Numbers Don't Tell Whole Story

Against the winless Rams on Sunday, the Packers' defense yielded more yardage than their already-inflated average this season (375.6). But that was just fine for a unit that will take the one figure on the scoreboard that really matters.

Charles Woodson glanced at the Lambeau Field scoreboard late in the fourth quarter and was in disbelief. The 0-4 St. Louis Rams, and their 27th-ranked offense, had put up more than 400 yards on the Green Bay Packers.

"I looked up there, and I think it was 424," described Woodson. "I told Tramon (Williams), ‘Hey, they have over 400 yards.' He's like, ‘Who, Aaron (Rodgers)?' We all expect Aaron to go over 400. But no, it didn't seem that way (for the Rams)."

As Woodson and his teammates had time to digest the game, however, they realized the Rams had moved the pretty well up and down the field on them, both on the ground and through the air. Only one thing was missing for the Rams:

A touchdown.

"Those yards, they begin to add up," continued Woodson. "But the important thing is, you keep them out of the end zone, you'll be fine."

That is just what the Packers did. In the end, it was more than enough to keep the Rams winless with a 24-3 victory in windswept Green Bay. The Packers improved to 6-0, the only remaining unbeaten team in the NFL with the Lions losing to the 49ers on Sunday.

The point differential for the game hardly matched the stat sheet. The Rams beat the Packers in total yards (424 to 399) and first downs (22 to 20) and dominated time of possession for much of the game, running 72 plays to the Packers' 61. Turnovers were not really an issue with each quarterback throwing an interception.

So, just how did the Packers walk away with a three-touchdown victory?

The difference, on the defensive side of the ball, was as simple as coming up with the biggest stops at the most critical moments – something that is becoming a theme for the Packers' defense.

"One of our main emphases on defense is red-zone defense, at least in the past few years since I've been here," said linebacker Frank Zombo, who returned to play in his first game of the season after breaking his scapula in the preseason. "You can bend but don't break, and when we get in that red zone, we really hunker down and don't let teams score."

"As a unit, we did a great job in adversity moments, and in the red zone we stopped them," added safety Morgan Burnett, who played the game with a cast on his broken right hand. "It was a great team effort all the way around."

Those adverse moments that Burnett speaks of include third- and fourth-down plays. Though the Packers forced just one three-and-out possession, they delivered in key moments during many of the Rams' long drives. The Rams finished just 3-of-13 on third downs and 1-of-4 on fourth downs, with much of their yardage coming on first and second down.

The final two fourth-down stops came in the fourth quarter with the game in hand but the Rams driving. Linebacker Clay Matthews' sack of quarterback Sam Bradford snuffed out the final Rams' scoring chance at the Packers' 34.

"We ended the game with two sacks, but that really doesn't tell the whole story, as has kind of been attested to the whole season," said Matthews. "We got some good hits on him and we knew he was feeling it, so anytime you get pressure, get him off the spot and get some hits on him, that's generally what you like to do as a defense. Obviously, the sacks will come and you'll get those numbers, but in the meantime I thought we did a good job of putting some hits on him and forcing him off the spot."

Bradford, who was sacked three times and hit another five times, was seen shortly after the game on a cart headed to the Packers' medical area. Reports say he sprained his ankle.

The Rams penetrated the Packers' 20-yard line three times and came away with just one field goal. One of those red-zone stops came after the Rams' longest drive of the day (10 plays, 70 yards), when cornerback Sam Shields made an interception in the end zone on a pass from the 10-yard line intended for receiver Danario Alexander. It was textbook coverage.

"No doubt about it," said cornerback Tramon Williams, who had a view of the play. "I don't know if people recognize it, but they can't throw fade throws on Sam Shields."

The Rams came into the game with one of the least productive offenses in the league, including scoring average, where they were last at 11.5 points per game. Sunday was a microcosm of the season for them, as well.

Still, they found a boost with the return of running back Steven Jackson (18 carries, 96 yards). And their no-huddle offense and unpredictability under coordinator Josh McDaniels presented a challenge for the Packers – even with a set of no-name wide receivers.

"The Rams are one of those teams that are week-to-week," said Williams. "You watch one thing on film against one team - they run the same things against one team - and then the next week they may not run any of those plays. It's like they're running a whole other playbook. So, you have to have what they call ‘play recall.' Whatever they come out with for this game, they're going to run it again at some point in the game. We just had to have the focus to recognize it and make plays from there."

While the numbers on the scoreboard that jumped out to Woodson on Sunday might not have impressed him, the three points allowed did. The Packers have not allowed a touchdown in the last six quarters going back to last week's game at Atlanta.

"To hold a team to three points when they're kind of moving the ball up and down the field on you says a lot about you," said Woodson. "You buckle down in the times when you're supposed to and get yourself off the field. I think we had a couple fourt-down stands when we got off the field and those are the types of things we're going to have to do during the season when games are tougher than they are today, you're going to have to make plays to get off the field in crucial situations and today we did that."


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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com


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