Packers-Vikings Week 8 Dope Sheet
Ahman Is Back
Friday, October 30, 2009
Ahman Is Back
MINNESOTA (6-1) at GREEN BAY (4-2)
Sunday, Nov. 1 - Lambeau Field - 3:15 p.m. CST
GREEN BAY-MINNESOTA HEADLINES WEEK 8 SCHEDULE
- The attention of football fans around the globe will be transfixed on Lambeau Field this weekend, as the Packers host the archrival Vikings in a pivotal NFC North showdown.
- All eyes will be on Vikings QB Brett Favre, who makes his return to Lambeau Field after 16 seasons in Green and Gold.
- For the border neighbors, this marks the latest twist to a rivalry which will see Game No. 98 in the all-time series.
- Now the series turns to Green Bay, where the Packers have won four of the last five regular-season meetings between the two clubs. Head Coach Mike McCarthy has won all three home games against Minnesota since arriving in 2006.
- Both franchises opted for new head coaches in ག, and thus far McCarthy has a 5-2 advantage over Vikings coach Brad Childress.
- Last season's matchup at Lambeau Field was the season opener. QB Aaron Rodgers, making his first career start, established a career high with a completion percentage of 81.8%, the second-highest mark in NFL history by a quarterback (min. 20 attempts) in his first start. An interception by Green Bay's defense in the final minutes sealed the 24-19 victory.
- It was under four weeks ago that the two teams met in the Metrodome on a Monday night. The largest audience in the history of cable television saw the Vikings defeat the Packers 30-23 behind eight sacks.
- Matching the top two teams in the NFC North, the game could have far-reaching implications in the division race.
- Minnesota comes into the game 6-1, having suffered its first loss of the season in Pittsburgh last weekend. The Vikings will have their bye next weekend, while Green Bay will hit the road to take on Tampa Bay.
WITH THE CALL
- FOX Sports, now in its 16th season as an NFL network television partner, will broadcast the game to a regional audience.
- Play-by-play man Thom Brennaman and color analyst Troy Aikman will have the call from the broadcast booth with Pam Oliver serving as the sideline reporter.
- Sports USA Radio Network will air the game across the country, with Larry Kahn (play-by-play), Ross Tucker (analyst) and Troy West (sideline reporter) headlining the broadcast.
- Milwaukee's WTMJ (620 AM), airing Green Bay games since 1929, heads up the 53-station Packers Radio Network, with Wayne Larrivee (play-by-play) and two-time Packers Pro Bowler Larry McCarren (color) calling the action. The duo enters its 11th season of broadcasts together across the Packers Radio Network, which covers 43 markets in five states.
- For out-of-town listeners, the broadcast is available to NFL Field Pass subscribers on www.packers.com as well as on Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 123 WTMJ feed) as part of the network's NFL Sunday Drive.
- DIRECTV subscribers can watch the game in HD on channel 709.
BACK AND FORTH THE SERIES GOES
- Few rivalries in sports have exhibited the same parity as Packers-Vikings.
- Through 97 meetings, which includes one postseason game, Green Bay holds a slight 49-47-1 advantage.
- Fans can bet on a back-and-forth contest when these two clubs meet, one that always seems to come down to the final possession. In fact, 13 of the last 14 games have been decided by seven points or less, the lone exception being the Packers' 34-0 blanking of the Vikings in 2007 at Lambeau Field.
- Not only do the games seem to always come down to the last possession, but more recently they have come down to a final kick. From 2004-2008, six out of the 10 contests were decided by a field goal at the end of the fourth quarter. Vikings K Ryan Longwell kicked two game-winning field goals - for the Packers - in the ཀ meetings.
THE DOPE ON THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT:
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
All-time, regular season: 49-46-1
All-time, postseason: 0-1
All-time, at Lambeau Field: 17-16-1
Streaks: The Vikings have won two straight, but the Packers have won four of the last five regular-season matchups in Green Bay.
Last meeting, regular season: Oct. 5, 2009, at HHH Metrodome; Vikings won, 30-23
Last meeting, regular season, in Green Bay: Sept. 8, 2008; Packers won, 24-19
Mike McCarthy: 32-24-0, .571 (incl. 1-1 postseason); 4th NFL season
Brad Childress: 30-26-0, .535 (incl. 0-1 postseason); 4th NFL season
Head to Head: McCarthy 5-2
vs. Opponent: McCarthy 5-2 vs. Vikings; Childress 2-5 vs. Packers
MIKE McCARTHY...Is in fourth year as the Packers' 14th head coach.
