Packers-Seahawks Week 16 Dope Sheet

The Packers wrap up the 2009 regular-season slate at Lambeau Field today as they take on the Seattle Seahawks. Green Bay comes into the game with playoff hopes on the line and a chance to secure the franchise’s 25th postseason bid. - More Check the Packers-Seahawks Game Center for the latest game updates.

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*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-Seahawks Week 16 Dope Sheet. To read the full version, download the PDF by clicking here.

Here are some highlights from the Packers-Seahawks Week 16 Dope Sheet:*

**SEATTLE (5-9) at GREEN BAY (9-5)

Sunday, Dec. 27 - Lambeau Field - 12 p.m. CST

HOME SCHEDULE CONCLUDES WITH SEAHAWKS**

  • The Packers wrap up the 2009 regular-season slate at Lambeau Field on Sunday as they take on the Seattle Seahawks.
  • Green Bay comes into the game with playoff hopes on the line and a chance to secure the franchise's 25th postseason bid. With a win Sunday, the Packers would achieve double-digit victories for the 24th time in team history and second under Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
  • Coming off an emotional, last-second defeat in Pittsburgh that also snapped a five-game winning streak, Green Bay will welcome a familiar foe to Lambeau Field, where it has won 18 of its last 25 games.
  • This will mark the fifth consecutive season in which the Packers and Seahawks will meet. The two clubs last met in Green Bay in the 2007 NFC Divisional playoffs, a 42-20 Packers win in one of the most memorable postseason contests in franchise history. Including another playoff victory over Seattle at Lambeau Field in the 2003 postseason, the Packers own a 5-1 advantage over the Seahawks in Green Bay. Seattle's lone win came in its first-ever Lambeau Field appearance in 1999.
  • Green Bay owns a 7-5-0 advantage in the all-time regular-season series, which has taken on the feeling of a friendly rivalry in recent years. Packers GM Ted Thompson spent five seasons (2000-04) as director of football operations for the Seahawks where he worked side-by-side with Mike Holmgren, who coached Seattle for 10 years (1999-2008) after coaching the Packers for seven (1992-98).
  • Seattle dropped its most recent game at home to the Buccaneers, 24-7, to fall to 5-9 on the year. The Seahawks wrap up their season at home next weekend against the Titans.

COULD THEY CLINCH?

  • Green Bay could clinch a playoff berth in front of the home fans at Lambeau Field on Sunday, the place where it clinched its last postseason berth in 2007 in Week 14.
  • There are three scenarios by which Green Bay could clinch a playoff spot this weekend: 1) Packers win AND Cowboys loss; 2) Packers win AND Giants loss or tie; 3) Packers tie AND Giants loss.
  • The Giants play at home against Carolina at noon, while the Cowboys travel to Washington to take on the Redskins Sunday night.
  • At 9-5, Green Bay stands ahead of Dallas (9-5) and the New York Giants (8-6) for the top NFC Wild Card seed. By virtue of its Week 10 win over the Cowboys, Green Bay holds the first tiebreaker over Dallas.
  • While the loss at Pittsburgh certainly stung in the way in which it occurred, the fact that it came against an AFC opponent helps soften the blow. 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 7-3 against the NFC so far this season with conference matchups ahead Sunday against the Seahawks and in Week 17 in Arizona.

WITH THE CALL

  • FOX Sports, now in its 16th season as an NFL network television partner, will broadcast the game to a regional audience.
  • Play-by-play man Thom Brennaman and color analyst Brian Billick will have the call from the broadcast booth.
  • 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.
  • 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 121 WTMJ feed) as part of the network's NFL Sunday Drive.
  • DIRECTV subscribers can watch the game in HD on channel 712.

**THE DOPE ON THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT:

Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks

All-time, regular season: **7-5-0

All-time, postseason:2-0

All-time, in Green Bay:5-1 (incl. two playoff victories)

Streaks:The Packers have won five of the last six, including the two postseason contests.

Last meeting, regular season:Oct. 12, 2008, at Qwest Field; Packers won, 27-17

Last meeting, at Lambeau Field:Jan. 8, 2008, in NFC Divisional playoff; Packers won, 42-20

COACHES CAPSULES

Mike McCarthy:37-27-0, .578 (incl. 1-1 postseason); 4th NFL season

Jim Mora:32-32-0, .500 (incl. 1-1 postseason); 4th NFL season (1st Seahawks)

Head to Head:Never met

vs. Opponent:McCarthy 2-1 vs. Seahawks; Mora 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 MORA…Is in first year as the Seahawks' seventh head coach.

  • Took over team for Mike Holmgren after serving as assistant head coach/defensive backs the past two seasons.
  • Was head coach of the Atlanta Falcons the three years prior (2004-06), winning a division title in his first season.
  • A walk-on linebacker at the University of Washington (1981-83), played on two Rose Bowl teams.

