*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 Wild Card Playoff Dope Sheet. To read the full version, download the PDF by clicking here.
Here are some highlights from the Packers-Cardinals Wild Card Playoff Dope Sheet:*
**GREEN BAY (11-5) at ARIZONA (10-6)
Sunday, Jan. 10 - University of Phoenix Stadium - 3:40 p.m. CST
PACKERS-CARDINALS MEET AGAIN IN PLAYOFFS**
- One week after wrapping up the regular season in Arizona, Green Bay returns to University of Phoenix Stadium to take on the Cardinals in the NFC Wild Card playoffs.
- At 11-5, the Packers earned their second postseason berth in three seasons and will be the No. 5 seed as one of two NFC Wild Card entrants.
- Sunday will mark the third meeting this season between the two clubs and the second postseason meeting in the all-time series.
- Green Bay comes into the game with plenty of momentum thanks to a 33-7 victory over the Cardinals this past weekend and an outstanding second half. Winners of seven of their last eight, the Packers own the NFC's best record (7-1) over the second half of 2009. Only San Diego (8-0) enjoyed a better second half than Green Bay.
- The Packers' lone defeat in the second half came on a last-second play at Pittsburgh. Though momentum may be on their side, Head Coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged Monday that the team faces an uphill challenge, playing the defending NFC champions in their own stadium.
- Arizona, by virtue of its second consecutive NFC West title, secured the No. 4 seed. Last year, the Cardinals earned the No. 4 overall seed and won three consecutive games before falling in Super Bowl XLIII.
- Dating back to 1921 when the Cardinals franchise resided in Chicago, this remains one of the oldest rivalries in football. Green Bay owns a 43-22-4 advantage in the all-time series, including wins in six of the last seven regular-season games.
- The two franchises met in the playoffs after the 1982 strike-shortened season when the Packers hosted the then-St. Louis Cardinals at Lambeau Field. Behind three TD passes from Lynn Dickey, the Packers defeated the Cardinals 41-16.
WITH THE CALL
- FOX Sports, now in its 16th season as an NFL network television partner, will broadcast the game to a national audience.
- Play-by-play man Joe Buck and color analyst Troy Aikman will have the call with Pam Oliver and 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.
- Westwood One will air the game across the country. Marv Albert (play-by-play) and James Lofton (analyst) will be in the broadcast booth with Tony Boselli reporting from the sidelines.
- Univision Radio, with Clemson Smith Muñiz (play-by-play) and Alfredo Béjar (color), will broadcast in Spanish to a national audience.
- 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 as part of the network's NFL Sunday Drive.
BACK IN THE PLAYOFFS
- Green Bay's 25th postseason berth in team history marks the franchise's 12th appearance in the last 17 seasons.
- The Packers own the league's second-best postseason winning percentage (.625, 25-15) among NFL teams behind Baltimore (.636, 7-4).
- A second-place finish in the NFC North gave Green Bay 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.
- Green Bay is 3-3 against 2009 playoff teams, with all three wins (vs. Dallas, vs. Baltimore, at Arizona) coming in the second half of the year. Arizona was 1-2 on the year against '09 playoff teams.
**THE DOPE ON THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT:
Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals
All-time, regular season: **43-22-4
All-time, postseason: 1-0
All-time, in Arizona:4-1-0
Streaks:The Packers have won six of the last seven regular-season meetings.
Last meeting, regular season: Jan. 3, 2010, University of Phoenix Stadium; Packers won, 33-7
Last meeting, postseason:Jan. 8, 1983, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 41-16
Mike McCarthy: **39-27-0, .591 (incl. 1-1 postseason); 4th NFL season
Ken Whisenhunt: 30-22-0, .577 (incl. 3-1 postseason); 3rd NFL season
Head to Head: McCarthy 1-0
vs. Opponent: McCarthy 2-0 vs. Cardinals; Whisenhunt 0-1 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 15 of the last 19 (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' 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 five career games against Arizona, WR Donald Driver has 16 receptions for 152 yards, and RB Ahman Green has 73 carries for 315 yards and 3 TDs, as well as 10 receptions for 119 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...As a Packer, CB Charles Woodson has an interception in each of his two meetings with the Cardinals.
LAST MEETING, REGULAR SEASON
- Jan. 3, 2010, at University of Phoenix Stadium; Packers won, 33-7.
- In a preview of this playoff meeting, the Packers played their starters longer than the Cardinals did and bolted to a 26-0 halftime lead. QB Aaron Rodgers completed 21-of-26 passes for 235 yards, with one TD pass to TE Jermichael Finley and one rushing TD. RB Ryan Grant also added a rushing TD while gaining 51 yards on 11 carries.
