Nov 1, 2010 ~ by Brian E Murphy
~”Excellent road victory, just like we talked about as a team, it was the first time we’ve had a shutout on the road since 1991. I’m very proud of our defense, I thought they were outstanding today particularly with the three turnovers and the two big stops on fourth down.”
— Packers head coach Mike McCarthy
“It’s a credit to our players and I’ll tell you what, it’s a credit to our defensive staff. To have four transactions in one week and to get the players acclimated. Juggling the 53 to the 45, it was really a challenge, particularly for Shawn Slocum, I can’t say enough about the job he has done because that’s the first area that has been affected by our changing of the depth chart week to week and I thought Dom [Capers] did a very good job of inserting those guys.”
“It feels really good to win on the road against one of the better teams in the AFC and NFL on their turf. The defense really held us up, (we) came through with some clutch drives and we got the field goals. It feels real good.”
— Packers receiver Greg Jennings
“It’s a big one, but that’s just the way this season has gone. We’ve had some close games that have come down to the final plays, gone into overtime and we’ve come out on the wrong end of them. Today, (it was) a tough defensive battle and ours came up big and came up with a big win.”
— Packers cornerback Charles Woodson
“We know the type of players we have on this team. We know the type of team that we have. It doesn’t matter what everyone else says or thinks.”
— Packers safety Charlie Peprah
“I think our defense did a really good job today. It was a great effort. They held them to nine points, and we need to help them out on offense. That starts with the quarterback. I can’t give them picks like that. I was happy with the decisions, but the throws have to be better. It was a poor performance by myself, and it’s tough to get an offense going when your quarterback isn’t playing well.”
— Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez
“I think some passes just got away from me. The thing was that I was making the right decisions witht he ball, I just wasn’t putting it in the right spot, and I have to help the receivers out. When I’m not playing well, it’s really hard for (offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) to make the right calls. It’s hard to get the running game going when we’re not getting completions, and we left a lot of completions out there today. It’s just a poor job on my part.”
“I thought our defense was outstanding. We held them to 14 percent on third-down conversions. We didn’t it done as a team. We had a coulpe of costly interceptions, and that’s all I’ll say about it. I thought Mark (Sanchez) wasn’t throwing the ball very effectively in the first half, I thought he threw it much better in the second half, but we just couldn’t catch it. That’s uncharacteristic of this football team to drop some balls. It’s just frustrating. (Kicker) Nick (Folk) missed a field goal that he’s been making in his sleep. We just weren’t good enough today.”
— Jets coach Rex Ryan
“This was something that (punter) Steve (Weatherford) did on his own. I don’t think he realized we’d just been sacked. We told him before that it needed to be a manageable situation, not fourth-and-20 or whatever it was. As he was running, I was trying to make sure he knew where the first down marker was. I don’t think he was clear on that.”
— Ryan on the Jets’ failed fake punt.
Oct 31, 2010 ~ by Brian E Murphy
~New Meadowlands Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ – Aaron Rodgers and the offense were atrocious Sunday afternoon in New Jersey.
Combined with some more dropped passes, including a big one by James Jones in the 2nd half, Rodgers misfired all over the place on a day he finished with a 44% completion percentage, and passer rating in the 50′s.
He guided the offense to a very un-clutch 2-14 on third down conversions, while leading the offense to a grand total of 273 yards. But as bad as Rodgers and the receivers were, they didn’t turn the ball over, the special teams didn’t allow a return for a touchdown, and they only were called for 15 yards in penalties. In the end, that was good enough. Or “un-bad” enough.
And that was thanks to the defense. Yes the same depleted defense that was missing Barnett, Burnett, Pickett, Neal, Jones, Bigby, Harris, Martin, and Harrell.
Coming into this game, many experts expected the Jets vaunted running game to chew up the Packers thin defense, especially coming off of their bye week, fresh and rested.
It didn’t happen. The Packers, anchored by BJ Raji, held the duo of LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonne Greene to a measly 76 yards on 22 carries, a 3.4 average.
Desmond Bishop led the way with 10 solo tackles, while NFL sack leader Clay Matthews added 5 tackles and a very important sack on the Jets potential winning drive, on 3rd down.