THE PACKERS-SEAHAWKS SERIES

  • The two clubs have met 14 times, including the regular season and playoffs, since Seattle entered the National Football League in 1976. The 2007 NFC Divisional playoff was the second in the postseason, both at Lambeau Field and won by the Packers.
  • This will mark the first Packers-Seahawks game without Mike Holmgren coaching one of the squads since 1990, a span of eight games.
  • Since Seattle's shift to the NFC in 2002, the two teams have met six times including playoffs. Including this year, the two teams have met every year over the last seven seasons except 2004.
  • Neither team has ever won more than three in a row in the series

{sportsad300}NOTABLE CONNECTIONS

Packers GM Ted Thompson spent five seasons (2000-04) as the Seahawks' vice president of football operations...Packers personnel analyst John Schneider (2000) and director of college scouting John Dorsey (1999) both worked in Seattle's front office...Green Bay assistant head coach/linebackers Winston Moss played his final three seasons in Seattle (1995-97) and began his coaching career with the Seahawks as defensive quality control in 1998...Seahawks defensive backs coach Tim Lewis was a first-round pick of the Packers in 1983, and played four seasons in Green Bay before his career was cut short by a neck injury…Lewis was also Packers secondary-safeties coach Darren Perry's position coach for four seasons (1995-98)…Packers special teams assistant Curtis Fuller was a fourth-round draft choice of the Seahawks as a safety in 2001 and played two seasons there…Former Packers GM Ron Wolf selected Matt Hasselbeck in the sixth round of the 1998 draft; the quarterback spent his first three seasons in Green Bay, including his rookie campaign on the Packers' practice squad. McCarthy was his position coach during the 1999 season...Seattle DT Colin Cole played five seasons in Green Bay (2004-08) while Seattle P Jon Ryan played two (2006-07)...Former college teammates include Seahawks RB Julius Jones and TE John Carlson and Packers RB Ryan Grant (Notre Dame), Seahawks LB Aaron Curry and C Steve Vallos and Packers LB Jeremy Thompson (Wake Forest), Seahawks S Deon Grant and Packers LT Chad Clifton (Tennessee), Seahawks DT Red Bryant and Packers DEs Johnny Jolly and Michael Montgomery and LB Cyril Obiozor (Texas A&M), Seahawks WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Packers LB Nick Barnett (Oregon State), Seahawks LS Kevin Houser and Packers NT Ryan Pickett (Ohio State), Seahawks DT Brandon Mebane and RB Justin Forsett and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and S Matt Giordano (Cal), Seahawks DE Lawrence Jackson and Packers LB Clay Matthews (USC), and Seahawks G Rob Sims and Packers LB A.J. Hawk (Ohio State)...Packers assistant director of pro personnel Tim Terry played linebacker for Seattle for two seasons (2001-02)...Seattle vice president Lance Lopes worked in the Packers' front office from 1993-2000.

INDIVIDUALLY VS. SEAHAWKS

RB Ryan Grant set franchise playoff records with 201 rushing yards and three TDs in the 2007 NFC Divisional playoff. He added a career-high 33 carries in last year's meeting...WR Greg Jennings had two TD catches in the playoff game and added another last year...WR Donald Driver has caught 31 passes for 416 yards and two scores in six games against Seattle...LB A.J. Hawk posted a career-high 20 tackles (16 solo) in the 2006 matchup...Also in the 2006 game, CB Charles Woodson recorded his second career two-INT game, and he has five career interceptions against the Seahawks.

LAST MEETING, REGULAR SEASON

  • Oct. 12, 2008, at Qwest Field; Packers won, 27-17.
  • The Packers snapped a three-game losing streak against an injury-depleted Seattle team that was forced to start No. 3 QB Charlie Frye.
  • The Packers broke a 10-all tie in the third quarter when Aaron Rodgers hit Greg Jennings for a 45-yard touchdown pass. In the fourth, John Kuhn added a 1-yard TD reception and Mason Crosby tacked on a field goal to give the Packers a comfortable 27-10 cushion.
  • Ryan Grant carried the ball a career-high 33 times for 90 yards, tying him for the second-most carries in a game in franchise history.
  • The Packers intercepted Frye twice and sacked him three times, limiting Seattle to just 177 yards of total offense.

LAST MEETING, AT LAMBEAU FIELD

  • Jan. 8, 2008, NFC Divisional playoff; Packers won, 42-20.
  • In a steady snowstorm that turned into white-out conditions in the second half, Ryan Grant overcame two early fumbles that staked Seattle to a 14-0 lead and rushed for 201 yards and three scores, both franchise playoff records, as the Packers scored touchdowns on six straight possessions.
  • A TD pass to Greg Jennings midway through the first quarter got Green Bay on the board, and Jennings' second TD grab early in the second quarter put the Packers up for good at 21-14.
  • Brett Favre finished 18-of-23 for 173 yards and three TDs (137.6 rating), setting a franchise playoff record for completion percentage in one game (78.26 percent).

