Maybe sometime after the season ends, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy will step back and reflect on his team’s recently concluded 19-game winning streak.
Under McCarthy’s guidance, the Packers went 364 days without a loss and posted the second longest victory streak in NFL history.
To put it in perspective, legendary coach Vince Lombardi’s longest winning streak was 12 games, Curly Lambeau’s was 11 and Mike Holmgren’s was nine.
Lost in the disappointment of Sunday’s streak-ending loss in Kansas City was how special the Packers’ string of victories was. Winning streaks like that come around once in a lifetime.
But McCarthy doesn’t have the luxury of appreciating it right now. He is focused on earning NFC home-field advantage and after that preparing for the playoffs and winning another Super Bowl.
“I did not spend a lot of time cherishing the ride, no I did not,” McCarthy said this week. “I was more focused on keeping it going.”
The Packers posted some remarkable numbers over those 19 games. They won four playoff games including the Super Bowl, averaged 33.8 points and won by an average margin of 14.1 points.
Their goal of completing a 19-0 record this season went unfulfilled, but they still managed to do it over two seasons.
In a rare show of dominance in the parity-driven NFL, the Packers never trailed in the fourth quarter during the streak, and after three quarters led by an average margin of 13.8 points. In 15 of the 19 games they won by at least a touchdown.
“Any time you win that many games, that’s a pretty damn special thing,” said guard Josh Sitton. “It’s one of those things you can’t really think about right now but…it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of.”
The offense was a fine-tuned machine during the streak. The Packers averaged 395 yards, scored 42 or more points seven times and 30 or more points 11 times.
The focal point of the Packers’ success was quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose passer rating was 119.0 during the streak, which included 53 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. That will go down as one of the best stretches of quarterback play in NFL history.
“It was a good run,” said Rodgers.
“I hope at some point we can reflect on what we just did, and what we accomplished. We did something that no Packer team had ever done. I think that’s a pretty special run that we went on.”
Rodgers threw more interceptions than touchdown passes just once in those 19 games, which contributed to the Packers’ astounding plus-31 turnover differential.
The Packers committed more turnovers than an opponent just once during the streak and had one turnover or less 14 times.
“That’s one of our main objectives every week, to win the turnover battle,” said Sitton.
“It’s something the coaches harp on every day. (It’s) almost annoying.”
The Packers lost two fewer fumbles (13-11) than their opponents but owned a commanding interception advantage (38-9). The Packers’ ball-hawking defense failed to pick off a pass only once in 19 games.
On offense, Rodgers’ refusal to throw interceptions is one of the keys to the Packers’ winning ways.
“The turnover ratio is the first thing we talk about every Monday when we’re reviewing the game,” said Rodgers. “It’s something I’m tied to directly, so I take it very seriously.”
Maybe the Packers will take time to savor their rare feat later, but there’s no guarantee of that if their season doesn’t end with another championship.
“If you don’t end it the right way, you’ll just be in the record books as a long streak and that will be about it,” said receiver Jordy Nelson.
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