied a career high and stands one behind the NFL lead. Collins, with six interceptions, is tied for fifth most in the NFL. They are the only teammates in the NFL with six or more interceptions.
- Woodson's 15 interceptions since '08 lead all NFL players, while Collins' 13 since '08 ranks tied for second with Baltimore's Ed Reed.
- Woodson became only the second player in team history to record at least eight picks in two or more seasons. He also had eight in '06.
- The franchise's all-time leader in interceptions, Bobby Dillon, had nine interceptions in three different seasons (1953, '55, '57). His finished his career with 52.
- Collins nearly set a record with an interception in four straight games, tied for the second-longest streak in team history. The last to accomplish the feat was John Symank in 1961, who also had four.
- In addition to a Pro Bowl pair of skill players on defense, WR Donald Driver and WR Greg Jennings continue to pace one of the league's most dominant offenses. They are one of three teammate tandems in the NFC to each have 950 receiving yards. Arizona (Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald) and Dallas (Miles Austin and Jason Witten) are the others.
- The skill of Driver and Jennings on the perimeter has opened things up in the middle of the field for TE Jermichael Finley and RB Ryan Grant, each of whom has had big performances in the team's run to a playoff berth. Should Finley's receiving yardage surpass 700, which requires 58 yards in Arizona, it would mark just the second time in team history the team had three 700-yard receivers. The other was 1983 with James Lofton (1,300), John Jefferson (830) and Paul Coffman (814).
'PSYCHO' D DEBUTS
- Kept under wraps throughout the season but still in the legendarily thick playbook of defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the 'Psycho' defensive package made its debut in Chicago and has been used mostly in third down situations since.
- On the third play from scrimmage, with Chicago facing a third-and-3 deep in its own territory, the Packers went to the package, an alternative version of the nickel defense which includes one down lineman, five linebackers and five defensive backs.
- A previously unscouted look, the scheme worked to perfection as DE Cullen Jenkins and LB Desmond Bishop stopped Bears RB Matt Forte for a loss of three yards.
- Along with Bishop, the five linebackers included Nick Barnett, Brandon Chillar, A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews. The five in the secondary were its starting four along with nickel CB Jarrett Bush.
- It wasn't the first time Green Bay unveiled a varied sub-package on defense. In Week 3 at St. Louis, it came out in its 'Big Okie' formation, which substitutes Chillar in as a fifth linebacker for S Atari Bigby.
- The package was shelved for a time when Chillar was recovering from a broken hand but did see its most extensive use in weeks in Chicago.
- No matter what the defense was, be it 'Psycho', 'Big Okie' or base, teams have had trouble running against the Packers this season. If the Packers can hold Arizona to 77 yards or less on the ground, it will set a new franchise record for fewest rushing yards allowed in a 16-game season.
THE EFFECTS OF CONTINUITY
- The Green Bay Packers' offensive line, the most maligned position group through the first half of the season, has turned it around thanks to the continuity it has been able to maintain.
- Having constantly shuffled the lineup due to injury and performance issues early in the season, Green Bay has settled on its starting five of LT Chad Clifton, LG Daryn Colledge, C Scott Wells, RG Josh Sitton and RT Mark Tauscher.
- That unit has started the past six contests, the only time this season Green Bay has gone more than two games with the same starting five. All emerged relatively healthy from the Seahawks game, and the unit is expected to make its seventh consecutive start together Sunday against Arizona, a team tied for the third-highest sack total (42) in the NFL.
- The results speak for themselves, as the group has produced the best results of the season in pass protection and hit for increased production and big plays in the run game.
- Against San Francisco, the first of the unit's six-game streak together, the team produced 158 net rushing yards. It paved the way for another 146 yards on the ground against Chicago and 153 against Seattle.
- Most importantly, the unit is protecting QB Aaron Rodgers. He has been sacked nine times in the six games, compared to 41 times in the first nine games of the year.
- The nine sacks over the past six games is tied for the eighth fewest in the NFL over that span.
- One of the game's most talented passers, Rodgers has no shortage of weapons to deliver the ball to if afforded enough time.
