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Packers defense more aggressive in second half, again

Posted Dec 16, 2013

Late-game interceptions difference-makers in Packers' rally for win

GREEN BAY—The Packers defense needs to transfer to the first half the aggressiveness with which they’ve played in the second half of the last two games.

“We made a few adjustments. We probably pressured a little more. We did get there with pretty good pressure in the second half,” Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said on Monday, as he evaluated his unit’s tale-of-two-halves performance in the Packers’ 37-36 win in Dallas on Sunday.

At halftime, the Packers trailed the Cowboys, 26-3. The Packers had allowed 332 yards, 17 first downs and a nearly five-minute time-of-possession advantage. The Packers were in danger of being embarrassed.

With the help of an offense that scored touchdowns in all five of its second-half possessions, the Packers were able to rally for the win, but it was two crunch-time interceptions that were the difference-makers: Sam Shields’ interception led to the game-winning touchdown, and Tramon Williams’ pick sent the Packers into victory formation.

“I like the taking the ball away we’ve had the last couple of weeks. We have to build on that,” Capers said.

In a comeback win against the Falcons the previous week, in a game the Packers trailed 21-10 at halftime, Capers’ defense forced a Matt Ryan fumble at the Falcons 21-yard line, and Matt Flynn converted the takeaway into the eventual game-winning touchdown.

Capers was aggressive with his scheme on at least one high-profile play in Dallas. On second-and-six at the Dallas 35-yard line with 2:58 to play, Capers was expecting a running play, which is what Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett had sent into the game. Quarterback Tony Romo, however, saw the Packers in a run-heavy defensive scheme and audibled to a pass play. Romo then threw behind his intended receiver, Miles Austin, and Shields made the interception.

“You always weigh the pluses and minuses. We had nine guys standing in the box. If they run the ball for (six) yards, you’re not getting it back,” Capers said. “It was a real key play at crunch time by Sam. Any time you throw the ball, it’s flip a coin.”

Williams’ interception occurred with the Cowboys trailing by a point with 1:24 to play. The pass was initially ruled incomplete but Mike McCarthy called time out to give the booth-review official time to signal for a review. After the review, the call was reversed to that of an interception.

“All they needed was to get into field goal range. We were able to make the big plays,” Capers said.

Suddenly, a defense that was at the bottom of the league in takeaways for most of the season, is now making game-changing plays.

“We made plays at critical times,” Capers said.

It made up for a lot of yardage allowed.

“There are a lot of things we have to clean up,” Capers added.

Additional coverage - Dec. 16

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