Packers hold at least one edge on Redskins with experience
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Two straight losses to finish the regular season sapped the Green Bay Packers of momentum going into the playoffs.
They do have at least one distinct advantage in their wild-card matchup this weekend against Washington.
Been there, done that.
Green Bay is making its franchise-record seventh straight postseason appearance. The New England Patriots are the only other NFL team that has been to the playoffs seven straight years.
''I think that you can harness the feelings and the things that worked in the wins and also think back on the feeling when you lost and your season's over and you try to use that as motivation,'' quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday.
''It can really give you the inspiration to work a little bit harder during the week and try to execute a little bit better,'' he added.
The longest-tenured Packer, Rodgers has started 11 postseason games and played in the postseason each year since 2009.
The Redskins will be making just their fifth playoff appearance since 1993 and first in three seasons, when they lost a wild-card game at home to Seattle. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins played in that 24-14 loss on Jan. 6, 2013, entering in relief of injured starter Robert Griffin III.
It is his only postseason appearance.
Said Cousins: ''Playing at home can certainly help our ability to play at a high level, but as far as does it offset things? I don't know. But I do know (the Packers are) a very experienced, talented team.''
Looked at another way, Green Bay has 212 games of playoff experience on its roster compared with 76 for Washington, according to STATS.
And that's counting the veterans who came over as free agents, like defensive linemen Terrance Knighton and Ricky Jean Francois, and safety Dashon Goldson, who together have 19 games of postseason experience.
''We've got some veteran guys on this team that have really done a great job as far as leadership's concerned of showing the young guys how to work and prepare and make sure they do the right thing,'' Redskins coach Jay Gruden said.
But those experiences still pale in comparison to Green Bay, where seasons are judged more by how far the team got in the playoffs rather than just making it.
''That's the expectation and that's what we're all about,'' second-year receiver Jared Abbrederis said. ''It's a good thing to be around.''
Titletown's history might be one piece of motivation upon which the Packers can draw in an otherwise challenging season, especially for the once-vaunted offense. After a 6-0 start, the Packers ended the year 4-6 after struggling to score points.
''When an opportunity presents itself, whether it's a tough catch or an easy catch, you've got to make plays,'' receiver James Jones said. ''Not to dwell on the past, but it's playoff football now.''
Just another different wrinkle for veterans like Rodgers and Jones who have experienced just about every scenario in the postseason.
The Packers won the Super Bowl as a wild card in 2010. They got knocked out the following season in the divisional round after finishing 15-1 in the regular season.
Two years ago, Green Bay needed to beat Chicago on the final day of the regular season to get into the playoffs in a game featuring the returns of Rodgers and Randall Cobb from injuries. The Packers lost to San Francisco at home in a game played in bone-chilling cold.
Last year, the second-seeded Packers blew a 16-0 lead in the NFC title game in a 28-22 loss to Seattle.
''Well, I would definitely say when you're in this league, you understand how hard it is to get to the Super Bowl and those types of things. Veteran players understand that,'' coach Mike McCarthy said. ''But that's not the focus ... this is about beating the Redskins.''
NOTES: The Packers had 17 players listed Wednesday on their injury report including CB Sam Shields (concussion), who did not practice. ... Six offensive linemen, including the entire starting five, were on the injury list. LT David Bakhtiari (ankle) and LG Josh Sitton (back) did not practice.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL