Tice's Comments Inspiring Packers

Whether taken the wrong way or not, comments from Vikings head coach Mike Tice are being played and posted as inspiration in Green Bay.

As if Minnesota coach Mike Tice doesn't have enough to deal with six weeks into the season with his supposedly shipwrecked team, he opened the floodgates with comments he made earlier this week.

"The only lucky thing is the fact that we have Green Bay this week," Tice said in the wake of the Vikings falling to 1-4 on the heels of alleged lewd conduct by a number of players aboard chartered boats 10 days earlier.

Packers coaches and players insist they have paid little attention to and take no delight in the steamy accusations emanating from the nearby camp of their NFC North rivals.

"We have enough things here, at 1-4, to keep our focus on our own problems. We really don't need to focus on their problems," coach Mike Sherman said Wednesday. "We have our own we have to deal with right now. Being 1-4 here is enough of a problem."

Yet Tice's off-handed reference to Sunday's date with the Packers in Minneapolis as perhaps a fortuitous meeting got the attention of those in Green Bay. The quote became more than just bulletin-board material, with it appearing on the video monitors inside the locker room and meeting rooms at Lambeau Field.

Just the welcome-back fodder the Packers needed after they had four days off for the bye on the schedule last weekend. All the better it comes courtesy of their arch-enemies, who have unwittingly ignited big stretch runs by Green Bay the last two years as its first post-bye opponent.

A 30-27 win at Minnesota in 2003 was the start of a 7-2 final kick that earned the Packers a 10-6 record.

Then, last year coming off the break, the Packers prevailed 34-31 against the Vikings at Lambeau to begin a 6-2 finish that yielded a 10-6 record, as well as a third straight division title.

Emboldened by a 52-3 thrashing of New Orleans on Oct. 9 that halted its 0-4 start, Green Bay will seek to again use Minnesota as a springboard to making a run at a winnable NFC North race, currently led by 2-3 Chicago and Detroit.

Since Sherman assumed the helm in 2000, the Packers have unfailingly hit their stride after the bye week. They've won the game right after the open date the last four years and are 33-12 in the post-bye portion of the schedule the last five years, as compared to a pedestrian 20-15 in the pre-bye portion of the schedule during that span.

"The bye weeks have come at opportune times for us," Sherman said. "I can't think of a bye week we went into healthy, and it's helped us get players back after the bye.

"The biggest thing is the players get healthy and they're rejuvenated to go back out and play."

The trend of impeccable timing for the bye amid medical setbacks continued this year. The Packers went into the break with halfback Ahman Green and tight end Bubba Franks out because of knee injuries, center Mike Flanagan recovering from surgery for a sports hernia and tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher bothered by ankle and foot injuries. A week and a half later, only Flanagan remains out.

The downside to this year's hiatus, however, was the Packers couldn't carry on with the good vibes brought on by the all-around destruction of the Saints.

"I almost wish we would (have kept) playing," quarterback Brett Favre said. "We had a win, our first win, a great win. Then, all of a sudden, it's a bye."

Sherman expects to find out quickly Sunday what effect, if any, the bye had on his team's rejuvenated psyche.

"I'll let you know after the first quarter if that momentum carries over into this ballgame," he said.

At least Sherman won't have to drill into his players' heads what's at stake Sunday. One more loss in this early stage of the season, for either hapless rival, stands to be a fatal blow.

"I think we look at them the same way we hope everybody is looking at us. Their backs are against the wall; ours is, too," center Scott Wells said. "They're dangerous; we're dangerous. Who knows? They're going to get our best from us; we're going to get their best from them. It's going to be a good game."


  • Of late, the Packers have exorcised the demons that invariable turned the Metrodome into a house of horrors for them. Green Bay has beaten the Vikings the last two years in Minneapolis and is bidding Sunday for its first three-game winning streak there since 1983-85.

    The Packers, though, are only 4-9 at the Metrodome with Brett Favre at quarterback since 1992.

  • In those 13 previous games at Minnesota, Favre has thrown 18 touchdown passes but has had 18 passes intercepted.

  • Favre had his finest performance at the Metrodome during the Packers' last visit, a 34-31 victory on Christmas Eve last season that earned them their third straight NFC North title. He completed 30 of 43 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns with only one interception. Ryan Longwell made a 29-yard field goal as time expired to decide the outcome. It's the most passing yards Favre has amassed at Minnesota and marked only the second time he attained the 300-yard plateau there.

  • The greatly improved defense, ranked 10th in the NFL for average total yards allowed per game (295.6), is No. 2 in the league for tackles that resulted in a loss with 19. San Francisco has the most with 22.

  • Since 2000, Mike Sherman's first year as head coach, the Packers are 7-4 against the Vikings. In each of the four defeats, Green Bay never led at any time.

  • Favre is set to make his 211th straight regular-season start Sunday, which would give him sole possession of fourth place on the league's all-time durability list for all positions. He's currently tied with former Oakland center Jim Otto. Third on the list is former Houston and Tennessee lineman Bruce Matthews with 229.

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