PACKERS TOP BEARS TO CLINCH HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE IN NFC
- Green Bay beat Chicago, 35-21, tonight at Lambeau Field. With their 14th victory, the Packers set the franchise record for most wins in the regular season, topping the previous record of 13 wins in 1962, 1996, 1997, 2007.
- With the win, the Packers clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. It marks the first time since 1996 that Green Bay will be the top seed in the NFC.
- Tonight’s victory gives Green Bay four wins over Chicago in 2011 (including playoffs). According to STATS LLC, the Packers are only the second team in NFL history to beat the same opponent four times in a calendar year, joining the 1994 Los Angeles Raiders (4-0 vs. Denver).
- This was Green Bay’s second season sweep of the Bears in the past three seasons (also 2009). The Packers’ four-game winning streak against the Bears is their longest vs. Chicago since a seven-game streak from 2000-03.
- Tonight’s victory was Green Bay’s 12th straight at Lambeau Field and the 18th victory in its last 19 contests at home.
- The 12-game home winning streak is the fifth-longest winning streak at home in franchise history.
- This marks Green Bay’s first 7-0 start at home since 2002.
- With the win, the Packers improved to 26-9 (.743) in NFC North regular-season games under Head Coach Mike McCarthy. That winning percentage ranks No. 2 in the NFL since 2006 behind only New England (27-8, .771). The Packers are now 5-0 in NFC North games this season. The five victories are tied for the most divisional wins (2002, 2004, 2006) by the Packers since the league went to an eight-division format in 2002.
- The Packers became the 14th team in NFL history to score 500 points in a season (515 this season).
OTHER POST-GAME NOTES:
- Tonight’s paid attendance was 70,574. It was the 300th consecutive sellout (284 regular season, 16 playoffs) at Lambeau Field.
- With 283 passing yards tonight, QB Aaron Rodgers set the single-season franchise record for most passing yards in a season with 4,643. That tops the previous team record of 4,458 passing yards by Lynn Dickey in 1983.
- Rodgers threw a career-high five TD passes, which matched the single-game franchise record (seven other times).
- Rodgers posted his 10th game with at least three TD passes this season, becoming just the third QB in NFL history to accomplish that feat (Tom Brady, 12 in 2007; Dan Marino 10 in 1984).
- It was also Rodgers’ fifth game with four TD passes this season. That ties the franchise record set by Brett Favre in 1996.
- With his 142.7 passer rating tonight, Rodgers set an NFL single-season record with his 13th 100-plus passer rating game (Steve Young, 12 in 1994; Tom Brady, 12 in 2010).
- It was also Rodgers’ fourth game with a 140-plus passer rating this season, a franchise record. It matches the NFL single-season record (min. 10 attempts), tying the four 140-rating games posted by Roger Staubach in 1973 and Tom Brady in 2007 and 2010.
- WR Donald Driver went over the 10,000-yard receiving mark for his career (now has 10,008 yards). He is the 36th player in NFL history to accomplish that feat.
- With 115 yards receiving tonight, WR Jordy Nelson now has 1,101 receiving yards this season, his first career 1,000-yard season. It also marked Nelson’s fourth 100-yard receiving game this season.
- Nelson tied his career high with two TD receptions. He now has 12 TD catches this season as he becomes only the eighth player in franchise history to have 12-plus TD catches in a season.
- TE Jermichael Finley’s 2-yard TD catch in the first quarter gave him four TD receptions vs. Chicago this season, the most by a Green Bay tight end against an opponent in a single season in franchise history. The last NFL tight end to accomplish that feat was San Diego’s Antonio Gates in 2005 (four TDs vs. Kansas City).
- WR James Jones’ posted a career-high two TD catches. It brought his season total to seven TD receptions, a career high (five in 2009 and 2010).
- LB Clay Matthews’ second-quarter interception was his third INT of the season, further adding to his career high.
- S Charlie Peprah added to his career high with his fifth interception of the season.
GREEN BAY PACKERS HEAD COACH MIKE McCARTHY:
(on what’s left to accomplish next week) “Well, that’s a great question. I’m focused on what we just accomplished tonight. 14 wins, anytime I can stand up here and talk about a record that stands in front of the great history and tradition of the Green Bay Packers, that’s special. The goal was to get home-field advantage all the way through. We accomplished that tonight, but we do need to get healthy as a team, which every team in the league is probably saying today. We’ll look at all our options. I’m not going to stand here and tell you we want to give away opportunities to win a game. We’re going to play to win the game next week. I’m real excited about a division opponent coming in here, and we’re going to do everything we can to get to 15-1. Health is an issue for us, I think that’s stating the obvious.”
