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Defense moving up the rankings


The Packers canceled growing concern for the performance of the defense over the first four games of the season with a dominating effort in the second half of the team's 25-14 win in Atlanta on Sunday night.

"Five punts and two interceptions speak for themselves," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday of the result of the Falcons' final seven possessions of Sunday's game. Their first two possessions, of course, resulted in touchdowns that staked the Falcons to a 14-0 lead.

"They did a nice job of controlling the ball. I give them credit," Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said of the Falcons and their offensive coordinator, Mike Mularkey.

Mularkey scripted a power running game behind burly running back Michael Turner, and stirred in a reverse by Julio Jones and a couple of misdirection plays, keeping the Packers defense off-balance through the first 16 and a half minutes of the game.

What changed?

"I thought we did a good job of stopping the run. We were able to control down and distance better," Capers said. "If we can force people to go the long way and not give up big chunks, they'll have trouble scoring against us."

That's exactly what happened in Atlanta, as the Packers forced the Falcons to sustain long drives, and that allowed the Packers to cancel those drives with a sack or an interception.

As a result of Sunday's performance, the Packers defense climbed from 28th in the league overall to a more respectable 21st place through five weeks of the season. The pass-defense moved up three spots, from 31st to 28th, and the run-defense is at No. 3.

"If they can have the mix of run and pass, it makes it harder to call the game," Capers said. "The game became more one-dimensional."

This week's opponents, the St. Louis Rams, are struggling mightily on offense: 31st overall, 24th in rushing and 28th in passing. The Packers hope to take their defense to an even higher level as they move toward midseason.

"I thought they were outstanding," McCarthy said. "Night and day from the start. That's the kind of defense we're used to playing and it's something we can build on."

"They were hitting on all cylinders on the first two drives," linebacker Erik Walden said. "They had a great game plan."

Walden welcomes a week without criticism for the play of the defense.

"I feel like it's been blown out of proportion. We're still gelling. We're about to get the thing right," Walden said. Additional coverage - Oct. 10

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