Even after one of the Packers' most exhilarating victories in recent memory — a 28-24 down-to-the wire victory over the Vikings and former Packers legend Brett Favre in front of a national TV audience that certainly got its money worth — the team's seemingly unending injury problems ended up sharing the spotlight.
A bad omen came in pregame warm-ups, when starting DRE Cullen Jenkins, who already was being forced to play with a bulky cast on his hand, came up lame with an injured calf. Making matters worse was the recurrence of DLE Ryan Pickett's ankle injury that forced him out of the game after only two series.
But despite missing four defensive starters and two key backups, the Packers persevered, finally managing to win a close game this season with a gutty all-around effort.
But in head coach Mike McCarthy's Monday-morning press conference, the focus was mostly on injuries again, with the news that two defenders who missed the Minnesota game — LB Brady Poppinga (knee) and rookie DE Mike Neal (shoulder) — would require season-ending surgeries.
The PFW Spin
For one game at least, the Packers were able to get by without Pickett and Jenkins, as a defensive line that had been whittled down to only three healthy bodies — B.J. Raji, Jarius Wynn and rookie C.J. Wilson — came up big when it counted most.
But it's unrealistic to expect them to continue playing at such a high level, although Raji in particular has been an unsung pillar of strength up front.
McCarthy was not optimistic about Jenkins in his Monday press conference, expressing concern that Jenkins has had the same problem before, and that it wasn't a good sign that he reinjured the calf merely warming up.
All the Packers can do, though, is tighten their belts and adhere to the time-honored axiom that, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
In addition to Raji, Wynn, and Wilson, other players who have particularly stepped up in these times of trouble include ILB Desmond Bishop, who has done a marvelous job in place of the injured Nick Barnett, who is out for the season, and CB Tramon Williams, who is going to make it very difficult for veteran starting CB Al Harris to regain his starting job once Harris is activated off the physically-unable-to-perfrom list.
"Bishop has been ready to step up for a long time now," McCarthy said. "We thought he was ready a long time ago. I thought both Desmond and A.J. (Hawk) played very well last night. We feel comfortable with both those guys in base and sub (packages)."
McCarthy said film review verifies the excellent play so far this season of Williams. "You watch the tape, and he grades high every week," McCarthy said. "Tramon is a poster child for us, a young man who came here and who was given an opportunity and has just worked hard from the day he arrived."
One other point worth making: While the Packers obviously have had terrible luck with injuries, they got a couple of major assists from the officials in the game against Minnesota. That was especially the case on rookie TE Andrew Quarless' juggling TD catch.
Suffice it to say the Packers are hardly acting sheepish over their good fortune with the flag throwers. Fighting the war of attrition that is the NFL, they'll take any break they can get at any time.