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McCarthy: Packers' tackling 'not there all year'

By Chris Jenkins

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 18 2012 5:50 p.m. MST

"I thought we had a good week of preparation," McCarthy said. "I'm sure it hit everybody differently on a personal level. I thought the way everybody rallied around Joe and what his family demonstrated through an incredible tragedy is something we could all learn from."

Nor did McCarthy think they were rusty after resting key players in the regular-season finale and getting a first-round bye in the playoffs, calling that a "convenient excuse."

But he did acknowledge that the defense has to get better.

The Packers allowed 420 yards as Manning threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns. The Packers sacked Manning only once. And while they did force one turnover, a Manning interception, it wasn't enough.

The Packers had only 29 sacks in the regular season, tying them for third-fewest in the league; Clay Matthews had a quiet season from a pass-rush perspective with only six sacks.

Matthews' numbers likely would improve with better production from the other outside linebacker spot. Erik Walden started most of the season, but Frank Zombo started the regular season finale and Brad Jones started the playoff game. That's one spot where the Packers could try to bring in more competition.

But for McCarthy, those are conversations to be had later in the season. For now, he still seems puzzled by the fact that his team made so many mistakes.

"Did we handle the highs and lows of that football game as well as we did other games? Probably not," McCarthy said. "That's something that I would point to if I was evaluating it from your chair. That's what we'll continue to learn from."

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