The Packers, of Frozen Tundra legacy, were surprisingly unprepared to handle extremely windy and subfreezing conditions in a game they needed to win to keep pace with Dallas for the NFC's best record. The loss dropped Green Bay to 12-3 and cemented the 13-2 Cowboys as the No. 1 seed in the conference.
As the No. 2 seed, the Packers will host a mid-January game in the divisional playoff round, two weeks after they close the regular season Sunday at home against Detroit. The likelihood of harsh conditions for those two games is good, but McCarthy is steadfast in conducting practices inside for the rest of the season.
"I don't think our players need to get used to the cold weather because we live in it. That's my opinion," McCarthy said. "(General manager) Ted Thompson and I had this conversation this morning because we were anticipating this line of questioning.
"He had a great story. He talked about Bum Phillips (the coach for whom Thompson played), when they used to go up to Cleveland and Pittsburgh in their days in Houston, and he said, 'You can't practice misery.' That was a miserable situation (Sunday). One team handled it; another team did not."
McCarthy argued that holding practice in the wintry elements indigenous to Green Bay would be counterproductive for his players and take from their focus for game preparations. He went only as far to have the doors of the team's indoor facility opened for practice last week.
"Opening the doors, you could make a case we need to close the doors after the way we played this week," McCarthy said. "If I felt practicing outside would help our football team playing in poor weather, trust me, we would have been outside a long time ago.
"I prefer to go outside; I prefer to be on grass. But there's a point where the returns are not there."
The blustery backdrop to Sunday's game, which quarterback Brett Favre called the worst conditions he's played in in his 17-year pro career, resulted in myriad punting, throwing and snapping gaffes for the Packers.
McCarthy, though, didn't pin the lopsided loss on the weather.
"I clearly don't think I can stand here today and say we were an extremely focused football team. That is not accurate. Just look at the way we played compared to the way our opponent played," McCarthy said. "The score of the game is not a reflection of how we're capable of playing, and that's our responsibility. Now, I'm disappointed, and we will correct the things that went wrong in that game, and we'll get ready for Detroit."
Greg Jennings, the Packers' big-play receiver this season, could be missing the final regular-season game for the second time in as many years.
Jennings suffered what was diagnosed as a mild sprain of his right ankle early in the fourth quarter of the 35-7 loss at Chicago on Sunday. Jennings didn't return to the game.
Head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that a determination wouldn't be made until after the team reconvenes Wednesday on whether the team will hold Jennings out of the game against Detroit on Sunday.
"I'm hopeful he'll go this week," McCarthy said. "It was more of a bruise than a sprain. (Team doctor) Pat (McKenzie) thinks he might have just gotten kicked on the bone. He wasn't very concerned about it. I know Greg wasn't, either."
Jennings leads Green Bay with 12 touchdown receptions and a per-catch average of 17.4 yards.
He was plagued by ankle issues for the second half of his rookie season last year. Jennings also missed the regular-season finale because his wife, Nicole, delivered the couple's first child on the same day.
-- DT Ryan Pickett is expected to return to practice Wednesday and be ready for the regular-season finale against Detroit on Sunday. The starting nose tackle was deactivated for Sunday's loss at Chicago because of a strained groin.
-- QB Aaron Rodgers is questionable to be activated for the final regular-season game. He's been relegated to the No. 3 role the last three outings because of a strained hamstring. -- FB Korey Hall isn't expected to play Sunday because of a strained hip he suffered two games ago. John Kuhn manned the fullback position in Hall's absence Sunday.
Coach not pleased with official's actions
McCarthy had choice words Monday for one of the officials who worked the game Sunday.
Umpire Jim Quirk pulled Packers linebacker Nick Barnett from a skirmish at the end of a play late in the game, holding onto Barnett from behind and dragging him to the turf.
"He put me in a choke hold," an incredulous Barnett said after the game. "I don't know (why). A dude pushed me in the back, and I'm trying to get him off me, and then this dude (the official) jumps on me. I don't know."
McCarthy said the official's actions were uncalled for, never mind that it appeared the official was intervening to prevent a fight involving the typically excitable Barnett.
"I tell you what, I've never seen anything like that in all my years," McCarthy said. "I didn't see the whole thing, but I thought the official was totally out of line, the way he grabbed Nick around his neck and pulled him out of there.
"There was a lot going on throughout the game on both sides of the ball after the play was over. Their offensive line was getting after Nick there a bunch down the stretch, and that goes on in these types of games. I didn't see the whole thing, but I saw the end of it, and I thought it was totally unprofessional, I thought it was totally out of hand."
-- OL Jason Spitz will remain the starter at right guard, his natural position. Spitz had started the previous two games at left guard before being moved again Sunday.
-- OL Junius Coston faces competition from former starter Daryn Colledge for the starting job at left guard. Coston was the starter Sunday after he manned the right guard spot the previous two games, but he alternated throughout the contest with Colledge.