PRO BOWL BALLOTING CONCLUDES

  • Pro Bowl balloting concluded Monday night and the AFC and NFC teams will be announced early next week.
  • With a 9-5 record and offensive and defensive units ranked among the league's top 10, the Packers have a number of candidates on both sides of the ball who could be selected to represent the NFC in South Florida.
  • On offense, QB Aaron Rodgers is a prime candidate thanks to an outstanding sophomore campaign as a starter. He is poised to set career highs in nearly every category and at 26 has matured into one of the game's top young signal callers.
  • Also looking to make his first career Pro Bowl is RB Ryan Grant, who is enjoying another fine year with 1,105 yards and eight TDs. WRs Donald Driver, a three-time selection, and Greg Jennings both have a chance to represent the conference, as each could go over the 1,000-yard mark Sunday.
  • On defense, it'd be hard to leave CB Charles Woodson and S Nick Collins off any postseason all-star team. Woodson is among the leading candidates for The Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year, while Collins' six interceptions are second among NFC safeties.
  • LB Nick Barnett has totaled over 100 tackles and three sacks as one of the leaders of the league's No. 2-ranked unit. Also at linebacker is Clay Matthews, a leading contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year who may earn some Pro Bowl consideration thanks to a forced fumble, three recoveries and a team-best 10 sacks.

A FAMILIAR FOE

  • Meeting for the seventh time overall in the past seven seasons (2003-09), Green Bay has taken five of the last six meetings from Seattle.
  • The Packers have played the Seahawks each year under Head Coach Mike McCarthy, who is 2-1 overall against Seattle.
  • Most recently, Green Bay defeated the Seahawks in Seattle last season, 27-17, behind two TD passes from Aaron Rodgers. Additionally, the Packers held an injury-riddled Seattle unit to 177 yards of total offense.
  • The 2007 meeting marked one of the most memorable games in the history of Lambeau Field. While a forecast called for light snow, near-blizzard conditions turned Lambeau Field into a snow globe as the Packers defeated the Seahawks, 42-20, in the Divisional playoffs.
  • It was a career day for RB Ryan Grant, who bounced back from two early fumbles to record the top ground performance (201 yards, three TDs) in Packers' playoff history.
  • There are connections abound between the coaching staffs and players, most notably with Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck, a former Green Bay draft pick who spent his first three NFL seasons with the Packers.
  • Additionally, three of the top members of the Packers' personnel department worked for the Seahawks: GM Ted Thompson, Director - Football Operations John Schneider and Director of College Scouting John Dorsey. Thompson ran the draft for the Seahawks for five seasons (2000-04), and nine starters on Seattle's Super Bowl XL team, including league MVP Shaun Alexander, were drafted by the Seahawks under Thompson's watch.

LED BY THE DEFENSE

  • Despite surrendering 537 total net yards to the Steelers, the Green Bay defense remained at the No. 2 spot in the league's overall defensive rankings. Still, it hasn't been since 1996, when it finished the year No. 1 overall and went on to win Super Bowl XXXI, that the Packers' defense has ranked among the league's top units this late in the season.
  • 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. 2 against the run and No. 11 against the pass.
  • Green Bay is allowing 290.9 yards per game, second behind the N.Y. Jets (262.8) and ahead of No. 3 Denver (294.4).
  • 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. 7. This week's opponent, Seattle, ranks 26th in third-down offense.
  • One constant for the defense has been its ability to take the ball away, registering 32 of the team's 33 takeaways. The Packers rank only behind the Saints and Eagles in total takeaways in 2009 and had their streak of 16 consecutive games with a takeaway snapped in Pittsburgh.
  • Whether they be caused by pressure from a deep and talented front seven, or a fantastic read by a ball-hawking secondary led by Pro Bowlers Nick Collins (six INTs) and Woodson (eight), those 33 turnovers have led to 113 points, the third-most points-off-turnovers total in the NFL. New Orleans leads the category with 134 points.
  • 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.

