*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-Lions Week 12 Dope Sheet. To read the full version, download the PDF by clicking here.
Here are some highlights from the Packers-Lions Week 12 Dope Sheet:*
**GREEN BAY (6-4) at DETROIT (2-8)
Thursday, Nov. 26 - Ford Field - 11:30 a.m. CST
PACKERS HEAD TO DETROIT FOR HOLIDAY TRADITION**
- One of the NFL's oldest rivalries takes to the national stage as the Green Bay Packers head to Detroit to face the Lions on Thanksgiving.
- It is the 33rd NFL game on Thanksgiving for the Packers franchise. All-time on the holiday, Green Bay is 12-18-2, including a 6-11-1 mark on Thanksgiving in Detroit.
- The Packers come into the game riding a two-game winning streak and are right in the thick of things in the NFC postseason race. Green Bay defeated San Francisco at home last Sunday, 30-24.
- No other NFL teams have played every year since 1932, when the Packers and the Lions, then known as the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans, began their yearly home-and-home series.
- The rivalry actually kicked off in 1930 at City Stadium in Green Bay, a 47-13 Packers win. Some two seasons later, the teams began a yearly series. Thursday marks meeting No. 161 in the all-time series.
- Now rivals in the NFC North, Green Bay owns a 87-64-7 advantage over the Lions in the regular season and have won both playoff matchups.
- Green Bay's current eight-game winning streak over Detroit is the longest in the series in over 50 years, dating back to Detroit's 11-game winning streak from 1949-54.
- Head Coach Mike McCarthy is 7-0 against the Lions since taking over coaching duties in 2006.
- Overall, Green Bay has won 16 of the last 18 games in the series, including six of the last eight matchups in Detroit.
- At 2-8, Detroit is coming off a last-second win over Cleveland. With no time remaining on the clock, the Lions threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to defeat the Browns 38-37.
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 from the broadcast booth with Pam Oliver serving as the sideline reporter.
- Milwaukee's WTMJ (620 AM), airing Green Bay games since 1929, heads up the 53-station Packers Radio Network, with Wayne Larrivee (play-by-play) and two-time Packers Pro Bowler Larry McCarren (color) calling the action. The duo enters its 11th season of broadcasts together across the Packers Radio Network, which covers 43 markets in five states.
- Westwood One will air the game across the country, with Larry Kahn (play-by-play), Dan Fouts (analyst) and Troy West (sideline reporter). Scott Graham hosts the pre-game and halftime shows.
- 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 125 WTMJ feed) as part of the network's NFL Sunday Drive.
THE NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
- Winners of two consecutive games against NFC opponents, Green Bay has thrust itself back into playoff contention in the conference.
- At 6-4, Green Bay has the same record as the N.Y. Giants and Philadelphia, teams it will jockey with for playoff position over the final six weeks. Atlanta, at 5-5, also is in the picture.
- The Packers' stretch of three consecutive games against the NFC in 12 days will wrap up Thursday in Detroit.
- Wild-card playoff berths are given to the conference's top two teams that do not win a division. If teams within the same division are fighting for those spots, division tiebreakers apply. Should teams be competing against teams from another division, conference record is the second tiebreaker after head-to-head matchups. Green Bay is 5-3 against the NFC so far this season.
**THE DOPE ON THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT:
Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
All-time, regular season: **87-64-7
All-time, in Detroit:35-40-3 (5-2 at Ford Field)
Streaks: Green Bay has won eight straight and 16 of the last 18 meetings.
Last meeting, regular season:Oct. 18, 2009, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 26-0
Last meeting, in Detroit: Sept. 14, 2008, at Ford Field; Packers won, 48-25
Mike McCarthy: **34-26-0, .567 (incl. 1-1 postseason); 4th NFL season
Jim Schwartz: 2-8-0, .200; 1st NFL season
Head to Head: Never met
vs. Opponent:McCarthy 7-0 vs. Lions; Schwartz 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.
JIM SCHWARTZ…Is in first year as the Lions' 25th head coach.
- Spent the past 10 years with the Tennessee Titans, including the last eight as defensive coordinator.
- Broke into the NFL as a college and pro scout for the Cleveland Browns from 1993-95 before becoming a defensive assistant coach for the Ravens after the franchise moved to Baltimore.
- Coached as a graduate assistant and then position coach at four different colleges (Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina Central, Colgate)after a playing career as a linebacker at Georgetown University.
THE PACKERS-LIONS SERIES
- No other NFL teams have played every year since 1932, when the Packers first met the Lions, then known as the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans.
- Including a pair of playoff clashes in the early 1990s, this week marks Game No. 161 in the venerable Detroit-Green Bay series.
- The Packers are looking for their ninth straight win in the series, which would mark the longest winning streak by either team since the Lions won 11 straight from 1949-54. The current eight-game string tops a six-game Green Bay run from 2000-03.
- The Packers have scored more points (3,321 in reg. season) against the Lions than any other franchise.
- The Packers have won 19 consecutive contests over Detroit in Wisconsin, including the 1994 playoffs. The streak spans eight Lions head coaches: Wayne Fontes (1992-96), Bobby Ross (1997-99), Gary Moeller (2000), Marty Mornhinweg (2001-02), Steve Mariucci (2003-04), Dick Jauron (2005), Rod Marinelli (2006-08) and Schwartz (2009).
- The 18 straight regular-season wins in Wisconsin is tied for first among active NFL streaks at one team's home field (Wash. over Det., 18).
