Head Coach Mike McCarthy on Sunday discussed the difficulty in leaving veteran WR Donald Driver on the inactive list for what might have been his final game at Lambeau Field. It was the fourth time Driver has been inactive this season, with the three occurrences in the regular season coming in Weeks, 13, 15 and 17.
“Donald Driver is a class act to say the least,” McCarthy said. “He’s a pro’s pro. He does everything you ever ask of him. We’ve had conversations of late here, … and he’s handled it very well. He’s an excellent teammate. Everyone clearly understands what he means to the organization and what he’s done.
“He’s out there preparing every day, getting ready to play. He may have an opportunity this week. We’ll see how it shakes down. Those are very difficult decisions to make, when you have a healthy 53, to get to 46.”
McCarthy pointed out that the final decisions for the gameday active roster often come down to special teams, and rookie LB Terrell Manning was activated for Saturday night’s playoff game against Minnesota. Manning proceeded to earn a game ball on special teams from the coaches as well as the “Big Hit” award, McCarthy said.
“That’s why you have to make those kinds of decisions,” McCarthy said. “That’s part of the way it sorts out in game-planning and obviously special teams plays into it.”
A couple of other notes from McCarthy’s Sunday press conference:
–He mentioned it only in passing, but McCarthy made reference to rookie RT Don Barclay playing his best game to date. Barclay started the last four games of the regular season and was making his playoff debut.
–The only injury reported from the game was a hamstring injury to TE Jermichael Finley. McCarthy said the medical staff has told him it’s “nothing of a serious nature,” but he did not address Finley’s status for this week.
Tags: donald driver, mike mccarthy
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Tags: #MINvsGB, instant replay, minnesota vikings, Playoffs, wild card
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PACKERS TOP VIKINGS IN NFC WILD CARD CONTEST
– Green Bay beat Minnesota, 24-10, tonight at Lambeau Field to advance to the NFC Divisional round of the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
– The Packers are the only NFC team to advance to three straight NFC Divisional games from 2010-12. The last time Green Bay advanced to the divisional round in three or more consecutive seasons was five straight from 1993-97.
– With the victory, the Packers improve to 30-17 all-time in the postseason, a .638 winning percentage that ranks No. 1 in league history. Green Bay moved into sole possession of the No. 3 spot for the most playoff wins with 28, trailing only the N.Y. Giants (31) and Dallas Cowboys (30).
– Including playoffs, the Packers have now won 10 straight games at home against NFC North opponents.
– The 10 points allowed by the Packers were the fewest in a postseason game since they gave up 10 points at San Francisco on Jan. 11, 1998.
– Green Bay will travel to San Francisco next Saturday night to take on the 49ers at Candlestick Park at 7 p.m. (CST).
OTHER POST-GAME NOTES:
– Tonight’s paid attendance was 71,548. It was the 311th consecutive sellout (293 regular season, 18 playoffs) at Lambeau Field and the fourth-largest crowd in Lambeau Field history.
– With the victory on Saturday night, Head Coach Mike McCarthy improved his postseason record to 6-3. His .667 winning percentage ranks No. 2 in team history among Green Bay head coaches behind only Vince Lombardi (9-1, .900).
– QB Aaron Rodgers posted a 104.9 passer rating on Saturday night (23 of 33, 274 yards, one TD), the fifth time he has registered a 100-plus passer rating in seven career postseason starts.
– Rodgers did not thrown an interception for the fifth straight game. He has not thrown an interception in 177 consecutive passing attempts.
– FB John Kuhn is the only player in the NFL to score a touchdown in each of the last four postseasons (2009-12). Kuhn joined RB Dorsey Levens (five straight, 1994-98) and WR Antonio Freeman (1995-98) as the only players in team history to score a TD in four or more consecutive postseasons.
– Kuhn also became the first player in franchise history to post a rushing TD and a receiving TD in two different postseason games. He also did so at Atlanta on Jan. 15, 2011.
