Johnson 'arrives' just in time

Defensive end Joe Johnson's Packer stock has been on the same kind of rollercoaster ride as the economy: started high then took a tumble. We can only hope the real market recovers as nicely as Johnson did Sunday in the Packers' win over the Panthers.<P>

"Man, he played like we expected him to," defensive teammate Darren Sharper said of Johnson. "That's why we brought him in here, to make those kind of plays, just be all over the field. It was just a matter of time."

Johnson wasn't as quick to praise himself or the defense as a whole:

"We still didn't play up to our capabilities, we still have a lot of things we can do better, "Johnson said. "We can't be complacent right now, we have to, if anything, still be frustrated by the things we didn't do well and continue to get better." After his all-too-quiet start, Johnson came through with five tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. He was thrifty with his big plays, making them happen in the red zone to turn back Carolina threats.

On the Panthers' final offensive play of the first half, Johnson helped turn around a dangerous situation for Green Bay. Carolina had just crossed the threshold of the Packers' red zone. On first down at the 20, Cletidus Hunt sacked Rodney Peete for a four-yard loss and forced Peete to cough up the ball. Johnson covered it up at the 24 to deny Carolina a scoring chance. The recovery nearly set up a Packer score, but the ensuing touchdown was nullified by an illegal man downfield call vs. Marco Rivera.

Again in the red zone, Johnson came up with another big play. On first down at the Packer 15, it was Johnson's turn to sack Peete and force a fumble. This time, Tod McBride came up with the loose ball.

Johnson's five tackles (3 solo, 2 assists) came on running plays with netted a total of 1 yard.

Even with the improved play of the defense, Carolina was on the verge of tying the game on a 24-yard chip shot field goal attempt. New kicker Shayne Graham inexplicably shanked the attempt, sending the Packers to a win in the midst of adversity. In light of all the bad breaks they've received on the injury front, the Packers may appear to have this one coming. But Johnson cautioned that the game shouldn't have been close enough to need it.

"A win is a win, you're always happy to win. But not necessarily as happy when you make mistakes and make the game a lot of closer than it really is. That's something we have to learn from."


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