- CB Charles Woodson had one of three Green Bay interceptions, returning it 45 yards for a TD. The Packers defense also scored via a safety.
- In the game, the Packers established a single-season franchise record for run defense (83.3 yards per game) and Woodson scored his eighth career defensive TD for Green Bay, also a franchise mark.
- Donald Driver's six catches for 65 yards pushed him over 1,000 receiving yards for a sixth straight season and seventh overall, both franchise records.
LAST MEETING, POSTSEASON
- Jan. 8, 1983, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 41-16.
- In a first-round playoff game following the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Packers halted a first-quarter Cardinals drive at the 1-yard line and then scored four unanswered touchdowns to take a 28-3 lead.
- QB Lynn Dickey threw TD passes to John Jefferson (60 yards) and James Lofton (20 yards) before a pair of St. Louis turnovers resulted in two TDs by Eddie Lee Ivery. Dickey (17-of-23, 260 yards, no INT) tied a team playoff record with four TD passes, two to Jefferson, who posted 148 receiving yards.
- The Packers were playing in the postseason for the first time in 10 years.
THE STORY OF THE '09 PACKERS
- The story of the Green Bay Packers began Aug. 1 as a standing-room only crowd gathered for the unveiling of the new Ray Nitschke Field and the first day of training camp practice. Like their passionate fan base, the Packers were eager to erase the memories of 2008 and return to their place among playoff contenders in the NFC.
- A quick start in preseason action built buzz around the team as the regular season approached, and a fantastic finish in Week 1 over the rival Bears kicked off the 2009 campaign with a bang.
- A second loss to Minnesota put the team at 4-3 heading into Tampa in Week 9. A 10-point loss to the previously winless Buccaneers left the Packers at 4-4 at the midway point, with a number of tough games still looming ahead on the schedule.
- Green Bay showed its ability to bounce back from adversity the following week against Dallas in a pivotal NFC matchup. A fantastic defensive effort kept Dallas out of the end zone until the waning moments of the game and helped springboard the team to a five-game win streak that put it back into the NFC playoff picture.
- In what was one of the more memorable games of the '09 regular season, Green Bay lost on the final play of the game in Pittsburgh, a tough finish to a back-and-forth fourth quarter.
- Again Green Bay responded, using all three phases to dominate Seattle at home and clinch a postseason berth in Week 16. Another fine performance in Arizona last weekend has the team riding the momentum of its second-half surge into the postseason.
- Many of the players on the roster were a part of the 2007 run to the NFC Championship Game, and 17 of 22 starters, not to mention many of the key reserves, bring playoff experience to the table.
ALL THREE PHASES
- Green Bay is one of two teams in the NFL to have both the offense (No. 6) and defense (No. 2) rank among the league's Top 6. Minnesota (No. 5 offense, No. 6 defense) is the other.
- The Packers offense ranks among the league's Top 10 for the fourth consecutive season and is a unit that seems to be hitting its stride at the right time.
- There's no shortage of statistical measures to show its strength, chief among them the 461 points scored, a new franchise record. The 1996 Super Bowl champion Packers had the previous team record at 456.
- It was just the third team in franchise history to surpass 6,000 total net yards, finishing No. 3 in team annals with 6,065.
- Though its perimeter players are as dangerous in big-play production as any group in the NFL, Green Bay dominated the ball and control of the clock in its second-half run and finished No. 1 in the NFL with a time of possession average of 33:03, establishing a new franchise standard since the statistic began being recorded in 1977.
- Green Bay became the first team in NFL history to have a 4,000-yard passer (QB Aaron Rodgers), 1,200-yard rusher (RB Ryan Grant) and two 1,000-yard receivers (WRs Donald Driver and Greg Jennings) in back-to-back seasons.
- Driver and Jennings lead a wideout group whose ability downfield and after the catch has opened up the middle of the field for Grant and TE Jermichael Finley, two players whose production increased during the season's second half.
- On defense, veteran coordinator Dom Capers installed the 3-4 defense and led a unit that finished the year with the highest league ranking by a Packers defensive unit since the 1996 Super Bowl team (No. 1).
- For the first time in team history, Green Bay ranked No. 1 in run defense. The unit allowed 83.3 rushing yards per game, the lowest average in franchise history.
- Its stellar run defense kept opponents in difficult down-and-distance situations, where the defense excelled in turnovers.