- Was named Packers head coach on Jan. 12, 2006, his first head coaching job after 13 years as an NFL assistant.
- Honored as the 2007 Motorola NFL Coach of the Year and NFL Alumni Coach of the Year.
- Became the first Packers coach since Vince Lombardi to lead the team to a championship game in his second season.
- One of only three head coaches to lead an offense ranked in the top 10 in the league each of the past three years.
BRAD CHILDRESS...Is in fourth year as the Vikings' seventh head coach.
- Led Minnesota to its first NFC North title and home playoff game since 2000 with 10-6 record last year.
- In his 32nd season of coaching and his 12th in the NFL. Broke in as Colts' quarterbacks coach (1985) and spent seven years (1999-2005) in Philadelphia, where he was offensive coordinator.
- Also coached at four colleges, including the University of Wisconsin (1991-98). The staff at Northern Arizona (1986-89) included future NFL head coaches Bill Callahan, Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid.
- In 2007, the Vikings became the first team in franchise history to rank No. 1 in the league in both rushing offense and rushing defense.
THE PACKERS-VIKINGS SERIES
- This marks the 98th meeting between the border rivals.
- Few, if any, rivalries in sports have exhibited more parity. The Packers own a slight advantage over the Vikings (49-47-1, including playoffs) in the all-time series.
- The Packers' five-game winning streak that was snapped last season was the longest streak for either team since the Packers won five straight from 1983-85.
- The series began when the Vikings entered the league in 1961, and Vince Lombardi's Packers won nine of the first 10.
- Over the last 15 seasons (1994-2008), these teams have accounted for 11 NFC Central/North division championships.
GRANT, GROUND GAME GET GOING
- RB Ryan Grant is coming off his best performance of 2009, in which he set season highs in attempts (27), yards (148) and longest run (37).
- It was the second-highest regular-season rushing total in Grant's career, coming just shy of the 156 yards he produced against Oakland in 2007. The team's 202 rushing yards, including 31 from backup RB Brandon Jackson and 23 from QB Aaron Rodgers, marked a season best.
- Without much fanfare, Grant's numbers are among the best in the NFC. His rushing total (495 yards) ranks third in the NFC and sixth in the NFL, while his 118 carries is tied for eighth highest.
- Being utilized more in the screen game this season, his 103 receiving yards through six games is already challenging a career high, set in 2007 with 145 receiving yards.
- His 598 yards from scrimmage ranks fourth in the NFC.
- Grant may be one of the only backs in the league who welcomes the arrival of Minnesota, who is the first team since the NFL merger to lead the league in run defense for three consecutive seasons (2006-08).
- In five career games against the Vikings, Grant is averaging 5.28 yards per carry (354 yards, 67 carries). His numbers are even better at Lambeau Field against Minnesota, where in two games he is averaging 5.7 yards per carry. In 2007, he carried 25 times for 119 yards against the Vikings in Lambeau Field, a 34-0 Packers win. In the 2008 season opener at Green Bay, he carried 12 times for 92 yards.
- Grant is the Packers' lead back, and there is no doubting the success the team has had when he is able to get a significant amount of carries.
- When Grant gets 22-or-more carries, the team is 9-1 (10-1 including playoffs).
- A familiar face was brought back to 1265 Lombardi Avenue last week after the team placed RB DeShawn Wynn on injured reserve. RB Ahman Green, 46 yards shy of becoming the franchise's all-time leading rusher, was brought back to the team. Green practiced last week and still must work back into football shape, but may have the chance to make his 2009 debut on Sunday.
MR. EVERYTHING FINDS THE END ZONE
- An unlikely star emerged in Cleveland, thanks to a 45-yard run-and-catch touchdown for TE Spencer Havner. It was the first TD of his career.
- Coupled with a 62-yard scoring pass by Jermichael Finley in Minnesota in Week 4, this marks the first time the Packers have had two tight ends with 45-plus yard TDs in the same season.
- Proving just how versatile, and valuable, he is to the Packers, Havner made the tackle of Browns WR Joshua Cribbs on the ensuing kickoff. Havner is tied for the special teams lead with eight stops.
- Havner is the type of guy all players in the locker room root for, having spent parts of the last three seasons (2006-08) on the Packers' practice squad. He played the last four games of 2008, all on special teams.
- A decorated linebacker at UCLA, Havner spent the previous three years at linebacker before coaches had him begin practicing at tight end this past spring. He saw time at linebacker and tight end in training camp.
