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.
This is an abbreviated version of the Packers-Falcons Divisional Playoff Dope Sheet. To read the full version, download the PDF by clicking here.
Here are some highlights from the Packers-Falcons Divisional Playoff Dope Sheet:
GREEN BAY (11-6) AT ATLANTA (13-3)
Saturday, Jan. 15 - Georgia Dome - 7:15 p.m. CST
PACKERS HEAD TO ATLANTA FOR NFC DIVISIONAL MATCHUP
For the second straight week, the Packers will go on the road for a postseason game that is a rematch from the regular season, this time an NFC Divisional contest against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.
Green Bay traveled to Atlanta in Week 12, a 20-17 Falcons win that ended on a 47-yard Matt Bryant field goal in the closing seconds.
On Sunday, the Packers beat the Eagles, 21-16, as Green Bay joined the 1981 N.Y. Giants as the only team to win twice at Philadelphia, including playoffs, in the same season.
It was the Packers’ first road postseason win since a 23-10 victory at San Francisco in the 1997 NFC Championship on Jan. 11, 1998.
Saturday’s game will be the third postseason matchup between the Packers and Falcons and the first ever in Atlanta. The teams have met twice before in NFC Wild Card games at Lambeau Field, the first on Dec. 31, 1995, and the other on Jan. 4, 2003. Green Bay won the ’95 contest, 37-20, while the Falcons won the more recent matchup, 27-7.
It will be just the third meeting between the teams in Atlanta in the past 18 seasons. Green Bay’s Week 12 visit was the first since 2005, but prior to that the most recent game there was on Oct. 4, 1992.
The all-time series is deadlocked at 13-13, which includes the two playoff meetings (1-1).
Saturday will mark the first time since 1993 that the Packers have played two postseason road contests in a season (at Detroit and at Dallas). That was also the only other time in franchise history that Green Bay played road games against two teams in the regular season and postseason.
The Falcons were 7-1 at the Georgia Dome this season, their lone defeat coming to New Orleans in Week 15 on the way to a 13-3 record and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Atlanta’s home record of 20-4 (.833) since 2008 is the best in the conference and No. 2 in the NFL behind only New England (21-3, .875).
Atlanta is 2-0 in postseason games at the Georgia Dome and 3-1 all-time at home in the playoffs, with the most recent contest coming against the St. Louis Rams on Jan. 15, 2005, in an NFC Divisional Playoff.
WITH THE CALL
FOX Sports, now in its 17th season as an NFL network television partner, will broadcast the game to a national audience.
Play-by-play man Joe Buck and color analyst Troy Aikman will have the call from the broadcast booth with Pam Oliver and Chris Myers reporting from the sidelines.
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 12th 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. Ian Eagle (play-by-play) and Tony Boselli (analyst) will call the action with Scott Kaplan reporting from the sidelines, and Scott Graham hosts pregame and halftime shows.
Univison Radio will also broadcast the game with Jorge Perez Navarro (play-by-play) and Joaquin Duro (color) calling the action.
For out-of-town listeners, the broadcast is available on Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 124) as part of the network’s NFL Sunday Drive.
Green Bay’s 26th postseason berth in team history marks the franchise’s 13th appearance in the last 18 seasons and the third in the past four years under Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
Saturday will be the second NFC Divisional contest for the Packers in the past four seasons. Green Bay is 4-5 all-time in the Divisional round.
The Packers’ 26 playoff appearances rank tied for No. 4 in NFL history behind only the N.Y. Giants and Dallas (30 each) and Cleveland/L.A./St. Louis Rams (27).
Green Bay’s win at Philadelphia this past Sunday was its 26th in the postseason, third most in NFL history. The Packers are now tied with San Francisco and Oakland for the most playoff victories behind Dallas (33) and Pittsburgh (31).
The Packers own the league’s third best postseason winning percentage (.619, 26-16) among NFL teams behind Baltimore (.643, 9-5) and Pittsburgh (.620, 31-19), who face off on Saturday.
Green Bay is 4-3 this season against 2010 playoff teams, with three of its wins coming on the road (Philadelphia, Week 1 and NFC Wild Card; N.Y. Jets, Week 8). The Falcons are also 4-3 on the year against ’10 playoff teams.
The Packers (2007, 2009, 2010) are one of only two teams in the NFC to advance to the postseason in three of the past four seasons, with the Eagles (2008-10) the other team to do so.
Since realignment in 2002, the Packers are tied for No. 2 in the NFC (with Seattle) with six playoff appearances behind only Philadelphia (seven).
THE DOPE ON THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT:
Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons:
All-time regular season: 12-12-0
All-time, postseason: 1-1
All-time, in Atlanta: 4-8-0
Streaks: The Falcons have won the last two meetings, but since 1974, no team has ever won more than two in a row.
Last meeting, regular season: Nov. 28, 2010, at Georgia Dome; Falcons won, 20-17
Last meeting, postseason: Jan. 4, 2003, at Lambeau Field (2002 NFC Wild Card); Falcons won, 27-7
Mike McCarthy: 50-34-0, .595, (incl. 2-2 postseason); 5th NFL season
Mike Smith: 33-16-0, .673 (incl. 0-1 postseason); 3rd NFL season
Head to Head: Smith 2-0
vs. Opponent: McCarthy 0-2 vs. Falcons; Smith 2-0 vs. Packers
MIKE McCARTHY…Is in fifth year as the Packers’ 14th head coach.
Has led his team to the playoffs three of the past four years.
One of only two coaches, along with New Orleans’ Sean Payton, to have his offense ranked in the top 10 in total yardage each of the last five years.
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.
MIKE SMITH…Is in third year as the Falcons’ 14th head coach.
Earned Coach of the Year honors from The Associated Press and Sporting News in 2008, turning around a 4-12 team and going 11-5 to earn a playoff berth in his first season.
Secured the first back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history with a three-game winning streak to close 2009, finishing 9-7.
