The Countdown To Super Sunday

Cowboys Stadium (Tom Pennington/Getty)

With seven days until the Super Bowl, we provide seven noteworthy and quoteworthy things from Sunday. Leading off: Mike McCarthy brings a fire extinguisher, bucket of water and box of baking soda to put out the photo fire.

Fire Marshall McCarthy

After Aaron Rodgers emptied his gas can on the burning embers of the team photo brouhaha on Saturday, coach Mike McCarthy brought out the fire extinguisher again on Sunday in hopes of putting out the flames once and for all.

Using the words "nonissue" and "not an issue" seven times, McCarthy said he had no concerns about Rodgers' opinion and linebacker Nick Barnett's angry rebuttal.

"It's a nonissue," McCarthy said. "It's a nonissue with me. I know it's a nonissue with our football team. I know Aaron and Nick spoke (Saturday), so it's not an issue."

Really, this is such a silly story — made sillier by the reactions of the aforementioned players.

"That's what I like to hear. Good teammates just really solving their issues and everything," Clay Matthews said with a smile. "I don't know. This whole thing is ridiculous. Who knows and who cares, really. They'll be in the picture. We'll be in the picture. And we'll all be playing as a team. There's really not a whole lot to say about it. It is pretty comical, I will say that."

MVP! MVP?

On Monday, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award will be announced on NFL Network, and Matthews figures to take home the hardware after winning top defensive honors from the Sporting News (voted on by coaches and league executives) and Pro Football Weekly and being named first-team All-Pro.

Matthews finished fourth in the NFL with 13.5 sacks as part of the NFL's second-ranked scoring defense. He's added 3.5 more sacks in the three playoff games. In the 40-year history of the award, only Lawrence Taylor won it in his first two seasons as a pro.

"With individual accolades, obviously they're going to tend to come home with good teams," he said. "It's not just you personally, but it's the cast and crew around you — your teammates, winning, coaches, everything that goes with it. Obviously, you look at the players who are, I guess, front-runners on that list they're from great teams."

Matthews' position coach, Kevin Greene, says Matthews deserves the award.

"He's made some great plays this year," he said on Sunday. "He's been there when we really needed him, making some big plays for us throughout the season. Obviously, I hope he wins it."

Teammate Charles Woodson won the award last year.

Dome sweet dome

The roof will be closed on Cowboys Stadium, which is good news for the Packers' skilled offensive players.

McCarthy is 11-6 indoors. In those 17 games, the Packers have averaged 30.6 points and 381.6 yards per game compared to 24.3 points and 356.3 yards outdoors. In 12 dome starts, Rodgers' passer rating is a robust 111.5 with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions.

"Just the fact that the surface is the same, the ball — I know quarterbacks, the ball comes off their hand a lot more consistently because they don't have the factor of the elements," McCarthy said. "I know Aaron likes to throw the ball indoors. If it was up to him, we'd practice in the Hutson Center year-round. Obviously, we don't play (indoors). But I'm sure if you asked Pittsburgh's specialists, they'd probably feel the same way."

Making history



Rookie cornerback Sam Shields became the only player since sacks became an official stat in 1982 to record a sack and an interception in a playoff game. Shields had blitzed only once or twice all season but came about five times against Chicago.

"The defensive guys joke that if they want to run something on Sunday that it had better look pretty good in practice because we won't run it if it doesn't," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "We have a lot of things. We run them in practice. What looks good in practice, they know has a chance of making it into the game. It looked pretty good in practice and it worked well in the game. I just don't think you can waste a lot of plays. If you've got 60 plays, you can't be experimenting out there on five or six of those or they'll jump up and bite you."

Last hurrah

When the Packers exited the Don Hutson Center on Sunday, they did so for the last time of this football season.

"Didn't look at it that way," McCarthy admitted. "It's a great resource for us. I always enjoy looking at the banners as you walk off the field of all the past championships here. Our guys are ready to go to Dallas, they really are. They're excited about cleaning things up tomorrow and getting on the plane (on Monday) afternoon."

Fair-weather fan

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, too, is beautiful weather.

The forecast must be a nightmare for the league and Super Bowl organizers — not to mention this lowly scribe, who was looking forward to adding some pigment to my Wisconsin-white skin. It's supposed to be 63 on Monday when the teams arrive. After that, it's 41 with a rain/snow mix on Tuesday, 27 on Wednesday, 33 on Thursday and 44 on Friday. The game will be played with the roof so closed so Mother Nature won't be a factor.

"Heck, it will be like a heat wave for us down there. Just that weather in itself is great weather for us," said McCarthy, who intends to keep the team outside for practices at SMU unless it's too windy or the conditions aren't safe.

You win some, you lose some

Safeties coach Darren Perry has been on both sides of the sideline for a Super Bowl. He started at safety in Super Bowl XXX for Pittsburgh against Dallas, which the Cowboys won 27-17 following the 1995 season. A decade later, Perry was a defensive backs coach for the Steelers when they beat Seattle 21-10.

"Hey, we know what side we don't want to be on because losing is no fun," Perry said. "You get to this point, it's a sickening feeling. To experience that part of it, you really don't want to go through it again because it's devastating."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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