Detroit defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham held the same position in Kansas City for four seasons (1995-98) when McCarthy was an offensive assistant for the Chiefs; also on staff in Kansas City were Packers strength and conditioning coordinator Dave Redding and Lions defensive line coach Bob Karmelowicz...Packers running backs coach Edgar Bennett and Lions GM Martin Mayhew were teammates for one season at Florida State...Packers strength and conditioning assistant Mondray Gee held the same position with the Lions for seven seasons (2001-07)...Packers G Josh Sitton blocked for Lions RB Kevin Smith at Central Florida. Both were drafted in 2008...Lions T Jeff Backus, T Jon Jansen, and Packers CB Charles Woodson were teammates on the University of Michigan's 1997 national championship team...Packers DE Cullen Jenkins (Belleville), WR Greg Jennings (Kalamazoo), LB Brad Jones (East Lansing) and G/T T.J. Lang (Birmingham) are Michigan natives...Lions DT Grady Jackson (2003-05), S Marquand Manuel (2006) and DE Jason Hunter (2006-08) previously played for the Packers...Jennings and Lions S Louis Delmas played together for one season (2005) at Western Michigan...Lions T Gosder Cherilus and Packers NT B.J. Raji were teammates at Boston College...Lions QB Matthew Stafford was a teammate at Georgia with Packers DE Jarius Wynn...Lions LB Jordon Dizon and Packers LB Brad Jones played the position together at Colorado...Lions LB DeAndre Levy played collegiately at Wisconsin and attended Milwaukee Vincent High School.
INDIVIDUALLY VS. LIONS
QB Aaron Rodgers has topped 300 yards passing in each of his three career starts against Detroit. Combined, he is 74-of-106 for 994 yards with eight TDs and one interception vs. the Lions, good for a 120.6 rating...WR Greg Jennings has three touchdown receptions and three 100-yard efforts in six career games against the Lions. His 167 yards against Detroit in Week 2 of 2008 is a career high...WR Donald Driver matched his career high with 11 receptions against the Lions on Nov. 10, 2002. His seven TD receptions are his most against any opponent, his 84 catches are tied for the most, and his 1,091 yards are second-most (Minnesota, 84-1,223)...LB Aaron Kampman has 8.5 career sacks against Detroit...WR Jordy Nelson caught his first NFL touchdown pass in the first meeting last season, while TE Jermichael Finley snagged his first in the season finale...One of CB Charles Woodson's four two-interception games in his career also came in last season's first meeting...DE Cullen Jenkins' first career interception came in the first meeting this season.
LAST MEETING, REGULAR SEASON
- Oct. 18, 2009, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 26-0.
- The Packers shut out the Lions for the first time since 1946, posting five sacks and three interceptions on defense.
- Green Bay took an early 7-0 lead on a 47-yard TD pass to James Jones and then quickly made it 14-0 when Cullen Jenkins intercepted a screen pass deep in Detroit territory to set up another score, a 1-yard TD toss to John Kuhn.
- From there the Packers cruised, adding four Mason Crosby field goals and allowing the Lions just 149 yards of total offense. Detroit was 0-for-10 on third downs.
LAST MEETING, IN DETROIT
- Sept. 14, 2008, at Ford Field; Packers won, 48-25.
- The Lions overcame a 21-0 deficit to take a 25-24 lead in the fourth quarter, only to see the Packers drive for a field goal and then intercept three passes, with Charles Woodson and Nick Collins returning two of them for touchdowns, to seal the game.
- Green Bay scored three times in the first half on TD passes to Jones, Driver and Nelson.
- Calvin Johnson led Detroit's comeback with six receptions for 129 yards and two scores, from 38 and 47 yards.
GREEN BAY ON THANKSGIVING DAY
- Thursday's game in Detroit marks the 33rd Thanksgiving NFL game in Packers history. Overall, the team has played 35 times on the holiday, including three games (1920, '22, '33) that were not official NFL games.
- Green Bay's all-time record in NFL games on the holiday is 12-18-2.
- The Packers first played a league game on Thanksgiving in 1923, a 19-0 victory over the Hammond Pros in Green Bay. Of the Packers' 32 league games on the holiday, their first was the only one to come at home.
- They last played on Thanksgiving against the Lions in Detroit in 2007, a 37-26 Green Bay victory. WR Greg Jennings, a Kalamazoo, Mich., native, caught two touchdowns and RB Ryan Grant ran for 101 yards and a score.
- Green Bay first played at Detroit on Thanksgiving 58 years ago, a 52-35 Detroit victory on Nov. 22, 1951. The two rivals played for 13 consecutive seasons, from 1951-1963, before the league began rotating opponents for the Lions.
- The Packers next played on the holiday in 1970, when they traveled to Dallas. They also played the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving in a 1994 matchup.
- The Green Bay-Detroit Thanksgiving matchup occurred just twice in a 37-year span (1984, '86), but the holiday tradition was renewed in 2001. Thursday will mark the fourth time this decade the teams have squared off on Thanksgiving.
HARRIS, KAMPMAN SIDELINED
- Undoubtedly the story line this week in Green Bay – and in the weeks to come – will be how the Packers defense is able to react after losing two of its veteran leaders, Pro Bowlers CB Al Harris and LB Aaron Kampman, to season-ending knee injuries.
- Their abilities and statistics aside, the two were so valuable to the defense because week in and week out, they were in green and gold. Kampman had started 98 of the last 100 games, missing only the 2007 regular-season finale to rest up for the postseason and the Week 10 game this season against Dallas because of a concussion.
- Harris lacerated his spleen last season, an injury that many forecasted would end his season. Instead, he only missed four games, the only four games he has missed his entire career. He has played in 182 of a possible 186 games, including starts in 102 of the last 106 games since coming to Green Bay in 2003.
- The two major injuries come at a time when Green Bay was getting healthy. TE Jermichael Finley and WR Jordy Nelson gave QB Aaron Rodgers back his full arsenal of receivers, while LB Brandon Chillar saw his first action since breaking his hand against Minnesota Nov. 1, playing special teams against the 49ers. Also, T Mark Tauscher returned and played most of the game.
- Besides those two injuries, Green Bay came out of the 49ers game relatively healthy. With a short week ahead, the Packers may rest some players from practice on Tuesday and Wednesday.
INJURIES THE STORYLINE IN DETROIT, TOO
- Coming off a dramatic victory on the final play of the game, the Detroit Lions may be without rookie QB Matthew Stafford. Stafford injured his non-throwing shoulder on the second-to-last play of the game and appeared to be in a considerable amount of pain after the final play.
