*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-Ravens Week 13 Dope Sheet. To read the full version, download the PDF by clicking here.
Here are some highlights from the Packers-Ravens Week 13 Dope Sheet:*
**GREEN BAY (7-4) vs. BALTIMORE (6-5)
Monday, Dec. 7 - Lambeau Field - 7:30 p.m. CST
PACKERS HOST RAVENS IN LATE-SEASON SHOWDOWN**
- Under the bright lights of Monday Night Football, Lambeau Field hosts what promises to be a smash-mouth game between the Packers and Ravens with playoff implications for both conferences.
- Fresh off three wins in the course of 12 days, Green Bay comes into the contest a rested team, having last played on Thanksgiving.
- It will look to extend its season-long winning streak to four games when it welcomes Baltimore to Lambeau Field on Monday night.
- Just the fourth meeting all-time between the two franchises, it will be the second time the series has taken to the Monday night stage. The teams last played in 2005, also a December MNF game, as the host Ravens handed the Packers their most lopsided loss in 25 years.
- The Packers have won both of their home games in the series, including a 2001 matchup against the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens.
- As the NFL's Cleveland Browns, these franchises first met in 1953 and played 15 times, including the 1965 NFL Championship at Lambeau Field, Jim Brown's last game. The team did not carry over its history with the move to Baltimore, and the Ravens franchise launched in 1996.
- Baltimore will be playing in its second prime-time game in as many weeks. Last Sunday night, it defeated division rival Pittsburgh, 20-17, in overtime at home.
WITH THE CALL
- ESPN is in its fourth season as host of the most successful series in sports television history, Monday Night Football. Play-by-play man Mike Tirico is joined by analysts Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden for the 40th season of MNF broadcasts.
- ESPN Deportes will broadcast the game with Spanish graphics and commentary provided by announcers Alvaro Martin and Raul Allegre, with John Sutcliffe as sideline reporter.
- The contest also will air as a simulcast locally on WBAY (Ch. 2) in Green Bay and WISN (Ch. 12) in Milwaukee. ESPN International will air the contest in three languages to over 180 countries.
- 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 Radio will air the game across the country. Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Boomer Esiason (analyst) will call the action with Hub Arkush as the sideline reporter. Jim Gray hosts the pregame 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.
- DIRECTV subscribers can watch the game in HD on channel 206.
THE PLAYOFF PICTURE
- Winners of three consecutive games, all against NFC opponents, Green Bay has thrust itself back into playoff contention in the conference.
- At 7-4, Green Bay and Philadelphia currently hold the top positions for Wild Card berths, while the New York Giants (6-5), Atlanta Falcons (6-5) and San Francisco 49ers (5-6) remain in the playoff picture. This weekend, Atlanta hosts Philadelphia while the Giants host the Cowboys.
- Baltimore (6-5) comes into Lambeau Field with a similar urgency, as it is one of eight teams competing in a tight Wild Card race in the AFC.
- 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 6-3 against the NFC so far this season with three conference games remaining.
**THE DOPE ON THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT:
Green Bay Packers vs. Baltimore Ravens
All-time, regular season: ** 2-1-0
All-time, in Green Bay: 2-0
Streaks:The Ravens' win in 2005 ended the Packers' two-game winning streak to begin the series.
Last meeting, regular season: Dec. 19, 2005, at Baltimore; Ravens won, 48-3
Last meeting, in Green Bay:Oct. 14, 2001, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 31-23
Mike McCarthy: ** 35-26-0, .573 (incl. 1-1 postseason); 4th NFL season
John Harbaugh:19-11-0, .633 (incl. 2-1 postseason); 2nd NFL season
Head to Head: Never met
vs. Opponent: McCarthy 0-0 vs. Ravens; Harbaugh 0-0 vs. Packers
MIKE McCARTHY…Is in fourth year as the Packers' 14th head coach.
- Was named Packers head coach on Jan. 12, 2006, his first head coaching job after 13 years as an NFL assistant.
- Honored as the 2007 Motorola NFL Coach of the Year and NFL Alumni Coach of the Year.
- Became the first Packers coach since Vince Lombardi to lead the team to a championship game in his second season.
- One of only three head coaches to lead an offense ranked in the top 10 in the league each of the past three years.
JOHN HARBAUGH…Is in second year as the Ravens' third head coach.
- In hs first season, led Baltimore to an 11-5 record, two playoff wins, and a berth in the AFC Championship game.
- Team set an NFL record for most wins with both a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback (Joe Flacco).
- Spent the previous 10 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, the first nine as special teams coordinator and then one season (2007) as secondary coach.
- Voted by his peers as NFL special teams coach of the year in 2001, one of two years the Eagles were ranked No. 1 overall in the annual Dallas Morning News special teams rankings (also 2003).
THE PACKERS-RAVENS SERIES
- Monday marks officially only the fourth meeting between Green Bay and the Ravens, who moved to Baltimore from Cleveland following the 1995 season. It is the second Monday night contest of the four.