Rookie C.J Wilson led the defensive line with three tackles, and continued to show why I felt he was a late round steal in April’s NFL Draft. I still expect Wilson to start crashing into opposing quarterbacks, because he showed that ability in college. However, it’s pretty tough for him to do much of that when Dom Capers usually only employs one or two defensive linemen on passing downs.
On the back end, both starting cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson came up with very strange interceptions. On both occasions, the wide receiver and Packer cornerback went to the ground with the ball in each guy’s hands, but the Packer won the battle each time for critical interceptions.
Cullen Jenkins returned to action after missing the past game and a half. He only registered a solo tackle, but he often pushed the pocket back into Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Newcomer, NT Howard Green, was welcomed back to New York by Jets fans, and he added a couple of tackles and some very important downs played for the depleted defensive line.
All the points were scored by Packer kicker Mason Crosby, who was 3-for-4 on his field goal attempts. The Jets kicker Nick Folk missed his only field goal attempt in the second half.
In the end, the Packers came away with an important and surprising victory, and every W in the W-L column is important this season.
The Packers now go home and will host the seemingly hibernating Dallas Cowboys in NBC’s Football Night in America, again, like last week versus Minnesota. Dallas is coming off of an embarrassing 35-17 home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. They made Jaguars QB David Garrard look like the NFL MVP as he accounted for 5 touchdowns and had a near-perfect 157 passer rating.
Dallas is now 1-6 on the year, and this was the season many experts penciled the Cowboys into the Super Bowl, which is in Dallas. Head Coach Wade Phillips might not last until kickoff as he’s been on the hot seat all year long, and it’s now reached the boiling point in Big D.
Oct 30, 2010 ~ by Rob Demovsky
~What’s wrong with Charles Woodson?
Joe Whitt has heard the question, and the Green Bay Packers cornerbacks coach understands why.
His star player — who won the NFL’s defensive player of the year award last season — hasn’t made the kind of eye-opening plays he did last season, when he tied for the league lead with nine interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns, and forced five fumbles (including the playoffs).
Through seven games, Woodson has just one interception, although he did return it 48 yards for a touchdown in Week 4 against Detroit, and two forced fumbles.
“He hasn’t played poorly,” Whitt said on Friday. “He’s actually played better than he did last year.”
When asked how that was possible, Whitt pointed to Woodson’s coverage. Last season, according to STATS, an independent sports data and statistical services, Woodson gave up completions 47.6 percent of the time teams threw at him. While Whitt said he didn’t have Woodson’s up-to-date numbers, he said they are better than last season.
“I hear everybody saying he’s having a down year,” Whitt said. “He’s covered better. He’s given up less plays than he did last year.
Wood gave up some plays last year, but he made so many splash plays that he just overwhelmed them. He’s just not making the splash plays like he did last year.”
In addition to the lack of game-changing plays, two things stand out about Woodson’s play. He already has been penalized nine times — one more than he had all of last season, when he led the defense in that category — and he has been on the ground far more than in the past. One of the basic rules of football is to stay on your feet.
The penalties have been a source of frustration, according to his coaches and teammates, and there are indications that the toe injury that has kept Woodson from practicing much of this season is worse than anyone knows. Woodson may also be dealing with other physical problems, although he rarely talks about injuries. He wasn’t in the Packers’ locker room Friday when it was open to reporters.
“I haven’t asked him (about his health),” Whitt said. “I have a policy that if you’re going to play on game day, we’re not going to make any excuses. You’ve got to play.”
Whatever Woodson’s health problems are, he seems more bothered by the penalties than anything else. Woodson was furious over the pass interference penalty that was called on Packers’ rookie Morgan Burnett late in the Week 3 loss at Chicago. After that game, he said, “It’s such an offensive-minded league that you can just throw a ball up on a play and if we touch a guy remotely, then they call a penalty, and that’s got to change.”
Two weeks later against Washington, Woodson was penalized three times — for illegal contact, illegal use of hands and pass interference. The week after that against Miami, Woodson was called for two penalties — illegal contact and holding — while covering receiver Brandon Marshall, who finished with 10 catches for 127 yards (not all against Woodson).
“He’s been very frustrated,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Like against Brandon Marshall, the guy throws us like three times, then (Woodson) gets up and gets called for it. He is a little bit marked. It’s happened too many times. He feels a little marked because of his style of play.”