- Stafford missed the Packers game in Week 6 with a knee injury, as QB Daunte Culpepper got the start. After Culpepper pulled his hamstring during the game, QB Drew Stanton finished the game for the Lions.
- WR Calvin Johnson also missed the Week 6 game against the Packers but figures to play Thursday. He always has been a tough matchup against the Packers, and the absence of CB Al Harris will add more intrigue to the matchup in the secondary.
- Johnson twice had big games against the Packers last season. In the first matchup in Detroit, he had six receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Later in the regular-season finale, he finished with nine catches for 102 yards and two scores.
HOME SWEET HOME
- Members of the Packers who hail from Michigan include DE Cullen Jenkins (Belleville), WR Greg Jennings (Kalamazoo), LB Brad Jones (East Lansing) and G/T T.J. Lang (Birmingham). All are expected to have sizeable groups of family and friends in attendance.
- Jones may get the call in Kampman's absence at outside linebacker, while Lang could spell Tauscher on a series or two. Both rookies will be playing in their native state for the first time.
- Jenkins has always enjoyed playing against his hometown team, as he set a career high in sacks against the Lions with three on Dec. 17, 2006. He also tied a career high in that game with seven tackles.
- Jennings has always played well against Detroit, specifically at Ford Field. He posted his first career 100-yard game as a rookie in Week 3 at the stadium and then caught two scores in the 2007 Thanksgiving game in Detroit. Last season at Ford Field, he established a career high with 167 receiving yards. In three games at the stadium, he has 14 catches for 328 yards and three touchdowns.
TAKING HIS PLACE AMONG THE GAME'S BEST
- QB Aaron Rodgers has had to endure plenty of fanfare off the field since he took over the starting job in 2008. What shouldn't be ignored is just how well he is playing on it.
- Rodgers ranks near the top of the NFL in most passing categories. He was honored as the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October, the first such award of his career.
- 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 26 career starts, Rodgers has eclipsed the century mark in passer rating 14 times.
- Through 10 games, his 102.6 passer rating ranks fourth in the NFL.
- Rodgers is the game's top-ranked passer on third downs (129.9), well ahead of No. 2 Eli Manning (121.6). Of Rodgers' 19 TD passes, nine have come on third down, tied with Manning atop the league.
- The fourth-year pro has thrown for 2,788 yards through 10 games, fourth most in the league. At his current pace, Rodgers would finish with 4,460 yards at season's end. That would put him in a position to break Lynn Dickey's franchise record (4,458, 1983) for passing yards in a single season in the final weeks.
- In addition to passer rating, Rodgers ranks among the top 10 in passing yards, touchdowns, and both completion and interception percentage.
- And just for good measure, the Cal product tops all QBs with 242 rushing yards on 44 carries (5.5 avg.).
DEFENSE BEGINS RISE IN RANKINGS
- Green Bay's defense has seen a slow and steady rise up the league rankings, finding itself as the league's third-ranked unit heading into Week 12. The story for the remainder of the season will be whether it can keep its lofty ranking amid season-ending injuries to two of its veteran stars.
- Allowing an average of 282.5 yards per contest, Green Bay ranks No. 3 in overall defense, behind only Pittsburgh (277.9) and the New York Giants (282.2).
- The last time Green Bay ranked in the top three in overall defense this late in the season was 1996, when it finished the year No. 1.
- Some would argue that a more important and telling statistic is scoring defense, and not how many yards a team allows. With 185 points allowed, Green Bay ranks 12th in scoring defense.
- In the first two years of the McCarthy tenure, Green Bay's defense was close to being a top-10 unit, finishing at No. 12 in 2006 and No. 11 in 2007. Last season, it slipped to No. 20.
- Enter a new defensive coordinator, veteran coach Dom Capers, and a switch to the 3-4 scheme. The early results have been good, especially now that the defense has over half a season in the scheme.
- Green Bay's improved defense against the run has put opponents in third-and-long situations.
- Keeping opponents in long down-and-distances has helped the defense's ability to get off the field on third down. Through the first four games, the unit ranked No. 28. Solid third-down defense over the past six games now has the unit at No. 2. This week's opponent, Detroit, ranks No. 16 in third-down offense.
- One constant for the defense this season has been its ability to take the ball away, registering 21 of the team's 22 takeaways.
- Whether it be caused by pressure from a deep and talented front seven, or a fantastic read by a ball-hawking secondary led by Pro Bowlers Nick Collins (three INTs) and Charles Woodson (five), those 22 turnovers have led to 82 points, third most in the NFL.
- 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.
TURNOVER RATIO TOPS THE LEAGUE
- While many football statistics don't have far-reaching implications through the early part of the season, turnover ratio is always a telling statistic when it comes to a game's final outcome.
- The Packers' 22 takeaways ranks tied for third in the NFL. New Orleans leads the league with 29 takeaways, while Philadelphia has 23.
- The offense is doing its part as well, with a league-low eight giveaways. Of the Packers' turnovers, five have come on interceptions and three have come on fumbles. All eight have come in the passing game. Two of the fumbles lost have come on sacks of QB Aaron Rodgers, while another came on a screen pass to RB Ryan Grant.
- 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 231 times without a fumble in 2009. For Grant, he enters play Sunday with 198 consecutive carries without a fumble.
- 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-14 turnover ratio tops the league.
- This week's opponent, Detroit, stands at minus-eight, tied for 30th in the NFL. It has 13 takeaways (six interceptions, seven fumble recoveries) and 21 turnovers (18 interceptions, three fumbles). Detroit's 18 interceptions are a league high.
- Of the Packers' takeaways, 14 have come via the interception, fourth highest in the league. The Packers also have eight 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 nine forced fumbles on the year (one on special teams), eight of which it has recovered.
- While the Packers can be proud of their place atop the league in turnover margin, it is a statistic that has trended upwards in each of McCarthy's three seasons.
- In 2006, the team finished at even in the category but improved to plus-four in 2007. Last season's plus-seven margin, No. 6 among NFL teams, was the franchise's best mark since 2002 ( 17).