- The Packers won a pair of October clashes at Lambeau Field in 1998 and 2001, while the Ravens won on a December Monday night in 2005. In 2001, the Ravens were the defending Super Bowl champions.
- As the NFL's Cleveland Browns, these franchises first met in 1953 and played 15 times, including the 1965 NFL Championship at Lambeau Field, Jim Brown's last game. However, once the team moved to Baltimore before the '96 season, the NFL kept the Browns records and history in a trust until the Cleveland franchise could return as an expansion team in 1999. Officially, the Baltimore Ravens launched their franchise history in 1996.
Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was the head coach at Miami in 2007, with Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers running his defense...Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is a Madison, Wis., native who played college football at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse...Capers and Ravens linebackers coach Vic Fangio coached together with the USFL's Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars and New Orleans Saints, and Fangio was Capers' defensive coordinator at both of his head-coaching stops, Carolina and Houston...Packers defensive quality control coach Scott McCurley was a graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh (2003-05), where he ran the scout-team offense quarterbacked by Ravens QB Joe Flacco in 2004...Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and Ravens wide receivers coach Jim Hostler coached together in New Orleans and San Francisco...Packers S Derrick Martin played three seasons in Baltimore before being traded to Green Bay at the end of the 2009 training camp for Ravens T Tony Moll, who had played three seasons for the Packers (2006-08)...Ravens CB Frank Walker played one season in Green Bay (2007) and Ravens K Billy Cundiff spent the 2006 training camp with the Packers...Ravens CB Chris Carr was a college teammate at Boise State with both Packers G Daryn Colledge and FB Korey Hall...Ravens DT Dwan Edwards and Packers LB Nick Barnett played on the same defense at Oregon State...Ravens P Sam Koch and Packers RB Brandon Jackson were teammates at Nebraska...Ravens long snapper Matt Katula prepped at Waukesha Catholic Memorial H.S. near Milwaukee and played collegiately at Wisconsin...Both of the Ravens' backup QBs were college teammates of Packers LBs -- John Beck and Brady Poppinga at BYU and Troy Smith and A.J. Hawk at Ohio State...Ravens WR Kelley Washington and Packers C Scott Wells were teammates at Tennessee...Former Packers long snapper and current director of player development Rob Davis is a product of Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Md.
INDIVIDUALLY VS. RAVENS
In two career games against the Ravens, WR Donald Driver has six receptions for 125 yards...QB Aaron Rodgers' appearance in the 2005 contest was just the second of his career and his first with any extensive playing time, and it was rather forgettable. He completed 8-of-15 passes for 65 yards with one interception. He was also sacked three times and fumbled twice, with one fumble returned for a touchdown...S Nick Collins' 11 solo tackles as a rookie in the 2005 contest still rank as his career high.
LAST MEETING, REGULAR SEASON
- Dec. 19, 2005, at Baltimore; Ravens won, 48-3.
- The low point of the Packers' 4-12 season, Baltimore dominated as Jamal Lewis rushed for 105 yards and a TD and Kyle Boller threw three TD passes, two to Todd Heap, who had nine catches for 110 yards.
- It was the Packers' most one-sided loss since a 61-7 defeat to Chicago in 1980.
- The Ravens scored 24 points off the Packers' five turnovers, the final blow a 35-yard fumble return for a score by Adalius Thomas.
- Aaron Rodgers relieved Brett Favre in the second half for his first extended playing time in the NFL, but he was sacked three times, fumbled twice and threw one interception. He finished 8-of-15 for 65 yards.
LAST MEETING, IN GREEN BAY
- Oct. 14, 2001, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 31-23.
- Hosting the defending Super Bowl champions with one of the most vaunted defenses in NFL history, the Packers rolled up 391 yards of offense and put together the four longest scoring drives against Baltimore to that point in the season.
- Brett Favre compiled a dazzling 137.4 quarterback rating, completing 27-of-34 passes for 338 yards and three TDs. Antonio Freeman caught nine passes for 138 yards and a score.
- The game wasn't as close as the final score indicated, with Baltimore -- behind backup quarterback Randall Cunningham -- scoring twice in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL COMES TO LAMBEAU
- For the 17th time in the 40-year history of Monday Night Football, the iconic broadcast will come to the most hallowed stadium in professional football: Lambeau Field.
- December football at Lambeau Field typifies what the National Football League is all about, and the Packers-Ravens showdown promises to be a smash-mouth game with Wild Card playoff implications on the line.
- Amazingly, this will mark the first MNF game at Lambeau Field in the month of December.
- Green Bay is 10-6 at Lambeau Field in Monday night games, including some of the most memorable games in MNF history.
- In 1983, the Packers defeated the defending Super Bowl Champion Redskins, 48-47, in what remains the highest-scoring game in the broadcast's history.
- One of the greatest finishes not only in MNF history but pro football annals came on a rain-soaked Monday night at Lambeau Field in 2000. While flat on his back, Packers WR Antonio Freeman made a miraculous catch and proceeded to race into the end zone for a 43-yard game-winning score in overtime, defeating the Vikings 26-20, before a stunned but jubilant crowd.
