Packers don't use Bills' rough play as excuse

Ryan Wood
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The plan was to get back to Green Bay, watch Sunday's game film and double check the Buffalo Bills' press coverage.

Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson (87) has a pass to him broken up by Buffalo Bills defender Stephon Gilmore (24) at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., December 14, 2014.

Bills cornerbacks spent 60 minutes roughing up Packers receivers Sunday, using physical force to disrupt routes. No way was this legal. Aaron Rodgers questioned it himself.

On Monday, the tone changed.

"They played defense," receiver Jordy Nelson said when asked if Buffalo's cornerbacks were too physical. "Nothing we haven't seen before."

The complaints had all dried up by Monday afternoon. There was no finger pointing, no blaming the officials.

In his postgame interview Sunday, Rodgers said the Bills were able to get away with more physicality than he expected. When asked if they went too far, he deferred to the film.

On Monday, Packers coach Mike McCarthy had watched the film when he spoke with reporters. When asked, McCarthy was noncommittal.

"Officiating is a variable," McCarthy said. "It's a part of the game. That analysis is done by the league office. Sometimes it goes your way, and sometimes it doesn't. We don't ever – we'll never use it as an excuse. It's really not even a part of our evaluation. The penalties that we pay close attention to are our own."

McCarthy said he knew referee Bill Leavy's crew called a "very high" amount of presnap penalties. The officials didn't disappoint. The Packers and Bills combined for 19 penalties Sunday – nine for Green Bay, 10 for Buffalo. Both were called for five presnap penalties apiece.

"That was kind of the scouting report for those guys," McCarthy said. "Whether they're going to let you play or not going to let you play (covering receivers), they're kind of right in the middle of the park there as far as the way their grade is. It's just part of the game."

Buffalo followed what's become a blueprint for defending Green Bay's explosive offense. It starts with an ability to rush the quarterback with only four players, dropping seven in coverage. Using physicality to cover Packers receivers is almost as important.

Offensive coordinator Tom Clements isn't worried about any secret being out on how to stop the Packers' offense.

"I don't think it's an issue," Clements said. "I've said a number of times throughout the year every team has their plan as to what they want to do. I think if you look at Buffalo throughout the year, that's the way they've played. That's the way they want to play. Other teams play differently."

Could other teams choose to play differently against the Packers than they do against other opponents, given the Green Bay's consistent struggles against the four-man rush and physical cornerbacks? One thing's for certain. The Packers won't be discarding Sunday's film anytime soon, and not because they feel the Bills got away with any cheap shots.

"You've got to learn and correct it," Nelson said. and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood

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