As has happened numerous times this season, the Green Bay defense was gashed for big yardage again on Sunday -- 455 yards, to be exact. What's more, they were gashed by a Tampa Bay team that limped into Lambeau Field with a lukewarm 4-5 record.
Coach Mike McCarthy's assessment of his defense was short but pointed.
"Our defense gave up too much production," said McCarthy. "The tackling wasn't there. We had too many missed tackles."
Quarterback Josh Freeman completed 28-of-38 passes for two touchdowns and 342 of those yards while LeGarrette Blount boomed and barreled his way to 107 yards on 18 carries. Blount's efforts included a crown jewel, 54-yard burst in the second quarter in which he shed would-be Packer tacklers like so many rag dolls on his way to the end zone.
McCarthy was disappointed with the poor tackling on the play but it didn't affect Green Bay's game plan.
"Their touchdown didn't really affect the way I was calling the game," said McCarthy. "Just the way they played their defense against our offense is what I focused on. But we were in command of the game, 14-0, when they did have a long touchdown run. I think he broke six tackles on the play. We started fast on defense. There were some things in the fundamental area that we need to correct. But we had a fast week and we had Monday's performance. We've just got to get a little more consistency there."
"I felt like we moved it around well, but when you're playing a team like the Packers, they were driving and getting touchdowns early on and we were only getting field goals," said Freeman. "We got it rolling, but at the same time, we didn't do enough."
Were the Packers' defenders discouraged even a little bit about Sunday's performance? If they were, they certainly weren't saying.
"There were some communication errors at first but we cleaned that up and got everybody on the same page," cornerback Jarrett Bush said. "Once we did that and started tackling their guys low instead of high, we got them on the ground. (Defensive coordinator) Dom (Capers) called a great game but Freeman got us a couple of times. We've just got to go back to practice and work on the fundamentals, wrapping up when we tackle, especially when we face the bigger backs like Blount."
When one TV reporter asked Raji three consecutive questions about the defense's underwhelming day, Raji cut him off with a terse "Next question."
The Packers, however, continue to excel at taking the ball away. They entered the game with a league-high 17 interceptions and added two more to the tally.
"Every time we get into it with Tampa, they bring their ‘A' game, so we knew we would get a tough game from those guys," said cornerback Tramon Williams, who thought he was in good position to bring down Blount when he scored that long touchdown. "Somebody knocked me off (my tackle). I knew I didn't have him down but I was going at the ball and I had him wrapped up but their guy just came and knocked me off him. Yes, they moved the ball on us but you can also say that we made the plays."
Williams proved to be a real thorn in Freeman's side, intercepting him twice, including a pick with 2:47 left to snuff out Tampa Bay's last realistic chance to get back into the game.
McCarthy made it clear that he's grateful that Williams is getting back to his old self after struggling earlier in the year with a shoulder injury sustained in the opener. Williams had at least one interception in each of the last three games after not getting any in the first seven games
"I think Tramon is definitely getting back to himself," said McCarthy. "He went through a four- or five-week period where he was in a lot of pain. He had a big day today with the interceptions. He's such a gifted athlete with the ability to get up and get the football. So, I thought Tramon played well."
Even though Freeman managed to hit some big passes while shaking off tacklers trying to pressure him in the pocket, defensive end Ryan Pickett was quick to point out that bringing Freeman down is a pretty tall order. He stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 248 pounds.
"The thing about our defense, though, is that we always seem to make the play when we have to," said Pickett. "We're getting better on defense. When Freeman has rhythm and they're running the ball, they're tough for anybody to stop. The games they lost, it was because the other teams got out in front of them early. Still, I thought we had very good pressure on Freeman today and a good push on the pocket. The guy's a big, strong guy. A lot of times you'd get a hand on him and he'd just step up and deliver the ball. The dude's a good quarterback and they have a good offense."
Were the Packers, perhaps subconsciously, looking past the Bucs in anticipation of the Thanksgiving Day matchup with Detroit?
"No, we definitely game planned against Tampa Bay and we do that no matter who it is," said Bush. "We always treat every game the same and that will include Detroit."
"We're happy to get a win at this point but I'm sure we're going to come in early and break down the film," said Williams. "But, at the same time, we've got to move on and get straight with Detroit. You've got to catch up with the film when you can because the week is so short."
Maybe that quick turnaround will be a blessing. There won't be any time for the Packers to really dwell on their mistakes against Tampa Bay. Instead, Williams, Pickett, Bush and their teammates must to focus on invading a certain Lions' den come Thursday.