GREEN BAY PACKERS HEAD COACH MIKE McCARTHY
“Excellent win today, to say the least. Really this was the first step for us, a division championship here in Chicago. This game always means so much to our players, our organization and our fans and we did not disappoint today. I was pleased with the victory.
To go through the three segments, I thought our offense was able to retain some balance; we were committed to the run. We had a couple of chances for us to go out of the gate; I thought we did a good job of getting the ball out on the perimeter. I thought Aaron [Rodgers] played extremely well, against a tough defense down here. Defensively, I thought that after the first series, I thought our defense really took over the football game. Our third down defense was outstanding. We put them in tough situations there in the fourth quarter. Special teams, it was consistent. As far as the field position battle, I haven’t seen how that shook out yet. Obviously, we had the fake punt which is my responsibility and clearly not the highlight of my coaching career. With that, it was an excellent win and excellent team win and that is what is exciting about this group. We feel that this 2012 group has a chance to continue to get better. We have a lot more to offer in all three phases and we will be able to take that back home against Tennessee next week. I am thrilled to win a division championship, we now know that we are in the tournament, in the playoffs and now we fight for a seed.”
On whether the fake punt would have been called if the defense wasn’t playing so well
“Well, really, the reason behind the fake punt is that Aaron [Rodgers] had come off with an ankle [injury]. We had a couple injuries on the sideline, had guys that were getting ready for the next series. I thought the potential for the big play on special teams was there. It was a play that we have been working on, you look for a certain part of the field, with the wind, all of the factors involved and that’s what it equated to. Now, in the end, it’s not a very good decision. I wish I had that back.”
On how well it worked to use quick slants to the receivers today
“Well, the slant play is really the starting point of our offense. That is one of the first routes we put in. They played a lot of two-high in the game and then went to some three-deep and came after us with some pressure on some important downs in the game. We are going to throw them, they are going to defend them. It is clearly one of Aaron’s better balls and our receivers did a good job running the routes.”
On matching up well with the Bears offense
“Their offense, as far as the way they started the game, I though they did a really good job. They were running the ball on second down. The emphasis of our defense was to be patient, be patient with the four-man rush and then we grew into the pressure as the game went on. I thought Dom [Capers]’s coverage calls and the players sticking to their guns in the perimeter and playing tight coverage. I have to give the officials credit. You don’t usually get three calls in one game and I obviously thought they were all good calls. It is the way we play defense.”
On whether Crosby is testing the coaching staff’s patience
“Mason needs to make those kicks. We are at that time of the year. We had a spot. We left points on the field today with two missed field goals, and two make-able field goals. Also you factor in some of the decisions you make after that, so it is time for him to step up.”
On the importance of responding quickly to the Bears’ first score
“It was very important. There was a lot of emotion going into the game and I think the first series says a lot about the preparation and mind set of your football team. They did a very good job, what was it, six minutes or so on that first drive, so, for us to respond was very important. That is Bears-Packers football. There are going to be momentum swings, we talk about it all week just keep punching away, there are going to be times where we need to counter-punch and our guys did a great job out there today.”
On the performance of James Jones
“Well, he just catches touchdowns. That is a nice job and responsibility to have. It is just the way it falls sometimes. James is having an excellent year and I can’t say enough about him and the ability to make the big catch, just a back-shoulder fade there. He is playing very well, we ran our offense. We went exclusively no-huddle there for the first two and a half quarters there and that is the way we want to play it. We want to play as fast as we can and get as many attempts at the plate. I thought Aaron did a great job managing it and was extremely productive today.”
On having contributions from so many people on offense
“We are a much better football team when we have everyone on the field and we will take another step when Jordy [Nelson] comes back too. We have very good playmakers and it is the responsibility of the offensive playcaller, the run-blocking unit and the pass-protection unit, we need to get those guys involved. We have been committing to the run, it’s been good, it’s been productive, which is what we needed. But we need to be balanced, because when we are balanced, our playmakers get into the secondary and it is a different ballgame.”
On the lift Clay Matthews provided
“You can see it in practice. When Clay Matthews is on the field, we are a different defense. He is an impact player, he made an impact today. He is clearly one of the best defensive players in the league and I think that says it all.”
