DBs capitalize on rush with 4 interceptions
From Lori Nickel, JSonline
~Green Bay — There were times when St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles looked like he didn’t even have an offensive line in front of him.
That’s how much the pressure was coming from the edges and up the gut, and when that happens, it can rattle a quarterback into throwing passes he’d rather not.
So while this will go down as an excellent game for Green Bay’s defensive backs with their four game-changing, momentum-killing interceptions, some of the credit must go to the pass rush.
“We did a fairly good job of that today — putting hits on him,” said linebacker Clay Matthews, who had four quarterback hurries and 1.5 sacks. “Especially early on, those few interceptions, I’m sure he felt the heat. I’m sure he threw an interception he didn’t want. You saw the one that left his hand a little wobbly … as well as the one in the back in the end zone to finish the game.”
The beneficiaries of the pressure were some of Green Bay’s youngest players.
Packers rookie Quinten Rollins collected two, and got to do his first Lambeau Leap after on
e of them; Micah Hyde picked off Foles early, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix hauled in a touchdown-saving interception late. Each contributed in some way to the 24-10 Packers victory.
After Aaron Rodgers’ threw his first interception at Lambeau Field in 586 passes, Hyde immediately took the focus off of the streak-ending turnover by collecting an interception of his own. Hyde jumped in front of Kenny Britt at midfield and prevented the Rams from capitalizing on the bonus possession.
Eight plays later, Green Bay defensive end Datone Jones was in the face of Foles and Rollins stole a short pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
“We were just in zone coverage,” said Rollins. “I just happened to step in and make a play. We complement each other. The front rush obviously does a tremendous job, and on the back end we also cover well.”
It was Green Bay’s first rookie Pick 6 since Marques Anderson had one in 2002.
The Rams kept charging, however, and trailing 21-10 with 11:38 left began a drive with a 55-yard rush by Todd Gurley. Three plays later, from the Green Bay 7, St. Louis was ready to make it a game again when Clinton-Dix intercepted a tipped ball in the end zone to kill the momentum. He also got the pick despite taking a good stiff arm from Gurley on the previous play.
“Coach wanted to go in the dime and we’re short on safeties right now because of Sean,” said Clinton-Dix, referring to safety Sean Richardson’s absence from the game because of a neck injury. “I just sucked it up and turned back around to help my teammates.”
The Packers’ final interception came in the final minute, with the Rams trailing 24-10, when Rollins got his second of the game deep in Green Bay territory.
“They were both hard,” said Rollins of his picks. “It’s hard enough to get one in this league, let alone two.”
This was Green Bay’s first four-interception game for the defense since Sept. 13, 2012, when it had four against Chicago. The team record of nine interceptions in a game was set in 1943 against the Lions.
“We’re all competitors, we all want to have the most,” said Hyde. “But as long as we’re getting those, we’re getting off the field, we’re putting our offense in a good position.”
None of the defensive backs would take credit for bailing out Green Bay’s offense that looked uncharacteristically out of sync against the Rams.
“I believe in A-Rod, still going to believe in him to make those plays,” said Clinton-Dix. “I love A-Rod and it’s his team.”
But the DBs would give credit to the pass rush, which also came from Julius Peppers, Mike Neal and Nick Perry besides Matthews and Jones.
“They pressured him like crazy today,” said Hyde. “It was huge. I think most of the turnovers came when we had pressure and made him throw into small pockets. As long as we can do that with the guys up front, we’re going to be hard to beat.”
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