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Notebook: Defense Misses Chances For INTs


Much was made coming into Sunday's game of Rams quarterback Marc Bulger's streak of five games and nearly 200 pass attempts without an interception.

The Packers had some great chances to end that streak, and any one of those opportunities could have changed the course of the 23-20 loss.

Linebacker A.J. Hawk in the first half and cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson in the second half all had potential interceptions in their hands, but no one was able to pull one in.

"When the opportunity comes, we all like to jump on that opportunity, but sometimes it doesn't go your way," cornerback Patrick Dendy said. "We had more than three missed opportunities, but at the same time, next week we'll make those plays."

Harris' chance was the only one that looked like a sure pick, when he stepped in front of Torry Holt in the red zone and got both hands on the ball at eye level. A turnover there would have thwarted a Rams scoring drive, but instead St. Louis settled for a field goal and a 20-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Hawk's came in the second quarter, when Bulger tried to thread one to tight end Joe Klopfenstein over the middle. Hawk couldn't quite hold on at the St. Louis 25-yard line or the Packers would have been in prime scoring position.

Woodson's was probably the most difficult, as he was step-for-step with Isaac Bruce on a crossing route but was off-balance with the throw behind the receiver. Had Woodson been able to make the difficult grab, the Packers would have had the ball near midfield with about three minutes left. Instead the Rams punted on the next play and the Packers took over on their own 21 for the final drive.

"We had some of those opportunities," defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "In all three phases, at times we played winning football and at times we didn't get it done."

Incidentally, Bulger's interception-less streak was extended to 214 passes, setting a new Rams franchise record by surpassing Roman Gabriel's 206-pass streak in 1968-69.

Daylight there

Quarterback Brett Favre admitted after the game there were a few throws he'd like to have back, but probably none moreso than a slant pass to Greg Jennings late in the third quarter.

Just after the Rams had kicked a field goal to go ahead 17-13, Favre went to Jennings on first down on a quick slant to his left. Jennings had beaten his man to the inside and appeared to have a lot of daylight in front of him, but the throw whistled too far in front of Jennings and was incomplete.

The Packers gained just one first down on their first three possessions combined in the second half, and that misfire in a sense highlighted that frustrating stretch.

"I may have missed a lot of throws in my career, but I don't miss slants, and I did on that one," Favre said. "What may seem like just a 3-yard incompletion, to me could have been a touchdown. That's the way I look at that."

Getting his chance

Dendy was the Packers' nickel back when the defense went to five defensive backs, and for the most part he held up well. Dendy was called up from the practice squad this week after Ahmad Carroll was released.

He gave up a 10-yard completion to Kevin Curtis on third down on the Rams' first series, setting up a short touchdown pass. But later in the game he had Curtis well-covered in the end zone on third down, and the incomplete pass forced the Rams to settle for a field goal early in the fourth quarter.

"Once I got back into the game, got the first couple plays under my belt, I felt pretty comfortable," he said. "They did a few things we weren't expecting, but for the most part we prepared for them well."

After further review ...

On the Rams' opening possession of the second half, the Packers lost a timeout on a replay challenge even though the review resulted in a partial change of the call on the field.

St. Louis fullback Madison Hedgecock was pushed out of bounds short of the first down on a short pass completion on third-and-1 at the Rams' 33, but his forward progress was marked at the 35 for a 2-yard gain.

The Packers challenged the spot, and the ball was moved back 1 yard to the 34, but it was still enough for a first down. Because a challenge on a spot can only be made relative to a first down, the Packers still lost a timeout because the replay review did not take away the St. Louis first down.

Injury update

Left guard Jason Spitz, back in the starting lineup for the first time since the season opener, left the game in the third quarter after what was announced in the press box as a kick to the stomach. After the game, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Spitz was taken to a local hospital for tests.

"I don't know the specifics," McCarthy said. "He was a little ill before the game, and this is something that carried over."

Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins was helped off the field late in the second quarter with an apparent leg injury. Jenkins was on crutches after the game but no update was given on his condition.

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