EXCELLING ON THIRD DOWN
- Part of Green Bay's recent success winning six of seven games has been due in part to its ability to win the third-down battle on both sides of the ball. The third-down offense tops the NFC rankings and is No. 3 overall, while the defense ranks No. 7 overall in the category.
- It would be hard to imagine a better performance on third down than what QB Aaron Rodgers did in Detroit on Thanksgiving.
- He finished 11-of-13 passing, good for eight first downs and two touchdowns for a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
- That's not all that surprising when you consider Rodgers is the league's top-ranked passer (135.1) on third down. No other quarterback has thrown for as many yards (1,673) or touchdowns (14) on third down as Rodgers, who threw all three of his scores on third down in Pittsburgh. In 152 third-down attempts, he has a 67.8% completion rate and has yet to throw an interception. Tom Brady is the only other quarterback yet to throw an interception on third down (min. 85 attempts).
- The last quarterback to finish the season with a 135-plus rating on third down was Kurt Warner (137.3) in 1999.
- Now in his second season as a starter, his third-down success is becoming a trend. He finished 2008 as the league's third-ranked passer on third down with a rating of 105.8. Of his 28 TD passes last season, 14 came on third down.
- As for the defense, it ranked No. 28 in the league on third down after Week 4. Whether it was bye-week adjustments or players settling into the scheme, the unit now ranks No. 7.
- Some of the success can be attributed to the Packers' improved run defense. It is ranked No. 1 overall, surrendering the fewest ground yards (1,285) in the NFL.
AROUND THE 'BLACK AND BLUE'
- At 10-5, Green Bay is poised to finish in second place in the NFC North.
- Green Bay finished the year 4-2 in division play with its 21-14 victory over the Bears in Chicago in Week 14.
- Minnesota, off to an 11-4 start, lost in Chicago on Monday night, its third loss in four games. It will wrap up the season at home against the New York Giants and must wait on the outcomes of several games Sunday before it knows its playoff destination.
- 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 worked against history again, becoming 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 defeated the Vikings in overtime on Monday night to improve to 6-9. It will conclude its 2009 slate with another division game against the Lions.
- Detroit, at 2-13, will close out the season against the Bears in Detroit.
- Head Coach Mike McCarthy has always stressed the importance of division play. Through the first 15 games of the '09 season, the Packers own the best division mark over the three-plus seasons of McCarthy's tenure at 17-7. The Packers are trailed by Chicago (14-9) and Minnesota (14-10) over that period.
ANOTHER FRANCHISE MARK
- WR Donald Driver, now in his 11th season with the Packers, established yet another team mark in Week 13. This season, it seems as though franchise records fall on a weekly basis for Driver.
- Driver became the 10th player in franchise history to reach the 50-touchdown plateau. No other NFL franchise has 10 players with 50-plus TDs.
- Earlier, Driver topped the 50-catch plateau for an eighth straight season (2002-09), a new franchise record. The only other players to accomplish that feat from '02-'09 are Tony Gonzalez, Chad Ochocinco, Derrick Mason and Hines Ward.
- Though he is the oldest player on the active roster at age 34, Driver has shown no signs of slowing down in 2009. He ranks second on the team in catches (64) and receiving yards (996) and first in touchdown catches (6).
- With four more receiving yards, Driver will extend his own franchise record by recording a seventh overall season with 1,000 yards.
- By the end of the season, the most significant record still within Driver's grasp will be career receiving yards. James Lofton ranks No. 1 with 9,656 yards. Driver is at No. 2 entering play Sunday with 8,985.
- Driver has been the model of consistency for the Packers, catching at least one pass in 126 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.
- 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 this season. His 15 catches of 20-plus yards is tied for 12th in the NFL.
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 six contests.
- Over the last six games, he has caught a team-high 34 passes for 382 yards and three TDs. His reception total over that time ranks third among tight ends, trailing only Jason Witten (39) and Tony Gonzalez (36).
- His nine catches at Pittsburgh matched the single-game record for receptions by a tight end and with six more catches against Arizona, Finley will break the franchise single-season mark by a tight end.
- Rodgers clearly loves his athletic ability down the middle of the field, as evidenced by his eight catches of 20-plus yards. And in goal-line situations, as was seen against the Ravens and Steelers, 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 receiving yards by a tight end.
