McCarthy: Packers thrilled to start '12 at home in 'big game'

Aaron Rodgers, Mike McCarthy. | Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

McCarthy: Packers thrilled to start '12 at home in 'big game'

By Jay Sorgi. CREATED Sep 7, 2012

Next game: Sunday, September 9th vs. San Francisco
Packers Gameday at 1:00 p.m. on Newsradio 620 WTMJ, a live blog here and coverage on Live at 10 on TODAY'S TMJ4

GREEN BAY - Some say that the upcoming Green Bay Packers-San Francisco 49ers matchup Sunday at Lambeau Field could be a preview of the 2012 NFC Championship Game this January.

Even if it isn't, Sunday's contest is not only a severe test for a team that has earned 29 wins and a Vince Lombardi Trophy over the past two seasons, but the kind of game that Coach Mike McCarthy relishes.

"It's all about playing in the big game, the games that people perceive pressure," said McCarthy on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News." 

"We look at pressure as an energy source.  This is what you practice for...This is what you've been working for since April.  All the work you put in, all the hours with the off-season program, training camp, the hours spent competing against each's time to get going."

He also recognizes the critical piece that Lambeau Field, one of the strongest home field advantages in football, can play on Sunday.

"This is the 6th time in seven years that we've been able to do this.  There's no place like home, especially here at Lambeau."

They'll need every advantage against a 49ers team with the top defense in the NFL in 2011,  improved quarterback Alex Smith and a grinding running game with 1,200-yard rusher Frank Gore.

"They've been a talented football team for a couple years, in my opinion.  Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff went in there and established an excellent identity and formula, stuck to it, and it was very productive throughout the season."