Packers refocus quickly to Vikings after desert nightmare

Published 8:39 pm Tuesday, December 29, 2015

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Coach Mike McCarthy had a rough trip home to Green Bay, and it had nothing to do with the snowy weather.

After the Packers watched film of their nightmarish game in Arizona, McCarthy moved on quickly to getting his players ready for a meeting this weekend against Minnesota.

At stake: the NFC North title and a home playoff game.

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“So we’ve had a long, bumpy flight home to grade the tape,” McCarthy said Monday. “Just really wanted to get in there and get the team focused on the Vikings.”

Forgetting about Arizona quickly might be the way to move forward for a team that failed the test in a 38-8 loss in the desert. A sluggish offense is once again the biggest worry.

Receivers can’t get open consistently in press coverage. The Packers have gone two straight weeks without a 100-yard rusher. Penalties bogged down early drives.

Aaron Rodgers got sacked eight times, and the offensive line is battered.

And now, turnovers are a big problem, with six of the team’s 15 for the season coming in the last two weeks. Rodgers accounted for three turnovers, including two fumbles off sacks that were returned for touchdowns.

“We played the worst we can possibly play, and we’re on to Minnesota,” receiver James Jones said.

Getting healthier up front would help. McCarthy said it was too early to tell how much left tackle David Bakhtiari and right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who each have ankle injuries, would be able to practice this week.

“Well, the healthiest team gives you your best option to play on Sunday,” McCarthy said.

But the Packers aren’t using injuries as an excuse, either. McCarthy said that he can only control the adjustments for every obstacle thrown in his team’s way.

“It takes all 11 to have success. It starts from a protection unit, to a route-running detail, to catching the football. It’s everyone, coaches included,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said.

The coaches aren’t worried about the Packers’ ability to bounce back. First, McCarthy can point to how the Packers beat Minnesota 30-13 in November. Next, the core of the Packers has been in similar spots over the previous four years — and won the division each season.

They have to beat the Vikings on Sunday night to claim a fifth straight NFC North title.

“I have faith in the football team regardless of what happened (in Arizona),” McCarthy said.