Full story HERE
Oct 30, 2010 ~ by Bob McGinn
~Green Bay — The Green Bay Packers have made a competitive contract offer to Tramon Williams that is commensurate with what they’ve paid Al Harris, the player he is replacing at right cornerback.
In the midst of an outstanding season, the 27-year-old Williams ranks at the top of the list of players the Packers want to re-sign for the long haul.
The Journal Sentinel learned the club is willing to pay Williams more than Harris, whose average per year is $5.418 million, but not close to Charles Woodson, whose deal averages $9.73 million.
Since his first renegotiation in 2004, Harris has received $11.75 million in signing and roster bonuses. It’s expected that Williams’ next contract would include bonuses in the $10 million to $12 million range.
Williams and his agent, Rodney Williams of Katy, Texas, are weighing what the Packers have offered against a possible excursion into the next unrestricted free-agent market.
If, as expected, the next labor agreement brings a return to four accrued seasons as the trigger for unrestricted eligibility, Williams would be unrestricted in 2011.
“Whatever happens happens, but I want to be in Green Bay,” Tramon Williams said Friday. “Me waiting until unrestricted, I’m not into that. If it happens to go that way, then it does.”
At present, Williams is playing on a one-year, restricted free-agent tender worth $3.043 million. That ranks 36th among all cornerbacks in the National Football League and 17th among all Packers players.
Woodson, 34, ranks fourth among cornerbacks at $9.73 million. Harris, who will turn 36 next month, ranks 23rd at $5.418 million.
If Williams’ new deal were to average $6 million, he would be tied with Buffalo’s Terrence McGee for 19th at the position. He would move to 15th if his deal were to average $7 million and into a tie for eighth with Washington’s DeAngelo Hall if it were to average $9 million.
Most of the bona fide No. 1 cornerbacks average more than $8 million, led by Oakland’s Nnamdi Asomugha at $14.296 million.
Full story HERE
Oct 28, 2010 ~ by Jason Wilde
~GREEN BAY – Being an old linebacker himself – and one from the bravado capital of the college football world, the University of Miami (Fla.) – Winston Moss has always had an appreciation for players who can talk a good game, and then would back it up by playing one.
So maybe that’s why the Green Bay Packers inside linebackers coach has so thoroughly enjoyed watching Desmond Bishop the past three weeks, as the fourth-year linebacker has seized the opportunity he’s been clamoring for for the last several years.
“When his opportunity came up a few weeks ago, it was a great opportunity for me to tell him, ‘You’ve been waiting for this since you’ve been here. So you’re either going to respond at the highest level and be a man of your word, or you’re going to be a lot of nothing,’” Moss said as Bishop prepared to make his fourth consecutive start in place of injured Nick Barnett (wrist) Sunday when the Packers (4-3) travel to face the New York Jets (5-1) at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
“The thing I’ve liked about this whole ride with him so far is, he’s been given a golden opportunity, and he’s taken advantage of it. So far.
“It’s been good to see that. The challenge every single week, because (he’s one of those) young guys, is when you get that pat on the back, you tend to think, ‘OK, I can take it easy.’ Desmond, we have to see how he handles all his success.”
Considering the pressure he put on himself by repeatedly saying he was a starting-caliber player, Bishop has certainly handled his role – and his success – just fine.
“He is ready,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I am sure he felt that he was ready a long time ago.”
Indeed he did. But more on that in a moment.
In Bishop’s three starts this season, he’s registered 40 tackles (13 at Washington on Oct. 10, 16 against Miami on Oct. 17 and 11 last Sunday night against Minnesota), one sack (on the Redskins’ Donovan McNabb) and Sunday night’s interception against Minnesota’s Brett Favre, which he returned 32 yards for a touchdown that proved to be the margin of victory.
Now that’s walking the walk after talking the talk.
“I did put some pressure on myself, because I’ve been saying what I can do but I haven’t actually gotten the opportunity to put it out there. So when I did get out there, there was pressure on me,” Bishop said. “But it was a good kind of pressure – the kind of pressure that motivates you to do well, as opposed to the pressure that makes you mess up. Yeah, I used it as motivation, I played to it, and now I’m trying to keep it rolling.