- Prior to McCarthy's arrival, the team had a franchise-worst turnover ratio (-24) in 2005.
WOODSON AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME
- With Pro Bowl balloting having opened, it'd be hard to imagine CB Charles Woodson not being named to the NFC squad later this year.
- Woodson has made the adjustment from playing a man-to-man style to one that involves more reading of the quarterback, and he is thriving in the new scheme. He was named to the Pro Football Weekly Midseason All-Pro Team, and that was prior to his performance for the ages against the Cowboys.
- 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.
- Woodson was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Dallas on the heels of winning NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September.
- Matched up against TE Greg Olsen in Week 1, Woodson limited one of Chicago's biggest offensive threats to one catch for eight yards.
- In Week 2 against the Bengals, Woodson recorded his fourth career multi-interception game, his third since coming to Green Bay in 2006.
- He raced one of the interceptions 37 yards for a touchdown, his fifth interception return for a score since coming to Green Bay. That number ties him with No. 2 Bobby Dillon and Darren Sharper on the team's all-time list.
- In addition to his team-high five interceptions, he has been credited with 55 tackles through 10 games, tied for second on the team. That pace would have him surpass his career high before season's end. Twice he has tallied 79, which he recorded two different times, first in Oakland in 2000 and again last season with Green Bay.
- There's no doubt Woodson's career has been revitalized since coming to Green Bay in 2006. Thanks to the ability of those around him, opposing quarterbacks can no longer decide to ignore throwing in Woodson's direction.
- Woodson now has 41 career interceptions, sixth among active NFL players. For his career, 24 have come in Green and Gold. Those 24 interceptions have come in 56 games with the Packers. In 106 games with the Oakland Raiders, he had 17.
D-LINE HEADLINES RUN DEFENSE
- With each returning player adjusting to new positions and a new scheme, Green Bay's defensive line has made the transition to the new assignments in the 3-4 and brings an imposing physical presence to the Packers' first line of defense.
- DE Cullen Jenkins, who played both inside and outside in the old scheme, has 32 tackles, including four for loss, 4.5 sacks and stands tied with Woodson for the team lead in forced fumbles with three. Jenkins' and Woodson's forced fumble total is tied for seventh highest in the NFL.
- Against Detroit, 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 50 tackles. His seven passes defensed show his ability to be a disruptive force at the line of scrimmage.
- Displaying rare athleticism for a 6-foot-3, 320-pound man, he made a highlight-reel one-handed interception in the red zone against Jay Cutler and the Bears in Week 1. Jolly also plucked another ball out of the air on a dive against St. Louis, though the ball was ruled a fumble because of a strip by LB Aaron Kampman.
- That play came just minutes after Jolly blocked a field-goal attempt on the Rams' opening drive. It was the second block of his career.
- It had been awhile since a Packers player recorded an interception, fumble recovery and blocked kick in the same season. That was CB Doug Evans in 1993.
- Coupled with Jenkins' interception against the Lions, the duo became the first pair of Packers defensive linemen to record interceptions in the same season since 2002, when Kabeer Gbaja-Biamilia and Vonnie Holliday accomplished the feat.
- NT Ryan Pickett, playing the position for the first time, is off to a fantastic start with 39 tackles and a pass deflection. The emergence of rookie B.J. Raji should keep all four players in the unit fresh to help defend against the run.
- Since the Packers gave up 117 yards to RB Steven Jackson in Week 3, they have allowed 521 yards in seven games (74.4 yards a game), which is the third fewest allowed over that span. Houston, playing tonight, has allowed 363, and Pittsburgh has given up 462 yards.
- Over that time, opponents' average of 3.5 yards per carry also ranks third in the NFL.
GRANT AND THE GROUND GAME
- Going up against a San Francisco defense that ranked a then-No. 3 against the run, the Packers produced 158 yards on 32 carries (4.9 avg.)
- RB Ryan Grant is coming off another fine performance, as he ran for 129 yards and a score on 21 carries (6.1 avg.) against the 49ers.
- Though it was just his second 100-yard performance in 2009, Grant has surpassed the 90-yard mark on three other occasions.
- Without much fanfare, Grant's numbers rank among the leaders in the NFC. His rushing total (829 yards) ranks fifth in the conference and ninth overall in the NFL.
- Being utilized more in the screen game this season, his 148 receiving yards through 10 games already establishes a career high, besting his 2007 total of 145 receiving yards.
- His 977 yards from scrimmage ranks fourth 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 six times. Its record in those contests is 5-1.
- RB Brandon Jackson still sits at No. 2 on the depth chart and has served as the team's third-down back in his two-plus seasons.
- As Green works his way back into football shape, not to mention Jackson who missed the first four games of the season with an ankle injury he suffered in the preseason, both could begin to spell Grant from scrimmage and keep all three backs fresh as the team makes its push to contend for a playoff spot in the NFC.
- Traditionally the Packers have run more over the second half of the season as the weather turns. With two remaining home games, not to mention potential cold-weather games in Chicago and Pittsburgh, the offense may become a more ground-based attack.
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 against San Francisco.
- Facing a third-and-short on the game's opening series, QB Aaron Rodgers found Finley over the middle of the field and the second-year pro raced down the sideline for a gain of 20 yards, his fifth catch of 20-plus yards on the season.
- In crunch time on the game's final drive, Finley converted another critical third down, the last of his career-high seven catches.
- Finley was a unanimous choice as the Packers' "breakout performer" in 2009 by the prognosticators. A knee sprain suffered early in the first quarter at Cleveland kept him sidelined for the better part of the last four games.
- It has been a breakout year for the second-year pro, as he has already set career highs in nearly every statistical category in seven games.
- He has become a clear favorite of Rodgers, who targeted a team-high 10 passes his way against the 49ers.
- Finley's coming-out party came in Week 4 at Minnesota in front of the largest television audience in cable history as he established new career highs in receptions (six) and receiving yards (128). His 62-yard touchdown is the Packers' third-longest play from scrimmage on the season and the longest reception by a Green Bay tight end since Jackie Harris caught a 66-yard scoring pass against Denver on Oct. 10, 1993.
