Having only practiced with new holder Ryan Flinn since Thursday, Ryan Longwell knew kicking field goals could present a challenge.
Longwell, however, did not offer excuses after he pushed his attempts wide right from 38 and 39 yards.
"We should have made the kicks," Longwell said.
The Flinn-Longwell duo excelled during pregame warm-ups, but that did not translate to game action.
Longwell did rebound to connect from 26 yards with 7:54 left in the game to narrow the gap to 24-17.
"I went into the PAT with no concern," Longwell said. "That was my approach to the last (field goal)."
Flinn caught the ball cleanly on each kicking attempt but had to spin the ball so the laces faced out as Longwell's foot connected with the ball.
The new acquistion fared well, averaging 40 yards on three punts -- a solid debut in the 34 degree weather of Lambeau Field.
"He punted the ball great," Longwell said.
But special teams only becomes a topical issue when things go awry.
"You're expected to be perfect," Flinn said. "And you should be perfect."
Rookie Noah Herron received his most extensive action of his fledgling career, rushing the ball 14 times for 33 yards.
Tony Fisher started the game, but Herron entered on the second series and carried frequently on first and second down while the Packers went to Fisher on third down.
"The coaching staff asked me to come in and fill a role," Herron said. "That's what I came in to do."
Once the Packers fell behind 24-7 in the third quarter, the Packers could not run the ball as often. They still used Fisher in passing situations, and he caught eight passes for 61 yards, including back-to-back receptions on the Packers' last drive of the third quarter.
"That's a big part of my role," Fisher said.
Herron's mastery of the offense may have been more impressive than his production. He read his holes and blocked solidly despite joining the team less than a month ago. The Packers signed him off the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad on Nov. 30.
"I'm still comfortable," Herron said. "You see the whole field and everything that's going on, and it helps things slow down."
Herron's comfort level showed when he scored his first NFL touchdown. That one-yard plunge tied the score at seven with 12:10 left in the second quarter.
Shuffling The Deck
When Mike Flanagan irritated his sports hernia injury in the second quarter, the Packers had to re-shuffle the offensive line.
"It was aggravated to the point where he couldn't return," Head Coach Mike Sherman said.
With Flanagan out, Scott Wells moved from left guard to right guard, Grey Ruegamer moved from right guard to center, and Adrian Klemm entered the starting lineup at left guard. Wells admitted a preference for his starting position but received a few repetitions at both guard spots during the week's practice.
"I'm not as comfortable at right as left," Well said. "It was a move we should been able to make fluidly."
Flanagan's injury forced Ruegamer to quarterback the offensive line. Although it took him a few plays to adjust, the seven-year veteran did not offer that as an excuse.
"Nobody wants to hear about that," Ruegamer said. "Don't tell me about the pain, just show me the baby."
The re-aligned offensive played well against the NFL's No.1-ranked defense until a back-breaking sequence ensued with 1:02 left in the game. The offensive line allowed back-to-back sacks to Tank Johnson and Alex Brown, setting up a fourth-and-27 for the Packers' last play.
"When we got behind, Wells said, "They really their pinned ears back and brought some heat."
New Tight End?
Mark Tauscher nearly made a reception he would never forget.
Brett Favre threw a touchdown pass to the tackle-eligible player with 12:19 left in the second quarter, but Ruegamer's holding penalty negated the play.
"I owe him a couple cases of beer and a bottle of whiskey," Ruegamer joked before taking a remorseful tone. "I feel bad, though, but I feel worse about losing."
Not seeing the flag, Tauscher performed his first Lambeau Leap, barreling sideway over the lowest part of end zone wall.
"I would've picked the same place," he said. "We weigh more than the little receivers."
Chat On The Loose
Antonio Chatman scored the Packers' first special teams touchdown of the season with 7:54 left in the game.
Chatman caught the ball at the 15-yard line and acted like he was going left and before cutting back to the right. Andrae Thruman's key block helped spring the return.
"I saw a crease," Chatman said. "I couldn't let nobody stop me."
For the first time in the game, the Packers went for a punt return block. That pressure forced Brad Maynard to drive a low kick.
"They got pressure on it," Chatman said. "And he shanked it."