Stringing wins together was something the Green Bay Packers did with ease last season.
This year, not so much.
Fresh off their rout of the previously unbeaten Texans, the Packers (3-3) head to St. Louis looking to win consecutive games for the first time this season.
"It's just playing good football," offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga said. "If we play the way we know we can play, which Sunday was a good picture of that, we can stack these successes. Yeah, we had a good game. But that game's over. Now it's time to go out this Sunday and do it again. It's going to be important to do that, and it's going to be a challenge."
Green Bay has largely avoided long stretches of losses under coach Mike McCarthy. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Packers' longest losing streak since 2008 is two games, and it has happened only three times. (Four if you count the loss to San Francisco in this year's season opener, which followed a loss in the playoffs last year.)
The difference this year, though, is that the Packers aren't putting together long stretches of victories, either. No stretch, actually, as Green Bay has alternated wins and losses each week.
Yes, one of those losses was courtesy of the Inaccurate Reception in Seattle, while another was on a last-minute score by Indianapolis. The Packers have been hit hard by injuries, too; starting inside linebacker D.J. Smith, who had already been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.
But a loss is a loss, no matter the circumstances.
"We obviously haven't had two consecutive wins this season, and we want to get back on that track," said defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who missed Sunday's game with a sprained ankle. "Last week was a great start, but it doesn't mean too much if you don't keep (it up)."
The win over the Texans could prove to be a turning point, though, with the Packers showing the kind of dominance, on both sides of the ball, that's been expected of them all season. Aaron Rodgers tied a franchise record with six touchdown passes. He finished with a lofty 133.8 quarterback rating after going 24 of 37 for 338 yards passing and no interceptions.
Alex Green gave the Packers some balance, rushing for 65 yards on 22 carries.
The defense sacked Matt Schaub on each of Houston's first two series, one fewer sack than he'd taken in all of the first five games put together. Rookie cornerback Casey Hayward had two picks, and Sam Shields also had an interception.
"It's about consistency," said Rodgers, whose performance earned him NFC offensive player of the week honors. "That was a good game for us offensively last week, but it doesn't really mean a whole lot unless we can get on a roll here and put two, three, four, five games in a row where you're playing like you want to on offense. So it's going to be about doing the things that we've done here in the past to be successful, to be consistent."
That's exactly what McCarthy stressed last week following that disappointing loss in Indianapolis.
With everyone else in the country wondering what was wrong, the Packers insisted there was no reason to panic. They weren't happy with how they were playing, and even Rodgers said he had room for improvement. But rather than make any big changes, McCarthy had them focus on the details, little things that, taken together, can make a big difference.
And did against Houston.
"We just played a good football game," Bulaga said. "I don't think the confidence of this team was rattled before it. We just needed to come out and play a good game, and we did."
Now it's simply a matter of doing it all over again.
"There isn't a secret formula for urgency," Bulaga said. "It's not something you turn on and off. It has to be a mindset thing, and I think this team has that mindset. It's just a matter of having a great week of practice and going out there Sunday and playing."
Notes: Raji did not practice Wednesday, but said he hopes to Thursday. ... Rodgers was limited in practice because of a sore calf, but neither he nor McCarthy are concerned about the injury. "I'm getting older. Taking it smart," Rodgers said. ... Rookie outside linebacker Nick Perry (knee) and Shields (shin) did not practice, and McCarthy did not sound optimistic they'll be able to play Sunday. "I think both those guys will be stretched to make it this week," he said. ... Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, was selected as player of the week for the second time in three weeks, and seventh time in his career.
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