- Finley's day also stands tied for the most productive day by a tight end in team history. His 128 yards matched Harris' output from that Broncos contest, tying the franchise high for most receiving yards by a tight end.
- There's no doubting the Packers depth at the position. TE Donald Lee remains the unit's starter and is third on the team with 26 catches, and TE Spencer Havner filled in nicely in Finley's absence. Of Havner's seven catches on the year, four have gone for scores.
- The team often likes to go with multiple-tight end sets, which should exploit the mismatches against linebackers and defensive backs this group is able to create.
ANOTHER FRANCHISE MARK ABOUT TO FALL
- WR Donald Driver, now in his 11th season with the Packers, has yet another team record in his sights that could fall in Detroit.
- With four more receptions, Driver will reach the 50-catch plateau for a team record eighth overall season. WR James Lofton and Sterling Sharpe stand tied with Driver with seven seasons of 50-plus catches.
- No records will likely equal the thrill of his first catch against Detroit in Week 6, as Driver surpassed Sharpe (1988-94, 595) to become the franchise's all-time leader in receptions.
- Though he is the second-oldest player on the roster at age 34, Driver has shown no signs of slowing down in 2009. He leads the team in catches (46), receiving yards (703), and is tied for the lead in TD catches (4). Those numbers certainly put him in the conversation for a fourth career Pro Bowl selection.
- By the end of the season, the most significant record still within Driver's grasp will be career receiving yards. Lofton ranks No. 1 with 9,656 yards. Driver is at No. 2, entering play Thursday with 8,692.
- Driver has been the model of consistency for the Packers, catching at least one pass in 121 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 already this season. His 12 catches of 20-plus yards is tied for fourth best in the NFL this season.
AROUND THE 'BLACK AND BLUE' DIVISION
- At 6-4, Green Bay stands in second place in the NFC North with six games remaining on the schedule.
- After losing to the Vikings for the second time this season, Green Bay is 2-2 in division play. Only two division games remain on the schedule: Thursday's showdown in Detroit and a Week 14 contest in Chicago.
- Minnesota, off to a 9-1 start, beat Seattle at home over the weekend. The Vikings will remain at home to play Chicago on Sunday, the third straight game at home for Minnesota, before hitting the road to take on Arizona Dec. 6.
- The defending division champion Vikings broke a string last season of seven straight years when either the Packers or Bears won the NFC North/Central. This year, Minnesota is working against history again, trying to become the first team other than Chicago or Green Bay to win back-to-back division crowns in three decades. The Vikings were the last to do it, in the 1977-78 seasons, which concluded a string of six straight division championships for Minnesota in the Bud Grant era.
- Chicago has lost five of its last six, dropping a home game against the Eagles on Sunday night. The Bears will try to end their losing skid in Minnesota this upcoming Sunday before welcoming the St. Louis Rams to Chicago the following weekend.
- Detroit won in dramatic fashion over the weekend and like Green Bay now must prepare for the challenge of a short week. Following the Thanksgiving game, the Lions will travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals.
- Head Coach Mike McCarthy has always stressed the importance of division play. Through the first 11 weeks of the '09 season, the Packers own the best division mark over the three-plus seasons of McCarthy's tenure at 15-7. The Packers are trailed by Chicago (13-7) and then Minnesota (13-9) over that period.
GREEN RUNS INTO HISTORY BOOKS
- When RB Ahman Green left the Packers for the Houston Texans as a free agent in March 2007, few could have predicted that he would someday return to break the Green Bay franchise rushing record.
- After spending the 2007-08 seasons with the Texans, Green returned to the Packers prior to Week 7.
- In Tampa, his final rush moved him past Jim Taylor (8,207 yards) to become the Packers' all-time leading rusher. Green enters play Thursday with 8,217 career rushing yards with the Packers.
- It was perhaps the final rushing record to fall for Green, who already held the franchise marks for single-game (218) and single-season (1,883 in 2003) rushing yards. His six 1,000-yard seasons is also a franchise best.
- It's unclear whether or not Green will get the chance to improve upon that mark Thursday in Detroit. He injured his groin in practice late last week and was held out of action Sunday against San Francisco.
THE BIG PLAY RETURNS
- Thanks to a bevy of talent around him at the skill positions, QB Aaron Rodgers has been doing plenty of damage through the air in the season's first 10 games.
- When it comes to the long ball, few are as accurate as Rodgers. His 11 completions of 40-plus yards ranks tied with Dallas QB Tony Romo for most in the NFL.
- In terms of what coaches often classify as 'big plays' (gains of 20-plus yards), Rodgers has 34 completions, the eighth-best total in the league through 10 games.
- 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 tied for ninth overall with 41 plays of 20-plus yards. Detroit comes into the game with 34 plays of 20-plus yards, which ranks tied for 17th.
- WR Donald Driver leads the team with 12 catches of 20-plus yards, while WR Greg Jennings is second on the team with eight.
- 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 consistently. The Packers have seven 'big' runs on the season, five from RB Ryan Grant, one from RB Ahman Green and a career-long 35-yard scramble from Rodgers.
- The Packers had 10 "big-play" runs on the ground in 2008 and 15 in 2007. Getting into the double digits and teens in 'big runs' helps maintain offensive balance, a key if Green Bay is to hold onto its place among the NFL's most dangerous offenses.
- Through the air, it's been tough for opponents to pick just one player to stop. So far, five different players (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.
MR. EVERYTHING FINDS THE END ZONE
- An unlikely star has emerged for the Packers over the last month, as TE Spencer Havner has found the end zone four times, tied for the team lead in TD receptions with WR Donald Driver.
- When TE Jermichael Finley went down on the opening drive in Cleveland, Havner (pronounced HAY-vner) made his presence felt thanks to a 45-yard catch-and-run touchdown, the first TD of his career.
