Coordinators: Packers’ defensive run calls forced Cowboys to pass

GREEN BAY, Wis. — After being part of one of the two
biggest comebacks in the history of the franchise, the Green Bay Packers’ three
coordinators discussed what led to their improbable victory over the Dallas
Cowboys.

Here are three question-and-answer highlights from each
coordinator:

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR DOM CAPERS

1. How surprised were you that the Cowboys only ran the ball
seven times in the second half?

CAPERS: “Well, we were in some run calls, which I think
probably took them out of it. (Tony) Romo is a veteran guy now, so one of the
things going into the game, I think they were No. 3 in the NFL on first down of
four-yard plus gains, and they did a nice job against us on first down of
mixing the run and the pass. Like I say, we adjusted a couple things front-wise
and we were in some run calls probably when they might have had runs called.
They certainly did a nice job in the first half of running the ball against
us.”

2. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said after the game that Romo
optioned out of a run call to throw it on the pass that was intercepted by Sam
Shields. Were the defensive looks you were giving Romo leading him to take that
risk?

CAPERS: “Those are always the things that you always
weigh the pluses and minuses of, taking yourself out. We had nine guys standing
right there in the box because, at that point of the game, if they run the ball
for four or five yards, we’re not getting it back and we don’t have a chance to
win the game. So you’re going to stack them up in there, you saw Clay
(Matthews) come off the edge and actually he missed the sack, and I’m kind of
glad that he did because we wouldn’t have had the interception and flushed Romo
out of there — and of course it disrupted his rhythm and he threw the ball
over the middle, and Sam made an amazing play undercutting that thing to get
the football. It was a real key play at crunch time by Sam. Anytime you could
go to throwing the ball in those situations, you flip a coin. If you hit it,
the game is probably over because you’re making big plays because we’re
committed to stopping the run at that point.”

3. Has Tramon Williams been playing better now compared to
earlier in the season, or do you think he’s been pretty consistent?

CAPERS: “I think Tramon’s play is a little bit of a
reflection of our play on defense. We went through a period, as you guys well
know, where we had the hardest time getting a takeaway. You’ve got to find some
way, and it’s something we’ve done a great job of around here. If you look over
the first four years I was here, our opponent quarterback rating is in the top
three or four in the league because we’ve been able to take the ball away. You
combine that with Aaron’s quarterback rating and it’s been a winning formula.
(Sunday in Dallas) was somewhat the same thing. You look at our last three games,
you’ve seen more takeaways than you did probably in four, five, six games prior
to that. That’s part of what we need to do. Those last two takeaways, and even
Tramon’s that he ran down that we thought we had, that was a big time play.
Those plays change the whole momentum of the game around where it looks like
they’re in control of the game. The next thing you know we have the ball on the
50-yard line and we have the ball to close it out. Like I say, your concern
always in that situation is you can’t play soft because all they need to do is
get into field goal range. You’re up by one and the way the field goal kicker
was kicking, we were going to reach a point where we were going to have to
start coming after them to make sure we held them out of field goal
range.

SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR SHAWN SLOCUM

1. After seeing Mason Crosby’s 57-yard field goal, how far
did you think he could have connected from in that game?

SLOCUM: “Well, any time we’re indoors like that with no
weather conditions, he’s plus-60. I thought he hit a very good ball and had
quite a bit of distance left.”

2. What has Micah Hyde given you in the punt return game?

SLOCUM: “He’s done a good job with it. He stays within
the scheme, he does a very good job of tracking the ball and catching the ball,
first of all. Very good ball security. I thought that was an impactful play (in
Sunday’s game).”

3. What was it like on the sideline during the game, first
when down by 23 points and then as the comeback was in place?

SLOCUM: “Yeah, I thought initially there was some
disappointment in how the game started, but there was a concerted effort to
continue to get things right. I never saw anyone blink. There was good energy
on the sideline throughout the ball game. I think that once we got the momentum
going in the second half, even when they scored again in the fourth quarter, I
think in our guys’ mind there was no doubt that we were going to get this done.

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR TOM CLEMENTS

1. Was Matt Flynn better with his reads in the second half?

CLEMENTS: “I think he kind of got stuck on maybe a guy,
anticipating that he’d be open and hung onto that guy a little too long in the
first half. In the second half, he just reacted to what we saw and made good
decisions. And you get into a little bit of a groove. Guys made some great
plays for him. He made some nice throws. Protected very well in the second
half. We had a couple sacks early, but we overcame those. But you hit a couple
passes, you start feeling good and you start moving the ball, everybody feels
good. It’s a snowball effect.

2. Garrett said after the game that he let the Packers score
on the late touchdown in which Eddie Lacy jumped over the top. Did it look to
you like they let you score?

CLEMENTS: “Um, it didn’t look like it when I was
watching it. I heard that comment after. I take him at his word.”

3. Was there any conversation at halftime about benching
Flynn?

CLEMENTS: “No. We were focused on trying to get
everyone to play better and I think it was a great credit to them that they
stuck together, just went out and fought hard and kept fighting and eventually
got the win.”

Follow Paul Imig on Twitter