Bay Packers' Jarrett Bush (24) celebrates with Datone Jones
(95) after Bush intercepted a pass during the final seconds
of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday,
Dec. 8, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 22-21.
GREEN BAY —
Lineman Johnny Jolly performed a little dance on the frozen turf
after recovering a fumble. Back Jarrett Bush clutched the ball
tightly in his left arm after his game-sealing interception, then
pumped his chest with his other arm and let out a yell.
They gave the
Packers' defense a jolt of energy, just in time to stay in the
After five mostly
miserable weeks, Green Bay pitched a second-half shutout on the
Atlanta Falcons and came up with late-game turnovers in a 22-21
win. The Packers clamped down on the run, especially after
halftime. For the most part, they corrected a season-long problem
with missed tackles.
"It was a
huge game for us and I think it was something that we needed to
get the confidence back, get the swagger back and play Green Bay
Packer football," Bush said Sunday.
coordinator Dom Capers said Monday he thought it was the team's
best tackling performance of the season. By his count, the defense
missed just two tackles against Atlanta, including one by safety
M.D. Jennings that led to Drew Davis' 36-yard touchdown reception
in the second quarter.
Otherwise, a much
better showing than the 15-to-20 missed tackles the coaching staff
estimated occurred in the 40-10 loss on Thanksgiving Day to the
Maybe that was
the low point of the season for the D.
"We played a
lot better in the second half than we did in the first half, and
that's something that we've been emphasizing," coach Mike
McCarthy said. "Excellent win. A lot of good video. The
defensive grades were very good."
Bay Packers' Johnny Jolly reacts after recovering a fumble
during the second half of an NFL football game against the
Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis.
Green Bay (6-6-1)
stands a half-game behind the Lions for the NFC North lead, a
rather remarkable position given the defense's five-game slump
that ended with the Falcons win. That 0-4-1 stretch also coincides
with the left collarbone injury to franchise quarterback Aaron
getting better, but he's still not medically cleared. He'll work
out Tuesday and be evaluated by the team doctor Wednesday morning.
progressing. I think the biggest thing is strength — strength
and comfort," McCarthy said.
For now, they're
putting a game plan together for next week's road contest against
the Cowboys as if backup Matt Flynn will make a third straight
start. Of course, finding room for Rodgers won't be a big deal if
"As far as
what would be in or not be in, there wouldn't be any problem
making adjustments," offensive coordinator Tom Clements said.
with the Packers likely needing to win their three remaining games
to get into the playoffs — and that the Lions and Bears stumble.
Carolina and San Francisco both have a three-game lead in the win
column over Green Bay in the wild-card race.
On defense, the
Packers adjusted Sunday by playing safety Sean Richardson more in
the second half. Activated from the physically unable-to-perform
list less than three weeks ago, Richardson played well.
Falcons' Matt Ryan fumbles as he is hit during the second
half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers
Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers
recovered the fumble.
linebackers Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore because of injuries,
the Packers could only effectively play dime coverage late in the
game. Bush came up with two critical plays, in defending Tony
Gonzalez on a fourth-down pass, then coming up with an
interception with 4 seconds left to seal victory.
in run support. Up front, Jolly filled gaps and separated from
blocks for a couple negative-yardage plays, Capers noted.
After giving up
at least 232 yards rushing in their previous two games, the
Packers surrendered just 83 on Sunday. That's more akin to Green
Bay's early-season form as one of the league's best run defenses.
was jumping around and we just had fun," Jolly said.
Notes: RB Eddie
Lacy sprained an ankle after running on the last play of the first
half in the Falcons game but returned. McCarthy said he was
undergoing rehab Monday. He was unsure yet what the prognosis was
for Lacy and Lattimore (knee), though he noted it was early in the
week. ... McCarthy was optimistic, though, about the health of