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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 didn’t do much of anything very well in their 24-15 win against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The Packers couldn’t 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 weren’t tripping over themselves, they were committing costly mistakes and botching routine plays.

“It was definitely a grind-it-out type victory,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. That’s another way of saying that somehow the Packers found a way to win in the midst of their mess.

Three plays epitomized the Packers’ 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 wasn’t pretty, and against almost anyone other than the 1-6 Jaguars, the Packers would have gone down in flames.

Although the sellout crowd wasn’t 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 don’t play anywhere near their best.

“I don’t see it as a setback at all,” said Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers of his team’s less-than stellar showing.

“It’s good to be on this side of an ugly win. It’s 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.”

That didn’t happen and the Packers, who were favored by more than two touchdowns, won’t garner any style points for this clunker. But their effort shows up just the same in the win column.

“A win is a win in this league and we don’t take those for granted,” said linebacker Clay Matthews. “But do we need to play better? Yes, absolutely and we’ll continue to do that, but we’re not going to overlook this win.”

The Packers didn’t issue any apologies after the game, and none were necessary.

To their credit, the Packers also didn’t 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 it’s also true that in the NFL it’s difficult to reach your peak performance every week.

It’s only natural to sometimes play down to your competition, and the Packers certainly allowed the Jaguars to hang around. But Rodgers insisted the Packers didn’t take the Jaguars lightly.

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

“It’s important when you don’t play your best you can still come out with W's,” said Rodgers.

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

“We had opportunities today and we could have played better but we won the football game,” said McCarthy. “That’s the focus. Once again, that’s what good teams do. They pick up for one another when it’s not as clean as you’d like it to be sometimes.”

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

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