“(Waiting) sucked, for lack of a better word. But once the opportunity came, I used it as motivation to push me forward. The wait, I kind of used it as momentum.”
The knock on Bishop during his first three NFL seasons – he entered the league as the second of the Packers’ three sixth-round picks in 2007 – was that his big-play knack was overshadowed by his inability to be assignment-sure.
For instance, when pressed into duty after Barnett suffered a season-ending knee injury early in a Nov. 9, 2008 loss at Minnesota, Bishop recorded nine tackles and ripped the ball away from running back Adrian Peterson while stuffing Peterson on a fourth-down play. But Bishop also blew the containment on Chester Taylor on a pass in the left flat on the play after Barnett’s injury, allowing Taylor to turn a 5-yard completion into a 47-yard touchdown in the Packers’ 28-27 loss to the Vikings.
The coaches opted to start Brandon Chillar in Barnett’s place instead of Bishop after that, but when Chillar suffered a groin injury a few weeks later, Bishop made his first NFL start against the Houston Texans on Dec. 7.
In that game, Bishop had a team-high 11 tackles and again made some memorable plays – a third-down tackle-for-loss to force a punt on Houston’s second offensive series; a second-quarter goal-line strip of tight end Owen Daniels to prevent a touchdown; and his first NFL sack, as he threw quarterback Matt Schaub for a 6-yard loss midway through the second quarter.
But he also made mistakes. He allowed fullback Vonta Leach to carry him down the sideline for a 21-yard gain, which Bishop made worse with a 15-yard personal-foul facemask penalty to set up a field goal; then, with 1:08 left in the game, he blew the coverage on Daniels on a second-and-6 play from the Texans’ 48-yard line, leading to a 27-yard gain that set up the game-winning field goal.
In Bishop’s estimation, the coaches used those two instances – fairly or not – as their reasoning for keeping him on the bench.
“You know, perception is reality, so that was just the perception,” Bishop said. “I’m definitely a better player now, mentally and physically. You get better with more experience. But I’m really the same player. The whole notion of not being assignment-sure … I can say I am in the right places now, but only because I’m getting experience and I’m studying more as opposed to then, when I was backing up everybody, learning five positions, and they’d throw me in. That’s then, this is now.”
Bishop confessed that he grew frustrated with his role as a situational backup and special-teams player, and wondered whether his future would be in Green Bay. During training camp, he was supposed to compete with A.J. Hawk for the starting job alongside Barnett, but the competition never materialized, and what Bishop did in preseason games wasn’t impressive enough to unseat Hawk. Chillar, meanwhile, got the nod as the nickel inside linebacker along with Barnett until a Sept. 27 shoulder injury.
“The thing that’s misleading about the preseason is that you’re not game planning, you’re probably playing against second-tier players, and you’re playing against a lesser focused opponent. So I’ve never put too much emphasis on evaluation of the preseason,” Moss said. “(But) fate has it that we’ve had Nick go down, we’ve had Chillar have his situation with his shoulder.
“To his credit, Desmond’s always been a guy that’s worked hard. He took it upon himself (to say), ‘If those guys are going to give me the opportunity, I’m going to put myself in position to where if I’m called upon, I’m going to respond. My Achilles’ heel has always been (to) get a play but give up a play as well. I’ve got to get over that hump.’ He took that as a challenge and he’s responded with being able to really focus and be detailed on what he’s doing.
“When he’s been a role player, or a couple years ago when he started (that) game, those critical errors would come up at the poorest of times, especially in situations at the end of games that were really, really detrimental. Now that he’s a starter, he’s been able to do a great job of maintaining a high level of detail and efficiency while keeping that playmaker mentality.”
Full story HERE
Oct 28, 2010 ~ by Jeff Maillet & Rob Reischel, PackerInsider
~When: Noon. Where: New Meadowlands Stadium.
Television: Fox. Radio: AM-620 in Milwaukee metro area.Wayne Larrivee will call the play-by-play action for the Packers Radio Network with Larry McCarren providing the analysis.
Line: Jets by 5. Series record: Jets lead, 8-2.
Last time they met: Jets38, Packers 10, on Dec. 3, 2006, at Lambeau Field.
Jets quarterback Chad Pennington put together three touchdown drives of 70 yards or more in the second quarter as New York cruised to an easy victory.