– LB Clay Matthews matched is postseason career high (at Atlanta, Jan. 15, 2011) with two sacks as he joined DE Reggie White as the only players in franchise playoff history to register two-plus sacks in two games. Matthews brought his career postseason sack total to 6.5, second only to White (8.0) in franchise playoff history.
– CB Sam Shields posted his third career interception in the postseason, which is tied for No. 4 in team history.
– K Mason Crosby’s 20-yard field goal in the second quarter was his sixth consecutive made field goal in the postseason, a franchise playoff record. It bested the mark of five straight by Don Chandler in 1965 and Chris Jacke in 1996.
– The Packers allowed the Vikings to complete just 11 passes, the fewest given up by Green Bay a playoff game since it allowed seven completions at Washington on Dec. 24, 1972.
– Green Bay held Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (99 yards) to less than 100 yards rushing for just the second time in the Vikings’ last 11 games (86 yards at Houston in Week 16).
GREEN BAY PACKERS HEAD COACH MIKE McCARTHY:
(opening statement) “Good victory for us today. Playoff victories are always special. Coming back after six days and playing the Vikings. First off, I have to give great credit to our fans and the atmosphere here tonight. When I think about tonight’s win, it definitely starts and ends with our defense. I thought they were outstanding for four quarters and they set the tempo. They kept Minnesota out of the end zone until the end and obviously adjusted to the quarterback change. The communication, the effort and the run defense really stood out. Offensively, I thought we played good football for probably about the first half. We had an opportunity to score going in. Coming out, we weren’t able to knock them out of the park in the third and fourth quarter. Special teams, did a solid job as far as the placement and our coverage teams did a better job tonight.”
(on the difference between the rush defense tonight compared with the last two games against the Vikings) “It comes down to the things we talked about during the course of the week in here. We talked about it as a football team — to play with leverage, to play with discipline, trust the guy next to you and obviously rally to the football. Adrian Peterson does a great job of extending runs, very similar to what Aaron Rodgers does in the pass game with his ability to extend pass plays. They are two very similar players. I thought our defense was extremely disciplined. They played with great effort, I thought we owned the line of scrimmage and it was a big factor tonight.”
(on if his team prepared for Joe Webb during the week) “Our work on Joe was obviously something that was out there during the course of the week. We had a long day here today as coaches. I know a number of our guys were going back and checking things. They didn’t change their game plan a whole lot. I have to give a lot of credit to our players and our defensive coaches, just the fact that they stayed the course and we played very well for a quarterback that was unscouted.”
(on if he had an idea that QB Christian Ponder wasn’t going to play) “They did a good job of keeping it under wraps. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I knew Joe Webb was going to play. That’s not the case. We didn’t adjust our game plan, so the players and coaches did a hell of a job.”
(on the offensive game plan) “We wanted to be balanced with run and pass. I thought we did that, but we didn’t really run the ball very well in the second half. I thought that was a big part of why we stalled and weren’t able to convert first downs.”
PACKERS QUARTERBACK AARON RODGERS:
(on going back to northern California to play next week) “Home is really Chico. Chico is northern California. San Francisco I would say is the Bay Area. It’ll be fun to go back to the West Coast. We’ll hopefully get a lot of cheeseheads from Chico coming down to the game and it’ll be a good test.”
(on the efficiency of the touchdown drive before the half) “A lot of times, in those two-minute drives, they’re often keyed by a good first play; and we had a completion to Jordy (Nelson), probably in the 18 to 20 (yard) range I would guess. That kind of got things going for us and we just moved with the ball from there.”
(on the difference between the first two matchups) “Our defense played great. I think they played really good in the first one, but Adrian (Peterson) still had 210 (yards) and they controlled a lot of the clock as I remember, especially in the first half. Our defense tonight played at a championship level, and that’s what you need in the playoffs. You need the defense playing well and creating turnovers. Special teams did a good job of winning the field position, creating the turnover. Mason (Crosby) made his kick, Tim (Masthay) did a good job of not letting them have a lot of return yards. (Marcus) Sherels is a really good returner. With the defense playing well, the special teams playing well — they can make up for kind of an average day on offense.”