On the third-down defense
“I thought Dom did a great job. I thought he was patient with the plan and that our players picked their spots. This was about the four-man rush going into the game and being aware of where Brandon Marshall was. I just really like the patience of our defense and the discipline of it and just trying to make the quarterback beat you and today I thought we were outstanding.”
On the possible added significance of the win with all of the obstacles they have overcome this season.
“I am not a drama-queen, but it is great that we won a championship today. I feel good about it, not to diminish anything here, but we are just getting started. We feel that way as a football team, not trying to be arrogant, we feel a lot better football in front of us. It was an extremely important game for everybody involved today, but we fully expected to come in here and win this thing. We have the division championship and now we will be focused on getting to 11 wins next week at home against Tennessee.”
On the play of Casey Hayward
“Casey is a dynamic young player. He is very instinctive, if the ball is in the air, watch out. He has offensive, not to insult the defensive players, but he has offensive ball skills and I just can’t say enough about our young guys.”
On the confidence in the kicking game
“We are going in to work tomorrow and watch the tape and we are going to swing at it. We are not changing our kicker, so you can write that down right now. He is our guy. He needs to make those kicks, he knows that. We are at the time of the year. We have been taking the long 50-yard opportunities, preparing him to make the game-winner. I have all the confidence that when we line up at home that we are going to go out there, have our spot, have a field position plan and go out there and kick them when the opportunity comes and he has to do his part.”
On the officiating
“I give the officials a lot of credit. I thought they did a good job of letting the teams play today and calling the obvious penalties. It is competitive on the sidelines and sometimes you only hear about the officials when they don’t do a good job. I am not always going to agree with every call they make, but I thought there was balance out there today. I thought the calls that they did make, they didn’t let it affect the outcome of the game, and those are tough calls. To get three PI’s in one game, I am glad it happened today.”
On how improved the offense can be if Finley plays the way he did today
“I thought Jermichael was a major factor today, it just goes back to my thought earlier. We need to threaten these secodaries more and more and when we have all of our guys rolling like that, it definitely helps. I am very pleased with Jermichael’s effort and production today.”
PACKERS QUARTERBACK AARON RODGERS
On importance of winning in Chicago
“It’s really important, it’s a big game for us. It can put us in a great position the next two weeks to win the division and now we’re looking at improving our seed. Big win, good team. Big team win. Crazy things happen in Chicago, we can never seem to put them away. A lot credit to their coaching staff, they were under-manned today. They fought hard. Did a good job on defense, gave me some different looks. We were able to make just a few more.
On McCarthy saying it is just getting started
We’ve been going for awhile. It’s been a grind. This season more than last year, even 2010, this has been a grind. We’ve dealt with a lot of adversity; we had ups and downs a lot of guys hurt. To get a win like this means a lot to our organization, our fans, the guys in the locker room are excited about get Charles back, hopefully soon, having Clay back out there, Mike Neal those guys are impact players. We’ve had a lot of guys step-up and play. James Jones 3 touchdowns, Randall [Cobb] has been as consistent as anybody. Cobb, Don Barclay DuJuan Harris, we’ve had a lot of guys playing some unusual roles and doing well.
On being able to score right away after the Bears first score
That was important. That was really important to keep the crowd at bay a little bit. Chicago fans are excellent sports fans; they know when to cheer and when to get loud. We’ve played here and it’s been very difficult to hear, today at points it’s was the same, we couldn’t let them get up a couple of scores and get into what they wanted to do. It looked like they wanted to run Forte a lot. Getting ahead of them took them out of that stuff.
On avoiding the pressure later in the game
I think, just personally, I was thinking about moving around a little bit more. Just being aware of where I was in the pocket, stepping up when I had to, keeping plays alive. In general, we wanted to give Don [Barclay] some help on right tackle, we wanted to keep John around. They made a couple of nice adjustments, its tough when you play a team twice a year and you know each other so well, they had some really good stuff, some adjustments when we made some checks, every time we checked protection, they checked it too. They did some delayed blitzing. It was just about getting us some clean plays. Helping Don [Barclay], and their protection was excellent second half. There were multiple times I had the ball in my hands 4-5 seconds and that gives our guys some second reaction plays which kept the plays going.