- The Packers led the league with 40 takeaways and led the NFL with 30 interceptions, the first time the Packers led the league in interceptions since 1965 (tied with Washington for No. 1 that season with 27).
- CB Charles Woodson led the team with as fine a season as any player in the NFL on the defensive side of the ball. His nine interceptions marked a new career high and tied for the league lead, while he returned three of those interceptions for touchdowns, also tied for the NFL lead.
- Highlighting the defense's ability to take the ball away also brings the spotlight back onto the offense, which finished the season with 16 giveaways, fewest in the NFL. Not since 1997 (New York Giants) has a team led the league in most takeaways and fewest giveaways.
- Green Bay's plus-24 turnover margin also ranked atop the league standings, while its 141 points off takeaways tied for No. 1.
- Special teams, shaky in both the return and coverage units early on in the season, has steadied itself as of late and had perhaps its finest performance of the season against Arizona. The fact that the team appears as healthy as it's been all season can only help the team's depth, which tends to reveal itself in the kick and punt units.
- "We're just playing good, balanced football, and really everybody is talking about our offense and defense, our special teams has played extremely well the past five or six weeks," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "We're playing complete football. We put together a good body of work over 16 games, and it's important for us to take this body of work into the playoffs."
- As per tradition, the Packers alternate game captains each week during the regular season. For the postseason, the team elected captains.
- Chosen as captains on offense were WR Donald Driver and QB Aaron Rodgers. Though he is the oldest (age 34) and most-tenured (11th Packers season) player on the roster, Driver remains one of the game's best and most consistent wideouts. He surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for a seventh overall and sixth straight season and led the offense with six touchdown catches.
- Though only 26 and in his second season as the man under center, Rodgers also ranks as one of the elder statesmen in the locker room. Of the current 53-man roster, only six players have spent more time with the Packers. His election as captain validates his stance as a team leader, and all the Chico, Calif., native did in his second year as a starter was turn in one of the finest seasons ever by a Green Bay quarterback. Last week he was selected to his first career Pro Bowl.
- On defense, the team elected S Nick Collins and CB Charles Woodson. With six interceptions, a sack and a fumble recovery on the year, Collins was selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, the first Packers safety to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons since LeRoy Butler (1996-98).
- Woodson turned in the finest season of his career and is a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. He tied for the league lead with a career-high nine interceptions and also totaled 81 tackles, another career high. One of the few players on the roster with Super Bowl experience, he will be playing in his 10th career postseason game Sunday.
- On special teams, the team chose LB Desmond Bishop and S Derrick Martin as captains. Bishop's physical nature sets the tone for the coverage units, where his career-high 22 tackles led the team. He also had the unit's lone forced fumble on the season.
- Acquired in a trade with Baltimore in September, Martin came in with a reputation as a standout special teams player and did not disappoint. His career-high 21 tackles on the coverage team ranked second to Bishop.
GREEN BAY AS A WILD CARD
- Now in the 25th postseason appearance in team history, Green Bay is one of the conference's Wild Card entrants for the fifth time, excluding the strike-shortened 1982 season which had a different playoff format.
- The Packers made their way to the postseason via the Wild Card in 1993, '94, '98 and 2001. In three out of four appearances as an NFC Wild Card, Green Bay won its first game.
- Its first time in 1993 brought one of the most electrifying victories in team postseason history, as a touchdown pass in the final minute gave Green Bay the edge over the division-rival Lions in Detroit, 28-24.
- In 1994, Green Bay hosted a game at Lambeau Field as a Wild Card, a time when the NFL had three division champions and three Wild Card entrants. Its first home playoff game since 1982 brought another victory over the Lions, 16-12.
- Another memorable game, albeit not for Green Bay, came in 1998. Having won five straight over San Francisco, Green Bay surged ahead just after the two-minute warning. However, a Steve Young-to-Terrell Owens touchdown pass with three seconds remaining gave the 49ers a 30-27 victory.
- Green Bay exacted its revenge on the 49ers in the Wild Card round in 2001 at Lambeau Field. Four second-half scoring drives helped push the Packers ahead, scoring the game's final 10 points for a 25-15 win.
- 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.
LED BY THE DEFENSE
- The Green Bay defense remained at the No. 2 spot in the league's final overall defensive rankings. 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.
- Behind new defensive coordinator Dom Capers and all-everything CB Charles Woodson, the Packers have thrived in their new 3-4 scheme. The team finished the season ranked No. 1 against the run, a first in team history, and No. 5 against the pass.