New York (7-5) built a 31-0 halftime lead as snow flurries floated to the ground and boos showered down from the grandstands on a windy 19-degree day.
Pennington, who was 25 of 35 for 263 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, connected with eight receivers. Cedric Houston carried 22 times for a career-high 105 yards and two touchdowns.
Fans booed the Packers (4-8) several times and loudly as they jogged to the tunnel at halftime.
“I’d be booing too,” McCarthy said. “Shoot, they should boo us. I’ve got no problem with that. This is a man’s league, a man’s business and a man’s game.”
Packer spotlight: Receiver James Jones, who entered the Minnesota game with 177 yards receiving this season, caught four passes for 107 yards against the Vikings. The Packers need Jones, who had a costly fumble against the Bears in Week 3, to put up solid numbers to help fill the void left by injured tight end Jermichael Finley.
The defensive line is in shambles. Cullen Jenkins strained a calf muscle before the Vikings game, and Ryan Pickett left the game after hurting his ankle.
The loss of those two, plus the likely season-ending shoulder surgery to rookie end Mike Neal, leaves the team with three linemen: starting nose tackle B.J. Raji, second-year end Jarius Wynn and rookie end C.J. Wilson.
Jets spotlight: Darrelle Revis is one Jet who really needed the bye week. The star cornerback has an injured hamstring, which was not fully healed in New York’s last game in Denver. Revis rehabbed his injury at the Jets facility all last week.
The team reviewed video of the 24-20 win over the Broncos and saw lots of room for improvement, but also something coach Rex Ryan said is becoming a hallmark of this year’s team.
“We made plenty of mistakes, a ton of mistakes, yet we never gave up faith,” Ryan said. “I see the confidence we have in each other and how hard we play for each other. We don’t quit.
Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has already thrown more interceptions this year (nine) than he did all of last season (seven). Rodgers’ two interceptions against Minnesota came in Vikings’ territory and likely took points off the board.
New York’s Mark Sanchez is an emerging young player. Sanchez’s arm strength isn’t special, but he’s extremely poised for a 23-year-old quarterback. He hasn’t made many big plays, but he hasn’t made any critical mistakes.
→ ADVANTAGE: Packers
New York’s LaDainian Tomlinson has discovered the fountain of youth and is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 81.7 yards per game. Tomlinson isn’t as nifty as he once was, but he’s running hard and with a purpose. Second-year man Shonn Greene, a star in last year’s playoffs, was supposed to be the lead back but has taken a back seat to Tomlinson.
Still, Greene is a load who lacks breakaway speed. Green Bay’s Brandon Jackson is averaging a respectable 4.5 yards per carry.
→ ADVANTAGE: Jets
Green Bay’s James Jones had a big game vs. Minnesota, crossing the 100-yard barrier for just the fourth time in his career. Greg Jennings also has produced at a high level the last two weeks, with 207 total yards and two TDs. The Jets traded for troubled Santonio Holmes this off-season and then played without him the first four weeks as he served a suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. When focused, Holmes is a legitimate No. 1. Braylon Edwards, the No. 3-overall pick in the 2005 draft, is explosive but extremely inconsistent. Tight end Dustin Keller is a beast and already has five touchdowns.
→ ADVANTAGE: Packers
The Jets have arguably the best offensive line in football. C Nick Mangold is football’s best, playing with great leverage and strength. LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson is another budding star. Ferguson started his career slowly but has come on in the last two years. Green Bay held Minnesota without a sack Sunday after allowing 14 to the Vikings in two games a year ago. Quietly, Scott Wells is having a terrific season.
→ ADVANTAGE: Jets
Green Bay’s depleted front got spirited performances from reserves C.J. Wilson (eight tackles) and Jarius Wynn (one sack) Sunday night. The Jets allow just 90.0 rushing yards per game, the sixth-best total in the NFL. New York also is holding foes to 3.5 yards per rush, which ranks fourth. NT Sione Pouha has filled in admirably for the injured Kris Jenkins (ACL).