- And just last season, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers made his first career NFL start under the bright lights of Monday in the season opener against Minnesota. Like most games in the rivalry, the outcome was decided in the final minutes, as the Packers clinched victory thanks to an interception with under a minute remaining.
- Armed with an incredible home-field advantage, Green Bay has been a consistently successful team this decade as the regular season winds down in December and January. Often times, as will be the case Monday night against the Ravens, those games are the final determining factors in the race for playoff berths and seeding.
- Since 2000, the Packers are 30-12 (.714) in regular-season games played in December and January, the third-best mark in the league. Only New England (34-7, .829) and Pittsburgh (32-11, .744) have better records over that period.
- Games at Lambeau Field are no different, as the Packers own one of the NFL's best home records since 2000 in regular-season games played in December and January. Interestingly, each of the top four teams plays outdoors in what is usually cold temperatures:
Team: W-L in Dec/Jan (Pct.)
New England: 18-3-0 (.857)
Denver: 16-3-0 (.842)
Pittsburgh: 19-4-0 (.826)
Green Bay: 18-4-0 (.818)
Indianapolis: 19-5-0 (.792)
THE LEAGUE'S TOP-RANKED DEFENSE
- After another solid performance on Thanksgiving in Detroit, Green Bay finds itself ranked as the league's No. 1 overall defense. The Packers' defense has not ranked among the league's top-ranked units this late in the season since 1996, when it finished the year No. 1 overall and went on to win Super Bowl XXXI.
- The last time the Packers ranked No. 1 overall at any point in the season was in 2001, when it was atop the league rankings after Week 3.
- Behind new defensive coordinator Dom Capers and all-everything CB Charles Woodson, the Packers have thrived in their new 3-4 scheme. The team ranks No. 4 against the run and No. 7 against the pass.
- Green Bay is allowing a league-low 281.5 yards per contest, ahead of the New York Jets (283.9) and Pittsburgh Steelers (288.4).
- Some would argue that a more important and telling statistic is scoring defense, and not how many yards a team allows. With 195 points allowed, Green Bay ranks 11th in scoring defense.
- Green Bay's improved defense against the run has kept opponents in long down-and-distances, enhancing the defense's ability to get off the field on third down. Through the first four games, the unit ranked No. 28. As soon as Green Bay began to stop the run, it shot up the league rankings in third-down defense, now at No. 4. This week's opponent, Baltimore, ranks 10th in third-down offense.
- One constant for the defense this season has been its ability to take the ball away, registering 26 of the team's 27 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 (four INTs) and Woodson (seven), those 27 turnovers have led to 99 points, the second-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.
- In Capers' previous stints as a coordinator, his units have made a jump in the rankings in his first season. In Pittsburgh, the defense went from No. 22 to No. 13 in '92 under Capers, then continued to rise to No. 3 in '93 and No. 2 in '94. In Jacksonville, the defense climbed to No. 4 under Capers in '99 after ranking 25th the previous season. The Dolphins ranked No. 4 in 2006, Capers' first year, after ranking No. 18 in '05.
STAT OF THE WEEK
- Not much lobbying needs to be done on CB Charles Woodson's behalf to get him into the discussion for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. His statistics are speaking loudly enough.
- Last Thursday, Woodson collected two interceptions, one of which he returned for a score, a sack, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.
- According to Elias Sports Bureau, Woodson became the first NFL player since sacks became an official statistic in 1982 to record two interceptions, an interception for a touchdown, a sack and a fumble recovery in the same game.
- Woodson also collected five tackles and held Detroit's top offensive threat, WR Calvin Johnson, to two catches for 10 yards.
- Just two weeks prior against Dallas, he had another career-defining performance when he 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.
- DE Reggie White (1998) is the only Packers player to win the award since The Associated Press began giving it out in 1971.
- On the field Monday night with Woodson will be two players who have won the award previously: LB Ray Lewis, a two-time (2000, '03) award winner, and S Ed Reed (2004).
- Only four cornerbacks have won the award in its 38-year history: Mel Blount (PIT, '75), Lester Hayes (OAK, '80), Rod Woodson (PIT, '93) and Deion Sanders (SF, '94). Dom Capers was the defensive coordinator for Pittsburgh in '93, as well as for 2006 winner Jason Taylor.
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?
- For a 17th consecutive season, the Green Bay Packers appear on Monday Night Football, the most successful series in sports television history.
- The Packers own the NFC's longest MNF appearance streak (1993-2009). Denver (18, 1992-2009) own's the NFL's longest streak.
- For the second time in the Baltimore-Green Bay series, the game will be a MNF matchup. Baltimore dominated the first matchup, 48-3, in 2005.
- That game included the first significant playing time for QB Aaron Rodgers in his career, and it wasn't pretty. In relief of Favre, he completed a respectable 8-of-15 passes for 65 yards but threw one interception, was sacked three times, and lost two fumbles, the second of which was returned for the game's final touchdown. Rodgers obviously has come a long way since that rookie outing, and he'll finally get a chance to face the Ravens again.