- The previous top ranking in franchise history in run defense came in 1972, when the team finished No. 2.
- Green Bay allowed an average of 284.4 yards per game, second behind the N.Y. Jets (252.3) and ahead of No. 3 Baltimore (300.5).
- Green Bay's improved defense against the run 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, finishing the year at No. 9. This week's opponent, Arizona, ranks 21st in third-down offense.
- One constant for the defense has been its ability to take the ball away, registering 39 of the team's 40 takeaways. That takeaway total led the NFL in 2009, and it's something that has become a habit for the defense. It has registered at least one takeaway in 18 of its last 19 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 (nine), those 40 turnovers have led to 141 points, tied with New Orleans for the most points-off-turnovers total in the NFL.
- 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 before making the jump up to No. 2 this year.
- 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.
THREE PACKERS NAMED PRO BOWLERS
- S Nick Collins, QB Aaron Rodgers and CB Charles Woodson were named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad last week. Additionally, Woodson was named a starter on the NFC squad.
- For Collins, it is his second consecutive and second career selection. For the season, the fifth-year pro had 51 tackles, six interceptions, a sack and fumble recovery. His six interceptions were 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 ranked among the league's top 10 in nearly every significant passing category.
- Woodson earned his sixth career Pro Bowl bid and second as a member of the Packers. He registered a career high in tackles (81) and interceptions (nine). Additionally, the 12-year pro had two sacks, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 21 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.
- Woodson came out of the Cardinals contest in Week 17 with a shoulder injury but should be ready to go for the playoffs. Woodson has played through the shoulder injury for much of the season and has always been known to play through injuries.
- Woodson played the entire 2008 season with a fractured toe sustained in the season opener, yet still performed at a Pro Bowl level.
- Two other defensive players who missed the Week 17 matchup in Arizona are NT Ryan Pickett and LB Brandon Chillar, two regulars in the defensive rotation. As the starting nose tackle, Pickett has been a key cog in the top-ranked run defense, and his return from a hamstring injury would help keep the rotation of DE Cullen Jenkins, DE Johnny Jolly and NT B.J. Raji fresh against the Cardinals' high-powered offensive attack. He has missed most of the past four contests, only playing sparingly in Pittsburgh, but seemed optimistic about his chances to play this Sunday. Chillar, coming off back spasms, is one of the more versatile players on the defensive side of the ball and gives Capers the ability to play a number of different sub-packages. The Arizona contest was the first game Chillar had missed with the back problem after recently returning to full strength from a broken hand.
- Key members of the special teams unit could also return if S Derrick Martin (ankle) and FB Korey Hall (elbow) get through the practice week healthy. Martin ranks second on the team with 21 special teams stops, but has not practiced since suffering the injury against Seattle in Week 16. Hall too has been one of the coverage unit's more productive players, totaling 12 special teams stops despite missing four games with a knee injury and Week 17 with the elbow injury.
- Veteran T Chad Clifton may also be on the injury report with a knee injury, but his usual game preparation involves limited practice time during the early portions of the week. The offensive line is expected to maintain its continuity, the main reason for its second-half success.
THEY'LL HAVE TO DO IT ON THE ROAD
- As the NFC's No. 5 seed, the Packers' most likely path to the Super Bowl will be on the road. The only possibility for a home game is the NFC Championship Game, which would be hosted at Lambeau Field if the No. 6 Philadelphia Eagles and the Packers win two games.
- Green Bay finished 5-3 (.625) on the road this year and is above the .500 mark on the road in the four years under Head Coach Mike McCarthy (18-14, .563).
- Among the 40 playoff games in team history, Green Bay has played 17 true road games in the postseason, not including games at a nuetral site in which Green Bay was listed as the road team. The Packers' record in those 17 games is 6-11 (.353).
- Last season, both Baltimore and Philadelphia won two road games to advance to the conference championship. However, both teams still had to play on the road in the championship round and did not advance.
- The 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and 2007 New York Giants, Wild Card entrants, both won three road games to advance to the Super Bowl, and both emerged with Super Bowl titles.
- The top four seeds in the NFC (New Orleans, Minnesota, Dallas and Arizona) all play indoors, which may play to the strengths of the Green Bay offense. While it naturally has a reputation as a cold-weather team, Green Bay has shown to be an explosive offense on the road.
- Green Bay scored 242 points on the road, a new franchise record. That total ranked No. 2 among NFL teams this season behind New Orleans (256).
- Also in road games, the Packers averaged 401.1 yards per game, another team record. That total also ranked No. 2 in the NFL behind Houston (407.4).
