Holding on to Hope

Ball security has given Packers the edge in 2003...

The Packers are holding on to hope that they can beat the odds and the Philadelphia Eagles to earn an NFC Championship game berth.

They're also hanging onto the ball. The connection between the two can't be stressed enough.

Green Bay has been especially tight with the football since their low-point of the season, a six-turnover game which resulted in a loss to Philly. With just two games separating the NFC's top seeded Eagles and the No. 6 seed Dallas, that game went a long way in deciding which team ended up where in the playoffs. In the Packers case, it came one Nathan Poole catch away from deciding that they'd pack up early.

Green Bay seems to have learned a lesson. Favre hasn't fumbled since, and Ahman Green, who took a ton of criticism after fumbling away what looked like a sure win vs. Kansas City back in October, has gone 35 quarters without a turnover. Likewise, Favre had 18 interceptions in the 12 games leading up to and including the Thanksgiving loss to Detroit. He's had just three since then, as the Packers won all five down the stretch and last week's turnover-free wildcard game.

Green Bay rallied from a dismal turnover ratio to finish exactly even. The Packers had 32 giveaways (21 interceptions and 11 fumbles lost) and 32 takeaways (21 interceptions and 11 fumbles recovered).

"We knew we were done if we lost another game, so ball security was stressed on offense," guard Marco Rivera said.

Linemate Mike Wahle agrees.

"Our guys continued to work hard … and I think you're seeing the fruits of their labor," Wahle said. "Those guys have done a great job of holding onto the football the second half of the season and when you look at our record the second half of the season, I think that's probably the biggest determinant."

While the Packers will face a ferocious secondary in Philadelphia, the Eagles have not produced as many interceptions as most of their NFC counterparts. The Eagles ranked 15th in the NFC in interceptions with 13, ahead of only the New York Giants. Philly recovered 13 fumbles, giving them a plus-4 turnover ratio thanks to their better nose for the football when it's on the ground.

The task for the Packers Sunday is not to put it there.

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