McCarthy: Lions Game "No Different"
Next game: Sunday, December 28 vs. Detroit
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy knows full well what's ahead this week, with the 0-15 Detroit Lions coming to Lambeau Field for Sunday's season finale.
But McCarthy downplayed the possibility of the Packers being the team that sends the Lions to NFL infamy -- the first team in league history to finish a season 0-16 -- as well as the potential embarrassment of being the first team to lose to the Lions this year.
The Packers have won 17 straight games against the Lions at Lambeau, with their last home loss to Detroit coming on Dec. 15, 1991.
"We're going to treat the Lions no different than any other opponent we're playing," McCarthy said Tuesday, one day after the Packers' fifth consecutive loss, a 20-17 overtime defeat at Chicago on Monday night that them to 5-10.
"You talk about what you feel their strengths are and their weaknesses and how we're going to attack them. I'm sure there will be a lot of outside media attention around the situation, but we're not going to spend any time on that. We have no control of that. We have no input on that. We have no opinion on it."
When asked if there is added motivation to avoid being the team that loses to an 0-15 team, McCarthy replied, "We're going to prepare to beat the Detroit Lions. They're a division opponent."
McCarthy's players are at least aware of the potentially historic nature of the game.
"Our biggest thing is, we need a win. We're not worried about them," wide receiver Donald Driver said. "They've got to come in and play and we've got to play. If we don't play solid football, then they will get their first win. We have to make sure we execute and win the close games.
"It seems like we just can't win 'em.
And that is at the crux of the Packers' problems: Of their 10 losses, an astonishing seven have come by four points or fewer, including Monday night's setback at Soldier Field.
Asked Tuesday whether he's seen any common themes in those seven narrow defeats, McCarthy said, "I don't think there's just one element of negativity that we can just say, 'OK, let's eliminate that and we'll be fine.' I don't think it works that way."
Monday night's loss marked the second time this season the Packers have lost in overtime without getting an offensive possession.
The game went into overtime after Packers kicker Mason Crosby's 38-yard field-goal attempt with 25 seconds left in regulation was blocked by Chicago's Alex Brown.
The Bears won the overtime coin toss when the coin bounced off linebacker Brian Urlacher's helmet and came up heads. The Packers' Ryan Grant had called tails.
After receiving the kickoff, the Bears quickly drove for Robbie Gould's 38-yard field goal to win it.
The Packers, who have lost seven of their last eight, also lost in overtime at then-undefeated Tennessee, 19-16, on Nov. 2.
Green Bay's other close losses: One by one point (28-27 at Minnesota Nov. 9), two others by three (27-24 to Atlanta Oct. 5 and 24-21 to Houston Dec. 7), and two by four points (35-31 to Carolina on Nov. 30 and 20-16 to Jacksonville Dec. 14).
"It's obviously frustrating," Packers linebacker Brady Poppinga said. "All of these losses have torn our hearts out. It just hasn't worked out for us. It hasn't really happened for us."
McCarthy disputed the notion that his players are feeling added fourth-quarter pressure because of all their close losses and said the coaches can't pinpoint one area that has caused the defeats.
"It's about opportunities," McCarthy said. "Can your offense make the play that puts you over that hump? Maybe they did not one week. Is the special teams unit going to make that play that puts you over the hump? If they did not, is it the defense? I understand statistically how we want to continue to break down the situations. We do the same thing as a starting point with the stats.
"But ... it's not just the defense is not doing this or the offense is not doing that. It's a team game, and we've had a number of opportunities throughout the game."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)