No Stinkers, Only Roses For Ruthless Packers

In a league in which "Any Given Sunday" was turned into a movie, the Packers never, ever play a bad game. No more was that evident than with Green Bay throttling an Oakland team with everything in the world to play for on Sunday

The most remarkable thing about the Green Bay Packers' 19-game winning streak – which is the second-longest in NFL history?

Aaron Rodgers' remarkable numbers, which include being the second-fastest quarterback to 4,000 yards in NFL history?

No.

That the defense leads the league with 27 interceptions – a stunning nine more than the second-ranked teams?

No.

No, what's truly remarkable is the Packers never, ever play a bad game.

Just look what happened on Sunday. The Oakland Raiders, who entered the day tied for first place in the AFC West and really needed a win considering Tim Tebow's theatrics with the red-hot Broncos, came out and laid an egg. With perhaps their season on the line and the opportunity to make history by beating the Packers, the Raiders trailed 7-0 in 3 minutes and 31-0 in 22 minutes.

The Raiders had what appeared to be the winning recipe to at least give Green Bay a game. The Raiders entered the day ranked fourth in rushing while the Packers were 30th in yards allowed per rush. The Raiders led the NFL in plays of 20-plus-yard plays while the Packers were 31st in total defense because of a litany of big plays allowed. On the other side of the ball, the Raiders had allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete less than 50 percent of their passes over the previous eight games, and their porous run defense seemed safe considering Ryan Grant had gained merely 75 yards on 23 carries since James Starks' ankle injury.

Heck, with a kickoff temperature of 43, even Mother Nature seemed to be giving the Raiders a chance.

Instead, the Raiders played the role of the Washington Generals to the undefeated Green Bay Globetrotters.

"You can't turn the ball over five times, commit 11 penalties and think you have a chance to win a game," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said.

That's for sure, which is why his counterpart, Mike McCarthy, has hit foot on the gas and is racing toward a second consecutive Super Bowl and NFL immortality. The Packers turn it over once in a blue moon and they keep the self-inflicted errors to a minimum. Those are the signs of a disciplined, well-coached, focused and championship team.

"We have a lot of confidence in ourselves," McCarthhy said. "As long as we're taking care of things and keeping our focus on improving the quality of play, I don't think we can be beaten. And you could ask me that six years ago, I would have said the same damn thing. That's the way we think around here. So, we expect to win every time we take the field, and I would think any team in the NFL thinks that way. 46-16, that says a lot about our football team."

Every week, it seems, some team plays a real stinker of a game. On Sunday, it was San Francisco losing to Arizona. The week before, it was Kansas City winning at Chicago and Arizona beating Dallas. Baltimore has losses to Jacksonville and Seattle, of all teams.

And so it goes across the league, except for Green Bay, which plays with the ruthless efficiency of a robot. It's the same thing week after week after week. The effort is there. The preparation is there. The performance is there.

"It's really a testament to the players we have on this team and understanding what we want to accomplish," linebacker Clay Matthews said. "There's times when you can show up and not be there. For us, we understand what's at hand, especially this late in the season. We need to be moving forward on all cylinders."

Added cornerback Charles Woodson. "You just stay focused on winning, just stay focused on doing your job. If everybody does that, then we're fine. Don't think too far in advance of what can happen, what could happen. Think about that particular game and the next play and stay focused. If we do that, we'll be fine."

Whether the Packers will keep that play-to-win mentality the rest of the way remains to be seen. Clearly, they'll put their best foot forward next week at Kansas City, with a chance to clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Beyond that, only McCarthy knows if he'll chase a shot at perfection or if he'll err on the side of caution, even if means his team possibly losing some of its undefeated edge with an extra week off.

"We'd like to win the Super Bowl, so if that means winning every game, then so be it," Matthews said. "We take the field to win games around here. We were able to do that tonight and hopefully we're able to do that in the weeks to come. But at the same time, you have to be smart with your team, if you already have your goals locked up. We're that much closer to having everything that we can as far as goals that are attainable with this regular season. I know the players on this team like winning, I like winning and hopefully we continue to do that around here."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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