- The bright lights of Monday night are nothing new for Head Coach Mike McCarthy and the Packers. The team is making its eight appearance on Monday night in McCarthy's three-plus seasons and is 2-5 in its seven MNF games. However, only one of those Monday night games came at Lambeau Field, a 24-19 victory in the 2008 season opener.
- In its first appearance on Monday night this year, at Minnesota in Week 4, the stage could not have been bigger, as the game became the most-watched event in the history of cable television.
- Green Bay is 26-28-1 all-time on Monday night.
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 for the Packers 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 and was honored as the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October, the first such award of his career.
- He has engineered one of the NFL's most potent offenses, as the Packers have eclipsed 400 total net yards seven times this year, tied with New England for the second most behind New Orleans (eight).
- Through 11 games, his 104.9 passer rating ranks third in the NFL. In addition, he is the game's top-ranked passer on third downs (135.5).
- The fourth-year pro has thrown for 3,136 yards through 11 games, fourth most in the league. At his current pace, Rodgers would finish with 4,561 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 QB rating and passing yards, Rodgers ranks among the top 10 in touchdowns and both completion and interception percentage.
- And just for good measure, the Cal product tops all QBs with 247 rushing yards on 45 carries (5.5 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 27 career starts, Rodgers has eclipsed the century mark in passer rating 15 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' 27 takeaways ranks second in the NFL. New Orleans leads the league with 32 takeaways.
- The offense is doing its part as well, with a league-low 10 giveaways. Of the Packers' turnovers, five have come on interceptions and five have come on fumbles. Nine of those takeaways have come in the passing game. To go with five interceptions, three 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 257 times without a fumble in 2009. For Grant, he enters play Monday with 218 consecutive carries without a fumble, already a new career high.
- 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-17 turnover ratio tops the league.
- This week's opponent, Baltimore, stands at plus-four, tied for eighth in the NFL. It has 17 takeaways (12 interceptions, five fumble recoveries) and 13 turnovers (eight interceptions, five fumbles).
- Of the Packers' takeaways, 18 have come via the interception, tied with Philadelphia for the second-highest total in the league. The Packers also have nine 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 10 forced fumbles on the year (one on special teams), nine 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 bump-and-run, 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 career performances against the Cowboys and Lions.
- 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, Woodson tallied two interceptions, including one he returned for a score, a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery, all while holding WR Calvin Johnson to 2 catches for 10 yards.
- Woodson was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for both his Dallas (Week 10) and Detroit (Week 12) performances on the heels of winning NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September.
- It marked the fifth multi-interception game of his career, and his fourth since coming to Green Bay in 2006.
- Woodson's sixth INT return for a score moves him into second place on the franchise's all-time list behind Hall of Famer Herb Adderley (seven).
- Woodson's sixth INT return for a TD since 2006 leads all NFL players. Overall, he has eight career.
- In addition to his team-high seven interceptions, he has been credited with 60 tackles through 11 games, second most on the team. That pace would have him surpass his career high (79) before season's end, a total he has accomplished twice before (OAK, 2000; GB, 2008).
- A skilled blitzer, Woodson has two sacks in his last three games. His five sacks since 2008 lead all NFL defensive backs (safeties and corners).
- His four forced fumbles ranks second among all NFL defensive backs.
- There's no doubt Woodson's career has undergone a revitalization since coming to Green Bay. He now has 43 career interceptions, fifth among active NFL players. For his career, 26 have come in 57 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 in the 3-4 scheme, Green Bay's defensive line has created 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 35 tackles and ranks second on the team in sacks (4.5) and forced fumbles (three).
- Against Detroit in Week 6, Jenkins recorded his first NFL interception, sniffing out a screen pass to RB Kevin Smith.
- Making the transition from an inside defensive tackle in the old scheme to an end this season, DE Johnny Jolly leads all defensive linemen with 53 tackles. His eight passes defensed show his ability to be a disruptive force at the line of scrimmage. Jenkins (nine in 2007) has the most for a defensive lineman since the team began recording the statistic in 1980.
- Displaying rare athleticism for a 6-foot-3, 320-pound man, Jolly made a highlight-reel one-handed interception in the red zone against Jay Cutler and the Bears in Week 1. He also plucked another ball out of the air on a dive against St. Louis, though the ball was ruled a fumble because of a strip by LB Aaron Kampman.
- That play came just minutes after Jolly blocked a field-goal attempt on the Rams' opening drive. It was the second block of his career.
- It had been awhile since a Packers player recorded an interception, fumble recovery and blocked kick in the same season. That was CB Doug Evans in 1993.
- Coupled with Jenkins' interception 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 42 tackles and a pass deflection. The recent emergence of rookie B.J. Raji should keep all four players in the unit fresh down the stretch, which should maintain their ability to stop the run.
