Even after a rough first half, during which Green Bay Packers qurterback Aaron Rodgers, right, questioned line judge Adrian Hill about a second-quarter penalty, the team didn't need a halftime pep talk to rally to defeat the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media
Either Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy needs some work on his halftime speeches, or he’s being a little too hard on himself.
The Packers rallied in the second half to turn back the pesky Minnesota Vikings 23-14 Sunday at Lambeau Field and moved into first place in the NFC North, but according to McCarthy, it wasn’t because of major adjustments or motivational ploys drawn up in the locker room.
“The halftime was not the best halftime that I’ve been a part of,” said McCarthy, who declined to go into specifics. “Our guys were a little bit up and down when we came in.”
Whatever was or wasn’t said, and whatever the Packers did or didn’t accomplish at halftime, they responded to their 14-10 deficit by outscoring the Vikings 13-0 the rest of the way.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers could only guess when asked what went wrong at halftime.
“(McCarthy) maybe wanted some more yelling and screaming but we have been typically in the last couple years not a big rah-rah team,” Rodgers said. “We don’t need a lot of rah-rah speeches.”
That’s because this Packers team knows how to win and is capable of doing what is necessary to accomplish that goal. Against the Vikings they weren’t necessarily flashy, and the Packers didn’t rack up a lot of style points. But they got the job done, even without a fire-and-brimstone halftime speech.
“Every team is different,” Rodgers said. “In 2010, Charles (Woodson) was giving us a speech every week. This team is a different team, different makeup, and I think there’s some leadership in the room that guys understand the situations and know they’ve got to carry their load.”
Clearly, the Packers understood the challenges awaiting them in the second half against the Vikings. They needed to stop Adrian Peterson, who was running roughshod over their defense. They needed to create some turnovers. And they needed to overcome first-half injuries to right tackle T.J. Lang and receiver Jordy Nelson.
Peterson didn’t gain a single rushing yard in the fourth quarter. Safety Morgan Burnett intercepted two Christian Ponder passes deep in Packers territory. And the offense produced an awe-inspiring 18-play, 11-minute fourth-quarter drive for a field goal that sealed the victory.
It was time to put up or shut up in the second half, and as they so often do in difficult situations, the Packers responded. Whether it’s confidence, experience from past success or some other intangible, the Packers somehow, some way found a way to win.
“I think it definitely was a gut-check for us at halftime,” Rodgers said. “I think the thing you can say about our guys, there was no panic. Our defense shut them out in the second half which ultimately gave us the win, but there was no panic on the offensive side.
“When we had to have it there in the fourth quarter, we were able to put something together. That said a lot about the kind of guys we’ve got and the leadership we have.”
That leadership will be necessary in the coming month when the Packers’ playoff hopes and positioning will be decided.
“We still have things that we need to clean up,” said McCarthy, ever the perfectionist. “We were able to overcome injuries. I think it speaks volumes to the character of the players in our locker room. It’s a good group of men. I enjoy coaching them.”
In winning six of their last seven games, the Packers have proven they can overcome just about anything, even a bad halftime.
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.