Aaron Rodgers was impressive in his regular-season debut as the Green Bay Packers' starting quarterback, thanks in large part to the big men who stand in front of him.
The Packers' offensive line fended off one of the fiercest defensive fronts in football in their 24-19 victory over Minnesota on Monday night, holding the Vikings without a sack and keeping highly touted new defensive end Jared Allen from making a tackle.
Generally free from pass-rush pressure, Rodgers was 18-of-22 for 178 yards and a touchdown.
Not bad, given the fact that the Packers were missing starting center Scott Wells because of a lower back injury and were toying with their starting guard lineup late into training camp.
But despite their success in pass protection, the Packers' line committed too many penalties Monday, giving Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy a chance to keep his team grounded going into Sunday's game at Detroit.
ith the players tomorrow. It's important to get it corrected. We don't ever sweep anything under the rug around here. That'll never change. Because we feel like we're going to go into a hornets' nest up there in Detroit with their home opener.''
Green Bay was penalized 12 times Monday night, and another two penalties were declined by the Vikings. Of those 14 total penalties, eight were committed by offensive linemen - including five in the first quarter.
The Packers had 114 penalties last season, fourth-most in the league behind Arizona, Oakland and Cleveland. It didn't keep them from going 13-3 and advancing to within a win of the Super Bowl, but coaches identified the problem in the offseason and tried to fix it in training camp.
McCarthy said an internal study by the Packers' coaching staff revealed that penalties have been a particular problem for the Packers in their most high-profile games.
``That's unfortunate, because we identified it, we talked about it during the course of training camp,'' McCarthy said. ``We have officials at every practice. But we definitely need to fix that, because that's been a common mistake that we've made. Maybe I need to take a look at my part of it. Maybe I had them too pumped up for this one. I don't know. We need to do a better job with the penalties.''
rts and delay-of-game penalties that make any coach want to throw his clipboard, and what McCarthy calls ``combative'' penalties - actions that toe the line between aggressive play and breaking the rules, and might be a little more forgivable.
``There's combative penalties you learn from. There's combative penalties you have to do without, when it has poor judgment involved,'' McCarthy said. ``We'll go through all that with the football team.''
Beyond that, McCarthy seemed inclined to excuse right guard Tony Moll from one of his penalties Monday night, even though it directly cost the Packers points.
Moll was called for being illegally downfield in the third quarter, wiping out what would have been a 68-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver. The Packers' playbook includes several run/pass options called at the line of scrimmage, and Moll seemed to be caught run blocking when Rogers expected him to be pass blocking.
orking hard. They weren't little cheap fouls.''
Packers right tackle Mark Tauscher said it was an ``ugly'' game all around but expected the penalty problems to get fixed.
``We were sloppy,'' Tauscher said Monday night. ``It's kind of a first game, you're playing a lot more. I think we weren't very fundamentally sound, obviously. When you get that many penalties, from a fundamental standpoint, we weren't as sound as we needed to be.''
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