Packers feel ‘sense of urgency'

At 4-4 and with three conference games in the next 12 days, their playoff hopes are on the line. "We're 4-4, we know what's in front of us, and we need to win," Aaron Rodgers said.

The players wouldn't come right out and say it in these exact words, but it's now or never.

As suddenly as their 2009 season has gotten away from them by losing their last two games, including an abomination at the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, the Packers can quickly recover and make something meaningful of it for the stretch run.

Their next three games, beginning Sunday at home against the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys, will be played in a rapid-fire span of 12 days.

"We know we have to have a sense of urgency at this point," linebacker Nick Barnett said.

The Packers are reeling at the halfway juncture of the season with a 4-4 record.

Although they are in second place in the NFC North, giving title chase is all but a lost cause because they're three games behind the front-running Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings own the head-to-head tiebreaker for sweeping Green Bay in the teams' two meetings this season.

That leaves the Packers trying to stay in contention for one of two wild-card spots in the NFC playoffs.

"The crazy part about it is we've got eight games left," receiver Donald Driver said. "You can't talk playoffs now, but one thing you can talk about is trying to win the next eight. That starts with Dallas this week."

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers stopped short of calling the game against the Cowboys, who have won four straight games, a must win — even though he and his teammates realize that's precisely what this game amounts to for a club that has sorely underachieved.

"We're 4-4, we know what's in front of us, and we need to win," Rodgers said.

Just as the Packers will need to win Nov. 22 against the San Francisco 49ers, another intra-conference foe that could be in the wild-card mix, and then Nov. 26 in a Thanksgiving Day matchup at the division-rival Detroit Lions.

"We've got to make something happen," Barnett said. "It's not a lot of games (left), so we've got to make each one of them count."

That could be easier said than done, however.

The 38-28 loss to the Buccaneers, a game in which Green Bay collapsed after being ahead 28-17 in the fourth quarter, encapsulated all that's been troubling the Packers throughout the season to date. They have serious issues in all three phases.

The offense has allowed a league-worst 37 sacks, six of which came Sunday. The defense has generated little pressure in a new 3-4 scheme that screams aggression. The special teams has given up big returns and had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown Sunday.

"We're still a work in progress," cornerback Tramon Williams said.

Problem is, time is running out for the Packers to get things ironed out and win enough games to ensure there is more football to be played beyond the first week of January.

"Our message is very clear: The head coach has to coach better, the coaches have to coach better, the players have to play better, and we have to win games," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "That's our focus. ... We're going to pour everything that we have into winning at home against the Cowboys."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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