(on if he fears the risk of injury to a player like Aaron Rodgers) “Well, that’s what you have to look at. You can only have so many players that are inactive, so that may not be the case. We had, I want to say, five to seven that were inactive today because of injury. We have to look at all that.”
(on if the offense got back in the groove tonight) “Definitely. Their defensive line, their defensive front, I have great respect for Lovie, their scheme, and the players they have down there. They play the scheme better than anybody in the league. We felt that was going to be a huge challenge up front for us, dealing with their defensive line. I can’t say enough about our offensive line. We went no huddle exclusively in the first half just to try to keep the clock a little off balance and to try to keep their clock a little off balance. We did a great job in the first series, but didn’t convert the third downs. We were able to score in the two-minute and then went back in the more traditional offense in the second half because I really wanted to run the ball more and get more in the flow that way. I thought Aaron was extremely sharp tonight. The offensive line met the challenge against their D line and I thought our perimeter players got loose and made big plays. 35 points against that defense, that’s a good night.”
(on the tradeoff of giving up a lot of yards on defense, but winning big) “Well, we won big. That’s the bottom line. Just like I told the team at halftime, the scoreboard looked the way it needed to look, 14-3, but the time of possession and the number of attempts, and the ability to produce yardage against our defense, we needed to get that flipped. That’s definitely something that will be graded and discussed. We knew we were going to be challenged up front. We felt the line of scrimmage was going to be the stressed point of the scheme on both sides of the ball coming into this game. They did a very good job running the ball against us. Our offensive line met the challenge and at the end of the day we had more points than they did.”
(on the importance of home-field advantage in the playoffs) “I think it’s most important, that’s why we made it one of three goals. We had three goals to start the season: win the division, home-field advantage, and obviously to win the Super Bowl. We wanted the path to go through Lambeau. We have a great home-field advantage here. There is nothing like our fans, our surface is in great shape, and we play well at home. I think everybody would like to play at home.”
PACKERS QB AARON RODGERS:
(on what it means to get home field advantage) “It means a lot. That was our goal. We couldn’t accomplish it last week, but it was good to bounce back this week and play better and know that the Super Bowl run has to go through Green Bay.”
(on passing Lynn Dickey’s team passing yardage record for a single season) “It’s a great honor. I think it’s obviously an award that’s bigger than an individual award. It takes, obviously, an offensive line pass blocking for you and guys getting open and delivering a catchable ball and then making plays. We’ve got a great group of guys to work with and this is a record we all share.”
(on the offensive line not allowing a sack) “They played excellent. I think a lot of people were questioning even the starters and the way that they’ve played. We had T.J. (Lang) at right tackle and we had Evan (Dietrich-Smith) at left guard and those guys played great, so I’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They’re the MVPs tonight and I barely got touched out there, so that’s always fun.”
(on throwing for 5 TDs against a good defense like the Bears’) “They have a great defense, they’re very well-coached. I have a lot of respect for (Bears head) Coach (Lovie) Smith and Coach (Rod) Marinelli and the job they’ve done for them. I’ve played them nine times, I believe, as a starter and it’s always a difficult game and the mental chess match that goes on between (Bears LB) Brian (Urlacher) and myself. They played a lot more one-high than they usually do against us, and guys were able to get open and we made some plays down the field.”
(on the long touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson) “It was a designed play we had with Jordy, trying to get him on a safety. We were fortunate enough to get the two-high coverage there, which really allows him to run free, and the safety on the back side, (Craig) Steltz, was kind of hanging low with Jermichael (Finley), who was running a deep crossing pattern. The protection is usually pretty good in that type of play. I just had plenty of time, raised and kind of had a spot on the field I wanted to hit – the far hash – and I put the kind of throw I wanted to on it and Jordy did a nice job running underneath it.”
(on how to approach Week 17, having accomplished their regular-season goals) “I think that’s going to be up to Mike (McCarthy), so depending how he wants to play it, we’ll fall in line. I think as a close friend of Matt’s (Flynn), I wouldn’t mind seeing him get an opportunity to play a little bit, but I’ll definitely do whatever Mike says.”
(on what, if anything, the team needs to do to get ready for the playoffs) “I think we need to get healthy and that’s the most important thing. I think this was a good win for us to get back on the right track, get the number one seed obviously. But now that we’ve got the top seed locked up, I think that the priorities may shift a little bit.”
