GREEN BAY, Wis. — Tramon Williams didn’t need Jay Cutler’s sarcastic good-luck wishes when it came time to defend Brandon Marshall.
The sixth-year cornerback’s standout performance was a display of skill, not luck, in the Green Bay Packers’ 23-10 victory over the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.
Williams had a pair of interceptions and played a primary role in marginalizing Marshall, limiting the Bears’ new No. 1 receiver to a pair of catches for 24 yards.
Afterward, Williams went out of his way to credit a ferocious Packers pass rush that sacked Cutler seven times.
“It’s tough to shut down a guy like that,” Williams said. “It’s a total defensive effort to shut down a guy like that. I think that’s what it was more tonight. Like I said, the front seven (did) their job, and it makes our job that much easier in the back, as we want to play aggressive. We play aggressive on guys. If that can happen all year, we’ll be back to where we need to be.”
With the Packers reeling from a Week 1 loss to San Francisco at home, and the Bears feeling confident after steamrolling Indianapolis in their opener, Cutler was asked beforehand about the Packers’ potential for physical, aggressive man coverage to throw Bears wide receivers off their game.
Cutler said the Bears welcome aggressive man coverage on their receivers, even wishing the Packers “good luck” in defending Marshall.
When Williams was told about Cutler’s confident comments during the week, he acknowledged Marshall’s skill and said he was up for the challenge.
Was he ever.
Spending much of the game lined up across from Marshall, Williams made sure the Bears’ No. 1 receiver was a non-factor. Williams and the Packers held Marshall without a catch for the first three quarters.
“You’ve got to keep an eye on it,” Williams said. “We know Jay was looking to go to Marshall. You want to take that away from him early. He stopped looking at him, and at that point he probably didn’t start looking back at him until the end of the game. We got what we wanted out of the scheme.”
Cutler targeted Marshall only five times all night after targeting him 15 times for nine completions, 119 yards and a touchdown in the Bears’ season-opening win over the Colts.
“He wasn’t open,” Charles Woodson said. “What do you want him to do?”
Williams said he didn’t see Marshall getting exasperated.
“I didn’t sense any frustration from him,” Williams said. “I didn’t think that the quarterback can get it to him with all of the pressure that was on him. It just made our job easy.”
And Williams accounted for two of Cutler’s four interceptions. Only afterward would the good-natured Williams come anywhere close to crowing about it.
“It was funny to me because it’s like a kid with new toys,” Williams said of Cutler. “He had a couple new receivers — Brandon and Alshon Jeffery, big guys and tough guys — but at the end of the day you have to be able to get the ball to those guys. And we knew that our guys would get after him, and they did that tonight.”
Woodson made it clear that even if the Packers weren’t insulted by Cutler’s comments personally, they did take notice.
“I don’t know if we took it personal, but we thought it was kind of funny that all of a sudden they’re the team to beat because he’s got a couple new guys,” Woodson said.
It was an impressive performance for Williams, a former practice squad player who had a breakout stretch during the Packers’ Super Bowl run in the 2010 season. But he seemed to take a step backward in 2011, hampered for much of the year by a shoulder injury.
If Williams is back to his old self, that’s a good omen for a Packers team that must improve on defense after allowing far too many yards and big plays last season.
After struggling against San Francisco in the opener, the defense showed far more promise Thursday night.
“Last game we didn’t make many mistakes, but the mistakes that we made we paid for,” Williams said about the 49ers game. “Against a good team, you’ll pay for those things. San Francisco was a good team, and we paid for it. We want to correct those things. I don’t think we made many errors tonight, and I think it showed. And if it didn’t, the front seven was going so hard they covered it up for us.”
NFL NOTEBOOK: Miami Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against Oakland because of a concussion, leaving the team with little experience behind starter Reggie Bush. Thomas was hurt in Sunday’s loss at Houston. Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (knee) was also ruled out Friday, and receiver Anthony Armstrong (hamstring) was listed as doubtful. Rookie Lamar Miller, a fourth-round draft pick from the University of Miami, will likely be active for the first time. Thomas’ absence might also mean more carries for 258-pound rookie fullback Jorvorskie Lane. … Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith says he’s been fined $21,000 by the league for kicking Miami guard Richie Incognito during last week’s win over the Dolphins. Smith missed two practices this week with a sore right ankle. He says he was only retaliating when Incognito tried to twist his ankle after the whistle. “If you’re going strictly by the rule book, me kicking him was breaking the rules,” Smith said Friday. “But I want them (the NFL) to look at why I was kicking him, trying to get him off of my ankle. You see on the film, the moment my ankle came free, I stopped. I was just trying to get my ankle free from him mauling it.” Incognito said he was innocent of wrongdoing and argued videotape supported his contention. The NFL agreed: He wasn’t fined. “The eye in the sky doesn’t lie,” Incognito said Thursday.