Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy had good news and bad news on Monday. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had "his finest hour" against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, but linebacker Clay Matthews is out for the NFC wild-card playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.
McCarthy spoke to the media following Sundayís 33-28 win over Chicago to clinch the teamís third consecutive NFC North title. Here are some highlights from his press conference:
On how team is approaching win:
Itís back to business. We had a midnight goal here. It was a great plane ride home, a quick one. Itís playoff time and weíre focused on the 49ers today.
How's Eddie Lacy? (The running back has been slowed by a sore ankle.)
My understanding about Eddie Lacy is he came out of yesterdayís game better than he did the last game.
Prefer the Sunday game and routine?
I like the seven-day routine. I always have. I think regularity in how you train your football team.
On how the week's schedule will be set:
Weíll adjust the schedule. I think you have to be cognizant of what weíve gone through the past four weeks. Weíve played four playoff-type football games in cold weather.
On not challenging third-and-1 on the final drive:
The communication on the spot was the guys up top agreed with it. It was close. Frankly, spots are some of the things that itís not more in the option field or in a pile where itís a short yardage play, you donít have them as good of a chance as you do.
On not challenging the spot of the ball:
Challenging the spot was not a consideration. Special teams coaches are responsible for getting the punt team ready. Our offensive play-makers wanted to go for it. I think that was clearly evident with the substitutions getting ready to happen. John Kuhn did a hell of a job getting the first down.
On the players' excitement about going for it:
Iíll be honest with you. Players are excited. Those are emotional decisions by players. You do want your players to grab on and take it. I love the fact they wanted to go for it. I think in my earlier days, I wouldíve said, ĎHell, yeah, letís go for it every time on fourth-and-1.í They were right. There was only one timeout in that situation. Ultimately, I may have regretted that decision if I did punt.
On whether he's been a part of anything like that:
I donít know of a better drive. I was in Kansas City in '94 with (Joe) Montana, that was a great, classic game. We went down the field in a two-minute drill to win the game. Aaron hadnít played in eight weeks. (The Bears) were aggressive in their game plan.
On linebacker Clay Matthews, who again has a broken thumb:
I really donít have a feel for Clay as far as where he is. I havenít seen him or talked to him. He'll be out for Sunday.
On the Packers' defense without Matthews:
I love our defense. I love our football team. Throw the stats out the window. You can throw the bad ones at me and Iíll throw the good ones back at you. Our identity has changed. Itís kind of gone different directions.
What happened to linebacker Brad Jones, who missed Sunday's game with an ankle injury?
We kind of projected Brad Jones would have a chance to play (against the Bears). We just didnít think Brad was ready. Havenít seen film yet on Jamari Lattimore.
On the 49ers:
You look at different segments of their season. Thereís a lot of video tape. You want to make sure the coaching staff has good amount of time to get ready for this one.
On the difference in how the Packers have won games:
Itís changed the experience. We played differently today than we did probably earlier in the year and then we went on a run. We were 5-2. There were some up-and-downs. I think through any experience that you have, youíre able to gain experience and things you can apply into the future. Bouncing back from Detroit, showed us you can bounce back in a 12-day period.
On earning a playoff berth:
I think anything in life, when you earn it, it feels better. Something my wife talked about last night with Christmas and gifts and importance of work ethic. No different than with football team. Itís very rewarding. It also gives you the ability to apply what comes next.
Why three quarterbacks?
Brad Jones going down gave Scott Tolzien a chance to be up.
On wide receiver Jordy Nelson's importance this year:
I think Jordy Nelson is the perfect picture of how you want your offense to play. Heís the same guy every day. He never gets so high or too low. You can see the relationship that him and Aaron have, theyíre on the same page and heís having another great year. Itís interesting how you see the older guys in the weight room more. Heís really done a great job of taking care of himself.
On whether division champion should host wild-card round games:
Yeah, the division champ should be rewarded. The format is laid out before the season starts. I had no problem when we had a better record and went to Arizona (after the 2009 season).
On where Rodgers is at:
He had some throws early where they werenít where you wanted them to be. They pressured us and from a tendency standpoint going into the game, they were very aggressive. Iím thankful they were. When youíre aggressive against Aaron, it gives you a chance for big plays. Our goal was to have 35 rushes and 25 completions in the game. Thatís the plan and we were pretty much on that. I was a little worried when everyone was banged up on the first series. Been through everything heís been through the past weeks, this was probably his finest hour.
On the importance for defensive coordinator Dom Capers to beat the 49ers:
Dom is just as competitive as everybody on our football team. You can see it on game day, you can hear it. He has a coaching style. Heís been around a long time. We go through like we do all the time, this lineup the same things every week. Really first and second down the first game. Weíll take a look at that.
On the difference in the running game since the opener:
Weíre a much better running team today than we were then, just with how Eddie Lacy and James Starks are running.