GREEN BAY—Mike McCarthy didn’t go into details, but he said on Tuesday that any notion the Packers defense didn’t adjust to try to slow down Falcons receiver Julio Jones would be misguided.
Jones caught 11 passes for 259 yards in Green Bay’s 43-37 victory over Atlanta on Monday night, including a 79-yard catch-and-run on the first play of the second half that jump-started the Falcons’ comeback attempt.
“I think we did change things up,” McCarthy said. “It isn’t like we played one coverage. Julio had a huge night. They got hot in the second half. First you have to give the Falcons credit. They have a very good offense.
“Winning in December is important. Winning in December is difficult. But I’m not going to sit here and talk about defense all day.
“We’re on to Buffalo. We’ll have time to correct things with our players tomorrow, and you always want to be making corrections after a win.”
There’s a lot less to correct on offense, where quarterback Aaron Rodgers continued “playing the best football of his career,” according to McCarthy, and the running game returned to sharing the load between Eddie Lacy and James Starks.
Lacy couldn’t finish the game due to a bruised hip, which McCarthy said is not of “high concern,” so Starks stepped in down the stretch and capped off a solid complementary performance with a 41-yard run to clinch the win. Lacy and Starks combined for 148 yards rushing and 59 more receiving, with three total TDs.
“I just love the way James responds to his opportunities,” McCarthy said. “Obviously, Eddie was the featured back two weeks ago. This week we were back with the 1-2 punch mentality, and James was excellent. I thought last night was one of his best nights.”
The offensive line continued its high-level play as well, and at the right time. Green Bay’s next opponent, Buffalo, features one of the league’s top defensive fronts, including three pass rushers with at least 9 ½ sacks each. The Bills have tallied an NFL-best 48 sacks on the season.
Home for four of their last five games, the Packers will travel to Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday, a place they haven’t visited in eight years.
“It’s going to dictate which way the game goes based on who wins the battle in the trenches,” McCarthy said. “Our offensive line is playing very well. Their defensive line is playing very well.
“We’re playing up there on a fast track on their field turf. The crowd noise will be a challenge. Buffalo is a tough place to play. This will be a big challenge for our guys, and they’ll be ready.”