- Should he see time on defense this season, he would become the first three-way player in Head Coach Mike McCarthy's tenure.
- "Going through the personnel in the spring, we just felt we needed to create an opportunity to get Spencer on the 53," McCarthy said. "The opportunity was created with him playing both tight end and linebacker and trying to be a core special teams player, and he definitely took advantage of that in the preseason. I thought his special teams play was definitely exemplary coming off the way he played those last three, four games when he was up on our 53-man roster to finish last season. We just felt he's an instinctive football player. He's a young man that's taken full advantage of his opportunities. You love to see guys like Spencer have success."
MEET THE NEWCOMERS
- Of the current 53-man roster, there are only a few new faces in the Packers' locker room. Ten players are new to the team this year, while 43 return.
- The rookie draft class, seven of whom made the opening-day roster, are led by first-round picks NT B.J. Raji and LB Clay Matthews. Raji made his professional debut in Week 3 after missing the first two weeks with an ankle sprain. He has played both the nose tackle and end positions. Matthews began the season as a backup but has now worked his way into a starting role. In his first start with the "base" defense against the Lions, Matthews registered a career high with two sacks.
- Sixth-round pick DE Jarius Wynn has seen action in four games on special teams and provided depth along the defensive line, while sixth-round pick CB Brandon Underwood made his professional debut against the Lions. LB Brad Jones also made his professional debut in Week 3 and has been a valuable member of the coverage units, collecting six special teams stops.
- Rookies on offense include fourth-round pick G/T T.J. Lang, fifth-round choice FB Quinn Johnson and non-drafted free agent G/C Evan Dietrich-Smith. Lang and Dietrich-Smith both showed the ability to play multiple positions along the line, while Johnson packs a punch clearing holes for running backs. Lang saw action at left tackle in spot duty against Minnesota and Detroit before making his first career start there in Cleveland.
- The only other newcomers to the 2009 team are in the secondary with S Derrick Martin, who was acquired in a trade with Baltimore on the roster cutdown day, and S Matt Giordano, who joined prior to Week 3. Martin arrived with a familiarity with the 3-4 defense and a reputation as a solid special-teams player. Martin saw considerable action from scrimmage against the Rams and Vikings given the injury to S Atari Bigby. Martin has made an early impact on special teams, where he has seven stops.
- Giordano, who played four seasons and won a Super Bowl ring with the Colts, tallied two special teams stops in his Packers debut at St. Louis.
TAKEAWAY POINTS KEY FOR PACKERS
- Green Bay has continued to show its knack for the takeaways in the first six games with 11 interceptions and four fumble recoveries, which it has turned into 58 points. That total ranks third in the NFL, with only the Saints (72) and Giants (65) having more. The Giants have played seven games compared to Green Bay's six.
- Last season, the Green Bay defense led the NFL in defensive touchdowns (7) and interception returns for touchdowns (6).
- Green Bay (plus-seven) finished with the sixth-best turnover ratio in the NFL, its best finish under Mike McCarthy.
- Green Bay had 28 takeaways (22 interceptions, six fumble recoveries) on the season against 21 turnovers (13 interceptions, eight fumbles). The 21 turnovers tied the second-lowest total in franchise history.
- Thanks to an opportunistic defense, with its seven touchdowns, and an offense that was able to capitalize after an opponent's mistake, Green Bay led all NFL teams with 124 points off takeaways. Baltimore (123) finished just behind the Packers at No. 2.
- On the other sideline, the Packers surrendered 75 points off the 21 turnovers last year - 24 of which came at Tampa in Week 4. That point total off turnovers tied for 16th in the NFL.
- If the Packers don't commit a turnover, a case which happened last week in Cleveland, they're almost guaranteed to win. A rarity occurred for the Packers last year at Minnesota: they lost a game in which they did not commit a turnover. They have now won 35 of 37 games playing turnover-free football, since a loss at Dallas, Nov. 18, 1996. Green Bay's only losses in such games during that stretch both came at Minnesota, first in 2005 and again in 2008.
- Including playoffs, the Packers have won 38 of their last 40 games without a giveaway.
EXPLOSIVE OFFENSE, DOMINANT DEFENSE KEY VICTORY
- The Packers established their running game early, posted some big gains through the air, and recorded another impressive performance on defense on their way to a 31-3 victory over the Browns on Sunday afternoon.
