After Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers recovered from the shock of seeing 477 total net yards on the stat sheet underneath the New Orleans Saints’ name, he allowed himself to be warmed by the play of his defense when the game was on the line.
“The bottom line is doing what it takes to win the game. You know you’re going against one of the top quarterbacks in the league,” Capers said of the Saints’ Drew Brees.
Brees hung 419 yards passing and three touchdowns on the Packers defense Thursday night. Those are numbers that’ll ruin a defensive coordinator’s weekend, but Capers will be warmed by the three big plays his defense made that allowed a 42-34 Packers victory in the NFL “Kickoff Game” at Lambeau Field.
“I like the way the game started,” he said, referring to the recovery of a fumble on only the Saints' second play. Aaron Rodgers and company quickly converted that takeaway into a 14-0 lead.
“The biggest thing is you find a way to make the critical plays in the game. The third-and-one was very big,” Capers said.
He was referring to a third-and-one stop on the Packers 7-yard line late in the third quarter, with the Packers clinging to an eight-point lead. On the next play, Brees was forced to throw incomplete.
The most critical play of the game, however, was the game’s final play, which saw the Packers stuff a rushing attempt by Mark Ingram on an untimed down at the 1-yard line.
“I thought about calling it,” Capers said of a defense that would’ve committed the Packers to stopping the run, “but I didn’t. It looked like we almost played it that way.
“The job they did stopping that goal line play was tremendous,” Capers said of defensive linemen B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett. “They got low. Who’s getting moved back? That’s a great example of a perfect goal-line play.”
It was his defense’s play against the run that was especially encouraging. Capers played “nickel” throughout the game, largely the result of the passing-game threat Brees and company presented. In Capers’ “nickel,” the Packers used only two defensive linemen, and he feared the Saints might view that as an invitation to run the ball.
“We felt with their added emphasis on running the football, they would try to force us out of ‘nickel.’ For the most part, I felt we did a pretty good job of stopping their running game,” Capers said.
The Saints were held to 81 yards rushing. Of course, the speed with which the Packers offense moved up and down the field to score kept the Saints in catch-up mode the whole night. They were never able to display patience with their running game.
Victory preserved, weekend warmed, Capers can turn his attention to one major negative from Thursday’s game: the tackling, or lack of it.
“We work on tackling every day. I felt from ’09 to last year we improved tremendously. I don’t feel we have a bad tackling team,” Capers said. “We have an awful lot of things we can clear up from this game. We’ll show improvement next week against Carolina.”
Plus, “I don’t like the 400 yards part,” Capers said.
Meanwhile, Head Coach Mike McCarthy had only two injuries to report to the media on Friday: Safety Nick Collins sustained a sprained wrist, but played with the injury; cornerback Tramon Williams sustained a bruised shoulder. McCarthy said Williams would be reevaluated next week and an update would follow on Wednesday. Additional coverage - Sept. 9