First Loss Not Lingering

There’s an old saying in sports that you can’t let a team beat you twice. For the Packers, that’s not a reference to their rematch with the Bears on Dec. 23, when they’ll get a chance head-to-head to avenge their 27-20 loss last Sunday. It actually applies to this week, meaning the Packers can’t let that loss lead to another defeat, by dwelling on a game they clearly let slip away to their arch-rivals. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Redskins Game Center


There's an old saying in sports that you can't let a team beat you twice.

For the Green Bay Packers, that's not a reference to their rematch with the Chicago Bears on Dec. 23, when they'll get a chance head-to-head to avenge their 27-20 loss last Sunday.

It actually applies to this week, meaning the Packers can't let that loss to the Bears lead to another defeat, by dwelling on a game they clearly let slip away to their arch-rivals.

"It's just one step back," tight end Bubba Franks said. "It's not like we took two steps back. It was only one game. We felt like we should have won the game, but overall they scored more points than we did. You take it, you learn from it, and you move on to the next game."

That next game is against the 3-1 Washington Redskins, another NFC team like the 4-1 Packers off to a strong start. It's a game that could have significant tiebreaker implications in playoff scenarios as the season unfolds, something the Packers know all too well after losing the final NFC Wild Card spot last season on a convoluted tiebreaker with the New York Giants.

But the Packers aren't going to get ahead of themselves. No one is talking about playoff spots or tiebreakers in mid-October. The time frame is too short, both mentally and physically, in getting ready for the next game to clutter it with any thoughts of what lies beyond.

Or for that matter, what lies behind.

"You don't have time to lick your wounds in the NFL," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "The next week will be coming, and the next team doesn't care about that. We let that go. We let Chicago go on Monday. We watched film, put it behind us and tried to learn from it, and it's been all Washington."

Even for the players under the most scrutiny for their mistakes in the Chicago game, like rookie receiver James Jones, who had two critical fumbles in the first half. Anyone expecting Jones to hang his head and sheepishly go through the motions hoping not to catch anyone's ire again doesn't know Jones.

He owned up to his mistakes, and he's doing everything he can to learn from them, just like the rest of the team.

"Everybody's heads are high," Jones said. "It's not like we're 1-4. We're 4-1, so there's no bad vibe or anything like that. You just have that bitter taste in your mouth so you just want to overcome that loss."

According to the players, that was evident during Wednesday's practice, the first of the week to prepare for Sunday's game against the Redskins. There was no sluggishness, no hangover from the tough loss as the team got back to work.

"We had a very spirited practice (Wednesday)," defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "We were in shells but I thought guys were flying around, and the energy was good, better than it's been the last couple weeks as far as the Wednesday tempo.

"I think that's a good sign of the fact that whatever happens, we're just focusing on this week and moving on, and that's what we stated today with the way our practice went."

{sportsad300}That mentality starts with the coaching staff. While Head Coach Mike McCarthy has made reference to the "house" being a "little sloppy," he's also emphasizing to the players that you don't throw out all the productive work that's been done over the first five weeks while trying to correct mistakes. McCarthy said Thursday's practice, which was in full pads, was very spirited and physical as well.

"There's 75, 85 percent of the things we're doing week in and week out that we need to continue doing," McCarthy said. "You can't lose sight of that. That's much better than the way we've played in the past.

"This football team is improving. It's just what's happening is that other 15 or 20 percent that the drop off is too low. We just have to get a better level of consistency when things don't go our way."

McCarthy is known for being brutally honest with his players about where they stand, which they appreciate. By the same token, he's steadfast in his approach and he's not going to overreact or make any wholesale changes based on one frustrating loss.

Knowing that, the players are maintaining a high level of confidence and aren't letting any doubt creep in about their abilities and what they can accomplish this season.

"We don't have any doubt at all," cornerback Al Harris said. "We lost a game that we all think we should have won, but they beat us. They were the better team that night. We're moving on. We're a confident team, we're a hard-working team, and we're going to hang our hat on what we've been doing.

"Mike has a really good formula going here, we've all bought into it, and we're going to keep pressing on."

McCarthy has made no secret of how difficult a game Sunday's will be, calling the Redskins the best team the Packers will have played to date. He believes this contest will reveal a lot about his club, which proved its resiliency last season by bouncing back from a 1-4 start and a 4-8 mark with a month to go to stay in the playoff picture and finish 8-8.

"Now it's time to move on," linebacker Brady Poppinga said. "The only thing we can do anything about is how we're going to perform against Washington.

"We've learned obviously not just from this last game, but the last four or five games, and to take that information and knowledge into this next one and compete at our highest level of the season."

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