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Packers' defense felt in control in tight game with 'never-quit mentality'

Jim Owczarski
Packers News

GREEN BAY – Adrian Amos felt like it was a dominating defensive performance. Blake Martinez admitted there were some careless moments in a game plan that called for the Green Bay Packers to attack Washington’s run fits. Dean Lowry and Tramon Williams felt like they controlled the game throughout. Kingsley Keke felt the Packers gave up too many explosive runs, yet Washington managed just four runs of 10 yards more – with only one coming in the second half.

Green Bay’s 20-15 victory over Washington at Lambeau Field on Sunday felt uneven for many, although the Packers’ defense allowed the third-fewest points to an opponent on the year, held Washington to the second-lowest total yards on the season (262) while bringing the quarterback down four times. The defense also forced two fumbles and came up with one interception.

Green Bay Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) sacks Washington Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) in the second half during their football game Sunday, December 8, 2019, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay,, Wis. 
Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Washington did nothing overly impressive on offense for the better part of 57 minutes. The group led by rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins and running back Adrian Peterson went 4-for-11 on third down (36%), averaged 4.4 yards per play, went three-and-out four times and punted six times.

The Packers' defense was controlling. Perhaps dominating.

“But you look up and it’s still a one-score game,” Williams said.

Indeed. Washington hung around until Haskins misfired on a third-and-6 from midfield to turn the ball back over to the Packers' offense midway through the fourth quarter. The Packers' ensuing 14-play drive consumed 7 minutes, 24 seconds and led to a Mason Crosby field goal and a 20-9 lead. Washington would pick up 75 yards and a late score when the coverage changed.

It was a game eerily reminiscent of the way the Packers played in the first quarter of the season, in one-score victories at Chicago in Week 1 and at home against Minnesota in Week 2.

“We’re just built like that,” said Packers safety Adrian Amos, who had a sack and an interception. “We just have that never-quit mentality and we take that each and every game. We know we don’t want to get in those situations at the same time, but that does tell you a lot that we’re the never-flinch type on defense.”

The group that developed into a bend-but-don’t-break unit over the middle portion of the season was able to play with a two-score lead to begin the game, in large part due to interior pressure early. Kenny Clark and Kyler Fackrell sacked Haskins off a Za’Darius Smith pressure on the first series to set up Aaron Rodgers and the offense at midfield. The end result was a 7-0 lead.

On the next Washington possession, Amos’ first-down sack led to the Packers taking over at the Washington 48. A third-and-1 hold at the Washington 21 led to Green Bay getting the ball at its own 43, which led to another touchdown. 

“We always felt like we had control of the game, but it was a little too close for comfort,” Packers defensive lineman Dean Lowry said. “So we knew we had to just keep forcing stops and I think we forced them to have some good field position for our offense and they were able to score on a couple drives, so that was big too. We knew this team was physical and a lot better than their record was going into the game. We knew it was going to be a four-quarter battle.”

It was then the Packers’ turn to stall out offensively, with a punt and a turnover inside Washington territory. The final points came on two Crosby field goals in the second half, which sandwiched two three-and-outs.

Which meant that as the clock wound – the game was played in less than three hours of real time – the Packers' defense couldn’t bend, let alone break.  

“We felt good with our performance,” Williams said. “We know that we can be better as a whole. We’ll continue to get there. We got three more weeks, we got three tough opponents – we have to get there.”