GREEN BAY – Including the game Rashan Gary was lost for the season in Detroit, the Packers' defense had managed just seven sacks over the previous five contests.
The unit nearly matched that against the Rams.
A season-high five sacks provided the highlight of the defense's performance in the 24-12 Monday night win, but whether it can carry over to the rest of Green Bay's must-win games remains to be seen.
While Head Coach Matt LaFleur praised the pass rushers for "winning their one-on-ones," he also acknowledged how banged up LA's offensive line was, with multiple starters on injured reserve. That shaky situation was made even worse when center Brian Allen exited the game early.
"LA has had a rash of injuries up front, so it was a favorable matchup I would say for our guys, and that's what you've got to do," LaFleur said Tuesday. "You've got to win when you're expected to win."
The game marked just the second time this season the Packers recorded at least three sacks in a game when Gary didn't have one of them. His season-ending knee injury was a huge blow for which any defense would struggle to compensate, and Gary's six sacks on the season still led the team until Monday night.
With two sacks, Preston Smith is now the team leader with 7½, but perhaps more important was seeing the defense's youth produce. Quay Walker came off the edge for his first full sack (plus a forced fumble), Devonte Wyatt got his first half-sack, and Kingsley Enagbare had his first sack since getting one in back-to-back games in Weeks 6-7.
Those are all positive signs, but LaFleur tempered his enthusiasm, pointing out a higher level of consistency – not just from the defense, but in all three phases – will be required from here on out.
Injury update: The Packers got good news on the injury front as running back AJ Dillon did not enter the concussion protocol and was cleared during evaluations both Monday night and Tuesday.
His departure from the game led to a larger workload than originally planned for Aaron Jones, who's been dealing with an ankle injury as well as other bumps and bruises. Jones gained 126 yards on 21 touches and is considered "day to day" as far as his practice status on a short week.
"We've just got to make sure that he is healthy come game time," LaFleur said. "He is a guy that is going to battle through everything."