Peaking at the right time

Packers proving that they belong in NFC Championship Game and are headed for Super Bowl XLII, says's Todd Korth

Earlier last week, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said that his defense is the best he's ever had in his nine seasons in Seattle. Even better than in 2005 when the Seahawks advanced to Super Bowl XL.

Yeah, whatever.

After the Green Bay Packers scored their sixth straight touchdown Saturday, Holmgren may have revised his thoughts on his defense, which ranked 15th in the league overall and tied for sixth with the Packers in points allowed.

"We were up 14 and we were thinking that it couldn't be any better, but then Green Bay settled in and responded beautifully, and then we just could not stop them," Holmgren said. "We couldn't stop them today very well."

The Seahawks defense was defenseless for most of the late afternoon. The Packers scored a playoff record 42 points and looked as good as ever in the process.

The Packers piled up yards faster than the snowflakes that gently covered the field during the second half. Green Bay finished with 408 yards of offense and kept all four of Seattle's Pro Bowl defenders in check throughout the game.

Defensive end Patrick Kerney, who had three sacks in Seattle's 35-14 victory over Washington in the NFC Wild Card playoffs, was held without a tackle. Packers offensive tackle Mark Tauscher, as well as tight ends Donald Lee and Bubba Franks get most of the credit there. They were outstanding against a guy who racked up 14.5 sacks during the regular season.

Mike McCarthy and the Packers offense is clearly in a zone. And the same goes for Green Bay's defense and special teams. It didn't seem to matter too much that the Packers spotted the Seahawks a 14-0 lead. Green Bay bounced back, focused on the game plan and went ahead for good on Brett Favre's 2-yard pass to Greg Jennings.

Favre's improvisational, 11-yard pass to Lee set up running back Ryan Grant's three-yard touchdown later in the second quarter, underlined the fact that the Packers are in high gear and could do no wrong after they got their two blunders out of the way in the first four minutes of the game. The fact that Grant set a playoff record with 201 yards rushing on 27 carries is one of the many indicators that possibly only the New England Patriots can give the Packers a challenge.

McCarthy is in an absolute zone calling plays, and the offense has fallen into a rhythm that good defenses, like Seattle's, cannot figure out. Credit McCarthy for his game-planning and preparation. The coach is a tireless worker, and he has the complete trust and support of his staff and players.

It was great to see Grant get more than 18 carries. In his 27 rushing attempts, he showed that can can break off big chunks of yardage this season, and he did it against the Seahawks because he was given an opportunity. He looked like he was on a snowmobile during his 43-yard run around the left end late in the fourth quarter, which set up the Packers' sixth touchdown of the game. Despite his two fumbles early on, which were uncharacteristic, he kept focused and had his best day as a pro while the Packers scored a playoff record 42 points.

With Favre playing as good as he has since the mid-1990s, and the Packers' defense playing as physical as ever, the Packers are proving to the football world that they are every bit as good as their 14-3 record. The Packers haven't reached the NFC Championship game next Sunday by accident, or by some fluke play here or there. They have earned the right to play for a Super Bowl berth and are on track toward reaching their season-long goal - Super Bowl XLII.

In the locker room after Green Bay's NFC Divisional playoff win, confidence was oozing from the players. They believe in themselves. They believe that they will go to the Super Bowl and win, no matter what anyone says. There have been many so-called experts out there this season that never gave the Packers a chance of being in the playoffs, much less advancing to the NFC title game. But who cares what they think.

"We definitely feel like we're a great team right now and the sky's the limit," said hard-hitting safety Atari Bigby.

What more needs to be said? Packers players and coaches believe they will get it done week after week. So far, they have done nothing to let anyone down. They're playing their best football in all phases at precisely the right time of the year. There is no reason to think that they won't advance to the Super Bowl no matter who they play or where next Sunday.

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