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FoxSports Story - Packers gain valuable experience in win

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by gmann001, Jan 13, 2008.

  1. gmann001

    gmann001 Cheesehead

    Sep 29, 2005
    Link to story

    GREEN BAY, Wis. - The NFL's youngest team grew up right before our very eyes Saturday at Lambeau Field.

    Well, at least until third-quarter snow showers made it quite difficult for the record crowd of 72,168 to see the field.

    But by then, Green Bay's 42-20 trouncing of Seattle was well under way. And it was three of Green Bay's babes — running back Ryan Grant, wide receiver Greg Jennings and strong safety Atari Bigby — who were helping 38-year-old quarterback Brett Favre lead the rout.

    "We have a lot of respect for (the veterans)," said Bigby, who had a team-high seven tackles and a key forced fumble. "When I get older, I don't want to hear guys saying, 'Ok, we've got next year.' We want to win right now."

    Grant (one year of NFL experience), Jennings (two) and Bigby (two) had never appeared in a playoff game. Neither had 33 other members of Green Bay's 53-man roster, which averages less than 27 years of age.

    Almost immediately after kickoff, it seemed unlikely that they would be in another one this season. Fumbles from Grant on Green Bay's first two possessions helped Seattle take a 14-0 lead just 1:09 into the game.

    Earlier this season, the Packers might not have had the maturity to rebound from such a disastrous start. They couldn't in late November against Dallas after falling behind by double digits early en route to a 37-27 defeat.

    While the loss helped Dallas clinch home-field advantage throughout the postseason, the Packers clearly were better prepared Saturday from having played in such a high-profile contest.

    "The Dallas game was something we pointed to throughout our preparation," said Mike McCarthy, also in his first playoff game as a head coach. "I feel like we definitely learned our lessons."

    Grant did after his early mistakes Saturday. Following the second fumble, he worked with running backs coach Edgar Bennett to lower his pad level. He then shrugged off memories of the turnovers and began exploiting a Seahawks defense prone to over-pursue and unable to protect its right perimeter.

    Grant finished with a franchise playoff-record 201 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns.

    "The first thing in my mind (after the fumbles) was, 'It happens. It sucks. Let's move on,'" Grant said. "You have to keep moving on."

    As Grant was trying to get on track, Jennings picked up the slack. Jennings admitted he was so psyched about being in the playoffs that he stood the entire game because "I couldn't sit down."

    "Maybe I don't know any better, but I was overly excited," he said.

    Jennings transferred that enthusiasm back into a stunned crowd with a 15-yard touchdown catch that answered Seattle's second score.

    "Just that drive in itself was big, going down and getting seven points," Jennings said of his team's six-play, 69-yard march. "For us to move the ball that methodically was huge."

    So was Bigby's fumble-causing hit on Seahawks tight end Marcus Pollard after a Grant touchdown run had tied the score at 14-14. The Packers recovered, leading to another Favre-to-Jennings scoring pass that put Green Bay ahead for good.

    "(Pollard) caught the ball and I tried to get there before he could even turn around," Bigby said. "I felt like somebody had to do something to get the momentum back."

    Green Bay's veterans did their part as well. Right tackle Mark Tauscher didn't allow Seattle's Patrick Kerney — who entered the game as the NFL's hottest defensive end — a single tackle. That gave the league's most storied graybeard ample time to pick apart Seattle's secondary.

    Favre rolled back the clock in 2007, but Saturday's game might have marked his finest performance this season. Favre missed on only five of his 23 attempts and avoided his tendency to force passes when playing from behind.

    There was even a vintage Favre play late in the first half after he was flushed from the pocket on a third-and-eight. Favre stumbled — "That looked bad," he deadpanned — but kept his feet long enough to make an underhand toss to tight end Donald Lee that gained 11 yards. Grant plowed into the end zone from 3 yards out on the next play.

    Favre not only played like a kid. He acted like one, too. Favre pegged wide receiver Donald Driver with a snowball after Grant's third touchdown put Green Bay ahead by 22 points with 13:26 remaining.

    "This season in some ways was like this game," Favre said. "I would have never thought we would have had a bye and gone 13-3 and all these great things would happen. Getting down 14-0, I thought, 'Oh, boy. This ain't too good.' But once again, we overcame.

    "How far that carries us remains to be seen. But I think to this point we've surprised a lot of people, including me."

    Part of that surprise is how quickly Green Bay's roster has come together.

    "There's some talent on this team — don't get me wrong," Favre said. "There's not a lot of experience. How we would respond to that today, I had no idea. But we responded in a positive way."

    Green Bay now awaits which team it will face in next Sunday's NFC Championship game. Because they want to play at home, Packers players are hoping the New York Giants pull a road upset Sunday in Dallas. But even if the Giants lose, the Cowboys will have to top a wilier team than the one they previously faced.

    "I think we saw we can play with those guys," Favre said.
  2. mateus

    mateus Cheesehead

    Dec 19, 2007
    hey this was a great read after a great game!
    the post season has begun and its looking good for the pack!
  3. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

    Nov 22, 2005
    What a great article! The game was awesome even if I did have to watch it at work, we made a party of it though which was nice.

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