Difference between winning, or going home

The winner of the Packers' NFC divisional playoff this Saturday against the Seattle Seahawks likely will come down to which team makes the most big plays, which should favor the Packers. PackerReport.com's Todd Korth explains why.

A large photo of Al Harris returning an intercepted pass for a touchdown in overtime of Green Bay's wild card victory over the Seattle Seahawks four years ago is one of a handful of memorable moments displayed in the hallway leading to the Green Bay Packers locker room at Lambeau Field. Many of those selected snapshots are from Green Bay's postseason victories.

Making a big play in the playoffs is magnified to the nth degree, and often the difference between winning or losing a game. With the Packers as one of eight teams remaining in the chase to reach Super Bowl XLII in early February, the difference between making it to Glendale, Ariz., or not will boil down to which team can make the most big plays. Pretty simple stuff, but that and making the least amount of mistakes is usually the formula for getting to the Big Dance.

"I think that's a perfect illustration of playoff football," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "You talk about big plays and the momentum swings in a game, your key players making those plays. I think that's a perfect example that you've already seen so far. I mean, you watched the Pittsburgh-Jacksonville game (Saturday) night and the Seattle-Washington (game), the big plays in that game that factored into the outcome. So I think that's an excellent parallel."

Making big plays probably will be the difference between the Packers beating the Seahawks, or going home. Both teams, built by Ted Thompson, enter the game with a number of similarities. Both have Pro Bowl quarterbacks, good defenses and special teams, and rushing attacks that are similar. However, the Packers have the upper hand as far as receivers. It will be up to the Green Bay's receivers, who led the league in yards after the catch this season.

Playing in front of their home crowd and against a very familiar coach, the Packers have all the incentive to advance to the NFC Championship Game. First, it will be up to playmakers like Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, and running back Ryan Grant to put points on the board. The more the Packers can get from their defensive stars like Pro Bowlers Harris, Charles Woodson and Aaron Kampman - to make things happen, all the better.

Harris did it on Jan. 4, 2004 by picking off Matt Hasselbeck's pass and racing into the end zone for Green Bay's overtime win. He and the Packers are in great position to make big plays again ... and maybe create another photo worthy of the Packers' locker room wall of fame.

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

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