■ ADVANTAGE: Jets
Green Bay’s Desmond Bishop has excelled in place of Nick Barnett. His 32-yard interception return for a touchdown against Minnesota was the first by a Packer linebacker since Barnett in 2005. Jets ILB David Harris, a fourth-year pro out of Michigan, continues to blossom into one of the game’s top players at his position. Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace – the two outside linebackers in New York’s 3-4 scheme – have combined for just 2 1/2 sacks.
→ ADVANTAGE: Packers
Jets CB Darrelle Revis has battled a hamstring injury and hasn’t performed at his 2009 level when he had 37 passes defensed and six interceptions.
Still, he ranks among football’s top corners. Antonio Cromartie, acquired from San Diego this off-season to team with Revis, is a terrific athlete with ideal size (6-foot-2, 203 pounds) but lacks maturity. Green Bay’s Tramon Williams is having a Pro Bowl season. Could this be the week we see CB Al Harris and S Atari Bigby?
→ ADVANTAGE: Even
Green Bay’s Pat Lee showed some burst on kickoff returns. Still, he runs east-west too much instead of north-south. The Jets are terrific in virtually all special teams phases. New York ranks second in the league in kick returns (29.4) and 10th on punt returns (10.1). Brad Smith, a college quarterback, handles kicks (31.8) and Jim Leonard handles punts (12.3). Kicker Nick Folk has made 86.7% of his attempts, while punter Steve Weatherford ranks fifth in net average (40.1) and seventh in gross (45.5).
→ ADVANTAGE: Jets
New York’s Rex Ryan is bold and bombastic – and he doesn’t care. His players love him and do everything possible to back up his brash proclamations. Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy, runner-up for NFL Coach of the Year in 2007, is 21-19 since.
→ ADVANTAGE: Jets
Rest of story HERE, including 5 Things to Watch
Oct 27, 2010 ~ by Brian E Murphy
~Packers linebacker Brad Jones made big news Sunday night, and Monday, when he crunched Vikings QB Brett Favre, and injured the ankle of the iron man.
There was, still is, talk about Favre’s consecutive game streak being in jeopardy due to the ankle, however most people expect Brett to answer the bell as always.
On the flip side, the guy who made the hit on Favre is a Packer, and we all know what that means this year, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
That’s right. Word came today that Jones had a significant shoulder injury. Then, early this evening, it was announced that the Packers ended his season outright and placed Jones on the ever-growing IR list.
Bad for the Packers sure, but not lonely for him as Brad will have plenty of company this year, and we’re only seven weeks in. There’s a lot of football left yet.
Oct 27, 2010 ~ by Lori Nickel
~Green Bay — This is just weird.
Jermichael Finley is out. Nick Barnett, too. Ryan Grant is long gone.
Glancing down the line, no Mark Tauscher.
Big man Ryan Pickett is battling injury; Brandon Chillar, too. Can’t believe the latest news of Mike Neal and Brady Poppinga. Can’t wait to get Al Harris and Atari Bigby back.
One of the advantages, one theory goes, of having a young team is that young players can withstand injuries or heal faster.
And yet here’s 34-year-old “Big Cliff,” still standing.
Among the foremost concerns for the Green Bay Packers heading into the season were the knees of left tackle Chad Clifton and the calendar working against the 11-year veteran.
He has had a long history of battling, repairing and playing through injuries, but he was feeling less than great at the start of the season. He had a sore left knee nagging him in training camp.
That’s all long gone now.
“I feel good. I feel so much better than I did coming into the season,” Clifton said.
It has really showed. Clifton held Minnesota’s Jared Allen at bay, playing him one-on-one for most of Green Bay’s 28-24 victory Sunday.
Clifton and the rest of the offensive line gave quarterback Aaron Rodgers plenty of time to work and kept him from getting sacked.
“That’s priority No. 1 for an offensive lineman. We’re definitely proud of that,” said Clifton.
Rodgers appreciated it, especially after getting sacked 14 times in the two Minnesota games in 2009.
Rodgers said the play of the tackles, with the play calling of coach Mike McCarthy, kept Minnesota’s defensive line of Allen and Kevin and Pat Williams off-balance. McCarthy mixed the screens with straight drop-back throws.
“We had a good flow there,” said Rodgers. “At times they weren’t even rushing. They were content with staying at the line of scrimmage and jumping. So when you can slow down great rushers like that, that’s a win for us, and those guys did a great job.”
