GREEN BAY – Underneath Lambeau Field, Tramon Williams was struck by what he didn't hear.
The Green Bay Packers were going through their halftime adjustments, leading the Jacksonville Jaguars 14-12 at the break, and the Pro Bowl cornerback was wondering where the fire was.
"We're sitting in the stadium and it's quiet in here, it's quiet out here, we need some energy," he said. "We felt that we needed to bring that energy to the field in the second half. I think that was our mindset."
The Packers allowed just three more points the rest of the way in a 24-15 victory that had everyone – from inside the locker room to out – calling it "ugly."
"I guess," linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "If you want to qualify it as an ugly one, I guess this would be up there. But this is the NFL. Every game is a battle. We don't plan on cruising by anybody. Today was one of those. A win like this obviously, it's not how we wanted it to play out, really, but I think it's good for our team to fight through games like this and come out with a win. We've got to take something positive from it."
It's an interesting way to describe a game. It's ugly if you win, sloppy, uninspired if you lose.
The coaching staff and the players felt, at least at the half, as if the game was trending in that wrong direction.
"I felt the team was ready to play coming out Friday," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought segments of the football team didn't come out with the energy or the focus (Sunday). I thought we were a little bit a rollercoaster in certain segments and individuals. We have to get that removed."
The thing is – whatever "it" was – was alleviated enough to win a third straight game in the face of mounting injuries.
"I felt the energy from the guys when I stepped in the huddle," Williams said of the second half change. "Guys were focused and detailed and ready to play football. Hopefully that's what got us through that game. Obviously there are going to be a lot of close games like this but you don't want to make them all close."
Aaron Rodgers, who posted a 95.7 rating while throwing for 186 yards and two scores said such a game is easier to swallow after a victory, but players on both sides of the ball and special teams weren't happy with the overall performance.
Yet, the Packers are 5-3, winners of three straight.
"We could have played better, but we won the football game," McCarthy said. "That's the focus. That's what good teams do. They pick up for one another when it's not as clean as you'd like it to be sometimes."
Perhaps that should be what is highlighted – "what good teams do."
And make no mistake – the Packers are a good team.
The Packers are just one of six teams in the NFC with a winning record. Less than half of the entire league has a winning mark and only four others have a winning streak at three or more games.
Down the road in Chicago, here's what Bears head coach Lovie Smith had to say following his team's 23-22 nail biter at home to the lowly Carolina Panthers.
"There is no such thing as an ugly win. To me, the team that deserves the win always ends up on top at the end," he said. "During the course of a year, if you're going to have a good season, you have to go through games like this where it's tough, you're going to have to really just fight to get a win, but the good teams at the end they fin d a way to win the football game on games like this when you didn't play your best ball for 60 minutes. No matter how you stat it's how you finish and that's what the guys will take from this game."
That could have come from any mouth in the Packers locker room Sunday afternoon.
No doubt the Packers victory Sunday was hard to watch for the 70,000-plus at Lambeau Field and the countless more at home – the players themselves had a hard time swallowing it. But as the days wear on it'll only look prettier.
"Obviously we have plenty of stuff to work on, but it goes down the same in the books as a win," Hawk said. "It may be ugly but to come away with a win was good for us."
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.