(on how much they can take from the first game with the 49ers) “We’ll look at it, but they’re a different team. Teams find their identity throughout the season and we’ll look at more of their past schemes. It will be interesting to go back and look at that and see who was playing at that point. Cedric (Benson) was our main back, and now we’re a few down the line here to get to DuJuan (Harris). We’re going to have to find ways to block up their Pro Bowlers inside and try to make some plays on the perimeter as well.”
(on what RB DuJuan Harris has added to the offense) “He’s doing a better job in the passing game. I think he’s learning the offense. He’s been studying very hard. He knows the protection schemes better than he did when he first got in the game. Today he made five catches, I believe, averaged over 10 yards a completion. I believe four of those were check-downs and one was a swing pass. That can really do some things for you when you can dump it off to a guy like that and make some first downs.”
(on how surprised he was that QB Christian Ponder didn’t play) “I don’t know what the nature of his injury is. I was surprised when I saw the inactives for the game and he was out. I know he was limited in practice this week. Obviously he has a significant injury. I don’t like talking about other people’s injuries and what I would do.”
(on the play of the defense) “It says a lot about (defensive coordinator) Dom Capers and his staff. I think they wanted to make a statement tonight. The statement might have been less rushing yards for (Adrian) Peterson. He still had almost 100, but it wasn’t same kind of impact that he’s had in the last couple games.”
PACKERS RUNNING BACK DuJUAN HARRIS:
(on the role he played in today’s win) “It’s the biggest game I’ve ever played in. I just tried not to think about that and just tried to treat it like any other game. It’s been awhile since I’ve played like that.”
(on his effectiveness in the passing game) “Things like that just happen. If it’s open, let’s just dump it down and get some easy yards.”
(on if he thinks he’ll play a large role in next week’s game at San Francisco) “We’ll see how the week goes. The game plan could be a little different. You never know. We’re just going to watch film and see what we need to do to win.”
PACKERS WIDE RECEIVER JAMES JONES:
(on having a healthy group of wide receivers today) “It’s always good to have all our playmakers out there. We create mismatch problems for a lot of people when all four of us are healthy and we did that today. Everybody got a little chunk of the pie and was able to make some plays.”
(on looking ahead to San Francisco) “They’re still one of the best football teams in the business. It’s going to be a fight when we go there to their home stadium. They’ve got a good team so it’ll be a tough challenge for us.”
(on how the Packers have changed since the week one loss to the 49ers) “We’ve just been trying to get better. Every day, every game, trying to get better as a team.”
(on if the team’s approach changed when QB Christian Ponder became inactive) “That’s for the defense. For us as an offense, we just kept with our same game plan — go out there, score some points and make sure Adrian Peterson can’t touch the ball so much.”
PACKERS FULLBACK JOHN KUHN
(on the role the running backs played in the passing game) “That’s just kind of the way it unfolded. They were playing us in cover two and really dropping and trying to take our receivers away. They did a great job last week so that was obviously their game plan, to stop them. We knew we had to pick it up on our end. I think DuJuan (Harris) did great in the first half really carrying the load with the check-downs, getting a lot of first downs and moving the chains.”
(on scoring two touchdowns) “It was nice. I’m just thankful that I was given the opportunities. We were in some advantageous plays with the defenses that they were running. Aaron (Rodgers) made some nice checks and I was able to take advantage of it. Thanks to Mike McCarthy for calling my number when I get down there and Aaron for delivering the ball. A lot of people can score these touchdowns, it’s just about being in the right place at the right time.”
(on playing San Francisco next week) “We’re a little thankful that we get the chance to play San Francisco again. They really whooped up on us the first game of the season. We’re looking forward to going out there and playing a better game.”