- The only venue which would be new to this Packers team would be Dallas. This will be its third trip to the University of Phoenix Stadium, and it plays annually in Minneapolis at the Metrodome. Also, the team made a trip down to New Orleans to play in the Superdome last season.
UPON A CLOSER LOOK AT PACKERS-CARDS STATS
- Arizona, ranked 14th in total offense, has a noted aerial attack, ranked 12th in the league, but finished just 28th overall in rushing.
- Combine that with the Packers' No. 1 ranking against the run, and it seems as though the Cardinals would aim to attack Green Bay through the air. However, an ankle injury to star WR Anquan Boldin last Sunday could leave Arizona without a player who caught 84 passes for 1,024 yards and four TDs.
- WR Steve Breaston totaled over 1,000 yards in 2008 and finished the '09 campaign with 55 catches for 712 yards. RB Tim Hightower also is a frequent target out of the backfield and finished third on the team with 63 receptions.
- Green Bay could also choose to attack the Cardinals through the air, as its full stable of receivers is healthy for the league's No. 7 overall passing unit. Arizona's defense against the pass, ranked No. 23 in the league, will certainly be dependent upon the return of Pro Bowl CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The second-year pro went down early in the contest last Sunday with a knee injury and may not be back to full strength.
- Another area to watch would be when the Arizona offense is able to move into the red zone. The Cardinals' offense ranks No. 1 in the league in red-zone offense, scoring a touchdown on 70.4% of their opportunities. Green Bay's red-zone defense was one of its lower rankings on the season, ranking No. 28 in the NFL.
- Third down is always a critical play over the course of a football game, and no passer had a higher QB rating than Rodgers (133.5) on third down. The Green Bay offense ranked No. 3 in the league on third down, but the Arizona defense also ranks among the game's best on third down at No. 6.
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 ranked 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 is the youngest of the six quarterbacks named to this year's Pro Bowl squads.
- He has engineered one of the NFL's most potent offenses, ranked No. 6 overall, and avoided costly mistakes, spearheading a unit that has a league-low 16 giveaways.
- His 103.2 passer rating ranked fourth in the NFL. In addition, he is the game's top-ranked passer on third downs (133.5).
- The fourth-year pro threw for 4,434 yards, fourth most in the league. That total finished just shy of Lynn Dickey's franchise record (4,458, 1983) for passing yards in a single season.
- In addition to QB rating and passing yards, Rodgers ranked fourth in TD passes (30) and first in interception percentage (1.3).
- And just for good measure, he ranked second among QBs with 316 rushing yards on 58 carries (5.4 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 32 career starts, Rodgers has eclipsed the century mark in passer rating 18 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' 40 takeaways led the NFL, while its 16 giveaways also led the league and established a new franchise record.
- The 1997 New York Giants were the last team to lead the league in most takeaways and fewest giveaways.
- While Rodgers has always been careful with the ball in the passing game, credit must be given to the Packers running backs, who carried the ball 374 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-24 turnover ratio topped the league.
- This week's opponent, Arizona, stands at minus-seven, which ranks tied for 24th in the NFL. It has 29 takeaways (21 interceptions, eight fumble recoveries) and 36 turnovers (18 interceptions, 18 fumbles).
- Of the Packers' takeaways, 30 came via the interception, most in the NFL. It is the most for the Packers since 1981, when the team also had 30. In 2009 it also had 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, streaks they will carry into play in 2010. Green currently has 393 consecutive rushes without a fumble, the longest active streak in the league, while Grant has a streak of 291 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 enjoyed perhaps the finest season of his career in his first year 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 fourth player in NFL history since sacks became an official statistic to record at least nine interceptions and two sacks in a single season. One of the players who previously accomplished the feat (Ed Reed - 2004) went on to win Defensive Player of the Year. Woodson also led 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 INT return for a score against Arizona was his seventh with Green Bay, giving him eight defensive tocuhdowns with the Packers to establish a new franchise record. The seven INT returns for scores with Green Bay ties him for first on the franchise's all-time list with Hall of Famer Herb Adderley.
- In addition to his team-high and career-best nine interceptions, he has established a new career high with 81 tackles, third 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 tied for second among NFL defensive backs.
- There's no doubt Woodson's career has undergone a revitalization since coming to Green Bay. He now has 45 career interceptions, fifth among active NFL players. Of his interceptions, 28 have come in 62 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 ranked No. 1 against the run.