- Coupled with a 62-yard scoring pass by Finley in Minnesota in Week 4, this marks the first time the Packers have had two tight ends with 45-plus yard TDs in the same season.
- Proving just how versatile, and valuable, he is to the Packers, Havner made the tackle of Browns WR Joshua Cribbs on the ensuing kickoff. Havner ranks second on special teams with 13 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."
A NOSE FOR THE BALL
- 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 the NFL lead with three fumble recoveries. No Packers player has recorded three recoveries since 2005, when LB Nick Barnett and DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila each had three.
- According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last Green Bay rookie to recover two opponents' fumbles in a game was DB Val Joe Walker on Nov. 26, 1953, against the Detroit Lions.
- If Matthews can recover another fumble over the final six games, he will tie the franchise's rookie record held by S Johnnie Gray (1975).
- The first recovery of his career was in Week 4, when he forced a fumble on Vikings RB Adian Peterson and raced the ball 42 yards for a touchdown, the longest fumble return for a TD by a rookie in team history.
- Matthews also recorded a sack against Dallas QB Tony Romo, his fourth on the season. That ranks second on the Packers and second among all NFL rookies, behind Washington's Brian Orakpo (seven).
- The last rookie to finish as the team leader in sacks was LB Tim Harris in 1986. Harris and Vonnie Holliday (eight in 1998) share the franchise mark for sacks by a rookie since the statistic became official in 1982.
- Mike McCarthy, like all NFL coaches, stresses the importance of getting out to a quick start in the first half of the 2009 schedule in order to springboard the team to greater successes.
- This offseason, one of the main goals was an added emphasis on starting fast – literally – in the first quarter through an increased tempo at the line of scrimmage and ultimately more point production.
- The Packers produced a total of 13 points (one TD, two FGs) on their first offensive possessions a year ago, second fewest among all NFL teams (Detroit, 10). Despite ranking No. 5 in total scoring (419 points) in 2008, the Packers produced their lowest output (61 points) in the first quarter. That total ranked tied for 20th.
- The Packers notched a field goal on their opening drive against the 49ers, giving them 20 points on opening drives (two TDs, two FG) through 10 games.
- In terms of opening-quarter scoring, the Packers have already surpassed their 2008 output with 67 points in the opening frame. That first-quarter total is the third highest in the NFL.
- Thus far, the defense also has taken to beginning the game fast, with 13 of its 21 defensive takeaways coming in the first half.
- In terms of holding opponents out of the end zone, Green Bay has done a good job in the first quarter, allowing just 31 points. That ranks eighth among NFL teams and is the fewest of any quarter for the defense.
- Thanks to opportunities created in part by their ball-hawking defense, the Packers have scored 162 first-half points. Opponents have scored only 98 first-half points against the Packers' defense.
- The Packers' TD drives on the opening possession this season came in Tampa and once at home. Of games played at Lambeau Field, Green Bay's opening TD drive gainst Detroit in Week 6 was its first time finding the end zone on the game's opening drive at home since the 2007 regular-season finale, also against Detroit.
- An area of emphasis down the final stretch of the season will be maintaining first-half momentum. The lone quarter the Packers have been outscored in is the third, where opponents hold a 41-23 advantage.
STATE OF THE O-LINE
- Playing against the Minnesota Vikings is about as difficult a challenge as there is for an offensive line in the National Football League.
- Against a talented defensive line that features three Pro Bowl players and a solid linebacking corps, the Packers allowed 14 sacks to their division rivals in two matchups.
- However, Green Bay has failed to protect QB Aaron Rodgers against other opponents as well, allowing an NFL-high 43 sacks.
- That number already surpasses the team's 2008 total, when it allowed 34.
- Rodgers has only gone one game (at Cleveland) without getting sacked. The team allowed two sacks Sunday against San Francisco, which ties the Week 3 total (two at St. Louis) for the second-lowest output of the season.
- 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, as well as the decision-making of the quarterback.
- Injuries have not helped the unit in terms of continuity, as McCarthy has had to use six different starting lineups across the offensive line through the first 10 games. 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 placed C/G Jason Spitz on injured reserve. T Chad Clifton has returned from a nagging ankle injury, while veteran T Mark Tauscher returned against the 49ers after suffering a knee injury in Tampa. 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. Lang also spelled Tauscher on a couple series against the 49ers, so look for him to do the same Thursday in Detroit.
- 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.
- In the first meeting this season, Detroit was able to collect four sacks of Rodgers.
- Ten different players have collected sacks this season for the Lions, led by LB Julian Peterson with 3.5. DE Cliff Avril ranks second with 2.5 sacks.
- In the 2008 matchup at Ford Field, the Detroit defense got to Rodgers just once.
TOP 10 AGAIN
- For an offense that has registered over 400 yards in six of its last eight games, the unit finds itself back among the NFL's top 10 offenses, a familiar place under play caller and Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
- For the third consecutive season in 2008, the unit finished among the NFL's top 10. Philadelphia and New Orleans are the only other teams to finish in the top 10 in offense each of the last three seasons.
- Even with a new starting quarterback in 2008, the Packers finished No. 8 overall with an average of 351.1 yards per contest.
- The unit finished No. 2 in 2007 (370.7 yards per game) and No. 9 in 2006 (341.1) under McCarthy.
- McCarthy spent six seasons as an offensive coordinator and play caller prior to his arrival in Green Bay (New Orleans 2000-04, San Francisco 2005). Twice the Saints ranked among the NFL's top-10 offenses.
PRO BOWL SECONDARY LOSES HARRIS
- 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.
- Now the team must move on 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 off to a fantastic start 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 one interception and leads the team with 12 passes defensed.
- Capers and the defense can also rely on Pro Bowl S Nick Collins, who intercepted his third pass of the season Sunday against San Francisco. 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 10 interceptions over the last two seasons is tied with Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu for the second-highest total among safeties behind Baltimore's Ed Reed (12).
- Both Woodson and Collins got sacks against Dallas two weeks ago. For Collins, it was the the first of his career.