Before joining the NFL ranks, coached at San Diego State (1982-85), Morehead State (1986) and Tennessee Tech (1987-98). Played LB at East Tennessee (1977-81) and for Winnipeg of the CFL (1982).
THE PACKERS-FALCONS SERIES
For a series that began with the Packers cruising to a 56-3 victory over the then-expansion Falcons in their first meeting in 1966, it has evolved into a closely contested rivalry. Including postseason, the series is dead even at 13-13.
Over the last decade-plus, Atlanta-Green Bay clashes have proven memorable. In 1994, the Packers defeated Atlanta in the final NFL game in Milwaukee (Dec. 18). QB Brett Favre’s lunging, 9-yard TD scramble on the game’s final play sealed the 21-17 victory.
A scant year later, the Packers and Falcons crossed paths in the postseason for the first time - on Dec. 31, 1995, in Lambeau Field. With RB Edgar Bennett rushing for 108 yards, the NFC Central champion Packers pulled out a 37-20 victory with the aid of a 76-yard scoring punt return by rookie Antonio Freeman.
In the 2002 regular season opener (Sept. 8), Favre and Michael Vick fought into overtime, with the Packers prevailing, 37-34. The Falcons, however, exacted revenge with a 27-7 win in the 2002 NFC Wild Card game, Green Bay’s first playoff loss in franchise history at Lambeau Field.
Packers WR coach Jimmy Robinson held the same post with the Falcons from 1990-93...Packers CB coach Joe Whitt Jr. broke into the NFL coaching ranks as a DB assistant for the Falcons in 2007...Packers S Charlie Peprah spent part of the 2009 season with Atlanta, appearing in two games for the Falcons...Peprah and Falcons G Justin Blalock were high school teammates from 1999-2000 at Plano East (Texas) Senior High…Peprah was also college teammates with Falcons QB John Parker Wilson at Alabama in 2005…Packers RB Dimitri Nance was on Atlanta’s practice squad before joining the Packers in Week 2 this season...Packers LB Clay Matthews’ father, Clay Jr., played three seasons for Atlanta (1994-96)...Packers FB Quinn Johnson and Falcons WR coach Terry Robiskie are cousins...Falcons DB coach Tim Lewis was a first-round draft pick by the Packers in 1983 and played four seasons in Green Bay before his career was cut short due to a neck injury...Packers LB Erik Walden is native to Dublin, Ga., southeast of Atlanta in the central region of the state…Packers def. coord. Dom Capers has familiarity with a trio of Falcons assistants, including asst. special teams coach Eric Sutulovich, who served under Capers when he was the head coach in Houston from 2002-05...Falcons LBs coach Glenn Pires was the quality control and asst. LBs coach when Capers was the def. coord. for the Miami Dolphins from 2006-07, and off. coord. Mike Mularkey served in the same capacity opposite Capers in Miami in 2006 and as the team’s TE coach in 2007...Mularkey was the head coach in Buffalo from 2004-05 when current Packers QB coach Tom Clements served as his off. coord. for both seasons…The two also worked together in Pittsburgh from 2001-03 when Mularkey was the off. coord. and Clements the QB coach for the Steelers...Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez’s first two NFL seasons were in Kansas City with McCarthy on the Chiefs’ offensive coaching staff...Packers LB Matt Wilhelm and Falcons RB Michael Turner and TE Justin Peelle were teammates with the Chargers...Atlanta QB Matt Ryan and Green Bay NT B.J. Raji were teammates at Boston College and top-10 first-round draft picks in successive years (Ryan ‘08, Raji ‘09)...Falcons WR Michael Jenkins and Packers LBs A.J. Hawk and Wilhelm were teammates on Ohio State’s national championship team in 2002...Green Bay FB John Kuhn and Atlanta CB Brent Grimes both played in college at Shippensburg and were the second and third players, respectively, following retired Green Bay LS Rob Davis, to come to the NFL from that school...Other college teammates include Packers C/G Jason Spitz and Falcons WR Harry Douglas (Louisville), Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and LB Desmond Bishop and Falcons S Thomas DeCoud (California), Packers CB Sam Shields and Falcons LB Spencer Adkins (Miami), Packers LS Brett Goode and Falcons DE Jamaal Anderson (Arkansas), Packers LB Clay Matthews and Falcons T Sam Baker (USC), Packers P Tim Masthay and Falcons DT Corey Peters (Kentucky), Packers WR James Jones and Falcons CB Christopher Owens (San Jose State), and Packers S Nick Collins and Falcons WR Eric Weems (Bethune-Cookman)...Packers college scouting coordinator Danny Mock spent 17 seasons (1980-96) with the Falcons in various roles...Packers asst. director of pro personnel Eliot Wolf worked three scouting internships with the Falcons...Packers asst. director of college scouting Shaun Herock worked summers as a ball boy for the Falcons during his youth and also worked as an intern in Atlanta’s scouting department for four consecutive years (1989-92) in college...Packers box office manager Philip Caldwell worked for 13 years in the Falcons’ ticket office.
INDIVIDUALLY VS. FALCONS
In four career games against Atlanta, WR Donald Driver has 22 catches for 286 yards and a TD...Combining the ‘08 and ‘10 meetings, Green Bay players have the following stats: QB Aaron Rodgers (51-of-72, 657 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 111.9 rating), WR Greg Jennings (9 catches, 206 yards, 1 TD), WR Jordy Nelson (6-75, 1 TD).
LAST MEETING, REGULAR SEASON
Nov. 28, 2010, at Georgia Dome; Falcons won, 20-17
QB Aaron Rodgers fumbled at the goal line and the Falcons recovered in the end zone before responding with an 80-yard drive, capped by a Tony Gonzalez TD catch, just before halftime to take a 10-3 lead.
Trailing 17-10 in the fourth quarter, Rodgers (26-of-35, 344 yards, 1 TD, 114.5 rating) led a 16-play, 90-yard drive to tie the game with 56 seconds left. He converted two fourth downs on the drive, including a fourth-and-goal with a 10-yard TD pass to WR Jordy Nelson.
