GREEN BAY—The Giants wanted to force a young quarterback to throw, but Packers Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements said the Packers still should've been able to run the ball.
"We still want to be able to run the ball, even when teams know we want to run the ball. We have various answers we can use to take care of that problem," Clements said on Monday, as he reviewed his offense's performance in a 27-13 loss at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
Quarterback Scott Tolzien was making his first pro start. Clearly, the Packers wanted to limit his involvement in the game and it came as no surprise when the Giants loaded the line of scrimmage with eight defenders.
"We have a plan based on the personnel we have. We weren't as productive running the ball as we'd like. We had a lot of passing yards, but we didn't score many points," Clements said.
The Giants held the Packers No. 6 rushing offense to 55 net yards. Eventually, Tolzien was forced to throw and the Giants intercepted three of his passes, one of them having been returned for a touchdown. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said he anticipated the play.
"We'll ask the guy to rush harder the next time. Pierre-Paul made a good play. They won on that particular play," Clements said.
It was the game-clincher, at a time when the Packers had cut the Giants' lead to seven points and were attempting a fourth-quarter rally.
Tolzien threw for 339 yards and was uncanny in his deep-ball accuracy, but he's thrown five interceptions in two games. Interceptions and red-zone failures are marring an otherwise strong performance through two games.
"If you ask him, the biggest thing is we have to protect the football. He's been productive. We've had a lot of yards but if you turn the ball over, it'll come back to bite you," Clements said.
It would help Tolzien's cause if the Packers' running game was to return to form. It's gone to sleep the past two games.
"We had some (runs) where we had them all blocked up and there was a safety or a corner that got in on us quick. On some of the runs when we got 2-3 yards, we have to drive our legs and move the pile, like we did on the touchdown," Clements said.
Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers cited several positives in his unit's play, but the Packers' three-game losing streak has been dogged by big plays by the opposing offense.
"We gave up four big plays. Our pressure on the quarterback was good and it was nice to see Tramon (Williams) make the red-zone interception. That's points off the board," Capers said. "One of the things we had going for us during our win streak is we weren't giving up the big plays we did yesterday."
Eliminating big plays by the opponents and avoiding interceptions on offense will be the focus of the Packers' efforts this week, as they head toward a critical game against the Vikings. Additional coverage - Nov. 18