- Harris notched one earlier in the year, giving the Packers three defensive backs with sacks in the same season for the first time since 2003, when it had four members of the secondary record sacks. Williams came on a blitz Sunday against 49ers QB Alex Smith, narrowly missing the sack and becoming the fourth member of the secondary to notch one.
IN KAMPMAN'S ABSENCE
- While a number of positions have to learn new techniques, none perhaps appears as different as the role of the outside linebacker in the 3-4.
- Under position coach Kevin Greene, who perfected the art of the pass rush from the outside linebacker position as a player, some players were making the transition from defensive end, while others came in from a similar position in college.
- Though his sack numbers were a bit down from previous years, LB Aaron Kampman was having another fine season before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Though he missed the Dallas contest after suffering a concussion the week before, he still was tied for second on the team with 55 tackles, to go along with his 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. His 28 quarterback hits leads the team by a wide margin.
- Kampman's absence will probably increase the attention opponents pay to LB Clay Matthews, who has provided consistent pass rush with four sacks so far on the year. In the last meeting against the Lions, he collected two sacks.
- The team could turn to rookie Brad Jones, who recorded eight tackles in his first career start against Dallas, or veteran Brady Poppinga to fill the void left by Kampman.
- Also available is second-year pro Jeremy Thompson, who like Kampman made the transition from end to linebacker in the new scheme. Jones and Matthews played similar positions at Colorado and Southern California last year, while Poppinga was an outside linebacker.
TAKEAWAY POINTS KEY FOR PACKERS
- Green Bay has continued to show its knack for the takeaways in the first 10 games with 14 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries, which it has turned into 82 points.
- Green Bay's 22 takeaways rank tied with New England for third highest in the NFL, behind only New Orleans (29) and Philadelphia (23).
- The Packers' 82 points scored off those 22 takeaways ranks third in the NFL, behind the Saints (117) and New York Giants (85).
- With another interception against the 49ers, Green Bay extended its own streak to 12 straight games with a takeaway. That is the second-longest active streak in the NFL behind Houston (15, plays tonight).
- Last season, the Green Bay defense led the NFL in defensive touchdowns (7) and interception returns for touchdowns (6).
- Green Bay had 28 takeaways (22 interceptions, six fumble recoveries) on the season against 21 turnovers (13 interceptions, eight fumbles). The 21 turnovers tied the second-lowest total in franchise history.
- Thanks to an opportunistic defense, with its seven touchdowns, and an offense that was able to capitalize after an opponent's mistake, Green Bay led all NFL teams with 124 points off takeaways. Baltimore (123) finished just behind the Packers at No. 2.
- If the Packers don't commit a turnover, they're almost guaranteed to win – the lone exception being games against the Vikings. They have now won 37 of 40 games playing turnover-free football, since a loss at Dallas, Nov. 18, 1996. Green Bay's only losses in such games during that stretch came against Minnesota: twice in Minneapolis (2005, '08) and once at home (2009).
- Including playoffs, the Packers have won 40 of their last 43 games without a giveaway.
PACKERS START FAST, CLOSE OUT VICTORY
- The Packers played one of their most impressive halves of football this season on the way to a 20-point halftime lead over San Francisco, and withheld a second-half rally by the 49ers to post a 30-24 victory and stay in the thick of the NFC playoff race.
- Green Bay's second straight win improved the Packers to 6-4 on the season, which ties them with the New York Giants for fifth in the NFC and the top wild-card spot.
- The Packers dominated the 49ers in every statistical category in the opening half, outgaining them by over 300 yards, 362 to 57, posting 17 first downs to San Francisco's one, and controlling the ball for 22:32 to 7:28 for the 49ers. The 362 yards were the most in a half since the Packers put up the same number at Oakland on Dec. 22, 2003, in the opening half.
- "I thought we played an extremely productive first half as a football team, you know, in all three phases," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought the defense really set the tone. They had the one long run and the ability to give off the field on third down and to continue to give us the ball back on offense.
- "On offense, we had a lot of production. We didn't play as well as we liked in the red zone on those first two series. I thought the special teams was really...they kind of picked up where they left off against Dallas."
- Green Bay was able to move the ball inside San Francisco's 10 on its opening two possessions with the help of two big gains, a 26-yard run by running back Ryan Grant on the first drive and a 37-yard reception by wide receiver Greg Jennings on the second, but were only able to come away with two Mason Crosby field goals.
- San Francisco's only offensive production came on its first drive with a 42-yard run up the middle from running back Frank Gore on the 49ers' second offensive play that set up their only score of the half, a 46-yard Joe Nedney field goal.
- Taking the long Gore run out, the 49ers generated just 15 yards on their 16 other plays. Quarterback Alex Smith completed his first pass in the second quarter and only 3-of-7 for 5 yards in the half, and was sacked three times.
- With just under 10 minutes remaining in the half, the Packers were able to get in the end zone, courtesy of a big play. On first down from the Green Bay 36, Rodgers found Jennings over the middle about 10 yards down the field, and Jennings did the rest, eluding safety Dashon Goldson and cornerback Tarell Brown at the San Francisco 45, before taking it the rest of the way for the 64-yard touchdown.
- After Green Bay's defense forced a three-and-out, Rodgers led the offense on a 10-play, 81-yard drive that was capped off with his second touchdown pass of the half, a quick-hitter to wide receiver Jordy Nelson for the 7-yard score. The series included two catches by wide receiver Donald Driver for 27 combined yards, a 16-yard screen to running back Brandon Jackson, a 15-yard run from Grant, and a 11-yard scramble by Rodgers.
- The Packers would tack on three more points on a 27-yard kick from Crosby as time expired, capping one of their most productive stretches on offense this season.
- "I think we had good tempo and good rhythm in the passing game, a lot of time, good scheme, good concepts, and we were just kind of clicking," Rodgers said. "I think Greg made a good play off a little 10-yard pass, and good to have Jermichael (Finley) back making plays. He kind of opens things up for everybody. Just got into a good rhythm."