On how much credit goes to receivers
I think, first you have to give credit to the personal department for the kind of guys we’ve drafted. Second, Edgar Bennett has done a great job. He’s a Packer Hall of Fame running back who is coaching receivers. He’s done a great job of getting those guys ready. Third, is the guys. They have just a great approach to the game, they are very well prepared. We’ve spent a lot of time in meetings and on the practice field just making the most of those reps and trying to be on the same page all the time. Those guys care about being successful, they care about putting the extra time in. I’m not surprised about James Jones success, he just needs more opportunities. I’m not surprised at Randall Cobb’s success, because he’s special. It’ll be nice to get Jordy back at some point, but we have a lot of weapons.
On why the slants were so effective today
“Maybe it’s because we haven’t thrown them much all year. I think we got a lot of questions last week about what happened to the slant pattern, I kept saying we haven’t seen a lot of cover two. Today, Chicago tried to pressure us a little more, they tried to drop down one eye stuff which they’ve done over the past and some of these late season games and just had to make the most of them. Jermichael [Finley] had a big catch on the slant, Greg [Jennings]had a couple and slowly but surely you may see it pop up every now and then, you got to give credit to the way we’ve ran the ball the last couple of weeks. It’s made defenses play a little more one high. We’ll see what happens as we move forward, the more one high you see, you might see more slants.
On wire to wire league
It’s been all about who’s hot at the right time. You saw it with the Giants last year and us, Pittsburgh when they made their run a few years back. It’s all about how you’re playing late December and what your team’s health is like. I think, often it goes back to some of the adversity that your team faces during the season, how battle tested are you. We went on a run last year, won 13 in a row, at times it seemed easy, especially from the outside the way we were winning. This year we’ve had to find a way to win games more. We’ve turned the ball over at times, inopportune times, we had to run the ball more different we’ve had to adjust protections, adjust routes. Kind of had some crazy half time adjustments to try and make things happen. We’ve dealt with a lot of adversity. I think this team is playing the right way the way right now. We have 2 games left in regular season, we want to be peaking at the right times because those are the teams that make the deep runs.
On Grinding out victories is there any more satisfaction in this
I like them all to be blow outs to be honest with you. This one had a chance too, we were up 21-7, we double them up there at the end of the first half. Beginning of the second half, we got the ball back, we were driving, we turned the ball over. You just can’t turn the ball over against these guys. They put a drive together, our defense held. It’s tough to put this team away. I think it says a lot about the kind of coach they have, and really coaching staff. They keep their guys focused, they never feel like they are out of the game. For some reason, every time they play us, they are never out of the game.
On Green Bay defense
Yeah, I think they did a good job. They are playing consistent, it’s nice having Clay out there, it gives us an elite pass rusher again. I think Mike Neal, you see how active he is he really helps the interior push, which is a quarterbacks worst enemy at times. I’ll be able to step up in the pocket. The second day we had a lot guys a lot to catch the ball and make plays. Casey Hayward had a big time season, Tramon (Williams) has been a lock down corner. Sam Shields is back, Morgan (Burnett) has been very, very consistent. Those guys are playing the right way and when they hold teams to 13 points we should win all those games.
On 3rd & 4th & long conversions
“It was huge. We talk a lot about situational football, red zone, 3rd down, we did the better job today of cashing in on those drives. We had 4th down conversions, Jermichael had a big catch, he’s been playing really well lately, he’s dialed in, he’s been making some big, big plays for us. 3rd down is the money down; we have to be able to make some plays, especially when the pocket breaks down. Randall (Cobb) had a big time catch down the side lines. Those are the fun ones when you are converting those 3rd and longs.”