PACKERS LB DESMOND BISHOP:
(on knowing the playoffs go through Green Bay) “It feels good, especially with our fans to deal with. They get to see us at home. It’s definitely an advantage here. Last year we had to go on the road, so it feels good this year to be home and prepare, and trying to get wins at Lambeau.”
(on if it feels good to beat the Bears) “Oh yeah, it does. This is rivalry football at its finest with it being Chicago and Green Bay, so it feels good to beat them.”
(on if team’s mindset changes after clinching) “I don’t think so. I hope not. We’re still taking it one game at a time. The Lions are the next up and we’re going to focus on them and go from there … I’m not sure how the coaches are going to (approach it), but we do what they tell us to. I have a feeling we play to win, but if he does decide to rest guys, the guys filling in are good, as well. We’re going to play to win either way.”
(on improving defensively late in the season) “A lot of people say at this point you are who you are, but we’re trying to change it. We don’t really know exactly how, but we know we have to. The character of the guys on our defense, when it comes down to it, we’re going to find a way.”
PACKERS LB CLAY MATTHEWS:
(on having home-field advantage throughout the playoffs) “It’s really big. Obviously, it takes a lot of stress off of us and worrying about winning or losing. The fact is we have won those games to get (into the playoffs) and now we still like winning and we’re fortunate to get this victory tonight, but it does help clinching (a playoff berth) a little while ago.”
(on bouncing back from the Kansas City loss) “Anytime you have a loss, you want to come back with a lot of enthusiasm and operating on all cylinders. At times we were able to do that tonight as we move forward into the playoffs, so it was good. Hopefully, this was indicative of Packers football moving forward.”
(on what went into his interception) “I do work on my hands, but fortunately it’s something we’ve rehearsed in practice and seeing that I was able to make a play on it and at a good time, too, as they were driving. I was fortunate enough to get that and hopefully I get a few more this year.”
(on the defense’s performance) “I think a lot of it is based on game plan. Tonight obviously there was no doubt they were trying to set the tone by running the ball, so the times when we did have an opportunity to rush the passer they were very limited. We obviously need to do a better job of stopping the run and we’ll have those opportunities and hopefully get them.”
PACKERS WR JORDY NELSON:
(on having home-field advantage throughout the playoffs) “It’s big. That was one of our goals coming into the year. Obviously, it’s an advantage, especially being up here in Green Bay where weather can be a factor, so it was something we wanted to seal up and we were able to do that tonight.”
(on Aaron Rodgers setting a franchise record for single-season passing) “It’s great. It’s an honor. Obviously, he’s a great quarterback; he’s playing well this year. Whenever you’re setting franchise records here with the Packers, you’re doing something right. It’s great to be a part of it, but we have business to finish though. We’re not done.”
(on the offense’s success with play-action out of the shotgun) “We just have multiple open men. I think a lot of it is running precise routes, getting protection up front. I saw the replays, our o-line did a great job and Aaron was able to step into the throw and get the ball out there in a perfect spot, so it’s just executing. That’s what we talked about a lot. After last week, that’s what we didn’t do in Kansas City, but were able to do that for the most part tonight.”
(on how to approach the last regular-season game) “We want to play. I believe it. I mean, I do. We didn’t have much of a choice today with Jennings down and we use four receivers anyway, so I think the coaches will be smart with it. They’ll do what they feel is necessary to do, but we’re here to play football and that’s what we do.”
(on bouncing back from the Kansas City loss) “It’s important every week. For as disappointing as it was losing and not having a chance to go undefeated, the most disappointing thing was we didn’t execute or perform the way we know we can and wanted to, so coming back out this week and doing that for the most part – we had a little lull there in the first half – but to get a two-minute drill going again and playing well in the second half was huge.”
CHICAGO BEARS HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH:
(on overall thoughts on the game) “When you are playing the Super Bowl champions, you have to be on top of your game. I felt like we did some good things. Josh McCown did a heck of a job coming in and just leading our offense — making throws when he had to. We got the running game going, that was the plan coming in. We felt like we could do something with the running game. Kahlil Bell, Armando Allen, both did a great job. Our offensive line did a great job blocking for them. Offensively, we did enough things to keep us in the game, and have a chance to win the game at the end. Defensively, just didn’t have it tonight.”
(on how surprised he was that McCown looked composed after not having started a game in four years) “I wouldn’t necessarily say surprised. We wanted to get to the game to see exactly where he was. He had a good week of practice. He’s a veteran and he knew the offense. (He) is a mature guy, and he felt confident coming into the game. But we needed to see it, and it was good to see.”
(on what McCown did, if anything to surprise Smith) “Just staying in the pocket. We’re playing against the Super Bowl champs, nationally televised game. There’s a lot of pressure, if you let it (get to you), and he didn’t. That’s kind of how he’s been since Day 1.”
