Packers didn't panic when put in an unfamilar position
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Green Bay Packers didn't know quite what to expect from rookie quarterback Cam Newton and the re-energized Carolina Panthers Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, but one thing they never imagined was that they'd be down 13-0 ...
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Green Bay Packers didn't know quite what to expect from rookie quarterback Cam Newton and the re-energized Carolina Panthers Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, but one thing they never imagined was that they'd be down 13-0 just three plays into the second quarter.
Remember, the Packers hadn't trailed by more than seven points in a game since their playoff loss to Arizona in January of 2010. On the way to the NFL championship last season, they never lost by more than four points, never had to come from more than a touchdown behind.
But there was more to it than just the size of the hole the Packers dug for themselves Sunday.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was a tick off all day, their struggling defense looked confused by Newton's scary playmaking ability and coach Mike McCarthy even made an inexplicable decision to go for it on fourth down when fans in every living room across Wisconsin were screaming at him to punt.
Or at least they should have been, which is something even he admitted.
As bad as it got for the Packers, however, they did accomplish one thing against the Panthers:
Green Bay's 30-23 victory not only raised its record to 2-0, it revealed a new side to the Packers, one that bodes well for a team determined to repeat as champion.
The Packers didn't bring their "A" game, or even their "B" game, to Charlotte, yet they managed to rally from a sizable deficit to beat a sky-high opponent in its home opener.
"That's what a good team does," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "I've been around a long time. You're playing in their stadium, their home opener, they have a lot of emotions and they come out playing hard. We just had to stay the course like champions and find a way to win."
The Packers didn't beat a great team Sunday, though Carolina will throw a scare into plenty of opponents, especially if Newton keeps lighting up opposing defenses with his raw but electric talent.
After a rough preseason, the No. 1 pick in the draft has played two games and surpassed the 400-yard mark passing in each of them. Still, Carolina has an 0-2 record.
But Sunday's game wasn't about the Panthers, it was about the Packers.
It was about how Rodgers led them to 419 yards and 30 points on an "off" day offensively by making critical completions when he had to. It was about how the defense gave up 432 passing yards to Newton yet made critical stops when it had to.
Mostly, it was about how the Packers recovered from Randall Cobb's fumble on a kickoff return and Newton's early barrage against a secondary that clearly missed Tramon Williams, finding a way to win.
In the past, there was a good chance the Packers would have lost this game. But this team showed a resolve it learned en route to the Super Bowl last year.
"Over the course of the season, you're going to have some games where you're going to get knocked down," cornerback Charles Woodson.
"I think it is the mark of a great team or championship team to take whatever a team gives you, and whether you're down or whatever it is, get yourself back up and make the plays necessary to win the game.
"Today, we were down early and that crowd was loud. When you get a team like that and get the crowd behind them and the momentum, it's tough. But we settled down, and you make enough plays to win the game. That's what you ask of yourself. That's the mark of a good team."
None of that means the Packers are a team without worries.
So far, the offense has hurt itself with penalties, the defense has allowed 400-yard passing days to Newton and New Orleans' Drew Brees and the special teams have looked like a casualty of the lockout.
The Packers also know they got a bit lucky Sunday because they were playing a team that is rebuilding, albeit quickly, from a 2-14 season in 2010.
"We need to play our best game," linebacker Clay Matthews said.
"You look at us last year, we lost by four or three points in all the games that we lost. As I keep saying, we don't need to put ourselves in this position. It says (something about) the resolve of our team and how we're able to finish, but we don't need to put ourselves in that position."
True enough, but it's nice to know you're a team that can put itself in that position and still come out on top.
"It wasn't clean, by no way at all," McCarthy said. "We can sit here and pick apart all the things that didn't go right, but the most important thing is we finished it as a football team."
Coming from 13 points down was new territory for the Packers. But it wasn't anything they couldn't handle.
Sound system tweak
The Packers will tweak Lambeau Field's new sound system after receiving mixed reviews for its performance during the home opener against the New Orleans Saints.
Packers spokesman Aaron Popkey says the new $2.5 million sound system was installed this summer and sound system engineers have been making adjustments based on their observations and feedback from fans.
The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports the new system is part of a $143 million stadium expansion that will bring a new scoreboard in 2012 and 6,600 new seats by 2013.
The new audio setup employs 16 speaker enclosures around the roof of the stadium. The old system projected from one source on the north scoreboard.
NOTES: Donald Driver had a 10-yard catch to become the Packers' career leader with 9,666 receiving yards.
-- Copyright (c) 2011 The Wisconsin State Journal/Distributed by
MCT Information Services
Green Bay 0 7 16 7 -- 30
Carolina 10 3 0 10 -- 23
Car--LaFell 3 pass from Newton (Mare kick), 9:20.
Car--FG Mare 20, 6:32.
Car--FG Mare 33, 14:48.
GB--Kuhn 1 run (Crosby kick), 9:58.
GB--G.Jennings 49 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick), 12:23.
GB--FG Crosby 37, 10:22.
GB--FG Crosby 19, 5:43.
GB--FG Crosby 34, :57.
Car--FG Mare 21, 10:05.
GB--Nelson 84 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick), 2:14.
Car--Newton 4 run (Mare kick), :37.
First downs 16 26
Total Net Yards 419 475
Rushes-yards 21-124 21-71
Passing 295 404
Punt Returns 0-0 2-11
Kickoff Returns 3-53 5-107
Interceptions Ret. 3-6 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 19-30-0 28-46-3
Sacked-Yards Lost 1-13 4-28
Punts 3-38.7 2-37.5
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 7-57 6-50
Time of Possession 27:26 32:34
RUSHING--Green Bay, Starks 9-85, Grant 6-25, Rodgers 5-13, Kuhn 1-1. Carolina, Newton 10-53, D.Williams 5-13, Stewart 6-5.
PASSING--Green Bay, Rodgers 19-30-0-308. Carolina, Newton 28-46-3-432.
RECEIVING--Green Bay, Finley 5-68, Starks 3-30, Grant 3-14, G.Jennings 2-55, Cobb 2-25, Nelson 1-84, J.Jones 1-15, Driver 1-10, Kuhn 1-7. Carolina, Stewart 8-100, Smith 6-156, LaFell 4-49, D.Williams 4-23, Shockey 3-56, Naanee 2-14, Olsen 1-34.
MISSED FIELD GOALS--None.