On early loses in the season
“Yeah, I think Houston and immediately thereafter was a wake-up for us. I think what Houston did for us was just remind us that we were a team with special players. As an older player on this team, and someone that has been around on different types of teams, you got to try and remind the guys this is a special opportunity is and how you don’t’ want to let it slip away. I think that is the thing we learned from last year, it’s so exciting and thrilling to get to the Super Bowl and you go on a run of 15-1 you forget how difficult it was at times. We’re all reminded of how special those moments are, getting to the Championship game and wining big time games this team is dealt with a lot more adversity and is a tight knit group and knows how to win.
On hurt ankle from Peppers play
“I was teasing Pep (Julius Peppers) almost every time we play, you’re hitting me in the head and which he retorted back “it wasn’t a penalty” which Pep and I have a great relationship and I felt like it was a big time hit. I don’t know what happened to him on the play, I don’t’ know if I have that specially hard helmet. I’m okay, just kind of got my ankle fallen on on that 3rd down and got hit a couple of times. Overall, the protection was good; they brought some pressures we haven’t seen in a long time – got to give them credit for their game plan.
Is James Jones surprising you?
“If he drops a ball, it surprises me. It doesn’t happen a lot, but he’s been very consistent for us. His attitude has been great, he’s been dialed in every week, his preparation has been very good, he practices the right way he’s just been making plays. He get a lot of opportunities and 3 touchdowns today, he catches a fade down the side line with a very good release. He catches an underneath route and he kind aught kind of a high difficult pass and is able to get into the endzone. He catches a back shoulder fade on one of the top corners in the league so you got to give him a lot of credit, those are big time plays and he’s a go-to guy.
PACKERS CORNERBACK JARRETT BUSH
On whether they practiced the lateral special teams play
“Yeah. Yeah, we’ll never just throw things in at game time. We practiced it numerous times, weeks before this week. It wasn’t executed exactly how we wanted to, but we made do with it and we just kept playing. Defense had to back on the field and we made them kick a field-goal.”
PACKERS WIDE RECEIVER RANDALL COBB
On the win
“This is big. To come into a rival’s house and win, clinch your division, and be able to celebrate in their locker room, that’s a great feeling to have. You know, we found a way tonight. We had some ups and downs, but in the end, we found a way to win.”
On Aaron Rodgers
“He’s just finding the open man. I just happen to be the open man at that time. I’m just trying to make the plays and keep the sticks moving and stay on the field and give the offense more first downs each week.”
On the punt/lateral play
“We’ve got to execute it. In the end, we had it called. We’ve been practicing it for a few weeks. The coaches called it. We have to execute the play. Maybe I can throw a better ball, but in the end, we have to execute that play.”
On how everyone seems to be stepping up
“Yeah, all season, we haven’t had everybody healthy at our position. We’re looking for that game where we have everybody back on the field to go out there and make plays, but we all have to step up. We always talk about stepping up, and that’s definitely been a key factor for us this season.”
On the trash talking
“Yeah, definitely. That’s part of football. There’s going to be a lot of talk on the field, but, in the end, we came out with the win. That’s all we care about. All the talk can be said, but in the end, we made plays, and that’s the only way to win.”
PACKERS KICKER MASON CROSBY
On his first missed field goal
“I just missed it right. It’s just one of those conditions out there. I just didn’t make it.”
On how he’s been kicking lately
“I had a good week of work, and I didn’t make two kicks today, but we won the game, and we won the division. So, this is a team sport, and that’s how we do it.”
On possibly misinterpreting the wind today
“No. I just think the conditions were fairly decent out there. I had to figure out the footing in warm-ups, but I was hitting the ball well with operation. I just hit the ball off of my toe, and it went a little right.”
On how it is trying to move on to the next kick after a miss
“That’s my job. Unfortunately, I didn’t make those two kicks today, but we won the game, and for me, that’s the most important thing.”
PACKERS TE JERMICHAEL FINLEY
On the win
“I feel great. It’s another win for us. We clinched the division. So, we just have to keep it rolling.”
On his involvement in today’s game
“(Aaron) Rodgers looked at me often and got me comfortable. So, once that starts happening, the ball can be pretty much anywhere, and I’m going to go get it for sure.”
