Friday, November 30, 2007

The morning after: ouch

Yes, fellow Packer fans, it was not a bad dream. It was real. Our Pack getting beat yet again in Dallas. Brett looking like more the QB of the 90's losing in Dallas rather than the QB of 2007 winning anywhere and everywhere.

But the big ouch was Brett getting knocked out of the game in the second quarter. Initially it was diagnosed as an elbow injury. Later on it was stated as an elbow sprain and funny bone injury affecting the nerve more than the bone. We awake this morning, though, to also learn that Brett suffered a partial separation of his left shoulder on that same play. What is amazing, though, was that Brett addressed the media after the game and about the only mention he made of the shoulder was that it was hurt but if need be they'd just "shoot it up" and he'd be ready to go in the game against the Raiders on Dec. 9 at Lambeau. As some of the radio folks were saying this morning, how do you not know you've separated your shoulder? To which one of the other radio folks replied, "He's a freak of nature...but in a good way." Ya think???

Other than Brett's injuries, Coach McCarthy last evening indicated that there were no other injuries he was a aware of coming out of the game. That's good. Because, as noted here and elsewhere, there were certainly enough going into the game. And, it could be argued, those injuries certainly did have an impact on the outcome of the game. The loss of Charles Woodson in the secondary was huge. Jarrett Bush was burned repeatedly, eventually being replaced by Tramon Williams. Players looked out of position and confused. Al Harris admitted afterward that there were "communication problems" in the secondary. But Harris also admitted that there should be no excuses and that the Pack just got beat. The injuries on the defensive line -- Johnny Jolly, Colin Cole, and KGB -- also showed up in the total lack of pressure on Tony Romo all night long. The Pack did not get any sacks, and rarely pressured Romo. Combined with the lack of pressure on the QB and the lack of communication in the secondary, it set things up for a big night for the kid from Burlington, WI.

With that said, as noted in the last post of last evening, backup QB Aaron Rodgers brought the Pack back, leading the team back from a 27-10 deficit to make it 27-24 late in the game. He spearheaded drives leading to two touchdowns and a field goal and kept the Pack in the game right up until the last minute. He looked very sharp on his throws and very poised. If for some reason Brett were unable to go against the Raiders, or could not go all the way, fans should feel much more comfortable with the guy filling the shoes. As Wayne Larrivee, the radio voice of the Packers, said during a radio interview this morning, Rodgers can beat the Raiders. This is not hype from a Packers mouthpiece. Larrivee is a seasoned sportscaster and, in fact, noted that he has watched Rodgers play since his first game at California. Larrivee did and still does college play-by-play announcing and thus had a chance to see Rodgers on more than a few occasions during his college career. Larrivee liked him then and indicated that, unlike many top college QBs who have come into the league and got thrown into play and "get beat up", as Larrivee expressed it, with bad teams, Rodgers -- in his third year -- has had a chance to mature and watch one of the game's best. As Larrivee noted, that will serve both Rodgers and the Packers well whenever Brett decides to finally...well, you know...

If you want to read more about Brett's injuries and related matters, check out this story.

As noted in the final post of last evening, there's a lot to digest about this game. Perhaps there will be more here later today. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Final: Packers 27 - Cowboys 37

Yes, Packer fans, the Dallas curse continues. The Pack went down by a score of 37-27, and their record now stands at 10-2.

A very goofy game, as all these games in Dallas seem to be. Pass interference calls that really aren't. A bobbled pass by T.O. in the end zone that drops into Al Harris' hands. Stuff. But most of it not in favor of the Pack.

If there could be any silver lining to tonight's game it's that we had a chance to see backup QB Aaron Rodgers in extended action. That comes at the price of Brett being knocked out in the second quarter though with an unspecified elbow injury. Still, Rodgers did an outstanding job, at one point completing 11 passes in a row. He finished with over 200 yards passing and about 30 rushing, including several for first downs.'s still a loss. And it does eat at you a bit as a fan because, despite all the injuries and the breaks and calls that went against the Pack, they were within a TD as late as about a minute left in the game. They showed character and they never gave up. At least we can comfort ourselves with that tonight.

Check back here for more details and analysis tomorrow. Now, it's just time to let all this settle in.

Halftime: Packers 17 - Cowboys 27

This will be a brief report: not good.

The Packers for some reason, after having a great opening drive for a field goal, then seemed to get out of their recent ways of success and start taking long downfield shots with no success. It exposed Brett to getting hit (more on that in a moment), which resulted in 2 interceptions (leading to 14 points) and could have resulted in more turnovers. As to Brett getting hit, on his second interception in the second quarter, Brett suffered a right elbow injury. Reports are he has no feeling in his hand. Aaron Rodgers came in for Brett and spearheaded a nice TD drive just before half. Rodgers will likely have to finish the game.

More details in a post-game -- or maybe, next day -- report. Lots of angst that will take time to process.