PACKERS LINEBACKER CLAY MATTHEWS:
(on how the team was able to change the outcome from last week’s game against Minnesota) “Schematically I don’t think we did much differently than last week. We obviously made a few adjustments based on what they showed us last week and the success they had. Ultimately, the effort was there last week, our intensity… We just played a little more disciplined..
(on if the defense felt like it had something to prove against RB Adrian Peterson) “We wanted to win. I think that goes beyond pride, especially with the two 200-yard games he put together against us, there was absolutely something to prove.”
(on looking ahead to San Francisco) “Based on week one when we saw them, I’m sure a lot has changed — especially at the quarterback position. Frank Gore is an outstanding athlete. He makes plays for them. You’d like to think they’re going to get it going in that regard, especially with the lack of success we’ve had in past games. We expect it to be a tough, hard-fought match like it was in week one.”
PACKERS CORNERBACK SAM SHIELDS:
(on the effect of QB Christian Ponder being inactive) “I don’t think it was anything different. We were just ready to play. We came in this week and corrected a lot of things we made mistakes on. I think we were prepared either way.”
(on the defense’s ability to contain RB Adrian Peterson) “Everybody took care of their responsibilities, played their gaps and didn’t let him get outside. Peterson, he can run, he can get outside, and our thing was to not let him get outside.”
(on how the Packers are different than the last time they faced San Francisco in week one) “It’s very different. Everybody is on the same page. On defense, our whole thing is getting off on third downs and just playing fast.”
PACKERS LINEBACKER ERIK WALDEN:
(on containing RB Adrian Peterson) “The first two games he killed us. If you get anxious, he’ll run into the pile and bounce outside. If you peek inside, that’s all he needs to break outside, so today we wanted to make sure we maintained our gaps and we were able to do that for the most part.”
(on his personal performance) “Playoffs are just a different atmosphere. There’s nothing like playoff football. I just wanted to make sure I came out and played my best football at the right time.”
MINNESOTA VIKINGS HEAD COACH LESLIE FRAZIER:
(on his overall thoughts on the game) “Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers. They did a good job tonight and they played good football. We came up short. I thought our guys played hard. We didn’t always play the way we are capable of playing in some instances. I am extremely proud of our football team and the way they worked throughout this year and represented our state. Because of the character of the men on this football team, there are a lot of things we can learn from this 2012 season.”
(on the change at quarterback) “Yesterday, he (Christian Ponder) improved to where we thought maybe. And today, it just wouldn’t have been smart to put him at risk. We made a decision to go with Joe.”
(on the deciding factors to not play Ponder) “Some of things we asked him to do, he wasn’t very good at getting done and the things we needed him to get done if we were going to put him out there. It wasn’t the right thing to do.”
(on not sticking with the read option) “We mixed some of those read-options along the way. But at some point, you would like to complete some passes. Early on we did have them off-balance and had some opportunities in the passing game, but we just couldn’t connect.”
(on amount of time to structure game plan around QB Joe Webb) “We kind of prepared for a little bit of both. As we were going through the week, and realizing the possibility that Christian might not make it, we thought we better have something in the package in case it was Joe.”
(on passing opportunities that didn’t connect) “There were some times that I thought we had some guys open and Joe might get flushed or didn’t have his feet set or might not follow through like he needed to. We just couldn’t make some things happen down the field that we needed to make happen.”
(on what impresses him about QB Aaron Rodgers) “He is a very accurate passer, but his ability to throw on the run is the thing that sticks out. You can get him moving around like you want too, but his ability to make throws on the run really creates problems for the defense because guys end up uncovered.”
(on Webb not throwing a pass all season and the odds of victory) “That’s a situation a back-up is going to be in. You have to get your reps in practice and have to be ready every week because you are always one play away from going in there and just hope the guy you have in that back-up roll can get it done. We came up short tonight and we needed to do something around Joe to help a little bit more, but I thought he battled and gave us everything he had.”
(on Packers’ defense ability to slow down RB Adrian Peterson) “They did a good job getting people in gaps. It looked like a lot of the same things we had seen. It is the same thing we have seen from them throughout. With people doing that, you like to create a little balance, but we couldn’t get that done on a consistent basis.”