(on Kahlil Bell’s performance) “First time he carried the ball at Soldier Field, he had an impressive run, and he has every time he’s gotten an opportunity. Kahlil can do everything you want a good running back to do. He can run with power, he can make you miss in the open field, he can catch the ball out of the backfield.”
BEARS QB JOSH MCCOWN:
(overall thoughts) “When you’re playing a ball club like Green Bay and a quarterback like Aaron (Rodgers), who’s not going to blink — they’re going to play really well, you can’t either. It’s a tough assignment, but you’ve got to find a way to pull it off, and we just were short tonight.”
(on the offense improving from where it‘s been?) “We tried to. I felt like Mike (Martz, offensive coordinator) called a good game. First and foremost, the offensive line, that’s were it started. That’s where the spark was. We ran the ball; we came out and pounded them and got after them. And so those five guys up front, you can’t say enough about how well they played. I was just kind of driving the car, those guys made it go.”
(on the slam dunk through the goal post after running in the two-point conversion) “I don’t know, man. I told Jay (Cutler). I went and apologized to the quarterbacks and they’re going to give me a hard time about it. I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do on a two-point conversion when you’re down. But I was just overcome with Christmas joy, I guess.”
(Could you have done this two or three weeks ago?) “You know, it’s hard. I mean, that hypothetical. All I know is what I had here, right here this night. I don’t want to speculate on that. I just know my number was called tonight, and I went out and played as hard as I could. The bottom line is we still came up short.”
BEARS RB KAHLIL BELL:
(on getting the chance to start and get a lot of carries) “That’s what this business is all about. Getting the chance to showcase your abilities. Tonight I had a good chance to get out there and play and try to make some plays for our team. It’s just unfortunate we fell short.”
(on the team’s offensive performance) “It’s encouraging the amount of yards our offense put up, but yards without points doesn’t mean anything. There were a couple times we stalled in the red zone. It’s just disappointing. We felt like we had a good game plan going into this week. We just fell short and Green Bay played better than us today. The better team won.”
(on the game plan to run the ball) “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like running the ball. That’s what I do for a living so it was a good experience to get out there and find a rhythm and get the majority of the carries. I think we had a great game plan. Josh (McCown) did a great job, the offensive line did a great job blocking. We’ve just got to convert those drives into points, some kind of points, whether it’s three or whether it’s seven, we’ve got to get that.”
BEARS CB ZACKARY BOWMAN:
(on playing against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers) “He’s going to put it in the places for those guys to catch it. Our job is just mainly to try to get in front of the receivers and make him hold the ball, make him pull it down, make him go through another read. With the quick slants and stuff like that, it just can’t be an easy pitch and catch.”
(on the season up to this point) “It’s very disappointing, but we’ve got one more game left and we’re going to finish the season on a positive note. We’ll go back, look at the film and get ready for Minnesota.”
BEARS C ROBERTO GARZA:
(on the play of quarterback Josh McCown) “He did a great job stepping in and feeling like he’s been here all season. He brought a lot of energy to the huddle, a lot of fight as you all saw. We’ve just got to carry that momentum to next week.”
(on officially being eliminated from playoff contention) “It’s tough. We had a lot of big goals for the season. We suffered a lot of injuries, but that doesn’t matter. We have to step in and guys have to step up and make plays and obviously we haven’t done that. We haven’t been able to finish games and we haven’t been able to score enough points. It falls squarely on us and we have to go out there and do a better job.”
BEARS LB BRIAN URLACHER:
(on the season up to this point) “It just hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to. If we play like this, that’s what’s going to happen. The last five weeks we haven’t played well enough to win and we lost all five games. I’m not happy about where we’re at; no one is. Our coaches aren’t happy, but that’s what we’ve got. The season will be over next week, that’s good.”
(on keeping it close in the first half) “We played well there at times. I think after that first drive we settled down a bit and made some plays, but it doesn’t matter, you have to play two halves of football.”
(on whether or not Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the best in the league) “I said it last year too. I think he is. He knows where to go with the football. He doesn’t make mistakes. He runs well. They said they were banged up up front today, but I don’t know how many sacks we had. I don’t think it was many, so he did a good job.”
(on the performance of Bears quarterback Josh McCown) “He did a good job. He played hard. He moved us down the field. We ran the ball really well obviously; we had almost 200 yards rushing so that was good. But I was impressed with the way he did. It’s a tough situation to be in with our defense playing the way we played getting behind like that. He just kept battling.”
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