Thomas Disrupts Steelers Offense
Despite the 20-10 loss to the Steelers, the Packers continued to show promise on defense. One particular player that stood out and earned the Packers their only takeaway for the game was linebacker Robert Thomas.
Thomas, who was acquired in a trade at the end of the preseason, has been steady throughout the season and Sunday he finished with five tackles, one pass defensed and an interception, which was his first as a Packer.
The interception came off of Charlie Batch on the first play of the second quarter and Thomas returned it for 24 yards. It was a play in which the fourth-year pro read his assignment correctly, and in turn, put him in the right place at the right time.
"It was a seam route I believe," Thomas recalled. "I knew that one of the receivers had an inside break. I set the quarterback up and he took that bait.
Head Coach Mike Sherman took notice of Thomas' performance.
"He certainly made some significant plays in the game that stood out," Sherman said.
Fellow linebacker Roy Manning also added, "Thomas looked like he was flying around making plays."
Thomas' had help, too. The defensive unit held Pittsburgh to 213 yards, and limited Batch to 65 yards.
Driver Shoulders Responsibility
Donald Driver has been a big reason why the Green Bay Packers are still finding ways to compete despite fielding a depleted offense, but on Sunday, he didn't want to hear about that.
The seventh-year wide receiver out of Alcorn State was thinking more about the play that got away from him that led to a critical touchdown by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With the Packers trailing 13-10 and faced with a 3rd and five at their own 15-yard line, Brett Favre dropped back and attempted to find his go-to-guy. He threw a pass that Driver had to extend outward for, and Driver tipped it up in the air only to see Pittsburgh's Tyrone Carter come up with the interception.
After the game, Driver showed his professionalism and took more than his share of responsibility in the loss.
"I put this one on my shoulders," Driver said. "If I catch that ball, we probably win the game.
I didn't see it until the last minute and me being the person I am, I stuck my hands up there to try to catch it and it just came off of me. If I make that, we win the game."
Driver admitted that these close losses are becoming more and more difficult to take for the Green Bay Packers.
"It's numb," Driver explained. "We have to figure out within ourselves what we could have done better. If I would have made that catch, who knows, we probably would have won the game. But I put it on my shoulders that we did lose this game because of me."
Pride On the Line for Packers
Many teams are ready to give up when their 1-7, but don't expect that to happen in the case of the Green Bay Packers. In fact, the mood was just the opposite in the locker room after the game.
"We still have a lot to play for," linebacker Robert Thomas explained. "We're the Green Bay Packers. We want to play for the fans and for the whole town.
"There is so much pride here that 1-7 is not acceptable. We know that and we don't like losing. We have to find a way to make it happen."
On a day in which the offense had trouble manufacturing points, the defense had to pick it up to give the Packers a chance to beat a quality team such as the Steelers. According to Thomas, when one unit falters it's the responsibility of the other one to make up the difference.
"If the offense gives up turnovers, then the defense has to step up," Thomas said. "That's why it's a team effort. If the defense gives up the big play, we hope the offense goes out and score touchdowns. We know it's a team effort and we've just got to put it all together.
Defensive end Aaron Kampman agreed with Thomas.
"There's been games where I have been here where the offense has put up 35 points and we've given up 38," Kampman said. "So week in and week out, it all evens out. We win or lose as a team.
If we need to pitch a shutout, we need to pitch a shutout. That's what a great defense is and that's what we're trying to become."
Linebacker Nick Barnett acknowledged that it sounds difficult to bounce back from the tough losses his team has suffered, but he believes that it can be done.
"It would be tough to be optimistic if we didn't have the guys in this locker room that we have," Barnett said. "I think we have very much of a chance to pull ourselves out of this.
If we were getting stomped or crushed every time we play somebody, it would be hard to be optimistic. But we're right there, we are an inch away. It is frustrating that we're not getting that inch or that play, but we've just got to keep fighting and clawing our way out of this."
Donald Driver insists that the Packers will give it all they got, even if the results haven't been positive to this point.
"You still play to try to win," Driver said. "We have pride. It's one thing about the organization we have pride and we've got to make sure that we continue our pride around here."
Kampman says it's that type of attitude that will allow the Packers to turn the season around.
"The true test of a man isn't how many times you've fallen down, but how many times you get up," Kampman explained. "Right now, we've fallen down an awful lot. But I think you'll continue to see the character of our team and ourselves as men. When that happens, you just have to keep picking yourself up and keep swinging."
Favre Copes With 1-7 Record
Quarterback Brett Favre has never endured a losing record, but this season has already featured its share of painful losses.
"Until you play another game," said Favre, who during the postgame news conference did not crack his usual jokes or facetious comments. "It stays with you."
Favre, a 15-year veteran knows how to handle the highs and lows of the NFL season. Just as he does not preoccupy himself with his Super Bowl seasons and the glory years of his career after the fact, he will not dwell on his losses, including Sunday's at the hands of the Steelers.
"What about '95, '96 or even '97?" Favre said. "Did you ever dwell on a Super Bowl win or a certain play? No, you get over it, and then it becomes media guide material."
Favre remembers how difficult it was to get past his loss to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII and to the Minnesota Vikings in last year's playoffs.
"I never wanted to put on a football uniform again. It was so disappointing. I didn't think I'd ever get over it," Favre said. "But it's amazing how time heals."
Contributing: Jeff Fedotin