A tired-looking Packers team is relieved to have escaped with a 24-15 win against a Jaguars team no one expected to be driving for a potential game-winning touchdown with five minutes left to play in the game.
"It was a grind it out type of victory. We're pleased to be 5-3. There was a little bit of a roller coaster in our play. Our focus is on moving on to the Cardinals. We need to be 6-3 at the bye," Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said following a win that was much closer than anybody expected.
Looking ahead to the bye? Took the now 1-6 Jaguars lightly? Too many injuries to overcome? They were all theories that were posed as questions in Sunday's postgame press conferences. McCarthy three times rejected the notion that injuries were at the root of the Packers' ineffectiveness on offense.
"Inactives list? Everybody has one," McCarthy said. "Our preparation this week was cut short (by injuries), but I felt the team was ready to play. We are on a roller coaster. We have to get that removed."
Green Bay played without wide receivers Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson on Sunday. A year ago at this time, they were tearing up the league. As it stands now, the Packers might not have either player back until after the bye.
"The players that played the game today we're prepared. Our efficiency wasn't as we'd like. We might be lining up the same 46 this week," McCarthy said.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for only 186 yards against a Jaguars secondary that was without its best cornerback, and the Packers were outgained overall by the Jaguars, 341-238. These were not the same Packers that scored impressive wins in Houston and St. Louis the previous two weeks.
"I think it was more that we didn't run it well. We were five of 13 on third down. We didn't throw it well. It was choppy. We had opportunities and we didn't play very well," Rodgers said.
Rodgers' comments hinted at the possibility that eight consecutive weeks of football have taken their toll on the Packers' bodies. He referred to his as a "Week 8 body."
"I got a helmet to the arm, which kind of hurts. I got hit in the head a couple of times. I'll be all right," he said.
Mostly, the Packers will be all right because they escaped with a win in a game that would've been disastrous had they lost it. It took a four-play stand by the defense at midfield to secure the win. At that point, you could almost hear a crowd of 70,464 at Lambeau Field breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Rodgers found a way to rally his team for a 52-yard touchdown drive that would be the eventual game-winner. A 31-yard pass over the middle to James Jones put the ball at the 4-yard line, and two plays later Rodgers found Donald Driver in the front-left corner of the end zone for a score that staked the Packers to a 21-12 lead.
Jacksonville quickly cut that lead to 21-15, and the Packers offense followed with a three-and-out that gave the ball back to the Jaguars at their 8-yard line. That's when it got hairy, and that's when the defense stepped up to seal the win.
"I don't see it as a setback at all. It's good to be on this side of an ugly win. We didn't start fast and didn't' have enough juice early on. That being said, we're 5-3," Rodgers said.
The Packers will try to find enough juice to beat the Cardinals next Sunday, and then use a much-needed bye week to reenergize themselves for the stretch run. Additional coverage - Packers vs. Jaguars