- There's no doubting the Packers' depth at the position. TE Donald Lee remains a favorite target of Rodgers, ranking fourth on the team with 35 catches. Finley and Lee are the only NFL tight-end combo with at least 35 catches.
- TE Spencer Havner has made the most of his opportunities this year, as four of his seven catches on the year have gone for scores.
- Green Bay's improved pass protection in recent weeks can be attributed in part to the continuity it has enjoyed along the line.
- Thanks to a return to health for some of its starters, Green Bay has employed the same starting five each of the last six weeks.
- The unit is coming off another solid performance, allowing just one sack and creating holes for 153 rushing yards.
- Still, QB Aaron Rodgers has been sacked a league-high 50 times.
- To show how important pass protection is to the team's overall success, four of the five Packers' losses have come when Rodgers has been sacked six or more times.
- Mike 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. He saluted the work of RB Brandon Jackson against Pittsburgh, calling it as fine a performance as he had seen in pass protection.
- Injuries killed the team's early-season continuity up front, as McCarthy had to use six different starting lineups across the offensive line. The offensive line he settled on in training camp started the first two contests before it was beset by injuries.
- C Scott Wells is now atop the depth chart at center after the team lost C/G Jason Spitz to injured reserve. LT Chad Clifton has returned from a nagging ankle injury, while veteran RT Mark Tauscher has played the entirety of the past four games for the first time since his 2008 season ended with an ACL injury. Rookie G/T T.J. Lang, who started two games at left tackle and one on the right side, serves as the primary backup to both and saw time in relief of Clifton in the fourth quarter against the Seahawks.
- At the guard positions, G Josh Sitton has started every game on the right side. G Daryn Colledge has started every game as well, though two of those starts came at left tackle.
- Arizona will be a test for the offensive line before it heads into the postseason. The Cardinals come into the game tied at No. 3 with 42 sacks.
- Mike McCarthy, like all NFL coaches, stressed 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 couldn't have started any faster in Chicago, scoring on their first offensive play from scrimmage. Through 15 games, the team has produced 30 points on game-opening drives (three TDs, three FGs).
- In terms of first-quarter scoring, Green Bay has already surpassed its 2008 output with 101 points. That first-quarter total is second highest in the NFL behind Philadelphia (122).
- Thus far, the defense also has taken to beginning the game fast, with 20 of its 36 defensive takeaways coming in the first half.
- In terms of holding opponents out of the end zone, Green Bay has done its finest work in the first quarter, allowing just 52 points, fewest of any quarter.
- Thanks to opportunities created in part by their ball-hawking defense, the Packers have scored 243 first-half points. Opponents have scored only 136 first-half points against the Packers' defense.
- For the first time all season, Green Bay scored on its opening possession of the second half against Seattle. Another 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 65-51 advantage.
**2009 HONOR ROLL
S Nick Collins**
2010 Pro Bowl selection (second career)
LB Clay Matthews
Week 6 - Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week (vs. Detroit)
Week 10 - Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week (vs. Dallas)
NFC Defensive Player of the Week - Week 13 (vs. Baltimore)
QB Aaron Rodgers
2010 Pro Bowl selection (first career)
NFC Offensive Player of the Month - October
CB Charles Woodson
2010 Pro Bowl selection (sixth career)
NFC Defensive Player of the Month - September
NFC Defensive Player of the Month - November
Pro Football Weekly Midseason All-Pro Team
NFC Defensive Player of the Week - Week 10 (vs. Dallas)
NFC Defensive Player of the Week - Week 12 (at Detroit)
285 AND COUNTING
- Another packed house at Lambeau Field against the Seahawks brought the stadium's consecutive sellouts streak to 285 games (269 regular season, 16 playoffs). The game was the last regular-season home game and likely last of the season at Lambeau Field.
- 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 hosted its 53rd season of football this year. A total of 565,666 fans made their way through the turnstiles in the eight home contests in 2009.
- 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 finishing at 6-2 at home, they have accomplished that goal.
- With the victory over the Seahawks, the team has won 19 of its last 26 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 19-7 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 - 107-37-0 (.743)
Pittsburgh - 104-39-1 (.726)
Denver - 103-40-0 (.720)
Minnesota - 99-44-0 (.692)
Dallas - 96-47-0 (.671)
GETTING AFTER THE QUARTERBACK
- The Packers recorded three more sacks against Seattle, bringing their season total to 37, tied for eighth best in the league.
