They had a huge task in front of them on Sunday afternoon, when they entered the New Meadowlands Stadium to meet the Jets, owners of a five-game winning streak and a team that was well rested off a bye week during a time when Super Bowl talk filtered throughout the greater New York area.
The Packers also had to try and find a way to put the clamps on one of the league's more potent running attacks as well as battle a team that had a plus-10 turnover ratio in its favor, while the Packers entered the game with a minus-1 in the department.
Consider their mission accomplished in herculean fashion. The Packers' defense made the big plays both on the ground and in the air and won the turnover battle in a 9-0 victory. They held the backfield of LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene in check, limiting them to a total of 76 yards on 22 rushes.
The Packers posted the first shutout in the NFL this season and their first road shutout since Lindy Infante's final season, a 1991 game at Tampa Bay. It was the first time the Jets were blanked since they lost to Jacksonville 41-0 on Oct. 8, 2006. The shutout further solidified a defense that had enough players injured to form a M*A*S*H unit.
"Everybody came out today and showed what we are capable of doing," said cornerback Tramon Williams, who recovered a fumble, had five tackles, intercepted a pass and made some timely hits on Jets receivers. "(Jets quarterback Mark) Sanchez had done a good job on protecting the ball this season.
"But we saw on film that we needed to put the pressure on him. We know we are a top defense and we just have to go out and prove it. Our offense will come around. We knew if we didn't let them score, we were going to win the game."
Charles Woodson accounted for the third takeaway when he leaped over the back of Jets tight end Dustin Keller and wrestled away the ball when the Jets were driving deep into Packers territory early in the fourth quarter. Plus, secondary teammates Charlie Peprah and Nick Collins jarred Jets receivers on their final two drives of the game to help preserve the victory.
Woodson's interception, which could have been reviewable if not for Jets coach Rex Ryan being without any remaining challenges, gave the Packers good field position on their own 43, which led to Mason Crosby's second field goal of the game – a 41-yarder for a 6-0 lead with 8:24 left in the game.
For Peprah and his teammates, it was a matter of stopping the Jets in both backfields.
"We had to make sure everybody did their job," said the safety, who had four tackles and two pass deflections. "We knew that they might get 3 or 4 yards at a clip, but we had to keep the big runs down to a minimum.
"We did that and we believed in ourselves. We just kept working the entire day."
While the Packers' offense mustered only 237 yards as opposed to the Jets' 360 yards, their defense slowed the Jets' running game and hurried and chased Sanchez out of the pocket on numerous occasions.
New York also battled poor field position the entire afternoon because of the punting of Tim Masthay, who easily had the best day of his young career. Five of his eight punts pinned the Jets inside their 20-yard line.
"Tim Masthay was outstanding," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think we're about 180 yards in field position. That obviously factored in the game."
The Packers' average drive started at their 36-yard line compared to the 22 for the Jets. That field-position advantage played to the defense's advantage.
"We had seen most of what they were doing on film and they didn't do anything to surprise us," said A.J. Hawk, who had five tackles and one pass deflection. "This (win) is huge. A lot of people outside this room didn't think this could happen, but we knew it could. It all came down to stopping the run, especially in a game like this. We wanted to make them one dimensional and we did that. It's good to get a win on the road anytime."
It was also an emotional day for defensive tackle Howard Green, who was waived by the Jets on Monday and signed by the Packers to help their depleted defensive line.
"This was a great win for all of us," said Green, who had a pair of tackles in his Packers debut. "I'm glad everything worked out, and it's cool being here on a day like this.
"I have a lot of respect for everyone on the other side of the ball and have no hard feelings. It takes a lot of perseverance to shut out a team like that. They have all of the elements of a championship team. All of us did a great job in putting on a defensive performance like this one."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.