Butler: Tough Loss, But Packers Can Bounce Back


After a loss like the Packers had against the Arizona Cardinals last weekend, I wish I could come back and play.

In times like these everyone needs to band together, because you don't want to let last week's loss distract you from the game coming up against the Chicago Bears.

The Packers didn't play as well as they would have liked in Arizona. The Cardinals had key third-down conversions (8-13 overall and 7-10 in the second half) and kept the momentum going in the second half to grind out a victory in the desert heat.

Overall, the Packers did a good job against the run Sunday. Emmitt Smith broke off a few longer runs of 8 yards or more, but for the most part the defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. Smith finished the game with only 50 rushing yards and the Cardinals had 81 as a team.

Where the defensive line struggled was pressuring the quarterback.

Jeff Blake was able to go to his third read and wait for his receivers to come out of double moves. That's something that cannot happen if you want to get off the field on third down.

In hindsight, the Packers probably should have been more aggressive on third down and blitzed a little bit more. Maybe that would have gotten Blake out of his rhythm. Of course that's easy to say now, after the fact.

I wouldn't be surprised to see them blitz more against the Bears however. I think the Packers have enough speed and good enough cover-corners to play a man-to-man, in-your-face kind of defense.

If you look at the film of the game against Detroit, the Packers didn't sack Joey Harrington, but they put constant pressure on him. They need to use that same show-no-mercy approach each week.

On special teams, Josh Bidwell almost made me look like a genius.

I said going into the game that he might be the Packers' game MVP and, sure enough, he put three punts inside the 20-yard line, including one at the 2. But Arizona was able to overcome that, as well as two field goals from Ryan Longwell.

Antonio Chatman looked good returning punts, including his 33-yarder that started a Packers scoring drive.

On offense, Ahman Green couldn't get the running game going. He had two fumbles and one of them was costly because it set up an Arizona touchdown.

It's hard to overcome those turnovers on the road. Green has the ability to be one of the top 5 running backs in the league, but to do that he needs to hold on to the ball.

Brett Favre had a great pass to David Martin for a touchdown, going through his progression and finding the open man on the field. He also completed 10 straight passes to start the game.

Unfortunately, what people will remember is his interception at the end, but with little time remaining he had to try and make a play.

The truth of the matter is that if he got a little bit more on that second-down pass to Antonio Freeman, the Packers would have scored their touchdown and we wouldn't have been talking about any interception.

On that play, Freeman is supposed to use his body to shield off the defender. That's why Favre would try and keep the pass low, so the defensive back couldn't get to it. That he threw it too low is just one of those freaky things.

Timing might have something to do with it. Favre and Freeman have connected on a lot of touchdowns, but they weren't on the same team last season or during the preseason, so maybe it was just a miscommunication on where Freeman would be at the end of the route.

As for the interception, credit Dexter Jackson. Donald Driver fell down on his route, Jackson took a chance and made a play.

On that final set of downs, the Packers didn't have enough time on the clock to call a run. That obviously limited their play-calling a bit, but they'll be upset about not scoring in the red zone. Traditionally, that's where the Packers have capitalized with touchdowns.

(Here's a question for the fans: If the Packers had scored a touchdown, do you think they should have gone for 2, or should they have kicked the extra point and gone into overtime?)

Give Arizona credit, because they controlled the clock in the second half. That's how you beat Brett Favre, by keeping him off the field. In the third quarter the Packers had only 3:16 of possession time, compared to 11:44 by the Cardinals, who also had a 1:30 edge in the fourth quarter.

I'm surprised Driver didn't see more passes (2 catches). As a Pro Bowl receiver, he should get at least nine throws his direction, but it could have been that Driver was the primary receiver on several routes that were well defended.

I guarantee you that the Packers are disappointed to score only 13 points, but, again, that's what keeping Favre off the field can do.

Now with a 1-2 record, with a Monday night game against Chicago coming up, the Packers are facing a need-win. That's much different from a must-win.

A must-win is when if you lose, you're done -- no chance after that, just call the UPS guy and have him take you away.

A need-win is when you need a victory to keep pace, but you're not eliminated if you lose.

The Packers want to put out the fire of the Arizona loss and keep pace with 3-0 Minnesota. They need this game for those reasons, and because Chicago is a major rival, but technically it's not a must-win.

I talked to Darren Sharper and he said that the team is disappointed that they didn't play up to their capability in Arizona, but he thinks this rivalry week is just what the Packers need to get them out of this funk.

Even though 1-2 is a frustrating start, remember that seven teams went 3-0 last season and only one of them (Oakland Raiders) made it to the playoffs.

Sometimes it takes a loss like this to get a team going. Back in the Super Bowl year of 1997, we lost to an Indianapolis Colts team that was 0-10. That loss launched us ahead and made us better in the long run.

It doesn't do any good to peak at the beginning of the season. The Band-Aid to stop the bleeding is a to go to Chicago and take care of business.

I feel sorry for the Bears.

*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 providing exclusive analysis to Packers.com with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays and a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website, leroybutler36.com.*

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