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Packers players still believe in this team

Shifting focus to next week’s NFC North showdown is best approach


GLENDALE, Ariz. – To the players in the locker room, it's not a question of whether or not they'll turn it around.

They have no choice.

"We have to. Unfortunately, sometimes games happen like this," veteran linebacker Clay Matthews said following Sunday's 38-8 loss to the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. "We put ourselves in too much of a hole early on. Turnovers, penalties.

"If you look towards next week, we have an opportunity to beat Minnesota, win the (NFC) North, and get a home playoff game. I think that's what we really need to focus on. We can't dwell on this.

"This is a very good team, and hopefully we see them again. We didn't play up to our standard, and it's frustrating, especially at this point in the season."

None of the other statistics looked any better than the final score.

The Packers were outgained by more than 200 yards. They lost the turnover battle, 4-2. Arizona's defense racked up nine sacks, eight of QB Aaron Rodgers before he was mercifully replaced, and outscored Green Bay's offense, two touchdowns to one.

Matthews called it a "snowball effect" once the game started going wrong. Offensive lineman T.J. Lang called it a "helpless feeling" when Rodgers couldn't be protected by an offensive line that was constantly shuffling due to injuries big and small.

"I don't think you can point the finger at certain individuals," Lang said. "We take pride in playing well together as a group, and when we don't do the job, it's a unit thing, not an individual thing."

All that said, it's about going through the usual process now to get ready for the Week 17 showdown at Lambeau Field vs. Minnesota.

Flush the emotions, review the game film and get back to work. A fifth straight division title is at stake, and with that would come a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

"You have to believe in yourself," said Matthews, emphasizing that this team still does. "Absolutely. C'mon now. It's an ugly loss. There's no doubt about it.

The Packers visited the Cardinals for the first time since 2009 in a Week 16 matchup. Photos by Jim Biever,

"That's a very good team playing with a lot of momentum at their house. We're not going to make excuses, but we have to regroup. We have a really good team when you look around. We have to act like it."

The Packers will be either the No. 3 seed or the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs, depending on next week's result. That's all that matters now, along with somehow resuming the late-season momentum that began with the Hail Mary in Detroit early this month but came to a screeching halt Sunday.

"We're in the playoffs, but we all understand if we play the type of football we played today, we'll be home very quickly," receiver James Jones said. "Right now, we need to start playing the type of playoff football that'll take us to where we're trying to go.

"Good thing today wasn't the playoffs. We've got another shot to try to go out there and get this thing right."

Very soon, too. Heading into the postseason on a two-game losing streak would not be the best of scripts.

"We have a quick turnaround," Lang said. "The biggest game of the year is coming up here in seven days, and we have to find a way to get ready for it.

"Everyone knows you have to play your best football heading into the playoffs. You can't just turn it on when you get there."

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