- Since the Packers gave up 117 yards to RB Steven Jackson in Week 3, they have allowed 594 yards in eight games (74.3 yards a game), tied with Pittsburgh for the fewest allowed over that span.
- Over that time, opponents' average of 3.4 yards per carry is the best in the NFL. Green Bay has allowed two rushing TDs over that span, tied for the fewest in the league with Dallas, New England and Pittsburgh.
GRANT AND THE GROUND GAME
- Baltimore brings its reputation as a hard-hitting defense into Lambeau Field Monday night, led by its No. 6 ranking against the run.
- The Packers faced a top-10 run defense two weeks ago in San Francisco, then ranked No. 3 in the league, and produced 158 yards on 32 carries (4.9 avg.), highlighted by another 100-yard performance by third-year RB Ryan Grant (21 carries for 129 yards and a score).
- Though he has two 100-yard performances on the season, 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 (890 yards) ranks fourth in the NFC and seventh overall in the NFL. Utilized more in the screen game this season, his 190 receiving yards already is a career high.
- Grant's 1,080 total 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.
- Jackson appears to be working his way back into form after missing the first four games with an ankle injury, while Green could return to game action this week after being sidelined by a groin injury. 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.
283 AND COUNTING
- Another packed house at Lambeau Field against the 49ers brought the stadium's consecutive sellouts streak to 283 games (267 regular season, 16 playoffs). Now for the first time in the stadium's history, Monday Night Football broadcasts a December contest in which temperatures should be below freezing.
- This year's home game against Minnesota saw the largest regular-season crowd in Lambeau Field history (71,213).
- The league's longest-tenured stadium, Lambeau Field is hosting its 53rd season of football this year. A total of 565,460 fans came through the turnstiles in the eight home contests in 2008, an average of 70,683.
- Across American professional sports, only Boston's Fenway Park (1912) and Chicago's Wrigley Field (1914) have longer tenures.
THE LAMBEAU ADVANTAGE
- The crown jewel of the National Football League, Lambeau Field has long been known as one of the tougher venues to play in, particularly during the harsh Wisconsin winter.
- Re-establishing home-field advantage after a 4-4 mark in 2008 was one of the goals of 2009, and with the Packers at 4-2 at home so far this season, they could be on their way to accomplishing that goal.
- With the victory over the 49ers, the team has won 17 of its last 24 regular-season games at Lambeau Field.
- McCarthy stated consistently upon his arrival in Green Bay that one of the team's goals would be to reclaim the mystique of playing at Lambeau Field. Mission accomplished. The team is 15-7 at home since 2007, a marked improvement over the prior three seasons (10-14 combined).
- Since Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren began the revitalization of the franchise in 1992, Green Bay owns the best home record in the NFL. A look at the top home W-L records since the '92 season:
**Team: W-L record (Pct.)
Green Bay: 105-37-0 (.739)**
Denver: 103-39-0 (.725)
Pittsburgh: 102-38-1 (.727)
Minnesota: 98-44-0 (.690)
Dallas: 96-46-0 (.676)
HARRIS, KAMPMAN SIDELINED
- Undoubtedly one of the main story lines on the defensive side of the ball will be how the team is able to finish the season, and maintain its lofty ranking, 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 had played in 182 of a possible 186 games prior to the injury, including starts in 102 of the last 106 games since coming to Green Bay in 2003.
- The two major injuries came at a time when Green Bay was getting relatively healthy on defense, with the return of LB Brandon Chillar, but also on offense, as TE Jermichael Finley and WR Jordy Nelson gave QB Aaron Rodgers back his full arsenal of receivers.
- CB Tramon Williams takes over Harris' spot just as he did last season in Week 4. Williams picked off passes in each of his first three starts filling in for an injured Harris in 2008 and did the same in his first start for Harris this season in Detroit on Thanksgiving. A naturally gifted athlete who rose from the practice squad to a starting role last year, Williams has eight interceptions in his last 28 games.
- LB Brad Jones, a pleasant surprise as a seventh-round pick from Colorado in the 2009 NFL Draft, has played well in two starts for Kampman. His first NFL start came against Dallas, when Kampman was sidelined with a concussion, and Jones led all linebackers with eight tackles (seven solo). He collected four stops last Thursday in Detroit.
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.
- 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 the category this decade, 21 of those 27 teams made the playoffs.
- Of the six that didn't qualify for the postseason, only one, the 2004 Kansas City Chiefs (7-9), finished with a record below .500.
- In Green Bay's 30-24 win over San Francisco in Week 11, it controlled the ball for 41 minutes, 39 seconds. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, time-of-possession statistics have only been kept since 1977, but that mark for the Packers was a franchise record.
- Combined with the Packers' 40:48 time of possession against the Lions in Week 6, it gives the team two games with 40-plus minutes of controlling the ball, which is also a single-season franchise record.
- The Packers are 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 came in an overtime loss at Kansas City.
- Entering Week 13, the Packers rank No. 2 in the league with a time-of-possession average of 33:26, trailing only New England (34:20). Minnesota (33:21), the N.Y. Giants (33:05) and Pittsburgh (32:56) round out the league's Top 5.
