GREEN BAY—Packers cornerback Davon House started last week’s game with a bang. This week, he made noise all the way through.
House had an early fourth-down interception on Sunday and then added two late pass breakups around the goal line in the Packers’ 31-13 victory over the Browns at Lambeau Field.
The strong effort came on the heels of some early pass deflections last week in Baltimore, but upon becoming too winded with special-teams duty in addition to his defensive snaps, House took a rest and then didn’t get his spot back because rookie Micah Hyde played so well.
This time, House paced himself and was at his best in coverage in the fourth quarter, when he broke up a deep ball on fourth-and-15 and then a third-and-goal throw to the end zone on Cleveland’s next possession. Both passes were intended for Josh Gordon, who finished with just two catches for 21 yards.
“I’m just trying to be aggressive down there, especially in the red zone,” House said. “They’re going to do a little pushing, I’m going to grab a little bit. Luckily they didn’t call it, and I just played the ball.”
House missed his chance at his first career interception last week, leaping and getting two hands on the ball but failing to haul it in. This time, he stepped in front of a weak throw from Browns QB Brandon Weeden intended for Davone Bess on fourth-and-1 in Green Bay territory in the first quarter and secured his first pick.
“That’s a guy who’s come a long way,” fellow CB Sam Shields said. “You have to have confidence in yourself and when it’s your turn to get in, you have to make those plays.”
House said he actually did more ball-catching drills in practice this past week because of that missed chance in Baltimore, and he’s glad he did.
“It paid off so I’m happy,” he said. “It’s something I decided to do on my own. I feel like I’m hurting the team when I’m not catching the ball, because I’m playing great defense. I just have to finish – finishing as in catching the ball. The opportunities don’t come often.”
Someone else’s turn: When WR Jordy Nelson scored on a 1-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter, he let teammate and offensive lineman Josh Sitton do the “Lambeau Leap” for him, but he had to let Sitton do it alone.
“I told him to go,” Nelson said. “We knew the rule. We’ve talked about it before, that only one guy can jump and it can be anyone on offense. It doesn’t have to be the guy who scores. You can’t have multiple guys because then it’s a group celebration.”
Nelson said the two had actually discussed the switcheroo during the preseason last year, but when the opportunity arose, it was a longer touchdown play and, therefore, Sitton was much farther from the end zone.
“He wants it to be pretty close. He doesn’t want to do any extra running,” Nelson said. “I was shocked I remembered. I think he kind of forgot and he kept looking at me, and I was like, ‘Go, you’re up. I’m headed back to the sideline.’”
Nelson’s TD capped a workmanlike day against Browns star CB Joe Haden, who shadowed Nelson everywhere on the field. Nelson finished with five catches for 42 yards, the longest a 17-yarder on a post route in the third quarter.
It was difficult to say if either player got the better of the other when it was all said and done. Only six of Aaron Rodgers’ 36 pass attempts came Nelson’s way, but he made the most of them and did get in the end zone once.
“He’s a good player,” Nelson said of Haden. “It was fun to be out there. You kind of want those battles. You want to have that competition and see where you measure up against some of the best that are out there. I think it was a good game for both of us.”
Back on top: The Packers have won the NFC North the last two years and are now back in first place for the first time this season following Sunday’s results.
The Bears and Lions both lost close games to fall to 4-3, while the Packers – the only one of the three to have already had their bye week – improved to 4-2.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but this is where we expect to be, at the top of the division,” defensive lineman B.J. Raji said. “We obviously play in a great division, but we believe and our goals are to stay on top of the division for as long as we possibly can.”
Green Bay owns a half-game lead as it travels to Minnesota for its first road division game of 2013.
Chicago has its bye next week, and Detroit is off the week after that. Complete game coverage