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Turnovers Key To Results


Football is a very complex game, which is why so much practice and preparation go into each and every game played in the NFL.

Football can also be a very simple game, as Packers' GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said following his team's 21-10 loss to the Chicago Bears in their home opener Sunday.

Sherman wasn't taking any solace in the fact that the Packers outgained the Bears by nearly 100 yards, 404 to 307, or that they threw for more than twice as many yards as their opponent, 252 to 125.

No amount of yardage, third down conversion percentage, or first downs was going to change the only statistic that matters to the Packers' head man.

"The only stat that matters is the points you score and the points they score," said Sherman. "The yardage really doesn't matter a whole heck of a lot. I thought the Bears did a great job of winning the football game. They made the plays and did the things they had to do to win, and we didn't do those things."

One statistic that seems to go a long way in determining how many points each team manages to ring up on the scoreboard, though, is turnovers. Winning the turnover battle has been crucial to the Packers' success over the past two seasons, both of which ended with NFC North Division championships.

Since the start of the 2002 season, including three playoff games, Green Bay has not lost a game in which they have committed fewer turnovers than their opponents. That's 19 games, 19 wins.

When the Packers have come up on the short end of the turnover stick, as was the case Sunday, their record in that span is 3-11. The team has also split four games in which both teams had the same amount of turnovers.

Undoubtedly, the single biggest play in Sunday's game was a play involving a turnover.

Trailing 7-3 late in the second quarter, the Packers seemed poised to score and take the lead just before the halftime break. Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher made a tremendous play, however, stripping the ball away from sure-handed running back Ahman Green on a play that began at the Bears' two-yard line.

Opportunistic safety Mike Green scooped up the loose ball and sprinted 95 yards in the opposite direction for a touchdown, extending the Bears' lead to 14-3. Just seconds earlier, the Packers seemed to be looking at being on top by three points only to find themselves in an 11-point hole they would not be able to climb out of.

"We put ourselves in a hole with the turnover at the two-yard line going in," Sherman said. "That was a 14-point differential - seven not for us, seven for them. Obviously that was a huge play in the game, a great play by Urlacher."

Tight end Bubba Franks pointed out that holding on to the ball was the main difference between the team's 10-point win on the road last week and the loss on Sunday.

"We turned the ball over here and there," said Franks in the locker room. "Turnovers will hurt you. Last week they helped us when we didn't have any. Today we had turnovers and they didn't have too many, and it hurt us."

Sherman pointed out that the talent level is so close in today's parity-driven NFL that wins and losses frequently comes down to who can avoid making the crucial mistakes.

"That's life in the National Football League. You'd better bring your 'A' game every single week because anybody can beat anybody. They made more plays to determine the outcome of the game for them than we made to determine the game positively for us."

Franks did a good job of summing up the feeling in the dressing room, and no one in there was smiling about the stats that had been put up.

"We lost, that's all that counts," he said. "Who cares about how many yards you have? A win is all that matters, period."

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