Gameday notebook

Packer Report editor Bill Huber empties his tape recorder and notebook before Sunday's game, including items on Qwest Field's earth-shaking noise, what last year's playoff game means, a mellow but intense Holmgren and much, much more.

How loud does it get at Seattle's Qwest Field?

In the 2005 NFC title game, Fox Sports recorded the volume inside the specially designed open-air stadium at 137 decibels.

In a 2005 regular-season game, the New York Giants visited Seattle and committed 11 false-start penalties.

And in a 2006 playoff game against Dallas, researchers at the University of Washington said the noise and commotion by fans was equivalent to an earthquake registering 3.0 on the Richter Scale.

The Packers visited Seattle during the 2006 regular season, losing 34-24. On Friday, receiver Greg Jennings remembered talking to quarterback Brett Favre before the game.

"In the pregame, it was extremely loud, and I was like, ‘If it's this loud, I can only imagine what the actual game would be like.' They definitely give their team a boost. We have to mentally be sound and be prepared for that noise."

Packers coach Mike McCarthy had speakers playing crowd noise during practice this week as the offense worked on a silent count.

"It really becomes part of your focus and cadence," McCarthy said. "If you talk to some players, some players believe it even makes you focus more, and your tendency for pre-snap penalties goes down. But the edge really comes for the defensive side of the ball to get the jump. It's clearly one of the louder opponent fields that we'll play on, there's no doubt about it. But it's really just part of the makeup of playing on the road."

In light of the Packers falling behind 10-0 to Atlanta last week, the emphasis this week is a fast start to keep the crowd under control.

"It's always a challenge on the road, and Seattle prides themselves on being a very loud stadium," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "You've got to start fast when you play in a tough environment like that. Try to get the crowd out early, and you've got to put the peddle to the metal and stay on them so the crowd can't get back. And you've got to limit the big momentum swings."

Running game gains ground

The Packers rushed for 104 yards against Atlanta last week, including 10 carries for 59 yards by Ryan Grant in the second half. That bodes well for this game, since the Seahawks rank 24th against the run (129.5 yards allowed per game) and just allowed 254 rushing yards in last week's 44-6 rout by the Giants.

"We're taking some steps forward," guard Daryn Colledge said. "I know Grant's trying to make better reads. We're trying to make better blocks. We're all just trying to come together as a unit, and I think we're doing better. We're at least taking steps in the right direction."

Helping matters would be the return of starting fullback Korey Hall. Hall, who's been out since injuring a knee against Detroit in the first quarter of Week 2, practiced all week and is expected to play.

"If you look at the runs where we didn't get any yards on film, it's just a matter of one guy missing a block," Hall said. "But, that's kind of the way it goes in the run game. It always comes down to one or two guys who could have done this, but you can't live like that. You've got to be able to say, ‘I went out and executed and blocked my man.'"

Even if Hall doesn't start, McCarthy likes packages in which Hall and fellow fullback John Kuhn are on the field.

"It helps when you have both of them, there is no doubt," McCarthy said. "Korey Hall was the starting fullback for a reason. I think John has been very productive for us."

What does last year mean?

In last year's playoffs, two early fumbles by Grant gave Seattle a quick 14-0 lead. But the Packers turned it around, and behind 201 rushing yards and three touchdowns by Grant, throttled the Seahawks 42-20.

What does it mean for this week?

"I think the film's relevant," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "When you have success against a team like the Packers had against us, absolutely they have to look at that game. But we are, too. We have to study that game, because they banged us pretty good running the ball.

"We have to pay special attention to that game, there's no question about that."

McCarthy, on the other hand, downplayed its significance.

"Well, you look at that game. It's a game where there is still a lot of the same matchups. There is no doubt about it," he said. "You can't see much of it after the third quarter (because of the snow), but it's a game you can use in your breakdown. But I usually always, especially with Week 6 of the season, I'll pay more mind to what has gone on here the last three or four weeks."

