Turnovers Must Keep Coming


Tramon Williams' interception on Sunday was his fifth of the season, making him the third Green Bay defender with five interceptions on the year.

If there's any sign from last Sunday's game that the Packers might be ready to get back on the winning track, it's that the team got back to forcing turnovers like it did earlier in the season.

The Packers had a season-high four takeaways against the Houston Texans - three fumble recoveries and one interception - marking only the second time in the last six games that the Packers forced more than one turnover.

Prior to that, the Packers had posted multiple takeaways in five of seven games, going 4-3 up until the bye week. But since then, the Packers' only multiple-turnover game prior to Sunday came at Minnesota, when three interceptions (including one returned for a score) nearly helped the team pull off a last-second win.

"That's what you always strive for," defensive coordinator Bob Sanders said. "They're things that help you win the game and get possession for your offense."

The turnovers had been especially hard to come by in losses to the Saints and Panthers the previous two weeks. The Packers' only takeaway at New Orleans came on an interception thrown by a wide receiver on a trick play. The only one against Carolina was a fumble recovery after a long pass completion on the first play from scrimmage.

That had been it, until Sunday's first half when linebacker Desmond Bishop swatted the ball out of Houston tight end Owen Daniels' hands at the goal line, and the ball was recovered by cornerback Tramon Williams at the Texans' 3-yard line.

Then Williams stepped in front of André Davis on a short out route and picked off a Matt Schaub pass, setting up a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Donald Lee. Williams' interception gave the Packers three players with five interceptions each (Charles Woodson and Nick Collins are the others) for the first time since 1996 and just the second time in the last 35 years.

Bishop's play was particularly impressive, as he was able to slam his arm in the perfect spot on top of the ball while trying to tackle Daniels before he scored a touchdown. It was the type of strip pass rushers try to make while sacking a quarterback, but Bishop applied it to a downfield tackle.

"That was a huge play in the game," Sanders said. "The bottom line is keeping them out of the end zone, and that's one thing that helped us keep them out of the end zone."

Two more turnovers kept the Packers in the game in the second half. Defensive end Michael Montgomery punched the ball out of running back Steve Slaton's hands just as the Texans had penetrated the red zone, and defensive tackle Johnny Jolly recovered.

Then Houston punt returner Jacoby Jones muffed a fourth-quarter punt, and long snapper Brett Goode hustled downfield to recover it, setting up the offense's tying touchdown drive.

Winning the turnover battle 4-1 made the three-point loss all the more frustrating, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy actually lamented the fact that the Packers didn't get more turnovers in last Sunday's game.

{sportsad300}New punter Jeremy Kapinos' left-footed spin was definitely having an effect, as Jones had muffed a punt earlier in the game but managed to recover it on his own. And Houston receiver Kevin Walter appeared to have the ball come out at the end of a 13-yard reception, but the officials ruled his forward progress had been stopped.

McCarthy tried to challenge the play, but was told the forward-progress call was not reviewable.

"We had a couple of opportunities in the game that frankly got away from us," McCarthy said. "We could have been looking at a lot higher takeaway situation than what resulted. But that's why you play the game."

Not only did the Packers lose on Sunday when they were plus-3 in the turnover ratio, but that was the second time this season the team lost with a plus-3 margin. The game at Minnesota in Week 10 was the other.

The Packers hadn't lost a game in which they were plus-3 in turnovers since Nov. 7, 1999, a 14-13 loss to the Chicago Bears on a blocked field goal as time expired.

So turnover numbers like Sunday's are bound to produce wins far more often than not. It's just up to the Packers to keep them coming in bunches.

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