VIKINGS QUARTERBACK JOE WEBB:
(on if there are specific plays he’d like to have back) “There are a lot of plays I would like to have back. I haven’t touched the field since August, that’s no excuse. I feel our team really came here expecting a victory and Green Bay is a great team and a tough team at home. It was a great learning experience.”
(on taking time to find a rhythm) “I started to adjust to the flow of the game later in the game, I started to get the rhythm. Once you get the rhythm, you can really start making plays.”
(on the switch from back-up to playoff starter) “It’s not tough, because you always prepare yourself as if you are going to start or going to play. It’s a big learning experience for me. It was a tough game.”
(on the game plan changing after first drive) “We tried to hit them with different plays and switch it up a little bit. We didn’t execute on some plays. Like I said, it was a learning experience, not just for the players, but the coaches.”
(on the momentum change after settling for a field goal on the first drive) “I wouldn’t say momentum change, because anytime you get points that’s always a positive. You always want to score touchdowns, but whenever you get points that always good too. We hoped that we could have had a few more drives like the first one, but that played out different.”
VIKINGS DEFENSIVE END JARED ALLEN:
(on QB Christian Ponder not playing) “We had all the confidence in Joe (Webb). Joe is part of the glue that keeps this thing together. I have seen Joe grow over the last few years that I have seen him play. Joe has an arm to go along with his legs, so we were all kind of like ‘let’s see what happens.’ No one was let down. We knew the challenges ahead, so honestly we went about business as usual.”
(on losing in the playoffs) “Everyone has to have a sense of urgency. It is not okay to just show up. Just getting here isn’t what we are about in Minnesota. We are about winning championships. You can ask anyone in the league — you want to win. It is all about getting a Super Bowl ring. I think we needed to have a higher sense of urgency because you never know when you are going to come back (to the playoffs). We had a little setback with Christian, but you have to seize the opportunity against a team that you know so well.”
(on how Green Bay’s offense made adjustments to Minnesota’s pass rush) “The ball came out a lot quicker. He just got the ball out. We still sacked him three times and had him running all over the place. It was check-down football. They were leaking a back out, checking down and keeping the chains moving. It was just their play-calling, Aaron getting the ball out and them being conscious of what we were trying to do up front. They didn’t allow us to get into a steady groove of pass rushing.”
VIKINGS RUNNING BACK ADRIAN PETERSON:
(on Minnesota getting out to an early lead) “We definitely had something going. We were able to establish the run game early, but we needed to get seven instead of three. That kind of hurt us. We got down there again and we weren’t able to execute.”
(on how Green Bay’s defense contained him tonight) “They played some good defense. They played more patient defense. They stayed on the backside to take away the cutback and they played slower instead of being really aggressive and over pursuing plays. With that, they were able to bottle up the run game.”
(on Green Bay having DB Charles Woodson in the lineup) “Woodson is a great player. He saved a touchdown in the fourth quarter by tackling me because I was definitely going the distance. He is a difference maker.”
(on the season) “Each week we continued to improve, lean on one another and we continued to fight. Unfortunately for a lot of different reasons, we weren’t able to pull it off tonight. We will come back swinging in the offseason and do the necessary things that we need to do so that this doesn’t happen again. I love the chemistry that we have here, so hopefully we can build on this and get better.”
VIKINGS CORNERBACK ANTOINE WINFIELD:
(on Green Bay’s offense) “They have a very explosive offense. You always have to worry about their vertical passing game, but they switched it up a lot today. There were a lot of quick screens, quick passes, underneath throws and they made some plays.”
(on the season) “It was a good season. Only one team can have a really successful season. Guys came to work each day and worked hard. We had some momentum at the end of the year and got into the playoffs with no one expecting us to be here. I love these guys in the locker room.”
Tags: #MINvsGB, minnesota vikings, Playoffs, post-game notes & quotes, wild card
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