GREEN BAY—The Packers defense will be facing one of its biggest challenges of the season on Sunday. Are they ready for it?
If the second half of last Sunday's game is any indication, the answer would seem to be that, yes, the Packers defense is ready for Tony Romo and company. The Packers shut out the Falcons in the second half and made the big play, a sack-strip-recovery deep in Falcons territory, in a come-from-behind, 22-21 win.
Were the Packers more aggressive in the second half?
"I don't know that we got more aggressive, but it obviously worked better. We pressured on third and fourth down. When they get in that gray area for a field goal, you better pressure the ball. We made plays," Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said.
Whatever it was that the Packers did differently in the second half of the team's win over Falcons, it effected a radical reversal in the defense's performance over the previous month of the season. The Packers tackled better and they got off the field when the Falcons faced critical drive-sustaining plays.
"I like the resolve the guys had. You have to find a way to win in the second half and our guys did," Capers did.
That, in itself, is different from how the Packers defense had been playing.
"We played the way you want to play. I like the way we played. If you make those plays, you win the game. If you don't make those plays, you lose the game," Capers added.
Sunday's game in Dallas features two of the most renowned and high-profile defensive coordinators of the last 30 years. Capers' counterpart is Monte Kiffin. Both are embattled, as Kiffin's Cowboys defense is last in the league and Capers' is No. 21.
"I'm going to be the same guy. I'm going to work just as hard. There are going to be ups and downs. Some years, they're going to think you're real smart. Some years, they're going to think you're real foolish. This is a humbling business. If you jump on that roller coaster, you're not going to last 30 years in this league," Capers said.
The Cowboys offense has a big-play pass combination in Romo to wide receiver Dez Bryant, but it's running back DeMarco Murray that seems to have Capers' attention. That's probably a result of the Packers' inability to stop the run in November.
"They've upgraded their running game. You take a veteran quarterback and get a running game going, and they're a two-phase team. You can't let them get the running game going," Capers said.
With the season on the line for the Packers, fans are hoping the defense will respond as it did against the Falcons.
"I've always believed you try to build on your successes. The big difference is when we've struggled to get off the field, we haven't made the plays we made on Sunday," Capers said.
Can they make those plays again? Additional coverage - Dec. 13