Atlanta answered with a 40-yard kickoff return by Eric Weems, and a facemask penalty put the ball on the Green Bay 49 to start the final drive. QB Matt Ryan (24-of-28, 198 yards, 1 TD, 108.0 rating) moved the Falcons into position for Matt Bryant’s game-winning 47-yard FG with 9 seconds left.
LAST MEETING, POSTSEASON
Jan. 4, 2003, at Lambeau Field; Falcons won, 27-7
The Packers lost a home playoff game for the first time ever as QB Michael Vick, who threw for 117 yards and ran for 64 of his team’s 192 rushing yards, led the Falcons to the ‘02 NFC Wild Card triumph.
Saddled with a long list of injuries, the Packers had a punt blocked and muffed a punt return, leading to two Atlanta TDs and a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.
PRODUCTION ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL
Green Bay was one of four teams in the NFL to have both the offense (No. 9) and defense (No. 5) rank among the league’s top 10. That is the second straight year the Packers have had both units finish in the top 10 with the 2009 team featuring the No. 6 offense and the No. 2 defense, and the first time Green Bay has accomplished that feat since 1997-98.
Green Bay’s offense ranked among the league’s top 10 for the fifth consecutive season and posted its most prolific performance of the season against the Giants in Week 16 when it recorded a season-high 515 yards, the most since the Packers registered 548 at Oakland on Dec. 22, 2003.
Despite missing the Week 15 contest at New England due to a concussion, QB Aaron Rodgers finished among the top 10 in nearly every significant passing category for the second straight season.
Rodgers spread the ball around, with three wide receivers hitting the 50-catch mark for the first time in franchise history. Greg Jennings (76), Donald Driver (51) and James Jones (50) all posted 50 receptions on the season. The Packers were one of only five NFL teams in 2010 to have three WRs with 50-plus receptions.
On the other side of the ball, the Packers posted their best scoring defense mark since the Super Bowl champion team of 1996 (13.1 ppg). Green Bay finished No. 2 in the league by giving up 15.0 points per game, trailing only Pittsburgh (14.5), highlighted by three games where its opponent did not get into the end zone.
The Packers also posted 47 sacks, the most by a Green Bay defense since the 2001 team registered 52. With the 47 sacks, the Packers finished tied for No. 2 in the NFL behind only Pittsburgh (48), the highst ranking in franchise history.
Green Bay finished No. 6 in the NFL with 32 takeaways, including 24 interceptions (No. 2). It was the second straight 30-plus takeaway season for the Packers, the first time they had accomplished that feat since 2002-03.
For the second straight season and just the fifth time in franchise history, the Packers will play in a dome in the postseason, an environment they have had some success in during Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure.
Green Bay has had plenty of experience playing indoors, especially of late. Including playoffs, Saturday’s contest at Atlanta will be the Packers’ ninth dome game in the past two seasons.
Since McCarthy took over in 2006, the Packers are 10-5 (.667) in regular-season dome games. That winning percentage ranks tied for No. 1 in the league among teams with eight or more road regular-season dome games. Philadelphia and the N.Y. Giants are both 6-3 (.667) over that span.
McCarthy won his first six dome games as a head coach before the Packers fell just short at Minnesota in a 28-27 loss on Nov. 9, 2008.
Green Bay’s offense has been productive indoors, averaging 370.2 yards of total offense and 28.5 points in the 15 regular-season dome games compared to averages of 357.7 yards per game and 24.2 points per game in outdoor contests over that span. In 10 of the 15 dome games, the Packers posted at least 370 yards of total offense.
QB Aaron Rodgers has a 106.4 passer rating in 10 career starts in domes, with 2,645 passing yards, 18 TDs and just five INTs on 205-of-307 passing (66.8 percent).
Rodgers has registered four 300-yard games in domes in his 10 starts, and has averaged 264.5 passing yards per game despite playing less than a half at Detroit this season in Week 14 (concussion).
His 106.4 passer rating indoors since 2008 ranks No. 1 in the NFL. He leads the league in yards per attempt at 8.62 and ranks No. 2 in interception percentage at 1.6 (min. 200 attempts).
The Packers’ defense has done its part as well, posting 31 takeaways (2.1 per game) and six touchdowns in dome games since ’06, including five contests with at least three takeaways. That has contributed to Green Bay’s plus-10 turnover ratio in dome games since 2006.
What made the Packers’ Week 11 win at Minnesota more impressive was that it came against a Vikings team that entered the game 17-3 (.850) at home over the past three seasons. The Vikings allowed just 268.2 yards per game and 16.8 points per game in those 20 contests, and the Packers posted 374 yards and 31 points. Green Bay gave up just three points in the game, the fewest ever by a Packers team at the Metrodome.
WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE
Green Bay’s six losses this season came by a combined 20 points, a 3.33 margin of defeat that ranked No. 1 in the NFL.
The Packers never lost a game by more than four points this season, but even more impressive, they never trailed by more than seven points at any point in a game this season.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Green Bay became the first team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to never trail by more than seven points in a game at any point in a season, with the 1969 Minnesota Vikings the last to do so.
The Packers’ 3.33 average margin of defeat was the lowest in franchise history since the 1966 team lost two games by a total of four points (2.0 avg.).
In 2010, Baltimore ranked No. 2 (4.00) in the category with Indianapolis checking in at No. 3 (7.17). The next closest teams in the NFC were Atlanta and Philadelphia (7.67).
According to STATS, the average margin of defeat in NFL games this season was 11.75, and the average among playoff teams was 10.64. Of the 32 teams in the league, 17 had an average margin of defeat of 10 or more points this season.
Green Bay’s average of margin of defeat this season was the lowest by a team with five or more losses since San Francisco’s 3.00 mark in 1995 when the 49ers finished 11-5.