- The win in front of 69,797 at Cleveland Browns Stadium improved Green Bay to 4-2 on the season, putting them alone in second place in the NFC North and just one game behind division-leading Minnesota (6-1) in the loss column. The Vikings visit Lambeau Field next Sunday.
- "I'm glad that we came out and played the way we felt we're capable of playing on offense," said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who completed 15-of-20 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns on his way to a franchise-record 155.4 passer rating. "I thought it was our best performance technically. We were productive. No sacks (allowed), and we ran the ball well.
- "We're going to have to carry that over next week. We realize what kind of challenge we're going to have facing us."
- The Packers didn't waste any time getting their rushing attack going on Sunday, with nine running plays on their first 10 snaps that picked up 38 yards. Even though they didn't come up with any points on the opening series after Rodgers was stopped short on a sneak on 4th-and-1 at the Cleveland 32, the tone was set.
- After Cleveland took over at their own 31, quarterback Derek Anderson led the Browns on an 11-play, 65-yard drive that was capped off with a 22-yard Billy Cundiff field goal that went off the left upright. Anderson completed all four passes on the drive for 46 yards, but Cleveland was only able to come away with three points despite having first-and-goal at the 5.
- Green Bay's offense got on the board on its second possession when Rodgers rolled out to his right on third down and found tight end Spencer Havner on a short pass to the Cleveland 40. Havner broke a tackle by safety Abram Elam and took it all the way down the right sideline for the 45-yard touchdown, the first of the tight end's career.
- On the Packers' next possession, they saw a look from Cleveland's defense that they had worked on in practice during the week. Elam came on a blitz, leaving wide receiver Donald Driver open for a quick pass from Rodgers that he took 71 yards for the score, fighting off cornerback Eric Wright for the final 20 yards on his way to Green Bay's longest play of the season.
- The Packers' defense limited the Browns to just 57 yards of total offense in the second half, with Cleveland only threatening once, late in the third quarter. After the Packers were flagged for three penalties for 25 yards, running back Jamal Lewis had a game-long 16-yard run down to the Green Bay 22. On the next play, Anderson found tight end Michael Gaines for a 21-yard pickup down to the Packers' 1.
- On first-and-goal, linebacker A.J. Hawk stopped Lewis for a 2-yard loss, one of three tackles for loss by Hawk on the day. Anderson's pass on second down intended for wideout Mohamed Massaquoi fell incomplete, Lewis picked up two yards on third down, but Anderson's pass on fourth-and-goal from the 1 for Massaquoi again fell incomplete, ending their best and last chance for a touchdown on the afternoon.
- "We're playing well," said cornerback Charles Woodson, who posted an interception and a forced fumble. "To hold a team to zero last week and then three today says a lot about you. The fourth-and-1 stop down there to keep them off the board was big.
- "At this point we're making the plays that we're supposed to make, and if you can do that, then you feel confident going into the next game."
- The offense then turned around and posted their most impressive drive of the day. Rodgers found wide receiver Greg Jennings on a quick slant on first down for 18 yards, then Havner on a short pass that picked up 14 more. On 3rd-and-6 from the Green Bay 39, Rodgers scrambled down the left sideline for a 19-yard gain, and running back Ryan Grant busted a season-long 37-yard run on the next play down to Cleveland's 5. Rodgers hooked up with wide receiver James Jones on the next play for a 5-yard score to put Green Bay up 31-3.
- "We still would have been up 14 if they had scored there, but we stop them and we go 99 yards and we put the game away," Rodgers said. "That was kind of the finality of the game at that point...I feel like we got back to playing the kind of football we are capable of. There was excitement, there was dancing, there was celebrating, there was guys looking out for each other.
- "I got my helmet ripped off in the first drive and kind of punched in the face as well. The linemen came over and said, 'Who was it and we've got your back.' Stuff like that, I think that means a lot to me and it means a lot to our team. I felt like we kind of played with excitement and joy and all of the things we should play with, and got back to playing our brand of football this week."
- That brand included a season-high 148 yards on the ground from Grant, including 100 on 15 carries (6.7) in the second half. The Packers went over the 200-yard mark as a team for the first time this season with 202 yards on a season-high 41 attempts (4.9 avg.).
- "Anytime you can continue to run it the way we did, it definitely helps you," McCarthy said. "You're not ever pressing. We were able to establish the run early in the football game on the first series, and once again the most important statistic in my view running the football is attempts, and we definitely hit the mark today."
- The timing was right for the Packers to have their best all-around performance on both sides of the ball with the first-place Vikings coming to town next weekend and three of their next four games at home.
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