Only Recent History Worries Belichick

Patriots coach Bill Belichick knows all about the Packers' history, but it's Green Bay's homefield dominance that's first and foremost on his mind. (David Butler II/USA TODAY)

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick appreciates the history of Lambeau Field.

But his biggest concern isn’t the 58-year history of the stadium. Rather, it will be surviving the first 30 minutes of Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers are 5-0 at home this season. In their last four home games, they’ve held a cumulative halftime lead of 128-9.

“We’re playing Green Bay in Green Bay,” Belichick said this week. “That’s where they’ve been very dominant really in terms of getting ahead and playing from ahead. The numbers are staggering: 128 to 9 in the first half and (opponents) get outscored by 110 points in four games. It’s got to be of historical-type proportions, but we have to find some way to (avoid) that. The games got so far away from Chicago and Philadelphia that no matter what you have, what kind of game plan, whatever you’re trying to do, the game got out of hand so fast, they had no chance really to be able to do it.”

Chances are Belichick’s not too worried about getting blown out in the first half. After all, his team has won seven in a row and it leads the NFL in scoring differential, including 142-46 in the second quarters. Still, those fast starts play to Green Bay’s style, with big leads making the game one-dimensional and feeding into Green Bay’s ability to take the ball away defensively to extend their lead. New England needs to avoid that at all costs.

“This is not the team you want to get behind by,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said on Wednesday. “You get behind 14-0, and then it’s 21-0, then it’s 28-0 and, before you know it, they’ve just got the game so well under control that you have no chance. You’ve got to be able to stay close to them. There is nothing other than solid execution that you could point to, and we’ve got to figure out the best ways to attack them. They present a lot of challenges. They can rush the passer. They’re good in coverage. They’ve got a real good secondary (with) great cover players. It’s a terrific team, great defense. We’re going to need to be sharp.”

The Patriots haven’t played at Lambeau Field since 2006, with Belichick’s team winning 35-0. Plenty has changed since then, obviously. While New England remains a juggernaut – minus a Super Bowl win since the 2004 season – Green Bay has joined the Patriots as one of the league’s annual powerhouses. Since Mike McCarthy took over as Packers coach in 2006, the Patriots have a league-high 109 regular-season victories. Green Bay is third with 90.

“I have a lot of respect for every organization in this league and all the teams and what each of them has accomplished, and certainly Green Bay’s 13 titles and all the great coaches and players that have been there,” Belichick said at the end of a lengthy conference call with Packers beat writers on Wednesday. “I was in Detroit for two years in that division so I’m very familiar with a lot of the history and the tradition of that organization and all that they’ve accomplished. Of course it’s impressive, but we go on the road eight times a year and every stadium we play in is loud and they each have their own environment. “Not taking anything away from anybody, but we’re there to play a game. We’re there to do a job. That’s what it’ll be about, what happens on the field. But certainly the Packer tradition and the history is up there probably ahead of every other team in the National Football League, certainly in terms of titles and Hall of Fame players and all of that. So history, they’re the oldest franchise in the NFL and the smallest market, so what the Green Bay Packers stand for and what they’ve built and what that community and their relationship with the team (has built) is unique and incredible. Nobody has more respect for it than I do, but that’s not really what this game’s about. This game’s about two teams, very competitive teams, that are going to match up Sunday afternoon and hopefully we can play a very competitive game against them. It’s been a problem for the other teams that have come in there and tried to play them. The game’s been pretty much over by the second quarter. So, hopefully we can play them more competitively than that.”

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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