Recently read that Curley Culp has left us, and though had not initially planned to write about him today; just cannot pass up the opportunity to share thoughts on this Hall of Fame lineman.
By Eric Goska
Rasul Douglas is a leaper.
The Packers cornerback returned an interception for a touchdown in Green Bay’s 36-28 win over the Rams at Lambeau Field. The six-pointer gave the Packers their largest lead and provided some much-needed cushion as Los Angeles outgained and outscored them in the final 15 minutes.
A virtual unknown two months ago, Douglas has been making noise. Signed off the Arizona Cardinal’s practice squad in early October, the 6-foot-2 defender is the team’s second leading tackler (36) over the last seven games behind only linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (50).
Sunday, Douglas defensed a game-high four passes. Despite not having played in the Packers’ first five games, he is tied for second place on the team with Darnell Savage (8) for the most passes defensed trailing only Eric Stokes (11).
Douglas, of course, came up with a game-saving interception in Arizona a month ago. Against the Rams, he added a pick-6 to his resume.
Faced with third-and-seven from his own 28 late in the third quarter, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw short for Cooper Kupp. Douglas jumped in front of the wide receiver, secured the ball and hot-footed it 33 yards to pay dirt.
For Douglas, it was the first TD of his professional career. He celebrated with a Lambeau Leap.
For the Packers, who went up 36-17, the return all but spelled victory.
“Rasul Douglas has stabilized the ship defensively for the Green Bay Packers this year,” Fox Sports game analyst Troy Aikman said. “You mentioned it – Jaire Alexander not able to play, Kevin King missed time – and yet he (Douglas) comes in and he’s been able to make plays and he makes a big one here. There’s still a lot of time, but that one might have just sealed this game.”
Sealed, indeed! Anyone who knows football history knows that.
Pick-6s and the Packers have a 100-year relationship. On Nov. 6, 1921, Billy DuMoe and Nate Abrams crossed the goal line as aerial thieves in Green Bay’s 43-6 thumping of the Evansville Crimson Giants.
In the years since, the results have been pretty much the same. Come up with a pick-6 and come away a winner.
Since 1921, 91 Packers players have returned a total of 145 interceptions for touchdowns in the regular season. The team’s record in those games is 115-14-2 (.885).
Green Bay’s winning percentage at Lambeau Field is even better. Since 1957, the club is 33-3 (.917). Only Bobby Dillon (1958), Johnnie Gray (1976) and Charles Woodson (2009) came out on the losing end.
Since 2000, the Packers have returned 43 interceptions for touchdowns. That’s the third highest total behind the Bears (50) and Buccaneers (49) according to Pro Football Reference.
This isn’t the first time the Green and Gold has gotten to Stafford. Woodson (2009), M.D. Jennings (2012) and Chandon Sullivan (2020) all set sail for the end zone with his handiwork.
Green Bay has picked on only two other quarterbacks to that extent. It returned five Joey Harrington passes for touchdowns and did the same to Jon Kitna on four occasions.
For as well as he played, Douglas let a possible second pick-6 slip through his hands on the Rams’ next drive. Stafford overthrew Odell Beckham Jr. near midfield, and Douglas – despite having both hands at the ready – couldn’t snag the errant throw.
Had Douglas pulled it in and navigated the roughly 49 yards needed for six points, Green Bay would have been golden. The team is unbeaten (14-0) in games in which it lugs back two pick-6s.
|Ray Jones, First Initial in Back|
|Deacon Jones, First Initial in Front|
|John Riggins. Art: Merv Corning|
By Eric Goska
|Aaron Rodgers lost for the 10th time against the Vikings Sunday.|
(screenshot from NFL Game Pass)
|Joe Greene. Credit: Merv Corning|
|Mel Blount. Credit: Merv Corning|
|Jack Lambert Credit: Merv Corning|
|Sam Huff. Credit: Merv Corning|
By Eric Goska
|A pair of Packers fans recite "Tim the Diehard Packer Fan"|
ahead of Green Bay's game with Seattle.
The Green Bay Packers did a number on Russell Wilson.
By Eric Goska
|Packers head coach Matt LaFleur|
(NFL Game Pass screenshot)
Matt LaFleur’s pursuit of Paul Brown is in jeopardy.
The Packers’ head coach has never lost two regular-season games in a row. But with the Chiefs having ended his team’s seven-game winning streak with a 13-7 victory Sunday and the Seattle Seahawks on tap, his extraordinary accomplishment is in peril.
The loss in Kansas City was just the eighth time LaFleur has tasted defeat in the regular season since he assumed control in January 2019. Green Bay followed each of its previous seven losses with a win.
This time is different if for no other reason than LaFleur may be without his future Hall of Fame quarterback for a second straight week. Jordan Love, not Aaron Rodgers, got the nod against the Chiefs after Rogers tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the week.
Now, it’s possible Rodgers may be back in time to face the Seahawks. And, if not, it’s possible Love might play well enough in his second career start for the Green and Gold to prevail.
But coming out on top is far from assured despite Seattle’s (3-5) struggles of late.
The contest against the Chiefs was the 41st regular-season game coached by the 42-year-old LaFleur. After two-and-a-half years on the job, his record is an impressive 33-8 (.805).
It bears repeating: his charges have never lost consecutive regular-season games. Who does that?
The list is short, and it includes some of the greatest names in the NFL’s long and storied history.
Stick around long enough and any coach, regardless of talent or pedigree, will lose. The question is how soon and how often.
For many – even some of the most revered in the business – coming up short happened right away. Tom Landry, Andy Reid, Jeff Fisher, Tom Coughlin, Mike Holmgren, Bud Grant, Joe Gibbs, Tony Dungy, Mike McCarthy, Marvin Lewis, and Mike Ditka all won more than 100 games. All eleven were handed Ls the first two times their teams took to the field.
Not LaFleur. As a rookie coach, his team won three times to open the 2019 season. In the time since, his club has fashioned winning streaks of four, nine, two, five, and seven games in a row.
Some of the seven setbacks – Chargers (11-26), 49ers (8-37), Buccaneers (10-38), and Saints (3-38) – were brutal. But in each case, the team bounced back.
Only four coaches have held out longer than LaFleur: Brown (49 games), Guy Chamberlain (47), Red Miller (46), and Allie Sherman (44). Another three – George Seifert (38), Steve Mariucci (38), and George Halas (37) – pushed past 35.
Chamberlain captured four NFL titles. Miller guided the 1977 Broncos to a Super Bowl. Sherman directed the New York Giants to three consecutive championship games (1961-63).
Brown led the Cleveland Browns to four consecutive titles (1946-49) in the All-American Football Conference. Then, after Cleveland was absorbed into the NFL in 1950, his hirelings appeared in six consecutive title games (1950-55), winning three.
At that time, the NFL regular season consisted of 12 games. Brown’s outfit didn’t drop two straight until losing to twice to the Eagles, once in the 1953 finale and again in the 1954 opener.
For LeFleur to get to 50 and surpass Brown, Green Bay would need to prevail against the Seahawks and not commit a two-step misstep until 2022 or beyond.
So, let’s be upbeat and say that happens: the Packers win Sunday and they avoid a two-fer for the remainder of the season. How far does LaFleur have to go to get the record for longest start to a coaching career without three straight losses?
Get ready for a long haul. Seifert, who coached the 49ers (1989-1996) and the Panthers (1999-2001), didn’t suffer his first three-game losing streak until his 164th regular-season game.