Packers say poor play not related to Favre fallout
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings acknowledges that a bad loss can linger into the next week and damage a team's confidence. And games don't get much worse than the Packers' emotionally charged Nov. 1 loss to Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings. But Jennings insists the fallout from a disappointing loss to a division rival didn't figure into the Packers' head-scratching loss to Tampa Bay a week later. "You've got to go on and move forward, go on to the next game," Jennings said. "If you let a loss like that linger, it will affect you into the next week. I don't think that's what happened. We just went down there and didn't get the job done, especially in that fourth quarter." So losing to a winless Tampa team starting a rookie quarterback wasn't evidence of a post-Favreageddon hangover? "No," defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins said. "I don't think it was a hangover effect from that. We moved past that. Tampa Bay, we went down there, they're a totally different team. They were motivated, they came at us, put together a complete game and we didn't close it out when we had the chances to." While Packers players deny that the Vikings loss put a long-term dent in their confidence, there's no denying that the team is at a crossroads. Hand the streaking Dallas Cowboys their first loss in more than a month Sunday and they're back on track for the playoffs. Lose Sunday's game, and the Packers' season might be lost too. "This is a time where we have to make sure we come together," Jennings said. "Because if we don't do that, then the season will dwindle away. We've worked too hard. We can't afford to let a few losses shatter our season." Barely clinging to playoff contention wasn't where the Packers expected to be at the season's halfway point, but it's reality. They're 4-4 and would need an epic collapse by Favre and the one-loss Vikings to have a shot at the NFC North title. Losing at Tampa certainly wasn't a good first step toward a wild-card berth. The Packers didn't seem to have a problem shaking off their first loss to the Vikings, a 30-23 loss at the Metrodome on Oct. 5. Green Bay steamrolled its next two opponents - the lowly Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns - by a combined score of 57-3. So after another discouraging loss to the Vikings, this time in front of a charged-up crowd at Lambeau Field, it stood to reason that the Packers would take their frustrations out on an 0-7 Buccaneers team starting rookie quarterback Josh Freeman. Instead, they blew a fourth-quarter lead and went home with a loss. "Yeah, of course we expected to win that game," nose tackle Ryan Pickett said. "So it's definitely a shock we lost. But that's it. That's all we can do about it." Defensive coordinator Dom Capers said he didn't think the Vikings loss disrupted the way players practiced and prepared last week. "I didn't think so," Capers said. "I thought we came out and we started fast. We came out and we're three and out, and we got off the field. I liked the way we played in the first half. I thought we let them off the hook a little bit. ... We just didn't finish it off down the stretch." So why weren't they able to take out their frustrations on a lesser opponent, like they did on the Lions and Browns last month? "I have no idea what the difference was," Pickett said. "We didn't put them away. And we've got to have a mentality to put teams like the Bucs away. We can't let them hang around." To get back in the playoff picture, the Packers will have to find a way to keep quarterback Aaron Rodgers upright, get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and fix their latest recurring problem, ill-timed mistakes on special teams. Jennings says it can be done. "I don't think (our) confidence is shaken at all," Jennings said. "We know what type of team we're capable of and being. But right now, we're a 4-4 ballclub."