The Packers grabbed the early momentum in their preseason finale, but ultimately they aren't heading into the regular season with the momentum they wanted.
Many of the same faults that have hindered the Packers most of the preseason - a non-descript running game, costly turnovers and poor execution on third down - all contributed to a 35-21 defeat to the Tennessee Titans on Friday at Lambeau Field, finishing a 1-3 preseason for Green Bay.
But the pervasive feeling in the locker room afterwards was there's no time to dwell on the frustrations of the past few weeks, not with the defending NFC North champion Chicago Bears visiting a week from Sunday.
"We haven't been as consistent as we would have liked to have been throughout the preseason, but we can't change it now," linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "So we have to make sure we're moving on and worrying about Chicago and make sure we're doing all of our preparation for that game."
Head Coach Mike McCarthy got exactly what he wanted from his starting units on Friday, which played one series each.
The No. 1 defense got its only opening-drive stop of the preseason, forcing the Titans to punt after surrendering just one first down. The Packers had allowed a score (two touchdowns, one field goal) on their opening defensive series in each of the first three preseason games.
The punt pinned the Packers on their own 8-yard line, but they wasted no time getting out of the hole.
On first down Brett Favre lofted a pass to a wide-open Greg Jennings, who caught it in stride, cut back upfield and was eventually run out of bounds at the Titans' 3 for an 89-yard gain. Ahman Green ran it in on the next play for a 7-0 lead.
"I'm not expecting it to be that easy during the regular season," Favre said.
Nothing was easy the rest of this game. A 2.5-yard per carry rushing average through three quarters, three turnovers that set up 21 Titans points, and a 2-for-14 offensive conversion rate on third down (14 percent) kept the game in Tennessee's hands the rest of the way.
It didn't help that the Titans played their full starting units longer and that the Packers were losing the field-position battle. The Packers' No. 2 offense had a stretch of five out of six drives that started at its own 11-yard line or worse.
But no matter the reasons, the fact that the offense went scoreless for more than 2 1/2 quarters didn't sit well.
"You always learn more from your mistakes than your successes, but it's not fun making a lot of mistakes," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "We had some breakdowns in protection. I probably should have made a couple more throws, we had some alignment problems.
"But sometimes you just have to deal with that as a No. 2 unit and overcome it, and we weren't able to. We were able to move the ball against San Diego and move the ball against Atlanta, so it was a little frustrating."
The Titans took control of the game with the help of a huge break. Right after Green Bay's touchdown, the Packers forced a three-and-out, but Ahmad Carroll was called for offsides on the punt, giving the Titans a first down at their 40.
They took advantage, stretching the possession into a 73-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 7. Vince Young's 16-yard TD pass to Bobby Wade, who made a diving catch along the side of the end zone, was initially ruled incomplete. But replays confirmed Wade dragged his feet to stay in bounds.
Tennessee capitalized on a turnover for a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter. Randy Starks sacked Rodgers and forced a fumble that was recovered by Bo Schobel and returned 7 yards to the Green Bay 11. Two plays later, Travis Henry scored from 2 yards out.
The Titans extended their lead early in the third quarter, as Billy Volek hit Brandon Jones on a short crossing route that Jones turned into a 54-yard TD.
Then another turnover essentially put the game out of reach. Carlton Brewster fumbled a punt that Tennessee recovered at the Green Bay 17, setting up LenDale White's 4-yard TD run to make it 28-7 in the final minute of the third.
Brewster redeemed himself almost immediately, returning the ensuing kickoff 32 yards and then catching a 46-yard pass from Rodgers. The big play was followed by a 2-yard TD pass to Ruvell Martin in the back corner of the end zone, pulling the Packers within 28-14 with 14:19 left.
The ground game finally came alive in the fourth quarter, as Noah Herron carried four times for 35 yards to give the Packers a first-and-goal on the 5. But two more carries lost 3 yards and a failed fourth down attempt kept the Packers down by two TDs.
A final turnover gave Tennessee another score. Ingle Martin badly overthrew Herron on a short pass that was intercepted by Vincent Fuller and returned 42 yards to the Green Bay 18. Jarrett Payton's 6-yard TD run, just after a fourth-down conversion on a sneak by quarterback Matt Mauck, put Tennessee up 35-14.
The Packers added one final scoring drive in the two-minute drill, again led by Herron. His 13-yard TD run with 31 seconds left gave him four carries for 28 yards and two catches for 23 more on the drive. Herron finished as the game's leading rusher with 12 carries for 65 yards.
"I thought Noah did an excellent job, particularly in the run game," McCarthy said. "He put his foot down and ran, which is essential in our scheme."