- Three times this year the Packers have had five or more sacks. The last time Green Bay had five or more sacks in three games was '02. The team record is four games, a number that was hit in three separate seasons (1985, 2000, 2001).
- LB Brad Jones, who has filled in following a season-ending knee injury to Aaron Kampman, recorded the first multi-sack game of his career against Pittsburgh, joining LB Clay Matthews (three multi-sack games) as the first rookie duo to post multi-sack games in a season.
- Jones became the third Packers rookie to collect a sack this season, joining first-round picks NT B.J. Raji (1.0) and Matthews (10.0). The last time three Packers rookies recorded sacks was 1987.
- For the first time in franchise history, two rookies have four or more sacks.
- With another sack against the Bears, Matthews became the first rookie in Packers history to record a sack in three consecutive games. His streak ultimately rose to four after a two-sack effort against Pittsburgh.
- Raji has seen his most extensive action of the season at nose tackle in relief of starter NT Ryan Pickett, who has missed most of the last three games with a hamstring injury.
- All three rookies missed time during training camp due to various injuries, meaning none of the three may hit the supposed "rookie wall" that sometimes plagues first-year players this time of year.
DOMINATING TIME OF POSSESSION
- Time of possession is a seldom-quoted statistic, but one that easily can underscore how a football game was played out.
- The Packers' current ranking near the top of the time-of-possession chart should have been a sign the team was due to make the postseason. Of the teams that finished the season in the Top 3 in the category this decade, 21 of those 27 teams made the playoffs.
- Of the six that didn't qualify for the postseason, only one, the 2004 Kansas City Chiefs (7-9), finished with a record below .500.
- In Green Bay's 30-24 win over San Francisco in Week 11, it controlled the ball for 41 minutes, 39 seconds. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, time-of-possession statistics have only been kept since 1977, but that mark for the Packers was a franchise record.
- Combined with the Packers' 40:48 time of possession against the Lions in Week 6, it gives the team two games with 40-plus minutes of controlling the ball, which is also a single-season franchise record.
- Green Bay won the time of possession battle against the Seahawks, controlling the ball for 32:14.
- Also keep in mind the Packers had four short scoring drives against Seattle. Three drives that ended in touchdowns were just four plays, while another took five plays.
- Entering Week 17, the Packers rank No. 3 in the league with a time-of-possession average of 32:45, trailing only New England (33:13) and Cincinnati (32:51). Minnesota (32:23) and Pittsburgh (32:13) round out the league's Top 5.
- The Packers' final opponent, Arizona, ranks 12th in the category with an average of 30:21. Ball control in the final game could allow the Packers to establish a new franchise record.
- Green Bay's best single-season mark came in 1992, when it posted an average of 32:30 per game.
- In the first nine games of the season, the Packers had just nine drives of 10 plays or more. Over their last six games, they have 11 drives of 10 or more plays.
- As the weather turns, Green Bay has traditionally become a more ground-oriented team. Though the nature of a "big-play" offense suggests quick strikes, the Packers' offense seems more suited to a controlled offense led by a ground attack, capable of producing multiple 10-play drives in a game.
- Many factors, including a controlled weather environment and how much the coaching staff will decide to play its starters in advance of the postseason, will determine whether or not the 2009 Packers will set a new franchise standard in time of possession.
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 his second season as the quarterback in Green Bay.
- When it comes to the long ball, few are as accurate as Rodgers. His 16 completions of 40-plus yards ranks tied for second in the NFL with Dallas QB Tony Romo (16). Philadelphia's QB Donovan McNabb leads the league with 17.
- In terms of what coaches often classify as 'big plays' (gains of 20-plus yards), Rodgers has 54 completions, the eighth-best total in the league, already surpassing his 2008 total.
- 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.
- As team statistics are now balanced out with the bye weeks, the Packers currently rank eighth overall with 65 plays of 20-plus yards. Arizona comes into the game with 55 plays of 20-plus yards, which ranks tied for 12th.
