Packers secondary showing signs of weakness

December 10, 2014

Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones (11) catches a touchdown pass in front of Green Bay Packers' Sam Shields during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis.

GREEN BAY Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasn't thrilled with his defense's second-half performance during Monday night's 43-37 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, and he really wasn't interested in rehashing the group's collapse less than 24 hours later, either.

With a short week and what he sees as a very difficult road game Sunday at Buffalo a place where the Packers have never won in five tries McCarthy made it clear he was moving on Tuesday.

He fielded several questions about the defense, which gave up 30 points and 304 yards after the Packers took a 31-7 lead into halftime.

"I'm not going to sit here and talk about defense all day," McCarthy said tersely. "We're on to Buffalo."

Atlanta Falcons' Harry Douglas catches a two-yard touchdown pass in front of Green Bay Packers' Demetri Goodson (39) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 43-37.

The Packers' biggest problem against the Falcons was their inability to defend wide receiver Julio Jones, who caught 11 passes for 259 yards the most an opposing receiver has ever amassed against Green Bay before leaving the game with a hip injury.

Cornerback Sam Shields, re-signed by the Packers to a four-year, $39 million deal in March, struggled in coverage against Jones after leaving the Nov. 30 game against New England with a concussion sustained on the 10th defensive snap.

Shields missed practice last week on Thursday and Friday and was listed as questionable for Monday's game.

McCarthy went out of his way to support Shields on Tuesday.

"He's our guy," McCarthy said after the coaches replaced him in the second half with backup Davon House.

McCarthy said House's insertion into the lineup was part of a pre-planned "rotation," although Shields never went back into the game.

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis.

"Hey, they had a big day. Julio had a huge night. They got hot in the second half," McCarthy said. "We'll have time to correct our things (Wednesday) with our players, and we'll learn from it. Obviously, you always want to make corrections after a win."

The Packers (10-3) have won five in a row and are tied for the best record in the NFL. They are 7-0 at home and are aiming for the NFC's No. 1 seed to have the road to the Super Bowl go through Lambeau Field.

Players were off Tuesday, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers said during his weekly show on 540 ESPN radio in Milwaukee that he likes where his team stands with three weeks to go in the regular season.

"This is when it gets exciting. It's right in front of us," said Rodgers, who has led the Packers to an NFL-best 423 points. "We have the opportunity to achieve the goals that we talk about every season, and the first and most important is winning your division and getting a home playoff game.

"That's right in front of us. We control our fate right there and we have the opportunity to do some great things. But we have to take care of business."

NOTES: McCarthy said running back Eddie Lacy, who missed the game's final series with a hip injury, would be evaluated Wednesday. "I don't have high concern," McCarthy said. . McCarthy had high praise for No. 2 running back James Starks, who carried 10 times for 75 yards and a touchdown. His 41-yard run late in the game helped seal the victory. "I just love the way James responds with his opportunities," McCarthy said. "(He) has played a lot of excellent football for us over the years, and I thought last night was one of his best nights."

Packers maintain top spot in AP Pro32 rankings

NEW YORK Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers hung on to the NFL's top spot after a closer-than-expected win against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Packers (10-3) received nine of 12 first-place votes Tuesday in the AP Pro32 power rankings, which are decided by a media panel that regularly covers the league.

The Packers led 31-7 at the half before getting a 43-37 victory over the Falcons on Monday night.

"(Packers) defense looked very shaky in home win," Fox Sports' John Czarnecki said.

The New England Patriots (10-3) earned two first-place votes and remained No. 2 after their 23-14 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night.

"An impressive road win in San Diego," ESPN's Herm Edwards said of the Patriots. "Darrelle Revis is making a huge impact for that defense."

With tiebreakers against the other AFC division leaders, the Patriots are in a strong position to grab the top seed in the AFC. The can clinch the AFC East again with a victory at home over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

"Tom Brady has been a screaming maniac on the sidelines this year. A very simple reason why: He knows this can be a special season a Super Bowl season and he wants to make certain everyone around him is prepared to seize the moment," Newsday's Bob Glauber said.

The Seattle Seahawks (9-4) grabbed the other first-place vote and moved up from No. 5 to No. 3 after a 24-12 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

"We're now seeing a Seattle team that looks a lot like last year's Super Bowl winner, and that identity is returning at the right time in the season," said Jenny Vrentas of The Monday Morning Quarterback said.

The Denver Broncos (10-3) and the Eagles (9-4) each dropped one spot to No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.

The Arizona Cardinals (10-3) moved up to No. 6 after a 17-14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs that ended a two-game losing streak.

"The Cardinals will probably make the playoffs, but a four-game stretch in which Arizona hasn't scored more than 18 points doesn't bode well for upcoming games against St. Louis and Seattle,"'s Alex Marvez said.

The Indianapolis Colts (9-4), who can clinch the AFC South win a win over the Houston Texans on Sunday, are at No. 7.

"The Colts are overcoming both the opposition and themselves of late," Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News said.

The Detroit Lions (9-4), Dallas Cowboys (9-4) and Baltimore Ravens (8-5) rounded out the top 10.

The Eagles and Cowboys play Sunday night in a matchup that could go a long way toward deciding the NFC East title.

It's a rematch of Philadelphia's 33-10 win on Thanksgiving. The game is in Philadelphia, but the Cowboys are 6-0 on the road this season.

"Will they finally win a must-win game in December?" NBC Sports' Tony Dungy asked of the Cowboys.

The Washington Redskins (3-10), who have lost five in a row, fell to No. 30 ahead of only the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans, who are both 2-11.

"Robert Griffin III has already had more lives in the nation's capital than Richard Nixon," said Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune.



Associated Press