- Rodgers finished the half with 274 yards on 22-of-31 passing, a career-high for passing yards in a half. Jennings went over the 100-yard mark with four receptions for 121 yards, also a career-high for a half, and Grant piled up 70 yards on just 10 carries (7.0 avg.).
- For as much as San Francisco's offense struggled in the first half, the 49ers were able to get back into the game courtesy of some big plays from their offense and special teams.
- Facing a third-and-20 midway through the third quarter, Smith connected with rookie wideout Michael Crabtree for a 38-yard touchdown with cornerback Al Harris covering to narrow the margin to 23-10.
- Early in the fourth quarter, the Packers pinned San Francisco deep in its own territory with a Jeremy Kapinos punt downed at the 2, and the defense took advantage immediately with a Nick Collins interception that he returned to the 49ers' 11. Grant scored on a 1-yard run three plays later, and Green Bay had a commanding 30-10 lead with just over 11 minutes remaining.
- But in a scene that is all-too-familiar from the fourth quarter of games vs. Minnesota and at Tampa Bay, San Francisco was able to swing the momentum back with a 76-yard kickoff return from wide receiver Josh Morgan that set up a 24-yard touchdown pass from Smith to tight end Vernon Davis. Davis finished the afternoon with 108 yards on six catches.
- The Packers went three-and-out on their next series, and Smith led the 49ers on another scoring drive that was capped off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Gore on fourth down, narrowing Green Bay's lead to six points with just under six minutes remaining.
- "We didn't take the foot off the gas," cornerback Charles Woodson said. "We just made too many mental mistakes. Just because you are up on a team doesn't mean they are going to quit, and they didn't quit.
- "We gave them some big plays in that second half and let them hang around and gave them some confidence. In this league you've got to stay consistent throughout the whole game and we didn't."
- With the six-point lead and the 49ers still possessing two timeouts, the offense had to come through with at least a couple of first downs to put the game away. Despite having posted just over 80 yards of offense in the second half to that point, Green Bay's offense came through when they needed it most.
- Taking over at the Green Bay 9, Rodgers found Finley on the sideline for a 5-yard gain on 3rd-and-4 to move the chains. Grant bounced a run outside for 21 more yards on the next play, and after two runs from Jackson picked up 9 yards, Rodgers' quarterback sneak on third-and-1 at midfield for 2 yards iced the win.
- "We were kind of backed up there on the 9, and what we like to say coming out is, 'Let's just start with one first down,'" Rodgers said. "We knew their timeout situation; they had two left. We were going to have to put together some yards to give our punter some room to punt and make it a longer field for them.
- "Once we got that first first down and then 'RG' kind of broke out to the left there, we knew (we needed) just one more first down and Brandon had a nice run to put us in third and less than one."
- The Packers now face a short week of preparation as they look ahead to a Thanksgiving tilt at Detroit. While there were certainly some positives to take away from Sunday's victory, it doesn't change the fact that there is plenty of work to do as well.
- Green Bay's bye week – Week 5 – was the earliest bye for the team since 1999, when it had its bye in Week 4. Though its bye week came early, the team will get some rest coming off the Thanksgiving contest. It won't play until the following Monday night, Dec. 7, at home.
- The Packers have five games against playoff teams from a year ago (Week 4 at Minnesota, Week 8 vs. Minnesota, Week 13 vs. Baltimore, Week 15 at Pittsburgh and Week 17 at Arizona).
- Green Bay plays three of the four teams who played in last season's conference championships. All three games (vs. Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, at Arizona) occur in the season's final five weeks. Making the season's final stretch tougher too is the fact that three of the final four games will be on the road.
- For the first time since 2003, the Packers will not play a division opponent in the season's final three weeks. After Thursday's game against the Lions, only one division game (at Chicago) remains.
WILLIAMS ON THE RETURNS
- CB Tramon Williams, whether it be on a punt return or after an interception, is dangerous once he has the ball in his hands.
- In Week 1, he had a 67-yard interception return against the Bears that gave the Green Bay offense the ball inside the 5-yard line.
- In Week 6 against the Lions, he filled in for WR Jordy Nelson on punt returns and returned his only opportunity for 45 yards, the team's longest punt return of the season.
- Throughout Packers history, no player has had an interception return of 65-plus yards and a punt return of 45-plus yards in the same season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
- Individual interception records were not kept until 1940.
- Given the knee injury to CB Al Harris, Williams will now be pressed into a starting role on defense. It remains to be seen whether coaches will continue to have him return punts in order to minimize his injury risk.
THE THIRD QUARTER
- The 16-game NFL schedule allows teams to break down their season into quarters, with the Packers now in their third.
- Coming off back-to-back losses, Green Bay knew it was entering the pivotal stretch of its 2009 schedule. With wins over Dallas and San Francisco, the team has opened the third quarter of the season at 2-0 but won't have much time to rest on its laurels.
- Detroit will be the third game in 12 days for the Packers, all of which come against NFC opponents.
- After the Thanksgiving game, Green Bay wraps up the third quarter of the schedule with a home game against Baltimore on Monday Night Football.
- Continued success in the third quarter of the 2009 schedule will help propel the team in what could shape up as a tough final four games of the season, especially if the team is fighting for playoff contention. Tough road games at Chicago, Pittsburgh and Arizona are looming, with just one home game against Seattle.
PICK YOUR POISON
- QB Aaron Rodgers connected with seven different receivers against the 49ers, one week after hitting a season-high 10 different receivers against Dallas, showing what a balanced attack the offense possesses.
- And with the return of TE Jermichael Finley, a mismatch because of his size and speed for the position, Rodgers finally has his full complement of receivers at his disposal.
- Not only is it tough to study and gameplan for so many different players, but it becomes increasingly difficult when so many of those players have game-changing ability.
- When WR James Jones topped the 100-yard receiving mark in Tampa, hauling in four catches for 103 yards, he became the fourth player on the Packers to produce a 100-yard receiving game this season, making Green Bay the first NFL team in 2009 to have four different players top the mark.
- WR Greg Jennings has three 100-yard performances on the season, most recently