TAKING HIS PLACE AMONG THE GAME'S BEST

  • Now firmly entrenched in his role as the face of the franchise, QB Aaron Rodgers is a prime candidate to be named to his first Pro Bowl team when the rosters are announced later this month.
  • 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, ranked No. 6 overall, and avoided costly mistakes, spearheading a unit that has just 15 giveaways, tied with San Diego for the lowest total in the league.
  • Through 14 games, his 102.4 passer rating ranks fourth in the NFL. In addition, he is the game's top-ranked passer on third downs (134.4).
  • The fourth-year pro has thrown for 3,962 yards, fourth most in the league. At his current pace, Rodgers could end up challenging 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 TD passes and both completion and interception percentage.
  • And just for good measure, the Cal product tops all QBs with 305 rushing yards on 55 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 30 career starts, Rodgers has eclipsed the century mark in passer rating 16 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' 33 takeaways ranks third in the NFL. New Orleans leads the league with 37 takeaways.
  • The offense is doing its part as well, as its 15 giveaways on the year ranks tied for the fewest in the league with San Diego.
  • 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 316 times without a fumble in 2009.
  • With a defense that excels at the takeaway and an offense that protects the football as well as it does, it is no surprise Green Bay's plus-18 turnover ratio tops the league.
  • This week's opponent, Seattle, stands at minus-five, which ranks tied for 22nd in the NFL. It has 21 takeaways (12 interceptions, nine fumble recoveries) and 26 turnovers (14 interceptions, 12 fumbles).
  • Of the Packers' takeaways, 23 have come via the interception, tied with Philadelphia for third highest in the league behind Buffalo (26) and New Orleans (24). The Packers also have 10 fumble recoveries.
  • Every single Packers practice, be it during OTAs, training camp or the regular season, has a period devoted to ball security.
  • Headed by assistant head coach/inside linebackers Winston Moss, the drill has offensive skill players carry the ball while two defenders (linebackers and defensive backs) try to strip the ball. Once free, the offensive player then must run through a gauntlet of offensive and defensive linemen attempting to strip the ball loose.
  • The drill puts an emphasis on ball security to offensive players. For defensive players, the drill keeps the focus on stripping the ball from opposing players.
  • Overall, the team has 11 forced fumbles on the year (one on special teams), 10 of which it has recovered.
  • Offensive skill players need only to look at RBs Ryan Grant and Ahman Green for two players who exemplify ball security. Green currently has 373 consecutive rushes without a fumble, the longest active streak in the league, while Grant has a streak of 264 consecutive carries without a fumble, third longest among active streaks. Both streaks are individual career highs.
  • While the Packers can be proud of their place atop the league in turnover margin, it is a statistic that has trended upwards in each of McCarthy's three seasons.
  • In 2006, the team finished at even in the category but improved to plus-four in 2007. Last season's plus-seven margin, No. 6 among NFL teams, was the franchise's best mark since 2002 (+17).
  • Prior to McCarthy's arrival, the team had a franchise-worst turnover ratio (-24) in 2005.

AS GOOD AS HE'S EVER BEEN

  • With Pro Bowl balloting finished, it'd be hard to imagine CB Charles Woodson not being named to the NFC squad later this year.
  • In fact, Woodson is being talked about as one of the leading candidates for The Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year.
  • Woodson is the eighth player in NFL history since sacks became an official statistic to record at least eight sacks and two interceptions in a single season. Two of the players who previously accomplished the feat (Ed Reed - 2004; Rod Woodson - 1993) went on to win Defensive Player of the Year. Woodson also leads the Packers with four forced fumbles.
  • Against Dallas, Woodson became the first NFL player to record two forced fumbles, an interception and a sack in a game since Steelers linebacker James Harrison accomplished the feat two years ago to the day vs. Baltimore on Nov. 15, 2007. In that contest, Harrison posted three forced fumbles, 3½ sacks and an interception.
  • Against the Lions in Week 12, Woodson tallied two interceptions, including one he returned for a score, a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery, and held Calvin Johnson to two catches for 10 yards.
  • Woodson was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for both his Dallas (Week 10) and Detroit (Week 12) performances, and naturally won NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November. Woodson also was honored as the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September.
  • His Detroit performance marked the fifth multi-interception game of his career, and his fourth since coming to Green Bay.
  • Woodson's sixth INT return for a score moved him into second place on the franchise's all-time list behind Hall of Famer Herb Adderley (seven).
  • Woodson's six INT returns for a TD since 2006 leads all NFL players. Overall, he has eight career.
  • In addition to his team-high eight interceptions, he has been credited with 77 tackles through 14 games, second most on the team. That pace should allow him to 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 on the year. 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 44 career interceptions, tied for fourth among active NFL players. Of his interceptions, 27 have come in 60 games with Green Bay. In 106 games with the Raiders, he had 17.

D-LINE HEADLINES STOUT RUN DEFENSE

  • With each player adjusting to new responsibilities in the 3-4 scheme, Green Bay's defensive line has created an imposing presence as the first line of defense and is the main reason the team ranks No. 2 against the run.
  • DE Cullen Jenkins, who played both inside and outside in the old scheme, has 46 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 65 tackles and also has a sack and forced fumble. His nine passes defensed show his ability to be a disruptive force at the line of scrimmage and also tied a franchise record set by Jenkins in 2007, a stat the team began recording 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, the duo became the first pair of Packers linemen to record interceptions in the same year since 2002, when Kabeer Gbaja-Biamilia and Vonnie Holliday both had picks.
  • NT Ryan Pickett, playing the position for the first time, has been a disruptive force in the middle with 46 tackles and a pass deflection. The recent emergence of rookie B.J. Raji should keep all four players in the unit fresh down the stretch.
  • Since the Packers gave up 117 yards to RB Steven Jackson in Week 3, they have allowed 784 yards in 11 games (71.2 yards a game), the fewest allowed in the NFL over that span.
  • If the Packers can hold their opponents to a total of 192 yards rushing (96 per game) in the final two games, they will set a franchise record for the fewest rushing yards allowed in a 16-game season. The franchise record is 1,363 allowed in 1994 (85.2 per game).