PACKERS WIDE RECEIVER JAMES JONES
On whether clinching the division has sunk in
“Definitely. Whenever you come in here or they come in there, you know it’s going to be a dog fight. No matter how you look at it, you can put all the schemes and play-calling out the window. It’s man-on-man. They want to win. It was a dog fight, and we got a “W”.
On the coverages he faced
“On two of the touchdowns, it was man-to-man. The second (touchdown) they were in zone coverage and kind of dropped me a little bit. We had a nice little play on for that defense.”
On the importance of wrapping up the division today
“It’s huge. That’s what we came out here for – to get a win and go home division champs and to continue to grow and get better as a team. You know, this was not our ultimate goal. Our ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl, so we have a lot of work to do.”
On the importance of everyone getting involved
“We needed everyone today. The offense doesn’t move with one person; our offense moves with everybody, starting with number twelve (Aaron Rodgers). But, we needed everybody to make plays. (Randall) Cobb had a bunch of crucial third down catches. Jermichael (Finley) came up big. Greg (Jennings) made some plays. You know, it was a team win.”
On whether the talk during the week continued on the field
“I don’t get into all of the talk, man. I’m just glad we got a win.”
On how the running game helped him out today
“Definitely. When you’re running the ball well, teams are going to have to switch up some certain coverages. We ran the ball well, and we got them in some man-to-man sometimes, and I was able to make some plays.”
PACKERS LINEBACKER CLAY MATTHEWS
On his return and it being against the Bears
“Yeah, no, it feels good. Obviously, taking a break, which I have, you never enjoy injuries in this business, but it is what it is, and I was able to come out and have some personal success, team success and clinch the NFC North. So, step-one is done and we just have to continue this thing rolling all the way to the playoffs.”
On how he feels
“I felt good. There’s a room for improvement out there, definitely. But ultimately, I felt I was pretty close to my old self. So, I need to get my wind back. Knock off a little of the rust, but it feels good.”
On winning and clinching the division against the Bears
“I think it means more to the fans then it does us. Our agenda is what we control it didn’t matter where it was at, but it was great we were able to do it here, for the fans, for us. A big divisional rival game, we’re happy about it.”
On whether the Bears were talking during the game
“Not so much. I’m sure a few players had some words, but ultimately it’s always a great match-up when we play the Bears.”
On the play of the defense
“That’s what great defenses do, they respond to adversity. I think that’s twice now with the botched special teams play and the turn-over – excuse me, the pass interference that put them all the way to the one, definitely helped us out in that regard, minimizing them to three points apiece and ultimately coming away with the victory.”
On his new sack dance
“I just had to let something else out there, just to have some fun. We talked about it over my four week hiatus and that’s what it was going to be today.”
On what was the key to stopping the Bears on third down
“Nothing different than any other third down. Obviously, you have to try and minimize their runs on first and second down. Try to hold them instead of three or four yards to one or two.”
On the offensive pass interference calls against the Bears
“That’s how it goes. You have to play by the rules. It’s the same with me out there. We’re fortunate to have benefited from that, but it was blatant. It was obvious. So we’ll take it.”
PACKERS CORNERBACK SAM SHIELDS
On whether emotions were running higher today
“Oh yeah. There was a lot of heat out there. We were calm about it. We did what…we game planed and went in and did what we had to do against [Brandon] Marshall and you see the results.”
On the non call of offensive pass interference in the endzone
“Body slammed. I was out of breath for a minute. I had to get out of the next play. Like I said, they didn’t call that either; it just went on to the next down.
On whether it was extra physical today
“Oh yeah, it was way more physical. Like I said, they probably game-planned and said we need to go in more physical. And I guess that’s what they did.”
On how he responded to the more physical play
“You know, just get more physical. I’m a little guy. I’m, like 180 [pounds], he’s a big guy [Alshon Jeffery]. I just try to stand my ground. Keep covering him. Sometimes I played off, just to avoid the pushing off and things like that.”
On how the team keeps winning despite injuries and playing rookies
“We just keep our cool. Like you said, we have a lot of young guys in and the veterans talk to them, ‘hey this is a rivalry game, we need you to step-up. The rookie situation is out the window’. Casey [Hayward] made a perfect play that we needed.”
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