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McCarthy says Packers have momentum edge

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Gary D’Amato
January 11, 2011
— You thought the Atlanta Falcons had an advantage in the NFC divisional round because they had a first-round bye and will be well-rested when they play host to the Green Bay on Saturday?

Packers coach Mike McCarthy sees it differently.


He’s selling his team on the idea that it will have the upper hand because it is on a roll, having won three consecutive do-or-die games.


“They’ve had the opportunity to rest,” McCarthy said of the top-seeded Falcons on Monday. “We feel very good, the fact that we’ve played three weeks in a row in a very competitive playoff atmosphere.


“So that’s what we’re taking into the game. We feel the short week helps us. We’re in sync. We’re ready to go.”


The coach added that he probably would cut back on practice repetitions this week because “I want to make sure the players are as fresh as possible for this game.”


The Falcons (13-3) haven’t played since Jan. 2, when they closed the regular season with a 31-10 victory over Carolina.


Familiar foe: For the second consecutive week, the Packers face a playoff opponent they played in the regular season.


Green Bay lost to Atlanta, 20-17, at the Georgia Dome on Nov. 28, despite Aaron Rodgers completing 26 of 35 passes for 344 yards.


“We did have production with the spread offense in the first game,” McCarthy said. “I’m sure their approach may be different the way they play us (compared to) the first time.


“We’ve had an opportunity to watch their last five or six games since our first game. They’re doing a couple things different. We’re doing a couple things different. That’s all part of the game plan.”


Injury update

The Packers escaped the Eagles game in good shape from an injury standpoint.


Receiver Donald Driver suffered a bruised knee.


“I feel as of today he will practice this week and be ready to go at Atlanta,”


McCarthy said.


Defensive end Cullen Jenkins said he was fatigued after playing in his first game since Dec. 13 because of a calf strain. His calf started to cramp up on the Eagles’ final series.


“He came out OK,” McCarthy said of Jenkins. “I thought Mike Trgovac was very smart in the utilization of his reps, something we talked about before the game. It will be good to see Cullen go through another week of practice and he’ll be ready to go in Atlanta.”


Right tackle Bryan Bulaga’s right shoulder was wrapped after the game, but he said he was fine.


Thumb’s up

McCarthy doesn’t normally use excuses, but he defended James Jones after the receiver dropped what would have been a 63-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, saying Jones had a thumb injury.


McCarthy expanded on his comments Monday.


James has been playing for quite some time with a very painful thumb injury, something that doesn’t really show up on the medical reports as far as what’s communicated,” he said. “But it’s on our medical report.


“You don’t like to put those things out for competitive reasons. But it’s something that he’s been dealing with for a number of weeks.”


Through the roof

The game Sunday had a 50.5 final rating in the Milwaukee market, which means more than 455,000 local households tuned to some part of the telecast. A total of 73 percent sets on at the time were tuned to the game.


The Oct. 24 Vikings at Packers telecast this season on NBC (Channel 4) had a 53.1 rating, or more than 478,000 households.


Nationally, the game had a 24.4 overnight rating, the highest for an NFL wild-card game on Fox. It was the highest rating for an NFC wild-card telecast since a Bears-Saints game on CBS in 1991.


The Packers-Eagles national overnight was up 11.9 percent from the 21.8 for the Packers vs. Arizona in the same window last season.


The old switcheroo

The Packers switched left tackle Chad Clifton and Bulaga for a running play. McCarthy called the move a “tendency breaker.”



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