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Butler: A Bad Loss, But Just One Game


Going into a hostile environment like Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field and knowing that you're playing one of the best and hottest teams in the NFL, you've got to play at a certain level, and the Green Bay Packers just didn't reach that level on Sunday.

The one thing that concerned me the most from the game - and like you, I have plenty of concerns - was the penalties. Any time you have 12 penalties for 99 yards and especially when you're playing on the road, you can't have that and expect to win. When you're playing a team that's as good as this Eagles team obviously is, you've almost got to play a perfect game to go into their building and beat them.

Keep one thing in mind, though - the Packers are still in first place, they're still going to make the playoffs, but a loss like this is simply unacceptable for a team as good as the Packers are.

Let's look a little more in depth at what happened to cause such a lopsided loss.

Starting with the defense, when you go into a game and you're playing against a great receiver like Terrell Owens, you've got to make sure that that one player is not the one that beats you. I think the Packers players may have focused a little too much on T.O., though.

Brian Westbrook seemed like he was everywhere in that game. It's very rare that you see a running back come out and catch 11 passes and score three receiving touchdowns, but I think a lot of that can be traced to all the attention that Owens was commanding.

The Packers had trouble staying with the Eagles in their zone defense. I've always thought that playing zone was easier than playing man-to-man coverage, but it seems like that's not the case with this Green Bay defense.

On numerous occasions, there were guys wide open and then the tackling wasn't up to Packer standards. It seemed like it didn't matter who caught the ball, he was not being stopped as soon as he should have been. The yards after catch were a real problem.

Donovan McNabb said after the game that it felt like he was playing a video game out on the field. That's disrespect and I hope the Packers defenders keep that filed away in their memories so when they meet him again, they will have some extra motivation after getting the score run up on them.

As far as positives on the defensive side, there were a few. Aaron Kampman had another wonderful game, making tackles and never being out of position. Cullen Jenkins made a big play early in the game when he stopped Philly's first drive by sacking McNabb and forcing and recovering a fumble on the same play.

I think the line supplied a fair amount of pressure on McNabb during most of the game, but it seemed like whenever he was able to avoid the rush, he always had an open receiver to bail him out.

What the Green Bay Packers definitely need to do is think about responsibilities. When you look in your playbook during the week and that play is called, you have to know what your responsibility is as well as everyone else on the field. If not, there will be a lot of finger-pointing and people not being where they're supposed to be.

Giving up 450 yards to the Rams and over 500 yards to the Eagles is unacceptable as a defense and it has to get fixed fast. If not, the Packers will not be making a long stay in the playoffs this season.

I have concerns on the offensive side of things too, but before I get into those, I'd like to point out a bright spot from the game.

I think everyone got a glimpse of what may be the future of the Green Bay Packers when Craig Nall came into the game in the fourth quarter and did a wonderful job, throwing two touchdown passes after the offense had sputtered all day and couldn't get anything going. Not only did he throw those TD passes, he also directed the offense with a lot of leadership and he could be one to watch in the future.

Overall offensively, things weren't much better than on defense. It just seemed like the Packers could never get into the groove. The offense must understand that each game may be like this with the difficulties that the defense is going through. You may find yourself down 14-0 or 14-3 and if they have to get into a shootout that could be what it takes to win games.

If the other quarterback throws the ball 45 or 50 times and is scoring a lot of points, Brett Favre may have to throw the ball 45 or 50 times and let the best passer win. I think they may have to leave it in his hands and let Brett either win these games or put the team in a position to win these games. He's proven that he's capable of doing that.

Even though the Packers are a run-oriented team, it's hard to stay committed to running the ball when you're 35 points behind.

All in all, I think the Packers will still win the NFC North. I think they will beat the teams they're supposed to beat coming down the home stretch. They had a chance to reach elite status on Sunday, but they just weren't able to do that.

Once this article is done, I want people to put that game behind them, which is what I will be doing - it is only one game. We need to look ahead and get focused on the next game, which is what the players and coaches are doing right now. They are getting ready to put it together and beat the Detroit Lions this weekend.

Losing to Detroit is not an option. This game has turned into a must-win. A win against the Lions will keep the goals in reach - winning the division, getting to the playoffs, and getting in position to get to the Super Bowl.

Yeah, I said it - Super Bowl. The way things go in this league, it may not be the best teams that will be in the Super Bowl, it will probably be the hottest teams at that time.

The Packers have shown that they can rebound from tough losses and get hot. Looking at 1-4, I know a lot of you didn't think the Packers had a six-game winning streak in them. If they bounce back from this one to put together another six straight, that would put them right back where they want to be - one step from the Super Bowl.

Fortunately, in the NFL you always have another chance to come out and redeem yourself after a bad game. The offense is making adjustments, the defense is making adjustments, and the next game will definitely be a different story.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website,*

LeRoy serves as the host on the new DVD, 'Brett Favre - On and Off the Field'. Click here for more information on the DVD.

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