GRANT AND THE GROUND GAME

  • RB Ryan Grant is having one of the better seasons among running backs in the NFC and is a prime candidate to earn his first career Pro Bowl selection.
  • Against the Bears, Grant rushed for his first 50-plus yard TD since 2007 and finished the game with 137 yards on 20 carries. His 6.9-yard average established a new career high in games with at least 20 rushes.
  • It was the third 100-yard performance on the season for Grant, who also 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 (1,105 yards) ranks fourth in the NFC and ninth overall in the NFL. Utilized more in the screen game this season, his 197 receiving yards already is a career high.
  • Grant's 1,302 total yards from scrimmage ranks fourth in the NFC and eighth 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 seven times in 2009. Its record in those contests is 6-1.
  • RB Brandon Jackson still sits at No. 2 on the depth chart and has served as the team's third-down back in his two-plus seasons.
  • Jackson has worked his way back into form after missing the first four games with an ankle injury, while Green has returned to game action after being sidelined by a groin injury. Both could begin to spell Grant from scrimmage down the stretch run and keep all three backs fresh as the team makes its push 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 one remaining home game, not to mention the possibility of a cold-weather playoff game, the offense may shift to a more ground-based attack.

QUITE THE PAIR

  • S Nick Collins and CB Charles Woodson tied for the NFC lead with seven interceptions last season and both were named to the Pro Bowl.
  • The pair continues to give opposing quarterbacks fits and should make another Pro Bowl trip this winter as both remain among the league leaders in interceptions. With eight, Woodson has tied a career high and stands one behind the NFL lead. Collins, with six interceptions, is tied for fifth most in the NFL. They are the only teammates in the NFL with six or more interceptions.
  • Woodson's 15 interceptions since 2008 lead all NFL players, while Collins' 13 since '08 ranks second. The Ravens' Ed Reed (12) is third.
  • Woodson became only the second player in team history to record at least eight picks in two or more seasons. He also had eight in '06.
  • The franchise's all-time leader in interceptions, Bobby Dillon, had nine interceptions in three different seasons (1953, '55, '57). His finished his career with 52.
  • Collins nearly set a record with an interception in four straight games, tied for the second-longest streak in team history. The last to accomplish the feat was John Symank in 1961, who also had four.
  • In addition to a Pro Bowl pair of skill players on defense, WR Donald Driver and WR Greg Jennings continue to pace one of the league's most dominant offenses. They are the only teammate tandem in the NFC to each have 950 receiving yards. The AFC has four pairs: Indianapolis' Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne, Pittsburgh's Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward, New England's Randy Moss and Wes Welker and San Diego's Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson.
  • The skill of Driver and Jennings on the perimeter has opened things up in the middle of the field for TE Jermichael Finley and RB Ryan Grant, each of whom has had big performances in the team's run to an NFC playoff berth.

EXCELLING ON THIRD DOWN

  • Part of Green Bay's recent success in a five-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. 3) and defense (No. 7) rank among the league's best in third-down efficiency.
  • It would be hard to imagine a better performance on third down than what QB Aaron Rodgers did in Detroit on Thanksgiving.
  • He finished 11-of-13 passing, good for eight first downs and two touchdowns for a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
  • That's not all that surprising when you consider Rodgers is the league's top-ranked passer (134.4) on third down. No other quarterback has thrown for as many yards (1,512) or touchdowns (14) on third down as Rodgers, who threw all three of his scores on third down in Pittsburgh. In 144 third-down attempts, he has a 67.4% completion rate and has yet to throw an interception. Tom Brady is the only other quarterback yet to throw an interception on third down (min. 85 attempts).
  • 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 scheme, the unit now ranks No. 7.
  • Some of the success can be attributed to the Packers' improved run defense. Starting with Week 4, it has allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL.

AROUND THE 'BLACK AND BLUE'

  • At 9-5, Green Bay stands solidly in second place in the NFC North with two games remaining on the schedule.
  • Green Bay finished the year 4-2 in division play with its 21-14 victory over the Bears in Chicago.
  • Minnesota, off to a 11-3 start, lost at Carolina over the weekend but still wrapped up the division crown by virtue of the Packers' loss. It will play in Chicago on Monday night before finishing the season at home against the New York Giants.
  • 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 worked against history again, becoming 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 eight of its last 10 games and was officially eliminated from postseason contention by the Packers two weeks ago. The Bears will have to play a divisional game against the Vikings as ESPN's Monday Night Football travels to Soldier Field. It will conclude its 2009 slate with another division game against the Lions.
  • Detroit dropped a close contest against Arizona over the weekend and will look to rebound in its final road trip of the season to San Francisco.
  • Head Coach Mike McCarthy has always stressed the importance of division play. Through the first 14 games of the '09 season, the Packers own the best division mark over the three-plus seasons of McCarthy's tenure at 17-7. The Packers are trailed by Minnesota (14-9) and Chicago (13-9) over that period.

