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Packers' defense must keep progressing

McCarthy reviews the win over Buffalo


GREEN BAY – With the Packers' defense playing its best game of the young season on Sunday, the focus for new coordinator Mike Pettine's unit is on the future.

While a shutout cannot be improved upon in terms of points allowed, the idea is the performance against Buffalo can't be the defense's peak, but the start of a climb.

"We took a big step as a defense," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "But more important, what are we going to do with it? How are we going to build on this?"

What stood out on the defensive game film was a reduction in missed tackles and a steadiness in both pressuring and containing an athletic quarterback in rookie Josh Allen.

While Kyler Fackrell's three sacks jump off the stat sheet and provide a game for the third-year outside linebacker to grow from, the consistency of the unit through four quarters was a major sign of progress after several up-and-down swings through the first three games.

"I thought we were fundamentally better," McCarthy said. "Our pursuit was much better this week than las week, and that covers up a lot of things that can possibly go wrong.

"We're about ourselves. The best tape is the tape of us doing it. We definitely hit the target on defense."

Not so much on offense, though, as 423 yards produced just 22 points, which led to quarterback Aaron Rodgers expressing his displeasure with the performance after the game.

Asked about Rodgers' frustration with the offensive performance, McCarthy said there are no issues with the relationship with his quarterback. He added that he actually worries "more about the good times than the stress points," a reference to his longtime focus on how his team handles success.

"We all recognize and realize this is football," McCarthy said. "I'm not going to get into the tone and things like that.

"He's a very passionate man, very competitive. Hey, I'm not different, too. I've called a lot of games in this league and gone through a lot of game plans. I still represent the team as a head coach, and when I closed my door last night and watched the game, I felt like we left a lot out there."

The sticking point for McCarthy was the handful of dropped passes and multiple fumbles, though fortunately only one of them was recovered by Buffalo.

"We had the ball on the ground five times," he said. "The biggest negative of the game was the way we handled the football.

"I'm not totally hung up on numbers and statistics. If you stay after the fundamentals and keep the play style consistent, you're going to win a lot of games. That's what we're after."

It was the second week in row the Packers had issues handling the ball, and that area must be sharpened up heading into a big NFC North game at Detroit next Sunday.

"We're about improving," McCarthy said. "That has to be the focus."

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