DENVER – Wherever they ran, a defender ran with them. Whenever they caught the ball, a defender was there to make the tackle, and seldom if ever did a Broncos defender miss a tackle.

That might be the best way to describe Sunday night’s game, at least from the Packers’ perspective. Another way to describe it would be according to its final score, 29-10 in favor of the Broncos, but this one is about a lot more than the score. If the Packers and their fans are to learn from this loss, they must dig much deeper than the final score, or even the Packers’ shocking yardage total, a mere 140 yards.

We had seen warning signs in recent games. Running only 49 plays against San Diego was shocking, but nothing to compare to what we saw at Sports Authority Field. That wasn’t the Packers as we’ve come to know them. The Packers don’t play that way … but they did on Sunday night.

The Denver defense dominated. Yes, it’s as good as advertised. It came into the game No. 1 overall, No. 4 against the run and No. 1 against the pass. It led the league in sacks. It likely padded its impressive rankings in beating the Packers.

It was the non-stats, however, that were most impressive. Could the Broncos have covered more tightly without being conjoined with the receiver? What about the speed gap between the two teams?

“They were covering it,” Aaron Rodgers said when asked what was wrong with the Packers’ passing game.

What went wrong on Sunday night? The Packers ran into an ambush. That’s what went wrong. They got wacked by what might be the best team in football.

“This is the kind of thing that’ll make everyone more on edge this week. We have another tough road challenge in Carolina. These games will show us how good we were after a 6-0 start. We weren’t very good tonight,” Rodgers said.

That’s the good news. This loss will give the Packers a heightened awareness of themselves. They’ll look deeper into problems on offense. They’ll get them fixed. When? That’s the big question.

It’s the big question because a big game is coming up in Carolina. Down the road, it could decide homefield advantage for the playoffs.

Something else: Minnesota is only a game behind the Packers in the NFC North title race, and the Packers will play in Minnesota in three weeks. That could be a showdown game.

When, indeed?

“We didn’t execute the plan we had in place,” Rodgers said.  “They played a lot of base defense. They had a seven-man box most of the time. We had a plan for it. We just didn’t execute it.

“They had us outnumbered, but we had a good plan for it and just didn’t execute,” Rodgers repeated, explaining why the Packers weren’t able to run the ball effectively.

It would then stand to reason the Packers were not outnumbered in the passing game.

“Schematically, we probably have to do some different things. We have to get open and complete passes,” Rodgers added.

If you’re looking for deeper answers than that explanation would provide, rest assured the Packers are, too. This defeat won’t be taken lightly. Alarm bells are ringing.

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