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Pack defense dominates Bills in preseason win

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CHRIS JENKINS
August 23, 2009
— The Green Bay Packers' defense was tough to watch last season. Two preseason games into the reign of new defensive coordinator Dom Capers, they're suddenly making opposing offenses look bad.

Green Bay's new-look defense forced turnovers on three of Buffalo's first four possessions, powering the Packers to a 31-21 preseason victory over the Bills on Saturday.


Packers coach Mike McCarthy said the Packers' nine takeaways in two preseason games were "something special" but warned that there's more work to do.


"The reality is, there's things we need to correct," McCarthy said. "There's no reason to be striking up the band or anything like that."


Starter Trent Edwards was 7 of 11 for 45 yards and an interception for a Bills team trying to showcase its no-huddle look without wide receiver Terrell Owens, who is nursing a sprained toe and did not make the trip to Green Bay.


"Disappointing night," Bills coach Dick Jauron said. "The good news is it's preseason, that's why you play them. We knew we have a long way to go, and this should show us we have a long way to go."


Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit seven straight passes to begin the game, finishing 8 of 9 for 98 yards and two touchdowns. And, in case you're wondering, Rodgers apparently wasn't glued to the television for Brett Favre's debut with the Minnesota Vikings on Friday night.


"I watched 'Hard Knocks,'" Rodgers said, referring to HBO's behind-the-scenes look at training camp. "Chad Ochocinco makes that a very interesting show."


Injuries to safety Nick Collins and backup quarterback Matt Flynn were the only potential bad news for the Packers. McCarthy said X-rays on Collins' ribs were negative but the extent of Flynn's shoulder injury wasn't clear Saturday night a concern, given fellow backup Brian Brohm's inconsistency. Flynn said afterward that he didn't think the injury was a "big deal."


Buffalo running back Marshawn Lynch was held to six yards on six carries as the Bills had trouble moving the ball without Owens and were held scoreless until late in the third quarter. Bills backup Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a TD and an interception. He was 12 for 16 for 112 yards.


It was the second straight dominant defensive performance of the preseason for the Packers, who are making the transition to a 3-4 alignment under Capers. The defense had four interceptions in a 17-0 shutout of Cleveland last week.


"We're in the beginning stages and I want to make everybody aware of that we're just beginning," linebacker Brady Poppinga said.


With Buffalo facing second-and-11 on its first possession, Collins tipped a pass intended for Lee Evans and it was intercepted by Poppinga, who returned it to the Bills' 29-yard line.


Buffalo's defense stuffed Packers running back Ryan Grant on fourth down. But the Packers sacked Edwards and forced a fumble that was recovered by A.J. Hawk, giving the ball to Green Bay at the Buffalo five-yard line. Rodgers immediately found Greg Jennings on a slant pattern for a touchdown.


After a stop by the defense, Rodgers found second-year tight end Jermichael Finley for gains of 18 and 21 yards, then hit Donald Driver with a 21-yard pass to set up a three-yard touchdown run by Grant to give Green Bay a 14-0 lead with 1:29 left in the first quarter.


Fred Jackson fumbled on the Bills' next possession, again giving the ball back to the Packers.


"Obviously we're frustrated with the way the first team did," Edwards said. "Those first couple of series we were in there, I thought that their defense was pretty impressive the whole night. They were disguising a lot of their coverages, they were bringing a lot of pressure and for a preseason game, we weren't expecting too much of that."


NOTES: Buffalo finally scored with just over a minute left in the third quarter when Fitzpatrick threw a 9-yard touchdown to Jonathan Stupar. Xavier Omon and Bruce Hall also ran for touchdowns. ... Packers rookie tight end Devin Frischknecht was taken off on a stretcher and taken to the hospital after sustaining what appeared to be a serious shin injury in the third quarter.



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