Wednesday, December 15, 2004

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

by LeRoy Butler, Special To Packers.com
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.

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