The Packers’ average margin of defeat was the lowest by a playoff qualifier since San Diego recorded a 3.00 margin of defeat in its two losses in 2006.
Green Bay spent an average of 35:12 per game in the lead this season compared to an average of 9:44 per game trailing its opponents.
STAT OF THE WEEK
With his three-touchdown performance Sunday at Philadelphia in his second career playoff start, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers etched his name in the NFL postseason record books.
Combining Sunday’s outing with his four-TD passing game last season at Arizona in an NFC Wild Card contest, Rodgers’ seven touchdown passes in his first two postseason starts are the most in NFL history. It tops the mark of six that was held by five other quarterbacks.
Rodgers connected on 18-of-27 passes (66.7 percent) for 180 yards and three TDs with no INTs against the Eagles on Sunday for a 122.5 passer rating.
Along with his 121.4 passer rating against the Cardinals in the playoffs last season (28-of-42, 423 yards, four TDs, one INT), Rodgers became the first quarterback in league history to register 120-plus passer ratings in each of his first two playoff starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Rodgers’ 122.5 passer rating on Sunday was the third best posted against the Eagles in their playoff history, trailing only Arizona’s Kurt Warner (145.7, Jan. 18, 2009) and Oakland’s Jim Plunkett (145.0, Jan. 25, 1981). Rodgers’ rating was the best ever at Philadelphia in the postseason, topping the previous high posted by Detroit’s Don Majkowski (93.5, Dec. 30, 1995).
Rodgers’ career postseason passer rating of 121.8 ranks No. 1 in NFL history among players with 50 or more attempts. He also ranks first in league history with a 98.4 rating in the regular season.
DEFENSE KEEPING THEM OUT
Having finished No. 2 in the league’s final overall rankings and No. 7 in points allowed in 2009, the Green Bay defense enjoyed an even more productive year in 2010 when it came to keeping opponents off the scoreboard.
The Packers ranked No. 2 in the league in scoring defense, allowing the opposition an average of just 15.0 points per game, as they trailed only Pittsburgh (14.5) in the category.
Including Sunday’s 21-16 NFC Wild Card win at Philadelphia, the Packers have allowed 17 or fewer points in 10 of 17 games this season.
Green Bay allowed just 24 TDs, the fewest by the Packers since 19 in 1996, and that total was No. 2 in the NFL behind only the Steelers (22).
The No. 2 ranking was the Packers’ best mark since they finished No. 1 in the league in that category during the 1996 Super Bowl season (13.1 per game).
In the final nine games, the Packers gave up 10.4 points per game, including five contests where they held their opponents to seven points or less. In Week 15 they allowed a season-high 31 points against a New England team that finished No. 1 in the NFL in scoring offense at 32.4 per game, but 14 of those points came courtesy of an INT for a TD and long kickoff return that put New England at Green Bay’s 4-yard line.
Green Bay finished No. 5 in the NFL in overall defense, allowing an average of 309.1 yards per game, and No. 5 in the league in passing defense at 194.2 yards per game.
With the No. 5 ranking this season and a No. 2 ranking in 2009, the Packers finished in the top five in overall defense in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1968-69.
After leading the NFL in run defense for the first time in 2009 by allowing a franchise-record 83.3 yards per game, the Packers weren’t quite as productive against the run as they finished No. 18 in the league with 114.9 yards allowed per game.
Green Bay allowed just six rushing TDs all year, which ranked No. 3 in the NFL. The Packers’ 11 rushing TDs given up over the past two seasons are the fewest in a two-year span in team history.
Until Vikings RB Adrian Peterson rushed for 131 yards in Week 7, Green Bay’s defense hadn’t allowed a running back to rush for 100 yards for 19 straight games. Peterson and Falcons RB Michael Turner (Week 12 this season) are the only backs to eclipse 100 yards vs. Green Bay since Week 3 of 2009.
The 19-game streak was the second longest in team history since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, trailing only a 24-game game stretch from Sept. 20, 1970-Nov. 22, 1971.
The defense limited the Eagles to a season-low 82 yards on 21 carries (3.9 avg.) in Sunday’s Wild Card victory. Philadelphia was the only team in the league this season to average 4 yards per carry in all 16 games.
Under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the Packers thrived in their new 3-4 scheme in 2009, finishing No. 1 against the run and No. 5 against the pass. The previous top ranking in franchise history in run defense came in 1972, when the team finished No. 2.
Green Bay allowed an average of 284.4 total yards per game in ’09, second behind the N.Y. Jets (252.3) and ahead of No. 3 Baltimore (300.5).
FIVE PACKERS SELECTED TO PRO BOWL
On Dec. 28, T Chad Clifton, S Nick Collins, WR Greg Jennings, LB Clay Matthews and CB Charles Woodson were named Pro Bowl selections by the National Football League. Additionally, Collins, Matthews and Woodson were named starters for the NFC squad.
The five Pro Bowl selections for the Packers were the most since they also had five in 2007, and the three defensive starters were the most for Green Bay since 1967.
The Packers were tied for No. 2 in the NFC with five selections, trailing only Atlanta, who had seven players named to the Pro Bowl.
QB Aaron Rodgers and CB Tramon Williams were named first alternates.
For Clifton, it marked the second Pro Bowl selection of his career (2007). The 11th-year pro started all 16 games at left tackle as part of a Green Bay offense that ranked No. 9 overall and No. 5 in passing.
It is the third straight and third career Pro Bowl selection for Collins as he became the first Green Bay safety since LeRoy Butler (1996-98) to earn Pro Bowl recognition in three consecutive seasons. Collins finished second on the team with four interceptions and was second with 16 passes defensed.
Jennings, a second-round draft choice of the Packers in 2006, earned his first career selection. He finished No. 2 in the NFC and No. 4 in the NFL with 1,265 yards on 76 receptions (16.6 avg.), and his 12 TD catches matched his career high. His 16.6-yard receiving average ranked No. 1 in the NFC among players with 70 catches.
