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mesaSteeler
01-31-2011, 06:22 AM
On top all the time is solid plan
Monday, January 31, 2011
By Lori Nickel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinal

DALLAS -- Like the seats in coach and the buttons on your cell phone, the Packers like to keep it close. Real close.

Green Bay has kept itself within striking distance in every game this season, home and away, favorite or underdog. They have never found themselves in a deep hole, never trailing by more than seven points.

It's one of the reasons the Packers remained confident, whether they were 8-6 Dec. 20 or on their current five-game winning streak heading into Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

"You could pretty much look back at every game we lost this season and say we had a chance to win," fullback Korey Hall said. The Packers have spent an average of 35 minutes, 12 seconds per game in the lead compared with an average of 9:44 trailing.

"That's all credit to the defense," Green Bay receiver James Jones said. "The defense does a great job in the red zone holding them to field goals. Even when the offense is struggling and we've had games with 14 points, we've never been behind by more than seven. That's all to the credit of the defense. They're doing a great job."

Green Bay never trailed in seven of its 19 games: Buffalo, the first Detroit matchup, at N.Y. Jets, Dallas, N.Y. Giants and the two close playoff games -- at Philadelphia in the wild-card playoff game and at Chicago in the NFC championship.

"It says we're consistent. It says we're going to play a certain style of ball," defensive end Ryan Pickett said. "It says we play pretty much the same every week."

Green Bay only trailed by seven points twice, in both games at Atlanta. In the regular-season game, the Packers trailed, 10-3 and 17-10. In the divisional playoff game, they trailed, 7-0 and 14-7.

Green Bay became the first team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to never trail by more than seven points in a game at any point in a season. The Minnesota Vikings were the previous team to keep their games so close, in 1969.

"We're making plays at the end of the game," Jones said. "In 2008 we weren't making those at the end of the game when it really counted. This year we're making the plays on offense, and the defense is really making the stops at the end of the game and that's half the battle right there."

Green Bay trailed by six points against San Francisco, 6-0, a game the Packers went on to win big. They've never trailed by five points all year.

They trailed by four points in four games: at Chicago, against Miami, at Detroit and at New England -- all losses.

But the Packers believe those close games served a lesson as well. A vital one.

Remember 2008? Green Bay lost six games, all of them close, by either four or three points. The Packers finished 6-10.

This year, there were also plenty of close losses -- none was by more than four points. That's remarkable because the average margin of defeat in NFL games this season was 11.75 points (10.64 for playoff teams). The Packers are the only six-loss team in NFL history to lose all six games by four points or fewer.

"It means we had solid game planning," center Scott Wells said. "And they way we look at it, the games we lost, we lost. It wasn't that we were beaten."

The Packers also used some of those close losses to help them win other games, especially two close playoff games at Philadelphia and Chicago.
Lori Nickel: lnickel@journalsentinel.com. Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11031/1121887-66.stm#ixzz1CcBozOro