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Mike Vandermause column: In the end, it's still a win

Oct. 28, 2012
 
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby reacts after missing a field goal in the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby reacts after missing a field goal in the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

As victories go, this one was about as ugly as it gets.

The Green Bay Packers didnít do much of anything very well in their 24-15 win against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The Packers couldnít run the ball effectively. Their passing game struggled to find a rhythm. Their defense, facing the worst offense in the NFL, got gashed for 233 first-half yards and allowed unproven quarterback Blaine Gabbert to pass for 303 yards.

When the Packers werenít tripping over themselves, they were committing costly mistakes and botching routine plays.

ďIt was definitely a grind-it-out type victory,Ē said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. Thatís another way of saying that somehow the Packers found a way to win in the midst of their mess.

Three plays epitomized the Packersí struggles. Alex Green stumbled face first to the turf in the third quarter without a tackler near him on a crucial third-and-1 play. Aaron Rodgers fumbled deep in his own territory late in the first half to deliver a gift-wrapped touchdown to the Jaguars. And Mason Crosby missed a chip-shot field goal in the second half.

It was that kind of day for the Packers. It wasnít pretty, and against almost anyone other than the 1-6 Jaguars, the Packers would have gone down in flames.

Although the sellout crowd wasnít enthused, and the critics and skeptics have fresh meat to chew on, the Packers can take something positive away from their sub-par performance. Good teams find ways to win, even when they donít play anywhere near their best.

ďI donít see it as a setback at all,Ē said Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers of his teamís less-than stellar showing.

ďItís good to be on this side of an ugly win. Itís tough to win in this league. I think the expectations that we set around here and the way we played on offense, especially the last couple weeks, the expectations were we were going to come out and maybe blow them out.Ē

That didnít happen and the Packers, who were favored by more than two touchdowns, wonít garner any style points for this clunker. But their effort shows up just the same in the win column.

ďA win is a win in this league and we donít take those for granted,Ē said linebacker Clay Matthews. ďBut do we need to play better? Yes, absolutely and weíll continue to do that, but weíre not going to overlook this win.Ē

The Packers didnít issue any apologies after the game, and none were necessary.

To their credit, the Packers also didnít offer any excuses despite missing their two best receivers, starting fullback and three key defensive players to injury.

The depleted roster probably had something to do with their inconsistent play. But itís also true that in the NFL itís difficult to reach your peak performance every week.

Itís only natural to sometimes play down to your competition, and the Packers certainly allowed the Jaguars to hang around. But Rodgers insisted the Packers didnít take the Jaguars lightly.

They did just enough to win, and sometimes that can galvanize a team.

ďItís important when you donít play your best you can still come out with W's,Ē said Rodgers.

The good news for the Packers is they will take a three-game winning streak and 5-3 record into next weekís home game against Arizona. After that, they get a much needed bye.

ďWe had opportunities today and we could have played better but we won the football game,Ē said McCarthy. ďThatís the focus. Once again, thatís what good teams do. They pick up for one another when itís not as clean as youíd like it to be sometimes.Ē

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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