- WR Greg Jennings (six) and WR Donald Driver (five) are the only set of teammates to have at least five 40-plus yard catches in '09.
- 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 until recently. The Packers have 11 'big' runs on the season: eight from RB Ryan Grant, two from QB Aaron Rodgers and one from RB Ahman Green.
- The Packers had 10 "big-play" runs in 2008 and 15 in 2007. The threat of hitting the big play on the ground helps keep a healthy offensive balance for the Packers and will be necessary if the team is to make a deep postseason run.
- Through the air, it's been tough for opponents to pick just one player to stop. So far, five different players (Driver, 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.
HAVNER DOES IT ALL
- An unlikely star emerged for the Packers earlier this season, as TE Spencer Havner found the end zone four times, tied for third on the team in TD catches with TE Jermichael Finley and WR Greg Jennings.
- When 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, 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 third on special teams with 18 tackles.
- Against Minnesota in Week 8, Havner caught two TD passes in the third quarter, the first multi-TD game of his career, and caught another red-zone score against the Cowboys.
- Havner is the type of guy all players in the locker room root for, having spent parts of the last three seasons (2006-08) on the Packers' practice squad. He played the last four games of 2008, all on special teams.
- A decorated linebacker at UCLA, Havner spent the previous three years at linebacker before coaches had him begin practicing at tight end this past spring in OTAs. During two-a-days in training camp, he would practice once with each side of the ball.
- Havner remains on the depth chart at inside linebacker and would probably see action there in the event of an injury or two. Should he see time on defense this season, he would become the first three-way player in Head Coach Mike McCarthy's tenure.
- "Going through the personnel in the spring, we just felt we needed to create an opportunity to get Spencer on the 53," McCarthy said. "The opportunity was created with him playing both tight end and linebacker and trying to be a core special teams player, and he definitely took advantage of that in the preseason. I thought his special teams play was definitely exemplary coming off the way he played those last three, four games when he was up on our 53-man roster to finish last season. We just felt he's an instinctive football player. He's a young man that's taken full advantage of his opportunities. You love to see guys like Spencer have success."
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.
- According to the 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 against Arizona, 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 third multi-sack game of his career against the Steelers and has 10 sacks on the season, a new Green Bay rookie record. In addition to leading the Packers, his 10 sacks ranks second behind Washington's Brian Orakpo (11) for the lead among all rookies.
- The last rookie to finish as the team leader in sacks was LB Tim Harris in 1986. Harris (8) and Vonnie Holliday (eight in 1998) had shared the team rookie record for sacks since the statistic became official in 1982.
TOP 10 AGAIN
- The offense registered over 400 yards against Seattle, the ninth time this year it has gone over the mark. The unit seems to be hitting its stride at the right time and finds itself back among the NFL's top-10 offenses, a familiar place under play caller and Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
- Each year under McCarthy, it has finished among the league's top 10 and is expected to do so again this year, ranking No. 4 heading into the final weekend of play. Since 2006, only two other teams have ranked in the top 10 each of the last three seasons, New Orleans and Philadelphia, and both have a chance to finish the year in the top 10 for a fourth consecutive year.
- 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.
SECONDARY BRINGS SOME PASS RUSH, TOO
- Part of the reason Capers was able to trust in his defense as the Packers made the transition to the 3-4 was because he was able to rely on a secondary that included three Pro Bowl players.
- The team has had to play its last stretch without CB Al Harris, a physical corner who routinely lined up against the opposing team's top wide receiver. Harris was a Pro Bowl honoree each of the last two seasons.
- The team still does have one of the best corners in the league in CB Charles Woodson, who is enjoying a career year in the new defense. Woodson, who has lined up all over the field in Capers' defense, was named to his fifth career Pro Bowl in '08.
- The team will also rely heavily on CB Tramon Williams, who filled in with the No. 1 defense when Harris went down with a spleen injury last season for four games. Williams recorded an interception in each of his first three starts for Harris last season, finishing the season with a career-high five. Thus far in '09, he has three interceptions and leads the team with 20 passes defensed, a new career high.
- Capers and the defense can also rely on Pro Bowl S Nick Collins, who intercepted his sixth pass of the season against Chicago. Collins enjoyed a career season last year as he was named to his first Pro Bowl and 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. His