Matthews earned his second career selection as he becomes the first Packer since RB John Brockington (1971-72) to earn Pro Bowl recognition in each of his first two seasons in the league. Matthews was No. 4 in the NFL with 13.5 sacks and recorded a career-high 83 tackles, two forced fumbles, an interception for a touchdown, and four passes defensed.
Woodson earned his seventh career Pro Bowl bid and third straight as a member of the Packers. He registered career highs in tackles (105) and forced fumbles (five). The five forced fumbles are the most by a Packer defender since LB/DE Keith McKenzie posted five in 1999. The 13th-year pro also registered two interceptions, one for a touchdown, two sacks and 13 passes defensed.
Other alternates included WR Donald Driver, LB A.J. Hawk, NT B.J. Raji and G Josh Sitton.
TOP 10 YET AGAIN
Green Bay’s offense registered a season-high 515 yards against the N.Y. Giants in Week 16, its fourth 400-yard game in the second half of the season after posting just one in the first eight contests.
Wth an average of 358.1 yards per game, Green Bay checked in at No. 9 in the team offensive rankings for 2010. The Packers have had a top-10 offense all five seasons under Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
That included the No. 5 passing offense at 257.8 yards per contest, following up an average of 261.3 net passing yards per game in 2009. It is the first time in franchise history that the Packers have averaged 250.0 net passing yards in back-to-back seasons.
Since 2006, New Orleans is the only other NFL team to have ranked in the top 10 each of the last five seasons. The Packers’ average of 360.0 yards per game since ‘06 ranks No. 6 in the NFL.
Last season, the Packers averaged 379.1 yards per contest, its top average under McCarthy as they checked in at No. 6 in the NFL.
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.
TAKING HIS PLACE AMONG THE GAME’S BEST
With 35 passing attempts at Atlanta in Week 12, Aaron Rodgers sur-
passed the 1,500-attempt plateau for his career, the benchmark to qualify
for career passer rating in the NFL.
Rodgers has completed 1,038-of-1,611 passes (64.4 percent) in his career for 12,723 yards and 87 touchdowns with 32 interceptions for a 98.4 passer rating.
That rating ranks No. 1 in NFL history, ahead of San Diego QB Philip Rivers, who has a 97.2 career rating.
Four of the top five rated passers in NFL history are active quarterbacks, with Steve Young (96.8), Tony Romo (95.5) and Tom Brady (95.2) rounding out the top five.
With a passer rating of 101.2 this season, QB Aaron Rodgers became the first quarterback in franchise history to record a 100-plus passer rating in back-to-back seasons (103.2 in 2009).
Rodgers joins Rivers as the only NFL signal-callers to register a 100-plus rating in each of the past two seasons, and Rodgers’ combined rating of 102.3 in 2009-10 ranks No. 3 in the league behind Brady (103.1) and Rivers (103.0).
Having missed the Week 15 game at New England and half of the previous game at Detroit due to a concussion, Rodgers fell 78 yards shy of his third straight 4,000-yard season.
With 3,922 passing yards this season, Rodgers brought his total in three seasons as a starter to 12,394. That ranks No. 2 in NFL history behind only Kurt Warner (12,612, 1999-2001) for the most passing yards by a QB in his first three seasons as a starter.
Rodgers completed 312-of-475 passes on the season, a 65.7 completion percentage that ranks No. 2 in team history behind only Brett Favre’s 66.5 mark in 2007.
Rodgers has thrown just 31 interceptions in his three seasons as a starter, a 2.0 interception percentage that leads the league over that span among quarterbacks with 40 or more starts.
Rodgers also ranks No. 1 in NFL history (min. 1,500 attempts) in career interception percentage at 2.0, ahead of Neil O’Donnell (2.1) and Brady (2.2).
Rodgers finished in the top 10 in nearly every major passing category again this season, despite missing the Week 15 contest at New England. He finished No. 3 in passer rating (101.2), No. 7 in yards (3,922), tied for No. 6 in TDs (28), and No. 2 in 25-yard passes (40).
He joins Brady and Rivers as nominees for FedEx Air NFL Player of the Year, which will be awarded during the week of Super Bowl XLV.
Rodgers threw four TD passes at Minnesota in Week 11, his regular-season career high. His passer rating of 141.3 (22-of-31, 301 yards), was the second-best single-game mark in his career behind only his 155.4 rating at Cleveland on Oct. 25, 2009.
Rodgers joined Eagles QB Michael Vick (at Washington, Nov. 15) and Brady (at Detroit, Nov. 25, vs. N.Y. Jets, Dec. 6) as the only QBs to post a 140-plus passer rating, 300 yards passing and four passing TDs in a game this season.
He matched that career-best TD total with four against the Giants in Week 16, and his 404 yards passing were a regular-season career best. It was the 10th game in which he had three-or-more TD passes and no INTs, the most by an NFL quarterback within three seasons of his first NFL start. It topped Kurt Warner’s mark of nine from 1999-2001.
Last season, Rodgers threw for 4,434 yards as he became the first QB in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons as a starter.
In 2009, Rodgers joined Young (San Francisco, 1998) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards and 30 TDs and rush for 300 yards and five TDs in the same season.
In 47 career starts, Rodgers has eclipsed the century mark in passer rating 25 times and recorded 14 games of 300-plus yards. He posted his 20th career 100-plus passer rating game in just his 36th career start, which ranks third among NFL QBs since 1970 behind only Warner (33) and Romo (34).
Rodgers threw 70 TD passes in his first 40 career starts, a Packers franchise record.
CONTROLLING THE CLOCK
The Packers led the NFL in 2009 in time of possession, and the team closed out this season by winning the battle in that category in six of the final eight games.
Facing a Giants team in Week 16 that entered the game ranked No. 1 in the league at 33:14, the Packers dominated the time of possession at 37:01, the second time in the three games that Green Bay controlled the clock for 37-plus minutes. New York had won the time-of-possession battle in 11 of its first 14 games, and the 22:59 mark by the Giants at Lambeau Field was a season low.
