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Packers turn attention to title game against Vikings

Mike McCarthy: "At time of crisis, think of players, not plays"


GREEN BAY – Head Coach Mike McCarthy quickly turned his team's attention away from Sunday's loss in Arizona, and ahead to this Sunday's NFC North title showdown with the Minnesota Vikings.

"The team message today was all about the Minnesota Vikings. It's a football game that clearly got away from us," McCarthy said of the 38-8 loss to the Cardinals. "The obvious was the turnover ratio and the points off turnovers. We had a long, bumpy flight home. I wanted to get the team focused on the Vikings."

Green Bay achieved a nearly 50-50, run-pass balance against the Cardinals, which McCarthy said was his team's game plan, but the Packers gained only 178 total net yards, of which only 77 were passing yards. Those numbers left the Packers offense at No. 24 in the league, and a shocking No. 26 in passing.

"It looked as bad as it felt. It's time to beat the Vikings. I want all the focus to be on the Vikings. I take full responsibility for the way my team played yesterday," McCarthy said.

The Packers and Vikings are each 10-5. Should the Packers win, they'll claim the No. 3 NFC playoff seed and host either the Vikings or Seahawks in the wild-card round of the playoffs the following weekend. Should the Packers lose to the Vikings, they would go into the playoffs as No. 5 and would travel to No. 4 Washington in the wild-card round.

"Minnesota is healthy, had a big win against the Giants. We're dialed into the Vikings right now," McCarthy said.

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

In his postgame remarks in Arizona, McCarthy said: "We have to quit worrying about plays and worry about execution."

Asked on Monday to explain the meaning of that comment, McCarthy said: "It's myself reiterating a common theme. I learned it from Marty Schottenheimer. At time of crisis, think of players, not plays. We know what we're doing in terms of designing plays, but at the end of the day, it's about giving the players the resources to be successful."

The Packers scored a 30-13 win in Minnesota in Week 11. It's the Packers' most impressive performance since after the bye week in October. The Packers achieved the run-pass balance in that game McCarthy seeks: They ran for 124 yards and threw for 196, and held Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson to 45 yards rushing.

"I thought the defense did some good things (in Arizona)," McCarthy said. "Our tackling wasn't where it needed to be. We had a number of one-on-one pass-rush opportunities and we didn't win enough of those."

It's the Packers offense, however, that is under the greatest scrutiny. Two third-quarter fumbles were returned for touchdowns by the Cardinals.

"We made way too many mistakes against a good football team that played well," McCarthy said. "I have faith in this football team regardless of what happens. I believe in these guys."

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