Good humor

Seattle's offense has been decimated by injuries to its receiving corps. Holmgren noted Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been without his top six receivers from the start of the season, though productive slot receiver Bobby Engram is back and former Packer Koren Robinson will start.

Asked about those six injured receivers, Hasselbeck said: "If it was just six, I think we would have been all right. I think it might have been more than six."

Informed that Holmgren said it was six, Hasselbeck replied: "Then six is right, if he said six. Whatever he said is right."

Mount Holmgren erupts?

Believe it or not, Holmgren is 60 years old. While this will be his last season as Seattle's coach — he and his wife will take a one-year "sabbatical" next year before Holmgren decides his future — there's no doubt who's in charge.

"Mike got up (Wednesday) and really laid into the offense," Hasselbeck said a few days after a 44-6 loss to the Giants. "He gave it to us hard."

Still, Holmgren has mellowed over time. Despite a three-game losing streak, he was downright jovial with reporters taking part in Wednesday's conference call.

"I think he's got a better handle on his emotions," Hasselbeck said, "but at the same time, I think he's got some guys that he really trusts on the football team, the Lofa Tatupus and the Walter Jones and guys like that that he really, really trusts and he delegates a lot of responsibility in the locker room that way. But at the same time, he's still the presence. When he's in a room, everybody knows where he is. When he talks, everyone listens."

Hasselbeck on Favre

Hasselbeck, who began his career in Green Bay under Holmgren as Brett Favre's backup, was an interested observer to the controversy that erupted in Green Bay in July.

"It's a lesson to players across the league," Hasselbeck said. "If it can happen to Brett Favre, it can happen to anybody. I just think it was the lesson that most guys learned from it."

Meaningless stat of the week

Holmgren, who went 5-1 as the Packers' coach against his former employer, San Francisco, is just 2-4 as Seattle's coach against Green Bay.

One of those losses, however, came in the 2005 regular-season finale, when Holmgren — who had a team that would reach the Super Bowl that year — benched his starters in a 23-17 loss at Lambeau Field.

"That game, I kind of remove that from the overall record when I think about it. And I'd like to remove the playoff game when Al Harris intercepted the ball and ran back, but I can't."

On a serious note, though, Holmgren said these games against former teams or former colleagues mean just a little more.

"But you've got to understand, I was younger and less mature than I am now," Holmgren said, recalling those matchups against San Francisco. "I get really fired up for those games, and I had to be really careful about peaking too early during the week. But that was my first head coaching job. I always had an analogy about playing a pick-up game in the back yard. There's a little more that goes into it because you're so close. I've said that over the years when I'm competing against Jon Gruden or Andy Reid or in those days Steve Mariucci or the guys that worked with me, and you go and play against their team, there's always a little bit — there's always a little bit of extra there. So, I would say, yeah, when I played against the Packers, but I say that affectionately. ... You want to do well against your friends."

They said it

— On Wednesday, there were balloons in defensive tackle Ryan Pickett's locker for his 29th birthday. What better present than a win, right? "Oh, man, that would top it off. We definitely need to get this win."

— More from Pickett, on the importance of this game. "It's big. It's huge. It's huge. It's huge. We want to go into the bye week with some momentum, because we know we've got a tough stretch coming up. So, this game is big. Guys in this locker room want to win this game more so than we've wanted to win any game in a long time."

— Rodgers, on the importance of this game: "Every game is big game for us, but it's an important one. We've proven to be a good road team in the past. It'll be a good test for us against a team that's coming off a bad loss, and rarely do teams put together two back-to-back poor performances together, so we're expecting Seattle to play well, and we have to match their intensity."

— Holmgren, on the birth of his sixth grandchild: "So now, I've finally got two little guys that I can play catch with when I'm at the nursing home."

— Holmgren, on being 60: "I tell ya, after Sunday (the 44-6 loss to the Giants), I felt 70. But you know what? I don't. I feel good. I don't quite feel that old, but I've always kind of thought I was about 25 years old anyway. So, nothing much changes. As long as you feel good, and I feel good."

Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com


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