Green Bay Packers bounce back from injuries, losses : Packers Insider

Green Bay Packers bounce back from injuries, losses

November 3, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Nov 3, 2010 ~ by Jan Hubbard, DFW Star-Telegram

After six weeks, the Green Bay Packers were not quite the Dallas Cowboys of the NFC North, but they were seriously irritating their fans.

A team with Super Bowl aspirations had only a 3-3 record, and the losses were ugly.

Like the Cowboys, the Packers inexplicably lost to the Bears, but at least that game was in Chicago. But then in consecutive weeks, the Packers lost a road game in Washington and a home game against Miami and were undoubtedly underachieving.

Despite a rash of injuries to all three levels on defense, the Packers defense has been playing much better than their offense lately.

But that was two weeks ago. A home victory over Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings and a spectacular 9-0 shutout of the rough and rowdy New York Jets have propelled the Packers to the top of the division — and back in Super Bowl contention.

“For as confident that the football team that we beat [Sunday] was coming into the game,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at his Monday press briefing in Green Bay, “to go into their house, magnificent stadium, on the big stage and to win that game, that’s definitely a big shot of confidence you can carry forward.”

Although the Cowboys have been hampered by injuries to the offensive line, the Packers have had to overcome significant absences by players who were hurt. Against the Jets last week, 10 players were on injured reserve and seven starters were playing with some sort of injury.

Wide receiver Donald Driver has been limited by leg injuries this season and had to leave the Jets game with a quadriceps injury that looks to be severe enough to sideline him this week.

The Packers have played all season without defensive backs Al Harris (knee) and Atari Bigby (ankle), each of whom had surgery in the off-season.

After the Cowboys game, the Packers’ schedule gets difficult with road games in Minnesota and Atlanta. They also play at New England and have a home game against the New York Giants before closing the season at home against the Bears.

On Sunday, there is no doubt they will be looking to take advantage of a 1-6 team that has lost its starting quarterback.

Pick-six alert

After a brilliant 2009 season, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has struggled this year. Last year, he had only seven interceptions in 541 pass attempts. Of the 22 quarterbacks who attempted 400 or more passes, Rodgers was tied with Brett Favre for the fewest picks.

But this season, he is tied for fifth-worst in the league with nine interceptions in 269 attempts. His passer rating has fallen from 103.2 (fourth in the NFL) to 85.3 (16th).

Against a tough Jets defense last week, Rodgers was only 15 of 34 for 170 yards. But he did not throw an interception for only the second time this season.

Newcomer in backfield

Running back Ryan Grant, who finished seventh in the NFL with 1,253 rushing yards last season, was injured in the first game of the season and is out for the year. Grant underwent surgery to repair a ligament in his ankle and has been replaced in the starting lineup by 5-foot-10, 216-pound Brandon Jackson, who went to Nebraska.

With Jackson as the main back, the Packers’ running game ranks only 22nd in the league, which is bad — unless compared to the Cowboys’ 31st-ranked attack.

No points allowed

The Packers seem to bend but not break on defense. They rank only 18th in the league in average yards allowed with 341.1 per game. But they are fourth in scoring defense, allowing only 17 points a game.

That average improved last week with the 9-0 shutout of the Jets — a performance so dominant that coach Mike McCarthy awarded 20 game balls to the defense. Eleven went to the starters and nine to backups.
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