Character at Heart of Revival

Last year, it took a dramatic team meeting to snap the Packers out of their funk and spur their run to the playoffs. This year, there was nothing magical, they say. Just the players' heart and the undying confidence of their coaches.

Last year, the Green Bay Packers sank to 4-4 by losing back-to-back games, capped by the embarrassment of a 38-28 loss at 0-7 Tampa Bay.

A day later, when the offense got done watching the gory details of six sacks and three interceptions, Mark Tauscher and Donald Driver led the way as the offensive players passionately cleared the air in the meeting room.

Six days later, on "Sunday Night Football," Green Bay beat Dallas 17-7, a springboard to a 7-1 finish to the season.

This year, the Packers lost back-to-back overtime games to Washington and Miami to sink to 3-3. Similar to last year, the Packers have rebounded, taking a two-game winning streak into Sunday night's home game against Dallas.

What's not similar is there has been no big meeting. No heart-to-heart talks. Just a renewed sense of purpose.

"No, it's nothing," defensive end Ryan Pickett said. "We don't have any give-up in us. I know everybody else was down us, but those three losses, they were all close games that could have went either way. We just have to find something down in our gut to pull off those close games and that's what we've been doing lately."

So, while the turning point last year happened at about 2:30 p.m. on a Monday, this year's turning point could wind up being at about 10:31 p.m. on a Sunday, when Aaron Rodgers took a knee to end an emotional, 28-24 victory over Minnesota.

"For our team, that game was huge for us," receiver Greg Jennings said.

At 3-3, with two disappointing losses, an underachieving offense and an all-star team's worth of injuries, a lesser team might have either quit or broken down into a defense-vs.-offense skirmish in the locker room. Instead, the Packers have upset the Vikings and Jets in back-to-back weeks.

Green Bay's response to that adversity stands in stark contrast to this week's opponent, the Cowboys, who barely put up a fight in last week's lost at home to Jacksonville.

In the Packers' locker room, there was no magic potion. In talking to a dozen players for this story, to a man they pointed to the same two factors.

One is the coaching staff.

"Our coaches are consistent; Coach McCarthy is real consistent," Pickett said. "He preaches the same messages. Even when we lost, he didn't lose any confidence in us. He still has confidence in us so we always felt like we were a good team even when our record wasn't."

Added defensive end Cullen Jenkins: "You give (McCarthy) a lot of credit. He sticks with us, he has all the faith in the world in us and he expresses it to us and lets us know that he's got confidence in us. And you know when you've got a coach who's confident in you and puts it on your shoulders, you want to go out and play good."

The other factor is the players' character.

"That just shows the character of the team and the coaches and everybody not to get into the tank and go the opposite way," linebacker Desmond Bishop said. "We pulled together and tried to keep pushing forward. We know what we have on the team. Even with the injuries, we've still got a good team, got great talent. We've got to continue to put it together and run with it."

"This group of guys around here, we just love to fight," safety Nick Collins said. "We love to compete and we're going to compete every week. That's our mind-set. We just love our job. We love what we do. We have lot of character and so much pride. No matter what we're facing — we've been battling a lot of injuries, guys have been going down left and right, but at the end of the day, we've got a bunch of guys that step up to the plate to go out and get the job done."

With back-to-back wins, the mood in the locker room is much different.

After the loss at home to Miami and with Minnesota coming up on the schedule, guard Josh Sitton said the mood was "a little stressful around here." But after the two big wins, the stress is gone and the confidence is back.

And if this season follows the same story line as last year, the second half of this season could be quite a ride.

"In reality on the field, that Minnesota game was the epitome of fun," Jennings said. "It really defined a team that was out there having fun. It was a close game, it wasn't a blowout and everyone was in tune with what was taking place. At the end of that game, it felt great because finally we won that close one. That carried over into this past week. Hopefully, we can carry that to the end of the season and onto greater heights."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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