Week 5: Packers rely on their defense to beat Rams and move to 5-0
From Rob Demovsky, ESPN.com
~GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers’ defense no longer looks like a liability.
After years of being this team’s weak link, defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ unit turned in another impressive performance in Sunday’s 24-10 win over the St. Louis Rams at Lambeau Field.
The Packers intercepted Rams quarterback Nick Foles four times, including one that rookie cornerback Quinten Rollins returned 45 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Rollins sealed the win with his second interception of the game.
Their pass rush has been borderline dominant the last three games, totaling 16 sacks in that stretch.
What it means: The Packers can win even when Aaron Rodgers turns the ball over, which he shockingly did three times (two interceptions and a lost fumble). It was Rodgers’ first three-turnover game since Week 9 of the 2009 season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
What were they thinking?:
Special teams coordinator Ron Zook talked this past week about the Rams’ propensity for trick plays, so you would think the Packers would’ve been ready for one in the third quarter, when they ran a fake punt. But backup cornerback Demetri Goodson couldn’t stay on his feet when St. Louis punter Johnny Hecker lofted a pass to safety Cody Davis that went for a 20-yard gain. In the fourth quarter, Packers tight end Richard Rodgers cost his team three points because he was called for illegal hands to the face on a 47-yard field goal attempt. It would’ve given the Packers a 24-10 lead with 11:46 to play. Instead, they had to punt with an 11-point lead. Earlier, another special teams gaffe by Jeff Janis turned what should have been a Tim Masthay punt downed at the 1 into a touchback.
One reason to be optimistic: The Packers are finally starting to get some big plays from former first-round pick Datone Jones. The backup defensive end pressured Foles into his first-quarter interception that Rollins returned for a touchdown. Then in the third quarter, Jones blocked a 50-yard field goal attempt.
One reason to panic:
The Packers don’t have enough offensive weapons to miss out on big-play opportunities, which made Richard Rodgers’ drop of what might have been a 30-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter so excruciating. On a rare day when Aaron Rodgers turned the ball over, the Packers could’ve used a play like that from their tight end.
We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: Where would the Packers be without James Jones? With their offense going nowhere, Jones broke free for a 65-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the third quarter. It was Jones’ fifth touchdown catch of the season. Jones’ touchdown was the longest play the Packers have run from scrimmage this season. It was a short pass that Jones caught at the Rams’ 48-yard line, and the 31-year-old outran everyone to the end zone.
On the same day the Packers got right tackle Bryan Bulaga back after he missed three weeks because of a knee injury, they lost right guard T.J. Lang to the same injury. He was taken to the locker room on a cart and did not return. Two other defensive players also dropped out and did not return: OLB Nick Perry (shoulder) and NT B.J. Raji (groin).
The Packers have one more game before their bye, at home next Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. Following the bye, they have consecutive road games at Denver and Carolina.