"To be minus-four in the turnover ratio, you're not going to win too many football games," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "That was the determining factor for us today."
Green Bay's Ahman Green had his third-straight 100-yard game and fourth this season by finishing with 122 yards on 23 carries. The Packers, who fell to 0-5 in Buffalo, had 147 yards rushing, their third-best output of the season, and quarterback Brett Favre passed for 287 yards, completing 28 of 47 attempts. But Favre was picked off twice, one of which was returned 17 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter, and another off a tipped pass in the end zone as the Packers had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.
The Packers pounded their way to the Bills' 1 on Green's 9- and 16-yard runs, Favre's 13-yard pass to wide receiver Donald Driver, and running back Noah Herron's 10-yard burst to the 1. Favre tried to hit Driver with a quick pass on the next play, but cornerback Nate Clements deflected the pass into the hands of safety Ko Simpson, who ran it back to Green Bay's 27. Three plays later, the Bills' Anthony Thomas, filling in for an injured Willis McGahee, ran 14 yards around the left end for a touchdown for the final score.
"We had the momentum in the game. We were obviously driving and we tried to catch them in transition with a personnel substitution to snap the ball quickly and hit the quick one-step slant," McCarthy said of Favre's second interception. "We obviously didn't get that done. The corner was able to react to it and get his hand on the ball and deflect it."
The Packers held the Bills to just four first downs through the first three quarters and denied the Bills of big plays, but Losman took advantage of a confused Packers' secondary and found wide receiver Lee Evans wide open for a 43-yard touchdown with 8 minutes left in the game, giving the Bills a 17-10 lead.
Prior to the touchdown play, Packers safety Marquand Manuel left the game with an injury. Cornerback Charles Woodson filled in for Manuel because safety Nick Collins left the game earlier with a back injury. The secondary miscommunicated its coverage on the play, leaving Evans free along the left sideline for an easy touchdown.
"We had a huddle call of two-deep zone," McCarthy explained. "What happened was there was also a ‘May Day' call. Once again, it comes down to communication. We weren't on the same page with the coverage we were in."
McCarthy said the ‘May Day' call should have changed the coverage from the two-deep to ‘quarters' coverage, but the secondary failed to adjust.
Favre's 1-yard touchdown pass to Driver, who finished with 9 catches for 96 yards, with 4:17 left in the third quarter closed Green Bay to 10-7. The touchdown capped a 10-play, 65-yard drive, ignited by Favre's 23-yard pass to Driver to Buffalo's 42 on the first play of the march. It also helped Green Bay gain much-needed momentum to overcome a 10-0 halftime deficit.
Green Bay's defense forced the Bills to punt the ball away after their seventh straight possession, and Packers kicker Dave Rayner tied the score at 10-10 by making a 49-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
The Packers committed three turnovers in the first half, including a botched snap with 14 seconds left as the Packers were in position to score from the Bills' 5 yard line. Center Scott Wells' shotgun snap hit Favre in the facemask and the Bills recovered, preserving a 10-0 halftime lead.
"I'm not going to throw Scott (Wells) under the bus because we all made mistakes on that play," said Favre. "I wanted to go silent count and we didn't go silent count. ... In that situation the crowd got up and we went on an audible snap count. That's good and bad. Guys like to be able to hear and go off a certain cadence. On that one, he thought he heard the second cadence. I had not given it to him. I was actually looking at our motion and trying to determine the kind of coverage we had for that play. That's unfortunate. I feel bad for Scott. He snapped it early. That's my reason for wanting to go silent count, because as Mike Holmgren used to say, 'You don't hear ghosts.'"
The Packers held the Bills to 70 yards of total offense in the first half while piling up 190 and leading by more than three minutes in time of possession, but Green Bay was hurt by its own miscues.
Green Bay's ninth-ranked offense often started inside its 20 in the first two quarters. The Packers turned the ball over on two fumbled snaps, and linebacker London Fletcher-Baker's interception and 17-yard return for a touchdown gave the Bills a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. Favre, who hadn't thrown an interception in three-plus games (111 straight pass attempts), was trying to hit Driver on a slant, but was way off the mark. Fletcher stepped in to get his second interception of the season and first-ever touchdown.
Rian Lindell's 28-yard field goal with 11 minutes left in the first quarter gave the Bills a 3-0 lead. The score was set up by Terrence McGee's 59-yard return on the game's opening kickoff. The Packers forced the field goal when defensive tackle Colin Cole stopped running back Willis McGahee short of a first down. McGahee sustained an injury to his ribs and sat out the rest of the game.