Mike Vandermause column: Winning streak begins with winning mindset

Dec. 11, 2011

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Packers-Raiders postgame analysis: Pete Dougherty and Rob Demovsky weigh the implications of Greg Jennings' injury for the Packers offense.
Green Bay Packers' Charles Woodson, right, celebrates with teammates Charlie Peprah, left, and Clay Matthews after his interception Sunday against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field. / Corey Wilson/Press-Gazette


The Green Bay Packers are unbeatable.

That’s what their 13-0 record proclaims. That’s what their 46-16 pasting of the Oakland Raiders Sunday at Lambeau Field strongly suggests. And that’s the message their head coach preaches every week.

“As long as we’re taking care of things and keeping our focus on improving the quality of play, I don’t think we can be beaten,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy when asked if the Packers can be stopped. “And you could ask me that six years ago I would have said the same damn thing. That’s the way we think around here. So we expect to win every time we take the field.”

McCarthy is not boasting or guaranteeing victories. He said he is merely stating the mindset that he believes every NFL team possesses.

The difference is the Packers, deep down, truly believe they are unbeatable and go out and prove it every week. They haven’t lost since Dec. 19, 2010, and their 19-game winning streak is the second longest in NFL history.

“It’s very hard, this is a tough league, a tough sport,” said cornerback Charles Woodson. “A lot of things happen week in and week out. It’s tough to put three and four and five wins (together). It’s hard, but this is a team that’s focused on winning every time we step out on the field.”

Sooner or later during the course of a four-month season a team is bound to suffer a letdown, or face a hot team or lose a key player to injury or simply make too many mistakes. Yet the Packers have avoided those pitfalls.

“I think it’s really a testament to the players we have on this team and what we want to accomplish,” said linebacker Clay Matthews. “There’s times you can show up and not be there mentally, physically, whatever the case may be. But for us, we understand what’s at hand.”

The Raiders never knew what hit them. They barely got off the team bus and the game was already decided when the Packers jumped all over them for a 31-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

“I didn’t think it would get away from them that quick,” said safety Charlie Peprah. “But if we come and do the things we can do week in and week out, this is how it’s supposed to look.”

It looked ugly for the Raiders, whose highly touted running game got stuffed by the Packers. The Raiders also got flustered into committing numerous mistakes, including four interceptions, one fumble and 11 penalties for 89 yards.

If you don’t bring your ‘A’ game against the Packers, there is no opportunity to win. Even teams playing their best football don’t stand much of a chance against the defending Super Bowl champions these days.

The Packers’ formula is very simple. They have a roster chock full of talent, so when injuries strike, capable replacements step in and no one misses a beat.

“This is a deep football team,” said Peprah. “I feel like we have the best 53-man roster in the NFL. … We have guys that are very capable of being starters. I think you’re seeing that by the play of the backups this year and last year.”

Peprah has filled in almost all season for fallen Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins. When starting inside linebackers Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk missed the last two games, relative unknowns D.J. Smith and Robert Francois filled the gaps.

The Packers could face another challenge if receiver Greg Jennings’ knee injury suffered against the Raiders is serious. But their roster is loaded with quality receivers capable of picking up the slack.

The Packers’ talent along with McCarthy’s focused approach each week is a sure-fire recipe for success.

“The script doesn’t change for us,” said McCarthy.

“By the time Friday rolls around we focus on ourselves, and get ready to play.”

The Packers know if they hold up their end of the bargain and perform the way they are capable, failure isn’t an option.

“As long as we continue to play the way (we did) tonight, which is getting after it, flying around and being accountable, then it’s going to be tough,” said Matthews.

That is, tough for any opponent to stop the Packers’ quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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