In the Packers’ Week 15 loss at New England, they controlled the clock for 40:48, their best mark since a 41:39 effort vs. San Francisco last season in Week 11.
It was also the most time of possession any opponent had registered against New England since the Steelers held the ball for 42:58 at Pittsburgh on Oct. 31, 2004.
The Packers finished the season ranked No. 8 in the NFL with a time-of-possession average of 31:36. Of the seven teams that were ahead of the Packers, five qualified for the playoffs.
The Packers’ league-leading average of 33:03 last season was the team’s best mark since 1977, the year the Elias Sports Bureau began keeping the statistic.
In 2010, Green Bay led the NFL this season with 30 drives of five-plus minutes, an improvement over last season’s mark of 22 (tied for No. 14).
The Packers also checked in at No. 5 with 30 10-play drives, a jump up from 2009 when they finished No. 22 in the NFL with 23 drives of 10-plus plays.
All three of Green Bay’s TD drives on Sunday at Philadelphia were 10-plus plays and took at least 5:30 as the Packers controlled the clock for 32:00.
PLAYOFF CAPTAINS ELECTED
During the regular season, the Packers rotate game captains each week. One player is selected to represent the offense, defense and special teams as a captain for a particular game.
But for the playoffs, the team votes on its captains for the duration of the postseason -- selecting two players from each of the three phases. Players voted for their captains early last week.
Rodgers and Woodson were both playoff captains last year. Woodson and Jennings were selected to the NFC Pro Bowl squad this year, while Rodgers and Hawk are Pro Bowl alternates.
Rodgers posted his second consecutive season with a passer rating above 100 (101.2), Woodson set career highs in both tackles (105) and forced fumbles (five) this season, Jennings tied his career high with 12 TDs, and Hawk led the team in tackles (134) for the third time in five years and set a career high with three INTs. Bush tied for second on the team with 12 special teams tackles, and he also had a forced fumble that resulted in a TD and a fumble recovery on the coverage units. Crosby topped 100 points for the fourth consecutive year.
All six players sported a special ‘C’ sewn onto their jerseys for Sunday’s game in Philadelphia, and they will continue to wear the ‘C’ this Saturday and for any subsequent games should the Packers advance.
FIRST TIME IS THE CHARM
Rookie RB James Starks made a splash in his regular-season debut in Week 13 after missing the first 11 games, but he made an even greater contribution in his first career playoff game.
In Green Bay’s 21-16 win at Philadelphia, Starks led the team with 123 rushing yards on 23 carries (5.3 avg.), including a 27-yard run on his first carry. His 123 yards set a rookie franchise postseason record, eclipsing RB Travis Williams’ 88-yard mark on 18 carries vs. the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 23, 1967.
Starks’ 123-yard day on the ground also ranks No. 3 in franchise postseason annals behind only Ryan Grant (201, vs. Seattle, Jan. 12, 2008) and Ahman Green (156, at Philadelphia, Jan. 11, 2004).
After missing nearly two years due to injuries, Starks carried the ball 18 times for 73 yards (4.1 avg.) in his pro debut vs. San Francisco in Week 13. The 18 carries matched the single-game high during the regular season to that point for a Packers RB (Brandon Jackson, Week 1).
Starks’ 73 rushing yards were the most by a rookie Packers RB in his first game since Ralph Earhart posted 78 yards in his debut at Boston on Sept. 17, 1948.
The 23-year-old Starks was drafted in the sixth round this past spring out of the University at Buffalo, but he spent the opening nine games of the season on the physically unable to perform list due to a hamstring injury suffered at the start of training camp.
Starks also was sidelined for his entire senior season at Buffalo due to a shoulder injury that required surgery but still ranks No. 1 in school history in career rushing yards (3,140) and rushing TDs (34).
CLAY FINDS A WAY
Despite sitting out Green Bay’s Week 6 matchup vs. Miami due to a hamstring injury, the first time he missed a game in his career, LB Clay Matthews finished No. 2 in the NFC and No. 4 in the NFL with 13.5 sacks this season.
Matthews was named to his second straight Pro Bowl this season and was named NFL Defensive MVP by Pro Football Weekly/PFWA.
With a sack of QB Jon Kitna in the second quarter in Week 9 against Dallas, Matthews became the first Packer since the stat became official in 1982 to register a double-digit sack total in each of his first two seasons in the NFL.
Matthews also posted his first career interception in Week 9, and returned the pick 62 yards for a TD on his way to earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for the third time in his career. It was the second TD of his career, and both of his scores have come in prime-time games. Matthews returned a fumble 42 yards for a TD last season in Week 4 at Minnesota on Monday Night Football.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Matthews is the first NFL player since sacks became an official statistic in 1982 to register double-digit sacks and a defensive TD in each of his first two seasons in the NFL.
With three sacks against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2, Matthews became the first Packer to post three sacks in back-to-back games since it became an official league statistic in 1982.
The performance vs. Buffalo came a week after Matthews registered a career-high three sacks in the Packers’ 27-20 season-opening victory at Philadelphia.
Matthews was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 2, and he also won the award last season for his two-sack outing vs. Baltimore in Week 13 on MNF.
Matthews’ six sacks in the first two games were the most ever by a Packer to start a season.
Matthews’ six sacks over a two-game span rank second in team history behind only Bryce Paup, who recorded 6.5 sacks in Weeks 3-4 in 1991. Paup posted 4.5 sacks vs. Tampa Bay on Sept. 15, and then followed that up with two more the next week at Miami on Sept. 22.
His 33 sack yards vs. Buffalo were the most by a Packer since DE Reggie White’s 35 on two sacks vs. Minnesota on Oct. 22, 1995. Matthews ranked No. 2 in the league with 93.5 sack yards on the season, trailing only Dallas LB DeMarcus Ware (110.5).
