GREEN BAY, Wis. — In a miserable tailspin one week, solid playoff contenders the next.
That's life in the
After snapping a two-game losing streak, the Packers (5-4) were feeling better about themselves Monday. But they know one big win won't mean much if they take a step backward in either of the two winnable games they'll play in an upcoming five-day stretch, home against San Francisco on Sunday and at Detroit on Thanksgiving.
“We had a very positive experience yesterday as a team,” Packers coach
And they have reinforcements on the way: McCarthy said outside linebacker
Kampman is recovering from a concussion and sat out Sunday's game. Finley, a key cog in the Packers' passing game, has missed three games with a knee sprain. And Chillar, who missed last week's loss at Tampa Bay because of a broken hand, didn't play against the Cowboys, either.
While most of the injury news is good, the Packers do have some nagging issues.
Meanwhile, the status of veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher's knee remains unclear, though McCarthy said rookie
In all, things were looking up at
Thanks in large part to Sunday's aggressive, complete effort by a defense that had wilted at critical times earlier this season, the Packers now are in the thick of the
They're 5-4, tied with the teams that appear to be shaping up as their primary rivals for the wild card: Philadelphia, New York and Atlanta.
“This won't mean anything if we don't win next week,” said cornerback
And while it might seemed like an overstatement to say the season was on the line Sunday — it's still November, after all — players acknowledged that a loss would have been huge.
“The resolve of the team, I think, was tested,” quarterback
To be sure, the Packers have plenty of work to do to make it to the playoffs. After San Francisco and Detroit, their schedule really turns rough.
First comes a Monday night home game against Baltimore. The final four games have three on the road, including visits to Pittsburgh and Arizona.
And while the defense and special teams looked much better Sunday — with the exception of
Rodgers remains under siege, taking another four sacks to run the Packers' league-worst total to 41.
Rodgers still holds on to the ball too long in certain situations, although he did a better throwing the ball away. The Packers also used more short passes and screens to fend off pressure, with mixed results.
And penalties remain a major problem; the Packers had 12 on Sunday.
"It was a struggle," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "We had a bunch of penalties called on us, which is not good; had a couple negative runs; had some sacks, per usual. It was a battle.