GREEN BAY, Wis. – Coach Mike McCarthy has put blinders on the Green Bay Packers.
The focus is squarely on looking ahead and finishing strong — not looking back on the improbable desperation touchdown pass that beat the Detroit Lions last week.
And not even on the track record of success that Green Bay has had this late in the calendar; the Packers are 14-6 in the last four games of the season since 2010, tied for the third-best record in the league in the season's final month.
"We're an 8-4 football team that needs to do better at the little things," McCarthy said before practice on Wednesday. "We're not as detailed as we'd like to be right now."
Entering Week 14, the Packers had the same record as the Vikings but have the edge in winning the NFC North after beating the Vikings last month. The division title and a home playoff game could be at stake in the season finale against the Vikings on Jan. 3 at Lambeau Field if both teams have the same record.
But that game is way too far off for Green Bay. The Packers would just like to get past the Dallas Cowboys first on Sunday.
"It's December football," said McCarthy, whose teams are 17-3 at home in the month. "Everybody's playing for something."
The Hail Mary against Detroit overshadowed some familiar problems for the offense. If Aaron Rodgers' long touchdown pass fell incomplete, the Packers could be in full-blown panic mode after starting the season 6-0.
"We've been up and down most of the year with our play. So we need to strive for more consistency," Rodgers said.
The running game, once again, needs more production out of the beleaguered Eddie Lacy. The third-year back at least has made amends with McCarthy and his teammates after getting demoted before the Lions game for missing curfew at the team hotel the previous night.
McCarthy said center Corey Linsley (ankle) will be hard-pressed to play Sunday. J.C. Tretter started in place of an injured Linsley in a Thanksgiving night loss to Chicago. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle), linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder) and rookie receiver Ty Montgomery (ankle), who has missed the past six games, are questionable. Left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) and right guard T.J. Lang (shoulder) are probable. Lang didn't play at Detroit.
McCarthy has divided this season into three phases.
"And now we're into the final stage," he said, "and the final stage is really the return, the return to the initial commitment of why we're all here, what we started."