ANOTHER FRANCHISE MARK

  • WR Donald Driver, now in his 11th season with the Packers, established yet another team mark in Week 13. This season, it seems as though franchise records fall on a weekly basis for Driver.
  • Driver became the 10th player in franchise history to reach the 50-touchdown plateau. No other NFL franchise has 10 players with 50-plus TDs.
  • Earlier, Driver topped the 50-catch plateau for an eighth straight season (2002-09), a new franchise record. 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 is tied for the team lead in catches (61), second in receiving yards (963), and first in touchdown catches (6). Those numbers certainly put him in the conversation for a fourth career Pro Bowl.
  • 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 Sunday with 8,952.
  • Driver has been the model of consistency for the Packers, catching at least one pass in 125 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 15 catches of 20-plus yards is tied for 11th 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 from the last five contests.
  • Over the last five games, he has caught a team-high 31 passes for 302 yards and three TDs. His reception total over that time ranks third among tight ends, trailing Tony Gonzalez (34) and Jason Witten (33).
  • His nine catches at Pittsburgh matched the single-game record for receptions by a tight end.
  • Rodgers clearly loves his athletic ability down the middle of the field, as evidenced by his seven catches of 20-plus yards. And in goal-line situations, as was seen against the Ravens and Steelers, Rodgers is confident in Finley's ability to win a one-on-one battle on a fade route.
  • 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 first 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 receiving yards by a tight end.
  • There's no doubting the Packers' depth at the position. TE Donald Lee remains a favorite target of Rodgers, ranking fourth on the team with 35 catches. Finley and Lee are the only NFL tight-end combo with at least 35 catches.
  • TE Spencer Havner has made the most of his opportunities this year, as four of his seven catches on the year have gone for scores.

284 AND COUNTING

  • Another packed house at Lambeau Field against the Ravens brought the stadium's consecutive sellouts streak to 284 games (268 regular season, 16 playoffs). The last home game on the regular-season schedule comes this Sunday against Seattle, expected to be consecutive sellout No. 285.
  • 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. So far, a total of 495,237 fans came through the turnstiles in the seven home contests in 2009.
  • Across American professional sports, only Boston's Fenway Park (1912) and Chicago's Wrigley Field (1914) have longer tenures.

GETTING AFTER THE QUARTERBACK

  • The Packers recorded five sacks against the Steelers, the third time this season it has totaled five or more sacks in a game.
  • The last time the Packers had five or more sacks in three games was 2002. The team record is four games, a number that was hit in three separate seasons (1985, 2000, 2001).
  • LB Brad Jones, who has filled in following season-ending knee injury to Aaron Kampman, recorded his first multi-sack game of his career against Pittsburgh, joining LB Clay Matthews (three multi-sack games) as the first rookie duo to post multi-sack games in a season.
  • Jones became the third Packers rookie to collect a sack this season, joining first-round picks NT B.J. Raji (1.0) and Matthews (10.0). The last time three Packers rookies recorded sacks was 1987.
  • With another sack against the Bears, Matthews became the first rookie in Packers history to record a sack in three consecutive games. His current streak is at four after a two-sack effort against Pittsburgh.
  • Raji has seen his most extensive action of the season at nose tackle in relief of starter NT Ryan Pickett, who missed the Chicago game and only played sparingly in Pittsburgh with a hamstring injury.
  • All three rookies missed time during training camp due to various injuries, meaning none of the three may hit the supposed "rookie wall" that sometimes plagues first-year players this time of year.

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.
  • In a game which featured a combined 94 pass attempts, Green Bay lost the time of possession battle against the Steelers, holding the ball for only 24:38.
  • Also keep in mind the Packers had two short scoring drives. A long scoring pass to WR Greg Jennings capped a three-play drive, while RB Ryan Grant's touchdown run was just the fourth play of the drive.
  • Entering Week 16, the Packers rank tied for No. 2 in the league with a time-of-possession average of 32:47, trailing only New England (33:16). Cincinnati shares the No. 2 spot with Green Bay, while Pittsburgh (32:33) and Miami (32:30) round out the league's Top 5.
  • The Packers could get the opportunity to improve upon their average this week against the Seahawks. Seattle ranks No. 31 in the category with an average of 27:29.
  • The Packers' final opponent, Arizona, ranks 13th in the category with an average of 30:05. Improved ball control in the final two games could allow the Packers to establish a new franchise record.
  • Green Bay's best single-season mark came in 1992, when it posted an average of 32:30 per game.
  • Before Pittsburgh, the Packers had really controlled the ball in their past eight contests, averaging just under 37 minutes per contest, nearly a full quarter more than their opponents.
  • In the first nine games of the season, the Packers had just nine drives of 10 plays or more. Over their last five games, they have 10 drives of 10 or more plays.
  • As the weather turns, Green Bay has traditionally become a more ground-oriented team. Though the nature of a "big-play" offense suggests quick strikes, the Packers could very well produce multiple 10-play drives in the games to come.

