GREEN BAY—Mike McCarthy isn’t cutting his defense any slack for its shoddy tackling on Sunday just because the guy his players were trying to tackle was Adrian Peterson.
“I think that’s a terrible mindset to get in,” McCarthy said on Monday, about 24 hours after he commented that his team might have “respected him too much,” referring to Peterson.
“We were double digits in missed tackles, and that’s not cutting it. We have definitely increased our tackling production, but yesterday was not where we need to be. We had a couple times we had two, three missed tackles on a play, and we need to do a better job there.”
The missed tackles were the biggest reason for Peterson’s monster day, which the Packers were fortunately able to overcome in a 23-14 triumph that improved their record to 8-4. Peterson had 210 rushing yards on just 21 carries. The yardage was the third most ever gained against the Packers, and the most in the McCarthy era.
“I don’t care who’s in the backfield. You can’t go out and give up over 200 yards rushing and say we stopped them 18, 19 times but on these three runs he had 160,” McCarthy said. “It doesn’t work that way. They all count.”
McCarthy did like the numbers of his own running game, though, particularly the split workload between James Starks (15 carries, 66 yards) and Alex Green (12-58). He said the offense would likely “stay the course” with the shared duties.
Not including four scrambles by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers ran the ball 32 times in all for 137 yards.
“If we can keep them both around 12, 15, that’s a good day,” McCarthy said. “Anytime you rush the ball over 30 attempts, good things happen.”
Part of that rushing success was due to substitute rookie right tackle Don Barclay, who came in for an injured T.J. Lang (ankle) in the second quarter. McCarthy said he made some calls to help Barclay in the two-minute drive at the end of the first half, but after that he didn’t really alter his call sheet.
“I thought in the run game he was physical,” McCarthy said. “That’s a trait we really like in Don. In the pass protection, a lot of his things were technical. But I thought he did a solid job.
“When a rookie comes in for his first time in game action and you’re able to keep playing throughout your game plan, I think that’s a big credit to him.”
McCarthy wouldn’t say whether Barclay would remain at right tackle, which would allow Lang to shift back to his regular starting spot at left guard, because he wasn’t sure about Lang’s status for this week.
Neither Lang’s injury nor Jordy Nelson’s (hamstring) is “of serious nature,” but there’s more evaluation to be done. McCarthy said Nelson would be “pressed hard to play this week,” but he feels a little better about Lang.
He also feels better about his kicking game after Mason Crosby shook off a 53-yard miss at the end of the first half to make field goals from 47 and 31 yards in the second half.
The combination of Peterson’s 82-yard TD, the injuries on offense and the missed field goal created a letdown heading into the locker room at halftime, according to McCarthy. But Morgan Burnett’s game-changing interception, which was followed by Crosby’s successful 47-yarder, got the team emotionally on the right path again.
“I’m not changing, I’m not wavering on Mason,” McCarthy said. “He needs to make kicks. He needs to make the long kick. I expect him to make that kick before the half.
“But once again, we’re just going to keep swinging because we’re going to need Mason to make big kicks down the stretch here. We’re in the fourth quarter of our season, and he’ll be a big part of our success.” Additional coverage - Dec. 3