Adversity-Defying Win Could Define Season

Between more rotten officiating and overcoming some hideous history in terms of turnovers and fourth-quarter comebacks, the Packers outlasted the Saints 28-27 for what could be a season-saving and season-changing victory.

If, during the Green Bay Packers' 13-0 start to last season, their weekly dominance didn't leave them mentally strong enough to handle adversity, the 2-2 start to this season should leave the mental equivalent of Hercules.

Adversity, let us count the ways:

— Short week after a devastating loss.

— Three enormous calls went against them: no offensive pass interference on Marques Colston's 20-yard touchdown in the first quarter, no overturning of Jimmy Graham's third-down catch and a blown call on Darren Sproles' fourth-quarter kickoff return.

— Minus-2 in turnovers, including a huge fumble by quarterback Graham Harrell. Harrell, taking his first career professional snap, tripped over a lineman on first-and-goal at the 2.

— A fourth-quarter deficit, a situation in which the Packers have been abysmal under coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The Packers overcame all of that in holding off the Saints 28-27 on Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field.

Could that victory be a building block?

"That's a good point," McCarthy said when we asked him, "but I think you know we don't think that way. This game is clearly the end of our first quarter (of our season). We talked about it as a football team. It was important to be 2-2. We'd like to be better but you are what your record says you are — you can never get away from that."

This was the Packers' biggest win since the Super Bowl. At 1-3, the Packers would have been in dire straits. Eleven other teams in the NFC have won at least two games, and by the end of Monday night, six teams will have at least three wins. Three losses — all in the conference — would have put them behind the eight-ball in tiebreakers.

Instead, Rodgers led a 57-yard scoring drive for the go-ahead touchdown, then clinched the game with a third-and-3 completion to James Jones.

"Well, it gives us some confidence," Rodgers said. "I think 1-3 would have been difficult. We've got a tough schedule coming up. We've got to play (the next three) games on the road. We've got to learn to win on the road with this group of guys that we have (and) 1-3 would have made that very difficult, I think. When you start having consecutive losses, you can't help but having that thinking of, ‘Here we go again' at times. Unfortunately, there was a little bit of that tonight with some of the calls but we were able to overcome it. I think it says a lot about the character of this team. This was an important win for us."

Sunday's game was the 100th of McCarthy's tenure. During that span, the Packers have lost the turnover battle just 28 times. They were 6-21 in those games, including 1-7 when minus-2. Incredibly, this was the first time the Packers won a game when not forcing a turnover — a stunning 0-11 before Sunday.

"It's nice when you're out there rolling, you're ahead and everything's going good and it's hunky-dory, but that's a front-runner attitude," McCarthy said. "We don't work that way, we don't believe that way. There's a lot of good things that come out of this win. So, that minus-2 turnover ratio and win the football game, fumble the ball on the 1-yard line, that's big stuff is the way I look at it."

When the Packers were rolling last season, they set a league record with 19 consecutive victories without trailing for even a second in the fourth quarter. Now, they've trailed in the fourth quarter in four of the last six games. That's meant doom during McCarthy's tenure, according to a story published in Packer Report Magazine. Under McCarthy, the Packers were 7-28 in fourth-quarter comeback opportunities — defined as trailing by eight points or fewer in the fourth quarter. Under Rodgers, the Packers were a stunning 3-20 in fourth-quarter comebacks.

It's a sore subject for the Packers. Asked what it meant to deliver a fourth-quarter win, an agitated Rodgers said only, "Yeah, it was great."

With so much accomplished in a one-point victory over a desperate Saints team, the Packers turn to the next challenge: a three-week road trip to Indianapolis (1-3), Houston (4-0) and St. Louis (2-2, but 2-0 at home).

If the Packers can overcome the officiating, overcome the turnovers, overcome a fourth-quarter deficit, what can't be overcome?

"I think it unifies you as a team," center Jeff Saturday said. "I think you see as a team what you can endure. And I think that builds a lot of confidence, it builds a lot of character, it just forges you as a team – that you see, ‘Hey, look, man, things can go wrong, and we've still got the type of team that we can win these games.' That's why you stay in the battle, never lose your focus. I was real proud of the effort."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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