Scoring Firepower Not Just Limited To Offense

While the Packers' offense has kept scoreboard operators busy this season, the defense and special teams have some scoring punch, as well. In fact, headed into Sunday's game at Kansas City, the Packers are tied for the league lead in non-offensive touchdowns.

With three games remaining, the Green Bay Packers have eclipsed the franchise record for most points in a regular season.

Erik Walden's 5-yard fumble return for a touchdown on Sunday against the Raiders put the Packers past the old team mark (466, breaking the 2009 record of 461) while setting a team record for touchdowns in a season (57).

Walden's touchdown was the fifth for the Packers' defense this season. Including Randall Cobb's two touchdowns on special teams, the Packers' seven non-offensive touchdowns are tied with the Bears for the most in the league.

"We expect to make plays on the defensive side of the ball and especially on special teams, too," said linebacker Clay Matthews. "We go in there and try to get interceptions, force fumbles, fumble recoveries and turn them into points — if not us scoring, then (helping) our offense score. So, really it's an overall team effort. I know that's cliché, but it's clearly evident by the points we've been able to put on the board."

As Matthews spoke at his locker Wednesday, behind him was a large print of him streaking down the sideline for a touchdown against the Giants. He said he was given the print for winning player of the week after the Packers won in New York on Dec. 4.

"At my position, the media critiques you on your sacks and getting after the quarterback, yet at the same time, anytime you can get a turnover creating six points, that's a much bigger difference than if you were just to get a sack or a couple of negative-yards (plays)," said Matthews. "It really depends on what the situation is. If the sack causes a fumble and you get in the end zone, then that's just as rewarding."

Matthews' 38-yard interception return for a touchdown was a turning point-type play in a 38-35 win. Had it not been for that play, just like the two interception returns for touchdowns the Packers put up against the Chargers on Nov. 6, the Packers might not be chasing a perfect season.

Tramon Williams' 43-yard interception return for a touchdown and Charlie Peprah's 40-yarder at San Diego helped the Packers separate themselves in a shootout over the Chargers, 45-38.

Peprah, who may not get as much credit for being a playmaker as Williams, Charles Woodson or even Matthews, was not about to go down on his pick-six, making five Chargers miss tackles on the way to the end zone.

"I wanted to get in. You don't have too many opportunities to score," said the former high school running back standout. "I think that's why DBs, when they get the ball in their hands, they go the extra mile to try to get in even if it's at the end of the game when you're supposed to get down. I had some great blocking to get started, and then I had to use some wiggle, use some moves to get in. I wasn't going to go down without a fight."

The Packers are taught after an interception to block the intended receiver first because, more often than not, he is the one to make the tackle. Outside of that, the team is blessed with several players that have the skill-set and mentality to turn picks into touchdowns. Over the past four seasons, they have returned 16 interceptions for scores.

Woodson, of course, is the ring leader. He has scored a league-leading 10 times on defense since 2006, and with one more score will tie the all-time career mark of 13 held by Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper.

During last season's magical playoff run, the Packers' defense scored a touchdown in three straight games, capped by Nick Collins' 37-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

In 2008, the Packers led the NFL with nine non-offensive touchdowns, which is the franchise record.

On special teams, the Packers have their best return threat since Allen Rossum in 2001. Cobb, a rookie, has taken back a kickoff and a punt return and has been close on a couple of other occasions.

Cobb's natural ability as a return man has been a big bonus to an already-prolific offense and defense. His 80-yard punt return against the Vikings, designed to go to the wide part of the field, was cut up the middle when he saw an opening.

"A lot of it is design, but at the same time it's that ability to see certain things," said Cobb of having a scoring mentality. "It's a visual instinct."

The near misses stick with Cobb, too. He said he finds at least one return every game that he thinks he should have scored on.

"Sometimes you're a block away, sometimes you're a broken tackle away," he said. "There are instances every week, and I'm sure on defense when they make a pick it's the same thing."

"We expect to make big plays and score on our opportunities."

Kicker Mason Crosby is having the best year of his career, not only benefitting from all the extra point attempts but by making the most of his field goal chances. Crosby has made a career-best 92 percent of his kicks on 25 attempts (which are just 14th in the league). His 124 points rank third in the league, 11 points behind the 49ers' David Akers, who leads the league with 42 field goal attempts.

Add it all up and the Packers lead the league in scoring at 35.8 points per game, an impressive number considering the last time they led the league in points (1996) they averaged just 28.5 points per game.

The NFL record for points in a season is 589, set by the Patriots in 2007. To reach that total, the Packers would have to score 41 points per game over the last three games, an average that seems unlikely, though the Packers have reached that total in five games this season.

"They (the offense) deserve the pub that they're getting," said Peprah, "but we're playing good team ball right now and that's why we're 13-0."

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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at

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