- DE Cullen Jenkins, who played both inside and outside in the old scheme, had 50 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 led all defensive linemen with 75 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, 325-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 36 tackles and a sack, should keep all four players in the unit fresh down the stretch.
- The Packers gave up a league-best 1,333 rushing yards, the lowest total in a 16-game season in team history. The average of 83.3 yards per game set a franchise record for any season.
GRANT AND THE GROUND GAME
- RB Ryan Grant had one of the better seasons among running backs in the NFC and seems to be rounding into top form as the playoffs near.
- Grant had a TD run over 20 yards in three straight weeks (Weeks 14-16), the type of play that typified his breakout season in 2007.
- He had a career-high 11 touchdowns on the ground, second most in the NFC.
- While he had 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 ranked among the leaders in the NFC. His rushing total (career-high 1,253 yards) ranked third in the NFC and seventh overall in the NFL. Utilized more in the screen game this season, his 197 receiving yards also was a career high.
- Grant's 1,450 total yards from scrimmage ranked fourth in the NFC and ninth 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 totaled over 100 net yards on the ground nine times in 2009. Its record in those contests was 8-1.
- 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 Cardinals, and both could see considerable action this weekend, especially in the screen game and spelling Grant for some occassional carries.
- 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 postseason play.
QUITE THE PAIR
- S Nick Collins and CB Charles Woodson will each make a return trip to the Pro Bowl, again ranking among the NFC leaders in interceptions.
- The pair continues to give opposing quarterbacks fits as they became the first duo in franchise history to each post six or more interceptions in back to back seasons. With nine, Woodson established a career high and tied for the NFL lead. Collins, with six interceptions, tied for fifth.
- Woodson's 16 interceptions since '08 lead all NFL players, while Collins' 13 since '08 ranks tied for second with Philadelphia's Asante Samuel.
- Woodson became only the second player in team history to record at least eight picks in two or more seasons. He 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 continued to pace one of the league's most dominant offenses. They are one of three teammate tandems in the NFC to each have 1,000 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 had big performances in the team's run to the playoffs. Finley finished with 676 receiving yards, just missing out on having three players surpass the 700-receiving yards mark. The only time the team had three 700-yard receivers was 1983 with James Lofton (1,300), John Jefferson (830) and Paul Coffman (814).
EXCELLING ON THIRD DOWN
- Part of Green Bay's recent success winning seven of its last eight games was 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. 9 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 (133.5) on third down. No other quarterback threw for as many yards (1,710) or touchdowns (14) on third down as Rodgers, who threw all three of his scores on third down in Pittsburgh. In 157 third-down attempts, he has a 67.5% completion rate and did not throw an interception. Tom Brady is the only other quarterback yet to throw an interception on third down (min. 100 attempts).
- Rodgers' third-down rating was the best in the NFL since Kurt Warner's 137.3 rating in 1999.
- Now after two seasons 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 finished at No. 7.
- Some of the success can be attributed to the Packers' improved run defense, ranked No. 1 overall, helping put the opposition in third-and-long.
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' final ranking at 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, 24 of those 30 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 Cardinals, helping it achieve the league's No. 1 ranking in the category and a new franchise record.
- The Packers ranked No. 1 in the league with a time-of-possession average of 33:03, ahead of No. 2 New England (32:55) and No. 3 Minnesota (32:40). Pittsburgh (32:13) and Dallas (32:04) round out the league's top 5, with Pittsburgh being the only team not to make the postseason.
- The Packers' Wild Card opponent, Arizona, ranked 16th in the category with an average of 29:52.
- Green Bay's previous 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 seven games, they had 14 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.
- Against Arizona in Week 17, it sustained three drives of 10 plays or more. Two went for touchdowns, while the third ended with a field goal.
- The Cardinals, ranked No. 28 in rushing offense, would tend not to take too much time off the clock with a pass-oriented offense. If Green Bay can control the ball in the game, as it proved this year during the regular season, it should have a good chance to advance to the next round.
THE BIG PLAY RETURNS
- Thanks to a bevy of talent around him at the skill positions, QB Aaron Rodgers did 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 17 completions of 40-plus yards tied for the NFL lead with Dallas QB Tony Romo and Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb.
- In terms of what coaches often classify as 'big plays' (gains of 20-plus yards), Rodgers had 55 completions, tied for the ninth-best total in the league and 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.
- In 2009, the Packers finished 10th overall with 66 plays of 20-plus yards. Arizona finished the year with 56 plays of 20-plus yards, which ranked tied for 14th.