- Green Bay's best single-season mark came in 1992, when it posted an average of 32:30 per game.
- In the past seven games, the Packers have controlled the ball for just under 37 minutes per contest, nearly a full quarter more than their opponents, and have posted six drives of 10-plus plays in the past two games compared to just nine in the first nine games.
- As the weather turns at Lambeau Field, not to mention outdoor games in Chicago and Pittsburgh, Green Bay will most likely enter each game with time of possession goals as it becomes a more ground-oriented team. Though the nature of a "big-play" offense suggests quick strikes, the Packers could very well produce multiple 10-play drives in the games to come.
EXCELLING ON THIRD DOWN
- Part of Green Bay's recent success in a three-game winning streak has been due in part to its ability to win the third-down battle on both sides of the ball. Both the offense (No. 5) and defense (No. 4) currently rank in the league's Top 5 in third-down efficiency.
- It would be hard to imagine a better performance on third down than what QB Aaron Rodgers did in Detroit.
- He finished 11-of-13 passing, good for eight first downs and two touchdowns for a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
- That's not all that surprising when you consider Rodgers is the league's top-ranked passer (135.5) on third down. No other quarterback has thrown for as many yards (1,135) or touchdowns (11) on third down as Rodgers, who has thrown exactly half of his TD passes on the down. In 111 third-down attempts, he has yet to throw an interception.
- The last quarterback to finish the season with a 135-plus rating on third down was Kurt Warner (137.3) in 1999.
- Now in his second season as a starter, his third-down success is becoming a trend. He finished 2008 as the league's third-ranked passer on third down with a passer 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 new scheme, the unit now ranks No. 4.
- Some of the success can be attributed to the Packers' improved run defense. Starting with Week 4, it is tied with Pittsburgh for the fewest rushing yards allowed.
ANOTHER FRANCHISE MARK
- WR Donald Driver, now in his 11th season with the Packers, established yet another team record in Detroit.
- Driver reached the 50-catch plateau for a team-record eighth overall season. WR James Lofton and Sterling Sharpe had stood tied with Driver at seven seasons of 50-plus catches.
- Driver has topped the 50-catch plateau for eight consecutive seasons (2002-09). The only other players to accomplish that feat from '02-'09 are Tony Gonzalez, Chad Ochocinco, Derrick Mason and Hines Ward.
- Though he is the oldest player on the active roster at age 34, Driver has shown no signs of slowing down in 2009. He leads the team in catches (53), receiving yards (845), and touchdown catches (5). 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 Monday with 8,834.
- Driver has been the model of consistency for the Packers, catching at least one pass in 122 consecutive games, also a franchise record. His consistency also serves as a great example for younger teammates, as Driver has rarely missed a practice in his NFL career.
- While his reputation is as a slot guy who will make the tough catch over the middle, Driver has made his share of big plays this season. His 14 catches of 20-plus yards is the second-highest total in the NFL.
FINLEY'S RETURN A WELCOME SIGHT
- Anyone needing to know how much the Packers missed TE Jermichael Finley in his three-game absence need only to watch the game tape against San Francisco and Detroit.
- Facing a third-and-short on the opening series against the 49ers, 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 against the 49ers, the last of his career-high seven catches.
- Finley was targeted a team-high 10 times against the 49ers and six more times against the Lions, as Rodgers clearly loves his athletic ability down the middle of the field.
- Though a knee sprain caused him to miss the better part of four games, he has already set career highs in nearly every statistical category.
- Finley's coming-out party came on the team's last appearance on Monday Night Football in front of the largest television audience in cable history. That night, he set a new career high in receiving yards (128), highlighted by his 62-yard catch-and-run for a score. The catch marked the longest reception by a Green Bay tight end since Jackie Harris caught a 66-yard scoring pass against Denver on Oct. 10, 1993.
- Finley's day also stands tied for the most productive day by a tight end in team history. His 128 yards matched Harris' output from that Broncos contest, tying the franchise high for 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 30 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.
AROUND THE 'BLACK AND BLUE'
- At 7-4, Green Bay stands solidly in second place in the NFC North with five games remaining on the schedule. It will need considerable help from Minnesota's opponents, not to mention a stellar record in its final five games, to challenge for the division crown.
- Green Bay is 3-2 in division play with one more NFC North game, a showdown in Chicago next weekend, still remaining.
- Minnesota, off to a 10-1 start, beat Chicago at home over the weekend. The Vikings now hit 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 six of its last seven, dropping a road game in Minnesota. It will have a chance to end its skid this weekend as it welcomes the 1-10 St. Louis Rams to the Windy City.
- Detroit, like the Packers, is coming off an extended rest after the Thanksgiving game. This weekend it travels to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals.
- Head Coach Mike McCarthy has always stressed the importance of division play. Through the first 12 weeks of the '09 season, the Packers own the best division mark over the three-plus seasons of McCarthy's tenure at 16-7. The Packers are trailed by Chicago (13-8) and then Minnesota (14-9) over that period.
