GREEN BAY – The Packers defense just kept answering the bell.
Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers talks about “adversity defense” all the time. When the field flips quickly – on a turnover by the offense or a big play surrendered by the defense – Capers’ unit is in a tough spot.
He’s never prouder than when his guys respond, and their repeated responses propelled the Packers to a 24-10 win over the Rams on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
“That’s how we play. We’re grinding it out,” veteran Julius Peppers said. “However we need to play, we can play that way. If we get put in an adverse situation, we have to fight our way out of it. That’s the attitude.”
The Packers had to fight their way out a seemingly endless number of times on Sunday.
- Aaron Rodgers’ first interception at home in nearly 600 pass attempts gave the Rams the ball at their own 43. Three plays later, Micah Hyde got an interception of his own.
- Eddie Lacy got tripped up on fourth-and-1 at the St. Louis 41, and three plays later rookie Quinten Rollins raced the other way with a pick-six.
- Rodgers’ second interception put the Rams on the Green Bay 33, but Sam Shields broke up a deep ball in the end zone and the Rams settled for a field goal.
- The Rams completed a 20-yard pass on a fake punt to get inside the Green Bay 40, but Datone Jones blocked a 50-yard field goal attempt by Greg Zuerlein.
- Rodgers was strip-sacked and the Rams took over on the Green Bay 41. Peppers answered with a sack, pushing the field goal try back to 53 yards, and it sailed wide left.
- Rams running back Todd Gurley broke off a 55-yard run deep into Green Bay territory but, four plays later, Joe Thomas deflected a pass that deflected again off of tight end Lance Kendricks’ helmet, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix made a diving interception in the end zone.
- Rams receiver Stedman Bailey raced 68 yards down the sideline to get inside the 10, but three snaps later Rollins snagged his second pick of the game and the Rams were turned away again.
That’s seven, count ’em, seven legitimately adverse situations for Green Bay’s defense, and St. Louis produced just three points from them. The Packers never trailed in the game, yet, they never led by more than two scores. The Rams never could make it a one-score game in the second half despite numerous chances.
“It’s huge,” Hyde said. “It just goes to show we can make plays when we need to. As long as the guys up front are getting pressure on the quarterback and forcing him to throw the ball into small pockets, we can make those plays.”
The Packers sacked Rams QB Nick Foles three times and intercepted him four times. Foles came into the game having taken six sacks and thrown just one interception in St. Louis’ first four games.
The absolute never-quit attitude was best exemplified by Clinton-Dix late in the fourth quarter, as he chased Bailey down when the receiver looked headed for a 75-yard touchdown.
If he scores, it’s 24-17 and the Rams can try an onside kick with about a minute left. Clinton-Dix tackled him at the 7-yard line, and Rollins got his second career pick.
“That’s not giving up,” Shields said. “As a defense, we need that. That shows a lot for our defense. Nobody got too hyped up or anything like that. Everybody was calm, going to the next play.”
It’s another positive trait among many Green Bay’s defense has displayed in backing the Packers’ 5-0 start. Fourth-quarter turnovers and stopping the run were the primary two qualities before Sunday.
The former continued, but the latter took a hit as Gurley piled up 159 yards on 30 carries. Foles, though, completed barely one-third of his passes (11 of 30) and posted a miserable passer rating of 23.8.
“We’re not going to get caught up in rankings and statistics and things of that sort,” Peppers said. “We’re just going to keep preparing and keep grinding, and hopefully at the end of the year we’ll be where we want to be.”
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