Ahmad Carroll definitely has had a rough couple weeks to start this season. He received four penalties (three were accepted) in the team's opening loss at Detroit and in week two, cornerback Joey Thomas received the start ahead of Carroll.
On Sunday, Carroll appeared to make a few positive strides in being an impact player for the Green and Gold.
Starting in place of Thomas, who sat out with a concussion suffered last week, the second-year player out of Arkansas notched five tackles on the day, and seemingly did a good job in his technique as he avoided any penalties. But his fourth quarter interception was even more impressive.
Carroll dove for the Brian Griese pass and when he rolled over he had complete control of the ball. He had the presence of mind to return the ball 38 yards to the Tampa Bay 32-yard line before losing his balance and hitting the ground.
Had Carroll scored a touchdown on the play, Sherman joked, "I might have invited him over to my house for dinner tonight."
"He definitely made a nice play on that interception," Sherman added. "We should have gotten a touchdown out of that and that could have made a difference in the game."
Instead the Packers settled for Longwell's 32-yard field goal, their last score of the game.
"He gave us a chance to win because of that interception and we didn't get it done," Sherman said. "All of the negatives that he's brought upon himself with some of those penalties, I thought today that interception and playing clean was good. He certainly still has a ways to go, but I was proud of the fact that he made a big play there and gave us a chance to win the game."
Carroll's efforts didn't go unnoticed among his defensive teammates, either.
"That was a great play by Ahmad," cornerback Al Harris said. "He played a great game."
It's too early to tell if that effort was good enough to keep Carroll's starting job, however.
"We'll look at the tape and see how he played the other 55 snaps of the game," Sherman indicated. "But, he didn't hurt himself today I don't think. Obviously Joey Thomas' concussion from last week had some residual effects into this week and I don't know where it's going to be next week. So there are a lot of what-ifs there."
Kicking Game off the Mark
Ryan Longwell has been nearly automatic in his Green Bay Packer career, but Sunday wasn't one of his most enjoyable days.
The Packers all-time leading scorer missed an extra point after the team's first touchdown as well as a 42-yard field goal in third quarter. Despite the steady rain and the slippery field conditions, Longwell said those weren't a factor in the misses.
"On the extra point, we really didn't have a shot," Longwell explained. "It was just out of sequence. It takes all 11 of us to make a kick and all 11 of us to miss a kick. Sometimes you've got a shot and sometimes you don't and we had no shot of making that one."
The failed extra point attempt ended Longwell's streak of 156 straight point afters. The streak is a Packers record and was good enough for fourth among all active NFL kickers.
Long snapper Rob Davis' snap sailed a bit and Sander had difficulty getting the ball down in time for Longwell to get a clean attempt.
"The snap came back way behind him so he was trying to rush to get around," Longwell said. "When it's that far off, you kind of lose the bearing on where the spot is. It's just one of those things that happens.
Sometimes we get away with ones, and obviously we didn't with that one."
In the NFL, there sometimes is a very small margin between winning and losing. Unfortunately for the Packers, they were on the bad side of that line on Sunday afternoon.
When you lose by one point, seemingly every play is examined under an even stronger microscope and defensive end Aaron Kampman talked about how frustrating that is right now for the Packers.
Kampman referred to Carroll's interception that nearly propelled the team to victory.
"We are so close," he said. "You can probably go to about half a dozen and maybe eight plays in that ball game that we call fine line plays. Just a little bit more, that's how close we are. Hopefully those will go in our favor next week.
As it was, the defense still had a few bright spots in the narrow loss.
"I think there's some things we can continue to build on," Kampman added. "I think we showed some flashes of being the defense we can be. We still have to clean things up and I am encouraged.
I love the effort everyone's giving. We're making plays. But it wasn't enough to win. And that's the bottom line. We'll go back to the drawing board tomorrow, watch the film, and we'll keep swinging."
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila echoed Kampman's sentiments and added that it's too early for the team to quit.
"One thing that I can get out of this game is that we kept fighting to the very end," Gbaja-Biamila said. "We still lost but I think going through stuff like this is going to create character and build perseverance. When it does start going our way, we are going to go through people.
I know it doesn't look like that now and I know that the fans are not that patient. I'm just very optimistic. Getting down on yourself is going to make it worse. We have to continue to be positive and keep fighting. It's going to come our way."
Digging His Way Back
Na'il Diggs missed all of the preseason contests with a sprained MCL as well as the Packers first two regular season games, and saw his first action of the year against the Bucs.
The sixth-year linebacker out of Ohio State received the start, and rotated snaps throughout the game with fellow linebacker Paris Lenon.
When asked if his conditioning was up to satisfaction after missing so much time, Diggs mentioned that he has been running for close to two weeks. However, he understands the coaching staff's decision to gradually let him ease his way back.
"That's fine, they have a right to do that," Diggs explained. Diggs also noted that it might take a little time to learn all the tendencies of Jim Bates' defense.
"I wasn't perfect on every play," Diggs admitted. "I made some mental errors. I had a penalty early and had some communication discrepancies. I didn't really come out to play a perfect game. My focus was to, but I knew I wasn't going to."
Diggs added that he and the rest of the linebacker corps will continue to get better, regardless of who is playing what role.
"In real game situations, you're not going to make every tackle, you're not going to make every play, you're not going to make every check," Diggs explained. "So, what me and Paris do, we'll keep at it. We'll let it play out."