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Mike McCarthy admits Packers got their 'ass kicked' in loss to Broncos

Green Bay's defense struggled for the second time in as many games.

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday night wasn't the first time the Green Bay Packers have played poorly on national television, but it was still surprising to see the NFC's top team so comprehensively taken apart by the Denver Broncos.

"That's a humbling loss," McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I haven't had my ass kicked like that in a long time. Frankly, Gary Kubiak had his team playing a lot faster than I had my team playing tonight. That was evident early and often."

Both teams were coming off byes, and that should have been an advantage for Green Bay, which was 8-1 in its first games back from byes under McCarthy. Instead, it was Denver who looked sharper in every facet of the game.

Manning vs. Rodgers duel fails to live up to the hype

The most obvious difference was at quarterback, where weak-armed Peyton Manning was supposed to bow down before the man who had succeeded him as the league's best passer not named Tom Brady.

Instead, it was Manning who tore Green Bay apart, passing for 340 yards, while Aaron Rodgers was held to a career-worst 77 by Denver's outstanding defense. As good as Rodgers is at keeping plays alive in the pocket, the Broncos were able to keep him under constant pressure while still locking down his receivers.

"They were covering good," Rodgers said. "That's all you can point to."

Denver defense remains impenetrable

Things were just bad on the ground. The Broncos rushed for 160 yards, including 101 by C.J. Anderson, while Green Bay managed only 90. In all, Denver put up 500 yards at an average of 7.9 per play, while the Packers finished with 140 at 3.0 per play.

Green Bay's offensive woes can be written off as a one-time thing -- Denver does have the best scoring defense in the NFL, and ranks first against the pass and fourth against the run. In their first six games, the Broncos had forced 17 turnovers, so it was a minor victory for the Packers that they didn't turn it over at all in this one, although they did concede a safety after recovering a Rodgers fumble in the end zone.

Packers' defense not ready for primetime

The bigger concern for Green Bay at this point has to be its defense. This wasn't a new problem -- the Packers allowed 548 yards to the San Diego Chargers in their previous game, and have now given up a combined 843 yards passing to Philip Rivers and Manning the last two weeks. They didn't register a single sack against Manning, and gave up deep balls to a 39-year-old man who is surviving on brains, not brawn, at this point.

That, in fact, was the biggest issue in the game. Once Manning hit an early 47-yard bomb to Demaryius Thomas, Green Bay's defense fell apart. Their entire plan seemed to be based on crowding the line to take away the run and swarm Manning's short routes. Once he showed he could go deep, the Packers seemed to panic, allowing Manning to slice them up underneath and, more importantly, giving Anderson and Ronnie Hillman open running lanes.

"Denver ran its offense very efficiently," said McCarthy. "It starts with the run. That was my No. 1 coaching point for the defense. We need to stop the run and get after their pass protection and make sure we get Peyton Manning off the spot.

"We didn't accomplish that at all."

At the end of the night, the Packers had taken their worst beating since the New Orleans Saints routed them 44-23 last season, also on a Sunday night telecast.