Thursday, December 30, 2004

A Score to Settle

The may have won their division and they already have a playoff spot, but you won't see Brett Farve sitting down after his fist series nor will you see any other starter from the Packer sit down at all.

This Sunday's game will be the 168th meeting between the Packers and their rivals, the Chicago Bears.

Think back to the second Bears contest of the season. Don't think the Packers have forgot about the 21-10 loss given to them at the hands of the Bears. A little scored needs to be settled to start the New Year off right.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Jaguars Freeze Out Packers

from the official site of the Green Bay Packers
Who knew the Jacksonville Jaguars were a cold-weather team?

Byron Leftwich threw two touchdown passes, Fred Taylor rushed for 165 yards and a touchdown and Rashean Mathis picked off Brett Favre twice, helping the Jaguars (8-6) stay in the thick of the AFC playoff race with a 28-25 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Temperatures were in the single digits and the wind chill was well below zero.

"A team that plays in Florida in the 80s and 70s, you just can't condition your body for the temperatures you are going to feel," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "But you can condition your mind and I felt we were ready from that standpoint."

Said Packers coach Mike Sherman: "They have the talent to play in any conditions."

Jaguars safety Donovin Darius was ejected for a helmet-stripping, clothesline hit that sent wide receiver Robert Ferguson to the hospital with 4:41 remaining. Ferguson temporarily lost feeling in his legs, but regained feeling in an ambulance.
For once, it was the Packers who played as if they couldn't wait to get inside.

Favre turned over the ball four times and fell to 31-4 at home after Dec. 1, losing for just the second time in 40 cold-weather games at home.

Nevertheless, the Packers (8-6) became the ninth team in NFL history to reach the playoffs after a 1-4 start. They clinched before kickoff because Chicago, Dallas, Carolina and New York all lost in the run-of-the-mill NFC.

"We're in the playoffs?" Packers lineman Mark Tauscher responded incredulously. "I'll take your word for it."

The Packers fell into a tie with Minnesota atop the NFC North after the Vikings edged Detroit 28-27 Sunday. They travel to Minneapolis for a Christmas Eve matinee that will decide the division.

"Our goal is to win the division and that is still out there," Sherman said.

Favre hit Antonio Chatman with a 6-yard touchdown throw and found Donald Driver for the 2-point conversion to pull Green Bay to 28-25 with 1:08 left. But Jacksonville safety Nick Sorensen recovered the onside kick and the Jaguars handed Green Bay its fourth loss at Lambeau Field this season.

Leftwich was battered all afternoon, bruising his left wrist in the second quarter on a hit by Cullen Jenkins, but he hung in to guide the Jaguars to a season-high points total. Favre also was hurt in the second quarter and played with tape on his left wrist and thumb after jamming it into the ground.

The drive ended when safety Deon Grant stripped the ball away from Driver in the end zone.

Driver's 32-yard catch gave Green Bay a 17-14 lead in the third quarter, but Taylor put the Jaguars ahead for good 90 seconds later with a 32-yard run.

Then Mathis intercepted in the end zone on first-and-goal from the 3, "the easiest pick I ever had," Mathis said.

"I hope I never do that again," Favre said.
Then, Del Rio went on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and rookie Greg Jones rewarded the risk with a touchdown that gave Jacksonville a 28-17 lead with 10 minutes left.

"We were ready for the cold mentally," Del Rio said. "And we did not let the elements dictate how we played."

The Packers sure did.

It was typical Green Bay winter weather: 12 degrees at kickoff with a wind chill of minus-3. As Leftwich said, "This was beyond cold."

But it was the Packers who looked completely out of their element.

Green Bay committed 12 penalties for 101 yards, Ryan Longwell 's streak of 45 straight field goals inside 40 yards ended and Ahman Green fumbled at the Jaguars 10, one of four Packers turnovers inside the Jacksonville 23.

"They beat us in supposedly our elements," Tauscher said. "The AFC is just a better conference this year."

About the only thing that went right for the Packers was safety Darren Sharper's heads-up touchdown.

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila pummeled Leftwich and the ball squirted loose for what appeared to be an incompletion. While linebackers Hannibal Navies and Nick Barnett walked away from the ball, Jacksonville guard Vince Manuwai nonchalantly picked it up. Sharper came rushing in, poked it away, scooped it up and scampered 15 yards into the end zone.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Butler: It Wasn't Pretty, But It Counts The Same

by LeRoy Butler, Special To
While it wasn't the prettiest game, the Green Bay Packers got back on the right track with a big win at home against a division opponent Sunday, beating the Detroit Lions. And it doesn't matter how you get there, the only thing that counts is that you end up in the lead at the end of the game.

Although it was a great victory, with the Packers defense, it seems that you can almost pick your poison. Either they aren't going to play very well against the pass, or they're going to have trouble defending the run.

In the first half, the Packers had plenty of trouble defending the run. For some reason, the defense really picked it up in the second half. Kevin Jones came into the game after a 196-yard effort against the Arizona Cardinals and was a hot running back.

He showed again on Sunday why he's got a bright future in this league as he ran for over 100 yards in the first half. But the second half was a different story as the Packers came out after halftime and shut down Jones and the rest of the Lions team.

Overall, the defense played pretty well Sunday. If you look at them falling behind 13-0, and then holding that team scoreless in the second half - not to mention holding them to under 50 yards passing - that was a good performance.

I know the wind and the weather helped them out, but still the guys played hard and in the second half, there was a fire lit up under the defense.

Offensively, Brett Favre had a slow start. I think it may have been the first time in his career that he went through the first quarter without completing a pass.

But if you were on that field or at that game, you know how much of a factor the wind really was. If you weren't at the game, you just had to look at the field goals that Ryan Longwell kicked. He would start them at the left goal post and they would get blown back right down the middle.

But it seems that Brett Favre is the only quarterback in the league that can throw through the strong winds of Lambeau Field consistently. Those winds were some of the strongest that I've ever felt in Green Bay and it took Brett and the receivers a little while to get connected in the passing game.

Ahman Green and the offensive line have to take over in conditions like we saw on Sunday. They did a very good job, not only Ahman, but Tony Fisher and Najeh Davenport as well. Having three backs like that, you can always rotate a fresh runner in late in the game and take advantage of a tired defensive line.

In a game like Sunday's, you look for opportunities to make big plays, and that's what Brett Favre did on his touchdown pass to Donald Driver. Driver showed great concentration to go up between two defenders to come up with that touchdown. That's the kind of excitement that this team brings to the field.

I've told you guys over and over again that it may be like that sometimes - that the Green Bay Packers may be behind a touchdown or two, but they are never out of it. Great teams find ways to win games.

The Packers seem to be getting healthy now and are in good shape going into these last three crucial games. With a win Sunday, the Green Bay Packers can get to one of their goals - which is the first goal every year - to get into the playoffs.

I think the coaching staff did a great job last week in getting the team ready and keeping them focused after a tough loss. They kept the team together and kept them focused on the big picture and ready to come out and win a crucial division game.

That's the good thing about the National Football League - each week you have a chance to redeem yourself. The Packers did just that on Sunday, and I look for them to keep rolling as December goes along.