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 11 games.
- When it comes to the long ball, few are as accurate as Rodgers. His 13 completions of 40-plus yards ranks second in the NFL behind Dallas QB Tony Romo (14).
- In terms of what coaches often classify as 'big plays' (gains of 20-plus yards), Rodgers has 39 completions, tied for the seventh-best total in the league with Chicago's Jay Cutler.
- 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 seventh overall with 46 plays of 20-plus yards. Baltimore comes into the game with 39 plays of 20-plus yards, which ranks 14th.
- WR Donald Driver and WR Greg Jennings each have four receptions of 40-plus yards, the only teammates to accomplish the feat so far.
- 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 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 emerged for the Packers over the last month, as TE Spencer Havner found the end zone four times, tied for second on the team in TD receptions with WR James Jones.
- 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 14 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 five 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 recorded a sack against Detroit QB Matthew Stafford, his fifth on the season. That is tops for 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.
TOP 10 AGAIN
- For an offense that has registered over 400 yards in seven of its last nine 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.
2009 HONOR ROLL
LB Clay Matthews
Week 6 - Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week (vs. Detroit)
Week 10 - Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week (vs. Dallas)
QB Aaron Rodgers
NFC Offensive Player of the Month - October
CB Charles Woodson
NFC Defensive Player of the Month - September
Pro Football Weekly Midseason All-Pro Team
NFC Defensive Player of the Week - Week 10 (vs. Dallas)
NFC Defensive Player of the Week - Week 12 (at Detroit)
CAPERS' INSTANT IMPACT
- Charged with orchestrating the Packers' new 3-4 defense is veteran coach Dom Capers, who is in his 24th season on the NFL level in 2009, his 17th as a defensive coordinator or head coach.
- Noted around the league as one of the game's best defensive minds, Capers is charged with transitioning the Packers to a 3-4 defense. Much of the depth chart on defense returned, including all 11 primary starters. The offseason was heavily focused on learning the new system, including position changes for some.
- In addition to serving as the head coach of two different expansion franchises (Carolina and Houston), Capers brings an impressive résumé as a coordinator. Green Bay's rise in the defensive ranks this season is typical of Capers' instant impact over the course of his NFL career. Pittsburgh ranked No. 22 in overall defense in 1991, the year before Capers' arrival. The Steelers' defense rose up in the defensive rankings to 13th in 1992, Capers' first season as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. The unit rose to No. 3 in 1993 and No. 2 in 1994, earning the moniker "Blitzburgh" with one of the decade's most feared defenses.
- Capers' impact also was seen in his stint as defensive coordinator with Jacksonville (1999-00) and Miami (2006-07). Ranking 25th in overall defense in 1998, the Jaguars' unit rose immediately under Capers in '99 to No. 4 overall in addition to allowing the fewest points in the NFL. The Dolphins ranked No. 18 in overall defense in 2005 but rose to No. 4 in 2006 under Capers, with DE Jason Taylor earning Defensive Player of the Year honors that season as well.
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 is 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 two interceptions and leads the team with 13 passes defensed.
- Capers and the defense can also rely on Pro Bowl S Nick Collins, who intercepted his fourth pass of the season against Detroit. 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 11 interceptions over the last two seasons is 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 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 has rushed in different blitz packages as well, narrowly missing a sack against the San Francisco 49ers and becoming the fourth member of the secondary to notch one.
PACKERS WIN THIRD STRAIGHT, NOW 7-4
- Not long ago the Green Bay Packers lost a game they shouldn't have at previously winless Tampa Bay to drop to .500, and they were staring at a stretch of three games in 12 days that could define which direction the 2009 season was going to go.
- They emerged from that stretch unscathed with a third straight victory, 34-12 over the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day at Ford Field, and now at 7-4 they've put themselves among the front-runners for an NFC Wild Card playoff spot.
- "We obviously came back from a real tough loss, and we knew we had three games in 12 days," veteran offensive lineman Mark Tauscher said. "To come out of that 3-0 playing fairly well, it's big. Now we get a chance to regroup and get our second bye week, come back refreshed and look to get going again."
- The Packers had to overcome a slow start in this one, as Jordy Nelson fumbled away the opening kickoff and the Lions took advantage of the short field, driving 20 yards for an early score. Then Green Bay drove 64 yards the other way, only to see Mason Crosby miss a 43-yard field goal, keeping it at 7-0.
- But from there through the end of the third quarter, the Packers dominated the Lions on both sides of the ball.
- On the Packers' next six offensive possessions, they scored five times, including three touchdown passes by Aaron Rodgers to Donald Lee, Donald Driver and James Jones. The only empty possession came at the start of the third quarter, when Head Coach Mike McCarthy eschewed a long field goal to go for it on fourth-and-3.
- Meanwhile, over that span the defense, playing for the first time without cornerback Al Harris and linebacker Aaron Kampman (who were lost for the season to knee injuries last week) recorded three interceptions, forced two punts, and made the Lions try a long field goal, which missed.
