Pack's perfect pitch

The Detroit Lions had no answers for QB Aaron Rodgers, as the Packers extended their unbeaten...

The Detroit Lions had no answers for QB Aaron Rodgers, as the Packers extended their unbeaten season to 11-0. (REUTERS)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:28 AM ET

Detroit, MI - Before the Green Bay Packers had laced up a pair of cleats for the 2011 NFL season, they already were being mocked for being lazy.

While players were being locked out from the training facilities of their respective teams over the summer during the lengthy labour dispute with NFL owners, many quarterbacks gathered their teammates together to work out in order to be in sync when an agreement was reached.

Not the Packers.

They were too busy enjoying the fruits of their Super Bowl championship. At least that's what the critics claimed.

There were even predictions that the Packers would fall on their collective faces because they would not be prepared, leaving their legions of Cheeseheads crinkling their noses en masse as if they had just inhaled a whiff of rancid limburger.

Future Hall of Fame defensive back Charles Woodson remembers those allegations. He remembers all the naysayers predicting the Pack would be rusty.

And he remembers how his quarterback, Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, was slagged for not gathering his fellow Packers to informally practise during the work stoppage.

Woodson remembers all those things.

And now, several months later, he and his teammates are having the last laugh.

"We heard the media saying that Green Bay has gotten fat off the cow; that they enjoyed the off-season and they're not worried about the season coming up," Woodson told the Toronto Sun. "We had a chuckle over it.

"Even though we're young, we have guys who have been in the league for a while. We weren't worried about having those off-season workouts. A lot of (teams) did that just for show.

"We're about winning. And we knew once we got together in training camp as a team, we'd be fine."

Give Woodson the award for the understatement of the year. When you are just five victories away from joining the 2007 New England Patriots as the only teams to ever post a perfect 16-0 regular season record, your are much more than just "fine."

At 11-0, you have a chance to make history.

Woodson has a wry grin on his face. He is standing in the visitors' dressing room at Ford Field, where the Packers have just inflicted a 28-15 Thanksgiving Day carving of the host Detroit Lions, a game in which Ndamu- kong Suh's now-famous stomp on fallen Green Bay offensive lineman Evan Dietrich- Smith earned the Lions bad boy a two-game suspension.

This is the same Suh who, just days earlier, took a verbal shot at the undefeated Pack.

"I don't see them as a golden perfect team. Everybody has flaws in this league," Suh told reporters.

Message to Mr. Suh: They might not be golden. But, as far as their record goes, they are perfect.

That's all that matters to these Packers. Let the wannabes flap their gums.

"Champions don't have to talk," said defensive lineman B.J. Raji. "Their actions speak for themselves."

And, thus far, their performance has spoken volumes.

Like those 2007 Patriots, the "U-word"-- as in "undefeated"-- is not commonly heard inside the Packers dressing room. At the same time, Woodson and his teammates are much more relaxed when the subject comes up than the '07 Patriots were.

Four years ago, Pats coach Bill Belichick pretty much verbally bit the head off of this Toronto Sun columnist after yours truly dared to bring up the topic of his team's chances of running the table. Look closely, and you can almost see the teethmarks.

Compare that to the Packers who, like Rodgers, are laid back, something The Hoody could never be accused of.

"I think we're a long way from (16-0) ... Our immediate goal is to win the division. If we are undefeated after 14 or 15 games, then we'll talk about what you're talking about," Rodgers said.

For his part, coach Mike McCarthy is not irked if the subject comes up. Does that make him the anti-Belichick?

"Yeah, (the guys) don't mind it ... (and) I don't feel any pressure by it," McCarthy said of the 16-0 chatter. "It's a great place to be. It's nice to be undefeated and to be part of those conversations. Anybody would like to be part of those conversations.

"But really, not to be cliche, it's about the next game. Because if you don't get No. 12, that talk is over. We won't shy away from it."

In order to get that 12th victory, they'll have to beat a New York Giants team in New Jersey on Sunday that, when firing on all cylinders, can generate the type of pass rush that potentially could take Rodgers off his game.

"We just have to get after his (expletive), okay?" Giants defensive co-ordinator Perry Fewell told the Newark Star-Ledger. "And if we do that and he scrambles, then that's the price he's going to have to pay because we're going to hit him."

Four years ago, the Giants used that philosophy to rattle Tom Brady en route to upsetting the heavily favoured Pats in the Super Bowl, spoiling New England's shot at the perfect 19-0 run.

Of course, when it comes to shaking up Rodgers, who has guided the Pack to a league-leading 382 points, well, that's easier said than done.

"We need to be playing our best football this month and beyond," Rodgers said.

His team is 11-0 and Rodgers thinks they still need to play their "best football."

They set the bar high up on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, don't they?


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