- WR Greg Jennings (six) and WR Donald Driver (five) were 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 didn't spring the big play until later in the year. The Packers had 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. Six different players (Driver, Jennings, Jermichael Finley, James Jones, Spencer Havner and Jordy Nelson) have a reception of 45-plus yards on the season, tying a team record. Six players also accomplished the feat in 1951 and 1983.
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 was charged with transitioning the Packers to a 3-4 defense. From a defensive unit that ranked No. 20 overall in 2008, Capers brought the defense up to the No. 2 ranking in 2009, the franchise's highest defensive ranking in over a decade.
- In addition to serving as the head coach of two different expansion franchises (Carolina and Houston), Capers brought 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 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 enjoyed a career year in the new defense. Woodson, who lined up all over the field in Capers' defense, was named to his sixth career Pro Bowl last week.
- The team has also relied 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. In '09, he finished with four interceptions and led the team with 22 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 13 interceptions over the last two seasons are tied for second most in the NFL behind Woodson's 16.
- S Atari Bigby is playing his best football of the year heading into the postseason, with three interceptions in his last two games.
- Collins, Williams and Woodson all notched sacks this season, which for Collins and Williams were the first of their career.
- Harris notched one earlier in the year, giving the Packers four defensive backs with sacks in the same season for the first time since 2003, when it also had four members of the secondary record sacks.
PACKERS CRUISE TO VICTORY IN PLAYOFF PREVIEW
- With a playoff berth already clinched, Head Coach Mike McCarthy talked throughout the week about the importance of continuing to build momentum with a strong showing on Sunday, and Green Bay did just that with a dominant first-half performance on the way to a decisive win over the Arizona Cardinals.
- After a 33-7 victory on Sunday in front of 67,597 at University of Phoenix Stadium, the Packers finished the season as the No. 5 team in the NFC with an 11-5 record. Green Bay won seven of its last eight games, the best finish since 1997 when Green Bay won 10 of its final 11 contests. The Packers will return to Arizona next Sunday to face the Cardinals in a Wild Card contest at 3:40 p.m. (CT).
- When the Minnesota Vikings defeated the New York Giants earlier in the afternoon, the Packers and Cardinals knew they would face each other in the playoffs next weekend. McCarthy and Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt took different approaches, with Green Bay playing all its starters for three quarters while Arizona began pulling some of its front-line players in the first half, starting with quarterback Kurt Warner, who came out after two series.
- The Packers were in control of the game from start to finish, outgaining Arizona with 345 yards to the Cardinals' 187, and dominating the time of possession by holding the ball for over 37 minutes.
- "I felt it was clear that our football team needed to continue to stay on the pace, continue to make progress, and we wanted to come out here and win the game, keep our razor sharp and gain some momentum going into the playoffs," McCarthy said. "It didn't really matter who we were playing. I understand Arizona had a different agenda. We had 16 games to prove ourselves. We're an 11-5 football team. We like the way we've played the last eight weeks, and it was very important for our particular team to maximize this opportunity.
- "Our goal going into the game was to play three quarters and see where the game stood. Obviously we made our changes there in the third quarter with about four minutes left, so feel very fortunate that we came out of the game healthy because I understand the risk as much as anybody and the concerns people would have by going with this plan. But in the best interest of our football team, to play their best football going into the playoffs, that's why we took this approach."
- Green Bay scored on its opening drive of the game, capping off a 10-play, 69-yard drive with a 1-yard run from running back Ryan Grant. Wide receiver Donald Driver caught two passes for 21 yards, and wide receiver Greg Jennings drew a 28-yard pass interference penalty on Cardinals cornerback Michael Adams that put the ball at the Arizona 1 to set up the score.
- Green Bay added to its lead on its next possession on a 1-yard plunge for a touchdown by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. On the previous play, wide receiver Jordy Nelson beat Adams down the middle and Rodgers found him for a 51-yard gain down to the Cardinals' 1.
- Arizona forced the Packers to punt on its next drive, but Steve Breaston fielded Jeremy Kapinos' 54-yard punt at the Cardinals' 1-yard line and was tackled by cornerback Josh Bell at the 2. On third down from the 3, guard Reggie Wells held outside linebacker Clay Matthews in the end zone on a Matt Leinart pass, which resulted in a safety and a 16-0 lead for Green Bay.
- On the Cardinals' next possession, cornerback Charles Woodson jumped a slant route by Larry Fitzgerald to pick off a Leinart pass on third down. Woodson returned the interception, his career-high ninth of the season, 45 yards down the right sideline for the touchdown and a 26-0 halftime advantage.