- It all added up to a 27-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter, and the Packers were well on their way to a fourth straight season sweep of the Lions.
- "The game of football is about execution, it doesn't matter who's out there on the field," said cornerback Charles Woodson, who had another monster day with two interceptions - one for a touchdown in the fourth quarter - a forced and recovered fumble, and a sack. "Today we executed and got some turnovers, which was big, and the offense drove downfield and put up points. When you've got those things working together, you can win games."
- The sudden return to health of Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford (sprained shoulder) and receiver Calvin Johnson (hand, knee) ultimately didn't matter much. Stafford threw four interceptions in all and posted just a 30.5 passer rating (20-of-43, 213 yards, 1 TD), while Woodson held Johnson to only two catches for 10 yards.
- Rodgers obviously did his part, leading a Green Bay offense that was both efficient and explosive. He finished 28-of-39 for 348 yards with the three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 124.7 rating, and he had six completions of 19 yards or longer.
- The first of those seemed to jump-start the Packers on the final play of the first quarter. Facing third-and-11 on his own 25, Rodgers dropped back and had several seconds to scan the field back and forth. He eventually decided to heave the ball deep to Driver, who hauled in a 68-yard reception on an impressive throw that traveled at least 70 yards in the air.
- "I think they just kind of lost him," Rodgers said of Driver. "I was running around like I didn't know what was going on, looking to the left and looking to the right, and I saw Donald out of the corner of my eye. I had to make a split decision whether I could throw it that far. I still didn't throw it far enough where he could catch it and score. But that was a fun one."
- It turned out to be a fun day for the offense, which rolled up 422 yards and converted 9-of-16 third downs (56 percent). Driver put up a season-high 142 yards on seven catches, while running back Ryan Grant added 103 yards from scrimmage (61 rushing, 42 receiving).
- One hiccup was a safety the Lions recorded on a tackle of Grant in the end zone after Detroit had turned the ball over on downs at the 1, but otherwise the offense was hurt by just one sack and one turnover - both happened on the failed fourth-and-3 play - and five different players took part in the six passes of 19 yards or more.
- "The line did a great job giving me time," Rodgers said. "A couple times I held the ball I think for probably 4 or 5 seconds, or more, and when you have the opportunity with the kind of players we have in our receiving corps, we feel like we can make plays."
- Added Tauscher: "Obviously we're performing better but there's always room for improvement. We want to be an offense you can count on to put up a lot of points."
- Now the Packers need to count on carrying this momentum through a de facto second bye week before the season resumes with a big Monday night showdown against Baltimore at Lambeau Field on Dec. 7.
- The time off to rest and recuperate will be important, but so will be keeping the edge this team has displayed since that disheartening loss in Tampa.
- "We're at 7-4, stacking success, feeling good, and our confidence level should be high right now," Grant said. "But we know we need a bigger surge for these last five weeks."
- Driver's two long receptions were two of six pass plays of 19 yards or longer Rodgers completed in the game. He also hit Jennings for 33, Grant for 27 on a shovel pass, James Jones for 21 and a TD, and Jordy Nelson for 19. The six big plays accounted for 213 of Rodgers' 348 passing yards.
- Clay Matthews recorded his fifth sack on the season, moving him into the team lead in that category. He also moved closer to the team's rookie sack record, which is eight, held by Tim Harris (1986) and Vonnie Holliday (1998). Harris was the last Packers rookie to lead the team in sacks for a season.
- Packers defensive linemen have had a knack for battling balls at the line of scrimmage lately. They chalked up two more on Thursday, as Johnny Jolly and B.J. Raji both deflected Stafford throws at the line. Jolly leads the defensive linemen with eight on the season, while Raji got the first of his career, joining Ryan Pickett and Cullen Jenkins with one apiece.
- Cornerback Trevor Ford, signed from the practice squad on Wednesday, was active and made his NFL debut. He recorded a special teams tackle.
TAKEAWAY POINTS KEY FOR PACKERS
- Green Bay has continued to show its knack for the takeaways in the first 11 games with 18 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries, which it has turned into 99 points.
- Green Bay's 27 takeaways rank second behind only New Orleans, which has 32 takeaways.
- The Packers' 99 points scored off those 27 takeaways also ranks second, again to New Orleans (124).
- With five takeaways against the Lions (four interceptions, one fumble recovery), Green Bay extended its own streak to 14 straight games with a takeaway. That is the second-longest active streak in the NFL behind Houston (17).
- 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.
INT RETURN YARDAGE A HABIT
- The Packers finished 2008 with an astounding 685 return yards on their 22 interceptions, tops in the NFL. That was over 200 yards better than the next closest team, Baltimore, which finished the year with 477 return yards on 26 interceptions.
- The 685 return yards set a new franchise record, besting the previous record established in 1943, when the team had 616 yards on 42 interceptions. In the modern era, the two previous highs were 561 return yards on 27 interceptions in 1965, and the following season when Green B