Packers Controlling The Clock At Record Clip

The Packers are coming off a record-setting performance controlling the ball in its 30-24 win over San Francisco, and the team’s success in that area over the past six games has played a large part in its offensive production during that span. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 25 | Wednesday Injury Update


The Packers are coming off a record-setting performance controlling the ball in their 30-24 win over San Francisco, and the team's success in that area over the past six games has played a large part in its offensive production during that span.

In Green Bay's win over the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday, the Packers 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 is the only team in the NFL to accomplish that feat in a regulation game twice this season, with Pittsburgh also having done it twice, but one of those came this past Sunday in an overtime loss at Kansas City.

"When you control the ball for 41 minutes and change, obviously you are doing some things well and doing some things right," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "That's the positive spin. The negative spin is you probably ought to do a little bit more when you have the ball for 41 minutes. With the kind of production we had and the type of yardage we had, we probably should have done a little bit more in terms of points on the scoreboard and we could have put the game out of reach, so to speak.

"But it's a credit to the guys. The execution was good for the most part, and it's not an easy thing to do. To get 480 yards and 41 minutes time of possession, that's not easy to do."

The Packers' season-high 484 yards of total offense against the 49ers featured the most balanced attack thus far in 2009. Green Bay posted 158 rushing yards, 129 from running back Ryan Grant, and 344 passing yards from Aaron Rodgers, to give the team its first 150-plus yard rushing/300-yard passing game this season.

"The most important thing for us offensively is to stay balanced, and I felt for the most part we were balanced in (last Sunday's) football game," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "Because when you have the ability to run the football and the things that come off of the run game, everything improves. It improves your play-action pass and it improves your pass protection and we feel our perimeter is as good as anybody in the league."

Starting with the Week 6 game vs. Detroit, Green Bay is averaging 402.8 yards of offense a game, good for No. 4 in the league over that span. The Packers averaged 340.8 yards of offense in the first four contests.

But achieving the balance McCarthy desires has come through the improvement in the rushing game. After posting an average of 99.8 yards per game in the first four contests, good for No. 22 in the league, the Packers have averaged 138.7 rushing yards per game since then. The nearly 39-yard improvement puts the Packers at No. 6 in the league in rushing since Week 6.

"I think the running game is a big part of it," Philbin said. "When you are gaining four yards and three yards and five yards, the clock is moving. You're holding onto the ball and you're moving the chains. It might take you a little bit longer, but hopefully you're wearing the opposition down a little.

"We felt like our tempo was good (against the 49ers). We felt like we were getting in and out of the huddle well and pushing the envelope in that regard. It's a big advantage. We feel like we are a well-conditioned team and we think we can use that to our advantage on a weekly basis."

With the increased production in the running game has come the natural jump in time of possession. After losing the time-of-possession battle three times in the first four games this season during a 2-2 start, the Packers have had the edge in that category in every contest since then. In the past six games, the Packers have controlled the ball for over 37 minutes per contest, nearly a full quarter more than their opponents, and have posted 10 drives of 10-plus plays compared to just two in the first four games.

That ball control has given the defense time to rest, but they've done their part as well, allowing opponents just a 32.8 percent conversion rate on third down this season, which ranks second in the league behind only Arizona (32.6).

{sportsad300}"You always want to get the ball back to the offense, especially when you have a great quarterback and some dynamic weapons out there at receiver," cornerback Tramon Williams said. "We always tell the quarterback, 'As soon as we get out on the field, we're going to get you the ball again.'

"It's always great to just go out there and stop guys on third down, and I think Dom (Capers) does a great job with play-calling too, so it's a mixture of players and coaches."

Entering Week 12, the Packers rank No. 3 in the league with a time-of-possession average of 33:23, trailing only New England (34:26) and the N.Y. Giants (33:56). Green Bay's best single-season mark came in 1992, when it posted an average of 32:30 per game.

For a team that is in the thick of the NFC playoff chase, the Packers' current ranking near the top of the time-of-possession chart bodes well. Of the teams that finished the season in the Top 3 in that 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.

"It definitely builds confidence," wide receiver Greg Jennings said. "When you're able to move the ball and hold onto the ball and sustain the long drives, move the chains, get first downs, things like that, number one, it keeps your defense fresh. And you know you are doing everything right.

"You're running the ball well obviously, catching the ball well, throwing the ball well, and everything is coming together. You're going to have more success than not when you are holding the ball that long and keeping the ball out of the opposing team's hands."

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