Matthews forced two fumbles this season, including a strip of RB Brandon Jacobs that halted a Giants’ drive with New York trailing 31-17 in the third quarter in Week 16.
With a 12-yard sack of Eagles QB Michael Vick on Sunday, Matthews has now posted a sack in each of his two career postseason games. He joins LB Tony Bennett as the only Packers to do so.
In 31 career games played, Matthews has posted two or more sacks in a game five times. All five of those two-sack games came in Matthews’ first 18 games in a Packers uniform, breaking White’s franchise mark of four in his first 18 games with Green Bay (1993-94).
Matthews’ 23.5 sacks since 2009 rank tied for No. 3 in the NFL.
Matthews’ 17 sacks in his first 20 games were the most ever by any NFL player to start a career. It topped the previous mark of 16.5 set by San Diego’s Leslie O’Neal (1986, 1988) and the N.Y. Jets’ John Abraham (2000-01).
In 2009, Matthews set a Packers rookie record with 10 sacks on his way to earning Pro Bowl honors, the first Green Bay rookie to be named to the all-star game since Hall of Fame WR James Lofton in 1978.
SPREADING IT AROUND
When back-to-back 1,200-yard rusher Ryan Grant was lost for the season after sustaining an ankle injury in Week 1 at Philadelphia, the Packers turned to several backs to help carry the load for the offense.
Brandon Jackson, who excelled in his role as a third-down back in 2009, led the team with a career-high 709 rushing yards on 190 carries (3.7 avg.). He also posted a career-high 1,045 yards from scrimmage.
Jackson posted 99 yards on 22 carries at New England in Week 15, his second-highest yardage total of the season.
He recorded a career-high 115 yards on 10 carries (11.5 avg.) at Washington in Week 5, highlighted by a career-long 71-yard run on his first carry of the game.
Jackson also had 43 receptions for 342 yards (8.0 avg.) this season, career highs in both categories, including a career-best 37-yard pickup on a screen against the 49ers in Week 13. His 43 catches were the most by a Green Bay running back since Ahman Green posted 46 receptions in 2006.
Jackson became the first Packers RB since Green in 2006 to register 700 rushing yards and 300 receiving yards in the same season.
Against Dallas in Week 9, Jackson posted a rushing TD and a receiving TD, only the second time in his career that he scored on both in a game (vs. Seattle, Dec. 27, 2009).
The Packers rushed for 157 yards as a team at Washington in Week 5 on just 17 carries (9.2 avg.). It was the first time in team history that the Packers rushed for 150 yards in a regular-season game on fewer than 20 carries.
The Packers’ rushing average of 9.2 yards per carry against the Redskins was the best single-game performance (min. 15 attempts) in a regular-season game in team history.
John Kuhn, primarily at fullback during his first three seasons in Green Bay, was given more opportunities to carry the ball at RB. Against Detroit in Week 4, Kuhn posted 34 of his 39 rushing yards on the final series, as the Packers ran out the final 6:32 in the 28-26 win. He finished with a career-best 281 rushing yards and four rushing TDs on 84 carries (3.3 avg.) in 2010. Entering this season, Kuhn had 46 rushing yards on 18 carries in four NFL seasons.
Kuhn recorded career highs in both carries (13) and rushing yards (50) against the Cowboys in Week 9, highlighted by a 17-yard run in the second quarter to convert a third down.
Rookie RB Dimitri Nance saw the most significant action of his career at Minnesota in Week 11, posting 37 yards on 12 carries (3.1 avg.), and he finished with 95 yards on 36 attempts for the season (2.6 avg.).
Fellow rookie RB James Starks made his NFL debut in Week 13, registering 73 yards on 18 carries (4.1 avg.) vs. San Francisco.
293 AND COUNTING
Another packed house at Lambeau Field against the Bears in the regular-season finale brought the stadium’s consecutive sellouts streak to 293 games (277 regular season, 16 playoffs).
The Week 7 crowd of 71,107 vs. Minnesota was the third-largest regular-season crowd in Lambeau Field history.
The league’s longest-tenured stadium, Lambeau Field is hosting its 54th season of football this year. A total of 565,666 fans made their way through the turnstiles in the eight home contests in 2009.
Across American professional sports, only Boston’s Fenway Park (1912) and Chicago’s Wrigley Field (1914) have longer tenures.
BALANCED PASSING ATTACK FOR PACK
The Packers pride themselves on having one of the deeper wide-receiver corps in the NFL, and that was on display in 2010.
Green Bay had four wide receivers post 40 catches and three register 50 receptions in the same season for the first time in franchise history. Greg Jennings led the way with 76, with Donald Driver (51), James Jones (50) and Jordy Nelson (45) checking in behind him.
All four receivers topped the 500-yard mark on the season, also a franchise first.
Jennings, Jones and Nelson each posted five receptions against the Falcons in Week 12, the first time three Packers WRs each registered five receptions in the same game since Driver, Jones and Jennings did so at Detroit on Nov. 22, 2007.
With Jennings (119), Nelson (61), Jones (44) and No. 5 wideout Brett Swain (40) all hitting the 40-yard mark at Atlanta, it was the first time since 2004 that the Packers had four 40-yard receivers in a game. Driver was a part of that foursome, joining Antonio Chatman, Robert Ferguson and Javon Walker in the game against Jacksonville on Dec. 19, 2004.
RB Brandon Jackson added a career-best 43 receptions on the season, giving Green Bay five players with 40-plus receptions.
The last time the Packers had five players, regardless of position, with at least 40 catches in the same season was 1980 (WRs James Lofton and Aundra Thompson, RB Eddie Lee Ivery, FB Gerry Ellis and TE Paul Coffman).
PACKERS ADVANCE WITH ROAD WIN
It’s on to Atlanta. The Green Bay Packers took another one down to the
wire and provided plenty of nervous moments on Sunday, but they sur-
Three touchdown passes from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a record-setting performance by rookie running back James Starks, and an interception in the end zone by cornerback Tramon Williams with 33 seconds left all combined to provide a thrilling 21-16 victory over Philadelphia in an NFC Wild Card playoff game in front of 69,144 at Lincoln Financial Field.