The Packers hoped to get this kind of production out of Clifton when they re-signed him to a three-year, $20 million contract that included $7.5 million of guaranteed money in March.
Now Clifton is on a roll.
“This is probably the third week in a row that Chad Clifton’s played very, very good football,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “The kind we’re used to seeing him play. He’s played well the last few weeks, and we need him to continue to do that.”
In back-to-back losses to Miami and Washington, Clifton still played well. He shut down Redskins linebacker Andre Carter. Against Miami, Clifton withstood the rush so well from Cameron Wake that the outside linebacker had to go to the other side because he wasn’t getting anywhere with Clifton. Against Detroit, Clifton neutralized Kyle Vanden Bosch.
But the performance against Minnesota was especially gratifying.
“Huge game. Game we needed to win. Division game. That’s a quality team,” said Clifton. “They have a lot of great players. And it got us on the winning track. It’s a long season; there’s a lot of football to be played. We just need to try to take this victory and try to move forward. Obviously we were all excited. This was so big for the team, to get back to the winning category.”
Of course, pass protection isn’t all there is to it. Clifton has been very good at run blocking.
Green Bay’s running game against Minnesota better reflected what McCarthy has wanted: quality, and not necessarily quantity, in rushing carries. Brandon Jackson carried 13 times for 58 yards and one touchdown.
Oct 26, 2010 ~ by Bob McGinn of PackerInsider
~Lambeau Field — Brett Favre isn’t invincible after all wearing a Minnesota Vikings uniform at Lambeau Field. The Green Bay Packers aren’t finished, either.
What might have been Favre’s final game in the city he brought so much glory for 16 years turned into a personal nightmare Sunday night when the Packers intercepted him three times in the second half to post a thrilling 28-24 victory over their border rivals.
“Excellent character win,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Definitely something we needed.”
A week ago, the Packers were 3-3, in second place in the NFC North Division and tied for the ninth best record in the NFC.
Today, they’re 4-3, tied for first in the division and deadlocked with four other teams for the fifth best record in the conference.
“It means the world,” running back John Kuhn said. “It shows we can match adversity and overcome it.
We finished a ball game. It might be the boost we needed.”The Packers snapped a three-game losing streak to the Vikings (2-4), who swept them last season with Favre wearing a purple uniform and performing magnificently in both games.
On this unseasonably warm night, Favre threw two careless interceptions in the third quarter and then was late down the middle on another pick early in the scoreless fourth quarter.
Desmond Bishop’s 32-yard return of an interception midway through the third quarter gave Green Bay a 28-17 lead, and an undermanned but dogged defense made it stand up.
“They fought their (expletive) off,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said of a unit that was down to merely three linemen after Cullen Jenkins damaged a calf in warm-ups, and Ryan Pickett lasted just two series on a bum ankle.
“Our defense was really put into a tough spot,” McCarthy added. “I can’t say enough about our three young defensive linemen. They played huge.”
The victory ended a string of close losses for the Packers, elevating McCarthy’s record in games decided by four points or fewer to 5-13. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers pushed his mark in those games to 2-11.
“This week ‘coach’ (McCarthy) didn’t even mention it,” Pickett said, referring to Favre’s return to Green Bay. “But Brett beat us twice last year. I’m just happy for ‘A-Rod.’ I know it means a lot to him.”
Coach Brad Childress essentially tried to take the ball out of Favre’s hands, rushing 36 times for 196 yards compared with 30 dropbacks. But the game ultimately fell to the 41-year-old Favre after the running game had carried Minnesota to the Green Bay 48 at the two-minute warning.
A 26-yard pass to Adrian Peterson moved the Vikings to the 15, but then a false-start penalty on Visanthe Shiancoe and a hands-to-the-face penalty on tackle Phil Loadholt (against Clay Matthews) shoved them back to the 35.
On first down, a touchdown pass to Percy Harvin was overturned when a booth review showed that he had just one foot inbounds.
After a 15-yard check-down to Peterson, Favre threw high back across the field to Randy Moss. On fourth down, with the crowd of 71,107 standing and screaming as one, Favre slipped in the pocket, scrambled to his feet and hurled another end-zone pass to Moss that was over his head.
“When Harvin caught that ball my heart fell to my feet,” said Pickett. “We got a win against a team that handled us pretty good last year.”