MATTHEWS CONTINUES TO IMPRESS

  • 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 second in the NFL with three fumble recoveries.
  • 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 three 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 the third multi-sack game of his career against the Steelers and has 10 sacks on the season, a new Green Bay rookie record. In addition to leading the Packers, his 10 sacks ranks second behind Washington's Brian Orakpo (11) for the lead among all rookies.
  • The last rookie to finish as the team leader in sacks was LB Tim Harris in 1986. Harris (8) and Vonnie Holliday (eight in 1998) had shared the team rookie record for sacks since the statistic became official in 1982.

PACKERS FALL ON FINAL PLAY IN PITTSBURGH

  • Green Bay showed its mettle on Sunday by coming back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take the lead, but the Packers couldn't come up with one final stop as it tried to knock off the defending Super Bowl champions.
  • Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace on the side of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown pass as time expired to give Pittsburgh (7-7) a 37-36 victory over the Packers in front of 57,452 at Heinz Field, the first 37-36 game in the history of the NFL.
  • The loss snapped Green Bay's five-game winning streak as the team fell to 9-5 on the season. If the playoffs started today, the Packers would be in as the No. 5 seed in the NFC, with Dallas also standing at 9-5.
  • "All losses are difficult," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "Losses in December are probably a little more important. This was a game we had a lot of confidence coming into. We knew we were going to have to score some points today on the offensive side of it. I don't think we thought it would go that way as far as their aggressiveness and the passing game against our defense.
  • "We came up one play short and it will be corrected (Monday). I'm sure there will be a number of opportunities where we could've probably made one play. I think this is classic December football. It came down to the last play of the game and we didn't get it done."
  • Coming in as the No. 2-ranked defense in the league (272.0 yards per game), the Packers allowed a season-high 537 yards of total offense by the Steelers. Most of the damage came through the air courtesy of a team-record 503 yards and three touchdowns by Roethlisberger on 29-of-46 passing (121.9 passer rating), which was also the most yards allowed by the Packers in franchise history.
  • Both teams made big plays through the air in the first quarter, with Wallace getting behind cornerback Jarrett Bush to catch a 60-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger on the Steelers' first offensive play of the game. The Packers answered less than five minutes later with quarterback Aaron Rodgers finding Greg Jennings over the middle for an 83-yard score, the longest touchdown pass and reception in the respective players' careers, to even the score at seven.
  • Roethlisberger would lead the Steelers on two more 70-plus yard scoring drives on the way to Pittsburgh's 21-14 halftime lead, and the only points of the third quarter came by way of a 37-yard Jeff Reed field goal as the Steelers led 24-14 after three quarters.
  • But then Green Bay's offense started to find its rhythm, with Rodgers leading a 13-play drive capped off with an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jermichael Finley to bring the Packers within three at 24-21 early in the fourth quarter.
  • After Pittsburgh tacked on three more points with another Reed field goal, the Packers struck back in a hurry, going 62 yards in less than two minutes as running back Ryan Grant found a hole on the left side for a 24-yard touchdown and a 28-27 lead.
  • "The offense did a good job of finishing and fighting through," Grant said. "I think it is a tribute to Aaron really keeping guys motivated guys the whole time. In the huddle each drive he was saying, 'Let's go. We can do it.' We felt like we could move the ball against them. We just needed to play our game and stay solid and make the plays. Guys stepped up."
  • The Steelers re-took the lead on another Reed field goal with under four minutes remaining, and then made the aggressive move to attempt an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff. Cornerback Ike Taylor scooped up Reed's kick, but it was a yard shy of the required 10 yards, so Green Bay found themselves with a short field at the Pittsburgh 39.
  • "I don't think it surprises you," McCarthy said. "They were playing to win. I thought they threw caution to the wind. I thought they threw everything at us. They didn't hold anything back. I thought (offensive coordinator) Bruce Arians did a hell of a job today. I thought he called an extremely aggressive game on their part, and obviously Mike (Tomlin) was going for the win there with the onside kick."
  • The Packers made the Steelers pay when Rodgers found wide receiver James Jones on a 3rd-and-14 for a 24-yard touchdown, Rodgers' third touchdown pass of the day, and running back Brandon Jackson on a two-point conversion pass as Green Bay once again grabbed a hold of the lead with just over two minutes remaining. Rodgers finished with 383 yards on 26-of-48 passing, the second-highest yardage total of his career.
  • Mason Crosby's squib kick on the ensuing kickoff went past returner Stefan Logan, who ran back to pick up the ball and returned it just 2 yards out to the Pittsburgh 14. Facing a 4th-and-7 at the 22 four plays later, Roethlisberger connected with wide receiver Santonio Holmes with linebacker Nick Barnett covering for a 32-yard gain into Green Bay territory.
  • Two plays later, it looked like Green Bay had put the game away when linebacker Brandon Chillar deflected Roethlisberger's pass into the arms of Bush for an interception, but Chillar was flagged for illegal contact on the play to give Pittsburgh another first down.
  • After two incomplete passes and a false-start penalty, Roethlisberger came through once again, finding tight end Heath Miller on the left sideline for a 20-yard pickup to Green Bay's 36 to convert a 3rd-and-15.
  • Defensive end Cullen Jenkins sacked Roethlisberger on the next play, but it was wiped out by a holding penalty on cornerback Josh Bell. Roethlisberger connected with Miller again on the next play, this time a 15-yard gain over the middle to Green Bay's 19 as the Steelers used their final timeout with 18 seconds remaining.
  • After two incomplete passes ran the clock down to three seconds, Pittsburgh had one final chance. With Bell in man-to-man coverage against Wallace, Roethlisberger threaded the pass to him on the sideline for the touchdown to give Pittsburgh the win as time expired.
  • Several players said after the game that Sunday's loss in a playoff-like atmosphere could serve as a learning experience for the team, but Green Bay now sets its sights on getting a 10th win next Sunday that would push the team that much closer to being a part of the postseason.
  • "Confidence comes with winning," McCarthy said. "There are different levels of success that you have during the course of a performance, and we'll point to that. We're very honest and realistic with our correction and evaluation process, and that's the way we'll go at it in the morning with the players.
  • "It's important to correct this and move on to Seattle. The Seattle game is very important to us. We need to get our win total to 10. That'll be the focus as soon as we get off the plane back here in Green Bay. But a tough loss for everybody. To let one get away at the last play of the game, it's a hard one to swallow."