With the win, the No. 6 seed Packers (11-6) advance to the Divisional round for a game at No. 1 seed Atlanta (13-3) at 7 p.m. (CT) Saturday. It goes without saying how much better this result felt compared to a year ago at this time, when the Packers bowed out in an overtime heartbreaker in Arizona.
“It feels good,” Rodgers said. “It’s disappointing to lose your last game like we did last year, but we have a lot of resilient guys in that locker room and guys who believe in each other.”
Belief was needed in the defense because this one had the makings of another heartbreaker as Philadelphia and quarterback Michael Vick rallied from a 21-10 deficit with a 75-yard fourth-quarter touchdown drive. Vick’s sneak on fourth-and-goal from the 1 made it 21-16 with 4:02 left, but the Eagles failed to get the ensuing 2-point conversion on two attempts (a penalty forced a second try from the 7-yard line), which proved huge.
That’s because the Packers could only kill half of the remaining clock and punted the ball back to the Eagles just after the 2-minute warning. Without any timeouts, Vick went to work again, hitting the speedy DeSean Jackson for a 28-yard catch-and-run into Green Bay territory. Moments later Vick threw to Riley Cooper for 11 yards on third-and-10, getting the ball to the Green Bay 27.
Hurrying up and eschewing a spike as the clock ticked under 45 seconds, Vick tried to go right back to Cooper deep down the left sideline, but Williams was in perfect position.
“I’m not surprised they didn’t spike the ball,” Williams said. “They probably wanted to take a shot at that point, and hopefully it was either incomplete or they catch a touchdown. I guess they were just taking a chance at that point. The ball was kind of floating up there and I was able to get to it.”
Williams got his 5-foot-11 frame as high as he could against the 6-3 Cooper and plucked the ball cleanly with two hands for the leaping interception. Williams said he’s been measured at 42½ inches on his vertical jump, and he might have needed all of it to make the play.
“I can get up there,” Williams said with a smile. “I was pretty high up there. I don’t know what I used, but I had enough.”
So did the defense, which managed to contain the dangerous Vick and hold him to 33 yards rushing on eight carries, with his longest scramble just 14 yards. He threw for 292 yards on 20-of-36 passing, but he was sacked three times and posted a rating of just 79.9 as defensive coordinator Dom Capers mixed a variety of blitzes and coverage calls, including a spy at times, to keep Vick from knowing what the defense would do.
“It’s about limiting Vick’s big playmaking ability,” said linebacker Clay Matthews, who had a sack and otherwise gave Philadelphia right tackle Winston Justice all kinds of problems. “He loves to take deep shots, he loves to make big plays with his feet. It was moreso corralling him, closing the pocket in on him and not letting him escape, and I think we did that today.”
Besides the late one to Jackson, Vick only made two other big plays. He hit wide receiver Jeremy Maclin for a 44-yard gain that led to a field goal late in the first half, and he connected with wide receiver Jason Avant for a 24-yard touchdown just two plays after a Rodgers fumble on a sack gave the Eagles the ball in scoring range.
That brought Philadelphia within 14-10 after the Packers had mostly dominated the first half.
Green Bay overcame an early turnover on a punt when cornerback Brandon Underwood was blocked into the ball as it was rolling on the ground and the Eagles recovered at the Green Bay 41. But the defense rose up and got the stop, and Philadelphia kicker David Akers missed wide right on a 41-yard field goal, one of two misses for him on a windy day.
The Packers put together touchdown drives of 68 and 57 yards, with Starks providing a ground game that eventually led to a franchise rookie postseason rushing record of 123 yards on 23 carries. Rodgers (18-of-27, 180 yards, 3 TDs, no INTs, 122.5 rating) finished off both first-half scoring drives with short touchdown passes to tight end Tom Crabtree, his first NFL TD, and wide receiver James Jones.
The Packers’ lead could have been more than 14-3 at intermission had Jones not dropped what might have been a 63-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the first half.
But the offense came right back after the Rodgers fumble and subsequent score with a big-time answer. Rodgers found veteran receiver Donald Driver (team-high five catches for 56 yards) to convert consecutive third downs, Starks broke off a 19-yard run, and running back Brandon Jackson showed wonderful patience on a screen pass, waiting for his blockers to run interference for a 16-yard touchdown to make it 21-10 midway through the third quarter.
“That was the most important drive of the game,” said Rodgers, whose second third-down conversion to Driver was a 20-yard bullet on third-and-10 that helped quiet the crowd. “It was an important time in the game for that. The crowd was just kind of getting back into it. We needed to give our defense a little bit of a break and get it back to a two-score game, and we did that.”
From there, the Packers simply held on, and they were helped when Akers missed wide right again from 34 yards out early in the fourth quarter. But the Packers managed just two first downs on their last three possessions, giving Vick the opportunity to pull off the comeback.
One could argue the Packers got to this point because of their defense, and that defense didn’t let them down when it mattered most.
“(We knew) that they were going to stop them,” Driver said. “We trust our defense.”
All the way to the end. Just like the regular season, which required two must-wins the last two weeks just to get in the playoffs. Because of all that, the Packers will continue to carry that fashionable label of a “dangerous” playoff team into the next round.
“To finish the game in that manner where the defense wins the game,” Matthews said, “it’s only fitting for us.
“I think we’ve been dangerous all season. Obviously a few things haven’t gone our way. We’ve had a few ups and downs on this roller coaster of a year. But hopefully we’re peaking at the right time. Three wins in a row, all playoff-like environments in which we need to win or else we go home. We’ve got another one on the road now in a very hostile environment. We feel good about where we’re at. You can say we’re dangerous, but we’re just playing at the level we know how.”
[Source: Packers.com | Note: Image not part of Packers.com press release]