- Green Bay's No. 1 offense took the field for just one series in the second half, but made the most of it with a 14-play, 94-yard scoring drive. Rodgers connected on 9-of-10 passes on the series for 82 yards, completing passes to four different receivers, and found tight end Jermichael Finley on a jump-ball pass over cornerback Greg Toler for a 5-yard touchdown.
- "You take some confidence I think, but you've got to realize once their first unit went out they really didn't blitz much, if at all," said Rodgers, who wasn't sacked on Sunday. "They played kind of against their statistics up to that point with the kind of style of defense they played. So we'll look at the film obviously and critique it, but the body of work we'll focus on will be really the last four or five games they played before this game.
- "I think the way we were playing the last eight games, winning seven of them, and we're one pass short (at Pittsburgh) of winning the last eight. That says a lot about the direction we are going and the kind of identity we've got on offense and on defense. We really played well in the second half of the season and we wanted to keep that going."
- "We started off three-and-out, which is not what we wanted to do," said Jennings, who finished with four catches for 111 yards, his 14th career 100-yard game. "But then we picked it up, got the ball rolling, and it was like a freight train going downhill. We kept punching the ball in in the red zone, the defense played outstanding, and special teams came up big. We're definitely clicking on all cylinders right now."
- Rodgers threw for 235 yards and a touchdown on 21-of-26 passing for a 117.1 rating before resting the entire fourth quarter along with some other veterans on offense.
- With a shutout for the Packers in reach, Arizona got on the board with just over three minutes remaining in the game. On third down in the red zone, backup quarterback Matt Flynn's pass intended for wide receiver James Jones was intercepted by cornerback Ralph Brown and returned all the way to Green Bay's 7-yard line. A low block penalty on Flynn on the return moved the ball to the Packers' 3, and third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre found wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on the next play for the touchdown.
- While the Packers will be prepared for a different Cardinals team next weekend, they left Arizona a confident and relatively healthy team as they look ahead to their second season.
- "We know that they are going to come and do some different things next week, and we will too," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "We'll be ready and they'll be ready too. It's going to be a great game.
- "Obviously playoff games, both of our backs are against the wall and neither one of us wants to go home. They've got some great players and we've got some great players, so it's going to be a great battle."
TAKEAWAY POINTS KEY FOR PACKERS
- Green Bay continued to show its knack for the takeaways with 30 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries, which it turned into 141 points.
- The 30 interceptions led the league and is the team's highest single-season total since 1981, when it also had 30.
- Green Bay's 40 takeaways also led the NFL, and its 141 points scored off those 40 takeaways tied New Orleans for most in the league.
- Green Bay did not register a takeaway against the Steelers, snapping a streak of 16 straight games with at least one takeaway, but responded with four interceptions against the Seahawks and three against the Cardinals. The Seattle game marked the third time this season that the team recorded four interceptions, which it also did against Chicago (Week 1) and at Detroit (Week 12).
- Green Bay surpassed its 2008 total of 124 points off takeaways, which led the NFL last season.
- It also eclipsed its '08 total in interceptions (22) and fumble recoveries (six) while at the same time protecting the ball at a better clip. Green Bay's 16 giveaways was the lowest total in the NFL.
- If the Packers don't commit a turnover, like they didn't against Seattle in Week 16, they're almost guaranteed to win. They have now won 38 of 42 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 three times against Minnesota, twice in Minneapolis (2005, '08) and once at home (2009), and in Week 15 this year in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.
- Including playoffs, the Packers have won 41 of their last 45 games without a giveaway.
LIMITING HIS MISTAKES BETTER THAN THE REST
- It took QB Aaron Rodgers until his fourth game of the season to record his first interception, a second-quarter pass intended for WR Greg Jennings that was picked off by Vikings CB Antoine Winfield.
- Prior to that second-quarter throw against Minnesota, his last interception came in Week 16 of last season, a streak that stretched 159 consecutive attempts.
- The streak of 159 passes without an interception was a new personal best for Rodgers, topping a personal record of 157 passes established last year, when it wasn't until the fourth game of the season that he threw an interception. 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.
- Rodgers finished the season with just seven interceptions on 541 attempts. That percentage (1.3%) ranked as the lowest among all NFL quarterbacks.
- Rodgers did not throw an interception in 12 different games this season, breaking the franchise mark held by Bart Starr. In 1964, Starr also went 11 games without an interception. However, to highlight what was a different era in terms of the passing game, Starr attempted only 272 passes that season, barely more than half of Rodgers' 2009 output.
- Rodgers also became the second signal call