INT RETURN YARDAGE CLIMBING AGAIN

  • 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 was 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 Bay had 547 return yards on 28 interceptions. The Packers won the NFL Championship both seasons.
  • While it may not be on a franchise-record-shattering pace this season, the Packers' defense has established it is still among the top units when it comes to piling up yardage on interception returns.
  • With 365 yards on 23 interceptions, Green Bay ranks third in the category behind New Orleans (631) and Tennessee (432).
  • McCarthy has said his team's ability to make a play after an interception is something the team has repped after every turnover in practice since he arrived in 2006. Every offensive player, whether part of the 11 on the play or the group on the sidelines, attempts to catch the defender before he can advance up the field.

LIMITING HIS MISTAKES BETTER THAN THE REST

  • It took QB Aaron Rodgers until his fourth game of the season to record his first interception, a second-quarter pass intended for WR Greg Jennings that was picked off by Vikings CB Antoine Winfield.
  • Prior to that second-quarter throw against Minnesota, his last interception came in Week 16 of last season, a streak that stretched 159 consecutive attempts. Rodgers' streak had been the second-longest streak among active quarterbacks and longest among starting signal-callers.
  • The streak of 159 passes without an interception was a new personal best for Rodgers, topping a record established last year, when it wasn't until the fourth game of the season that he threw an interception. That snapped a streak of 157 consecutive passes without an interception, a streak that began in 2005 and is the fourth-longest in team history. Rodgers' new career high (159) ranks third all-time among Green Bay signal callers for consecutive passes without an interception.
  • Bart Starr holds the franchise record with an astounding 294 straight passes without an interception, second-most in NFL history.
  • Rodgers has thrown just seven interceptions on 492 attempts. That percentage (1.4%) is tops in the NFL.
  • Rodgers has not thrown an interception in 10 different games this season, the second highest single-season mark in team history. Bart Starr owns the team record with 11 such games in a season (1964). But, to highlight what was a different era in terms of the passing game, Starr attempted 272 passes that season.
  • Starr is the only signal caller in team history to finish with an interception percentage under 2.0% (min. 200 attempts), which he accomplished twice (1.2% in 1966, 1.47% in 1964)
  • The interception-free streaks have come in bunches in the tenure of Head Coach Mike McCarthy. Much credit must be given to McCarthy, who works closely with those under center, and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements. In addition to Rodgers' two long streaks (159 and 157) over the past two seasons, Brett Favre had two of the longest streaks of his career (142, 139) under the duo in 2007.
  • In his first season as a starter, Rodgers threw 13 interceptions on 536 attempts (2.4%).
  • Rodgers enters play Sunday against Seattle with a current streak of 84 consecutive passes without an interception.
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