Favre finished with a passer rating of merely 50.4. After outplaying Rodgers twice last season, Rodgers (84.8 rating) got some revenge.
“It means we’re 2-1 in the division,” said McCarthy. “This will come down to division games. You could see they (the Vikings) were starting to come on. We knew it’d be a grinder. Our guys came up big.”
The Packers played as well on offense in the first quarter as they have all season, piling up 200 yards in 14 plays. Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier played almost the entire first half rushing four and keeping safeties Tyrell Johnson and Madieu Williams in a two-deep shell.
Given simple reads and more than ample protection, Rodgers had time to find open receivers and, for the most part, threw with top-notch accuracy.
A seven-play, 54-yard drive early in the first quarter ended when Rodgers tried to throw a screen pass to Dimitri Nance and defensive end Jared Allen leaped to make the interception at the 17.
“It was a good reaction by Allen,” general manager Ted Thompson said. “He’s not just a pass rusher. He’s a legitimate football player.”
The Vikings went three and out on their first two possessions against a Green Bay defense that was missing three starters.
It took the Packers just four plays to cover 76 yards and take a 7-0 lead on Brandon Jackson’s 1-yard run. Rodgers drilled a 24-yard dig route to Greg Jennings, and then James Jones took advantage of a slip by cornerback Chris Cook to turn a short slant into a 45-yard completion.
Harvin broke a kickoff return 48 yards before Tramon Williams, the safety on the coverage unit, got him down. After the Vikings converted a pair of third downs, Harvin took a handoff from Favre and burst up the middle 17 yards for a tying touchdown.
“Brett faked to the outside and put the ball in the guy’s hands that can run with it,” Thompson said. “He’s a dynamic player.”
Rodgers came right back, laying an exquisite touch pass on the fingertips of Jones for 32 and then flipping a screen to Jackson for 36. In the first half, Donald Lee turned two screens into 27 yards as coach Mike McCarthy effectively parried the Vikings’ rush.
Full story HERE
Oct 26, 2010 ~ by Don Banks, Sports Illustrated
~GREEN BAY, Wis. — Dispatches from Green Bay’s eventful 28-24 win over reeling Minnesota Sunday night at a giddy Lambeau Field …
1. Brett Favre’s three interceptions against the Packers were pivotal to the Minnesota loss and are sure to reignite the debate about whether he and Vikings head coach Brad Childress are on the same page — and capable of once again working through their well-known differences. After moving heaven and earth to get Favre back to Minnesota this summer, Childress pointed the finger of blame right at his 41-year-old quarterback in the wake of Sunday’s loss, which dropped his team to 2-4, matching its loss total from last season.
When asked about Favre’s three second-half interceptions, one of which was returned 32 yards for a touchdown by middle linebacker Desmond Bishop for the eventual winning points, Childress was blunt.
“It still goes back to taking care of the football,” he said in his postgame session with the media. “You can’t throw it to them. They have to play within the confines of our system. You can’t give seven points going the other way. Not in a game like this.” Favre’s three picks came in a span of seven of his 29 passes, and led directly to 14 Packers points. Childress was asked if Favre forced those passes.
“Yeah, the one to Bishop,” he said. “I’d have to look at that, cause I’d like to know where we’re going with the football, because I believe the play was designed to go to the other side and I think Percy‘s (Harvin) standing there in big air. So not sure why we’re looking at the left-hand side.”
Favre appeared to reinjure his surgically repaired left ankle on the play on which he threw his first interception, to Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, early in the third quarter. Green Bay linebacker Brad Jones hit Favre on the play, forcing a hurried throw that went behind receiver Bernard Berrian.
Childress admitted he considered yanking Favre from the game after his second interception, which came just four minutes after the first and gave Green Bay a 28-17 lead it would not relinquish.
“I did have a thought about it, yes,” Childress said. “I was going to give him that next series and he took us down the field (and threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss to cut the score to 28-24).”
With the Vikings’ season now in dire straits and facing the potential to get worse with next week’s challenging trip to 5-1 New England, the stress points between Childress and Favre that were largely papered over last season appear to re-emerging. And this time, if the losing continues in Minnesota, the differences might become more exposed, as the team’s playoff chances dwindle.
Full story HERE