Thursday, November 24, 2011
Packers 'don't plan on losing anytime soon'
By Kevin Seifert
DETROIT -- More than anything, the Green Bay Packers laughed at our national storyline last week. Yes, the Detroit Lions combine a strong passing game with a fierce pass rush. But as we've seen many times before, favorable matchups alone don't determine the outcome of many games.
The Packers were admittedly on their heels for much of Thursday's first half at Ford Field, but they never trailed en route to a 27-15 victory. They forced three turnovers, committed none of their own and for the most part kept their cool during a heated and chippy game.
"It just kind of shows what kind of team we have," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "We're getting better each week. A lot of people picked against us this week and thought this was [when] we were going down. I still don't think there is a specific recipe to beat us. Our defense is playing better. They were playing very well today and got three turnovers. And our offense, when we're not turning the ball over, we're tough to beat."
We might have been worried about how the Packers would slow down a pass-heavy Lions offense that entered the game ranked third in the NFL in points per game. The Packers were not.
Coordinator Dom Capers dramatically shifted his game plan after two weeks of heavy blitzing. Instead, according to ESPN Stats & Information, he sent four or fewer pass-rushers on a season-high 77.6 percent of quarterback Matthew Stafford's drop backs. Capers maximized the players he devoted to coverage and left Stafford checking down to running backs and tight ends for most of the game.
In fact, Stafford's average of 5.2 yards per attempt was his lowest mark of the season and an indication of his inability to get the ball downfield. Lions wide receivers caught 10 passes for a season-low 101 yards, and all three of Stafford's interceptions came when the Packers had at least seven men in coverage.
That, of course, is the micro-explanation. In the bigger picture, the Packers are growing more confident by the week that they have a chance to do something special this year. "Yes," was all Rodgers would say on that topic, so I'll spell it out: The Packers are two-thirds of the way to an undefeated regular season and, potentially, eight games away from another Super Bowl championship.
"The only statement we made today," said nose tackle B.J. Raji, "is that we don't plan on losing anytime soon. No disrespect. This is a good team we played, the Detroit Lions. But we don't like to lose. We haven't lost in a while and we're getting used to this."