This game has the feel of those freakin' 90's games again. Weird stuff. Like on Dallas' first series, Al Harris actually stripped T.O. of a pass reception along the sidelines. But one ref called the play dead for forward progress and thus the takeaway was not allowed. That would have been a huge play right off the bat. Instead, Dallas is able to tie up the game at 3-3.

The defense for the Packers has gotten no pressure on Romo whatsoever. They are picking on Jarrett Bush.

This game is not looking good or feeling good. And Dallas gets the ball first in the second half.

Packers vs Cowboys: late-breaking news

Bad news for the Packers as they go into tonight's game. Three of the players who were expected to be gametime decisions because of injuries have all been ruled out for tonight: Charles Woodson, KGB, and Aaron Rouse. With Woodson out, Jarrett Bush will once again be called upon to pick up the slack. Jason Hunter will have to fill KGB's shoes. Nick Collins was going to return to his starter spot tonight even if Aaron Rouse had been able to play, but combined with Woodson's absence it again affects the entire depth of the secondary. The Packers anticipated this situation earlier in the week, though, when they placed Colin Cole on injured reserve and re-signed safety Marviel Underwood to the squad. Reports are, though, that Underwood will be inactive tonight and Will Blackmon will fill one of the back up spots.

These are key hits on the defensive side of the ball. As noted in my earlier post, this game will be an indicator of how deep the Packers really are. But will it be a true test of team vs. team straight up? That may have to wait until the playoffs. Because these two teams will be meeting again.

Go Pack Go!!!

Packers vs Cowboys: The Day Has Arrived!

This is it, Packer fans. The day. The first time since 1990 that two teams with 10-1 records have met up. More importantly, though, one of those 10-1 teams -- for the first time in a long time -- is the Packers. Unfortunately, this game is being played in Dallas. This is where Brett is 0-8. Remember the 1990s, folks? When it seemed like every freakin' year the Pack had to play the Cowboys in Dallas. And every year, something bad would happen to yank victory out of the Pack's collective hands.

But this is a new era. The Packers have been re-born. Still, not many of the prognosticators are giving the Pack much of a chance tonight. The point spread on the game has actually gone up from 6-1/2 points to 7 in favor of the Cowboys. Other than the home field advantage, what can account for this? The thought is the 'boys have a stronger running game. OK, I'll give that edge to them with Barber and Jones to our Ryan Grant. They apparently are giving the defenses a push. While admitting that the Dallas secondary is ready for the picking, they also note that unless Charles Woodson can play most of the game, the Packers will also be weaker in that area given the question mark on Aaron Rouse's health and the fact that Nick Collins is just returning after two weeks of inactivity due to injury. The edge in receivers clearly goes to the Pack. Dallas has T.O. and Witten and that's about it. That might be enough, however, if Woodson is out. Give the edge in QBs, of course, to Brett. The game may well come down, all things being equal -- or relatively so -- to how well each offensive line can protect their quarterback. The expectation, as mentioned in an earlier post, is that when the Pack goes to 4 and 5 receiver sets Dallas will blitz and bring everything they've got. Not keeping a back in to help protect Brett might be deadly in such situations. This will be a chess match, especially early on.

Given all this, the other factor which seems to be looming large in people's minds as to favoring Dallas is that the Pack has more injuries coming into this game. That's true. And it may well be that the effect on depth is enough to undermine the Pack's chances. Or, it may be -- just as it has been all season -- that when one player goes down the next one steps up. On the other hand, that's worked against teams far from the caliber of Dallas. This will be a good test of exactly how deep the Packers go, especially on defense. Because it may come down to which defense can shut down the most key plays. Which defense can bend but not break.

I'm drinking the kool-aid on this game, kids. Packers 31 - Cowboys 27.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Packers - Cowboys: the day before the showdown

So it's the day before the big game in Big D. You know, the biggest game in the NFC this season that only those people who have the NFL Network or live in the local viewing markets will be able to see. Have you got your seat reserved at your local sports bar, fans? For most of the nation, that's the only way you'll see the game. Sad state of cable affairs, indeed.

Aside from that issue, what else do we need to know? Well, that as of the moment, the Packers are 6-1/2 point underdogs to the 'Boys. Two 10-1 teams and there is this kind of spread? Wow. As Donald Driver and some of the other Packers players noted when told about this, the team hasn't been given any respect all year and this is just another sign of that. You know, that little "no respect" chip on the shoulder seems to have served the team well throughout the season so far. I think it will provide even a bit more incentive tomorrow night.

Wayne Larrivee, the radio voice of the Packers and a seasoned all-around sports play-by-play announcer, was asked during a radio interview this morning what he thought about some of the aspects of the upcoming game. He said he felt that when the Pack goes to its 5 wideout scheme that Dallas will blitz and blitz hard. Larrivee noted that Dallas apparently only has one really good cover defensive back, so they don't want to expose their secondary problems on long downfield passes. That means, he said, that the Packers will have to run a lot of slants and short, quick passes in order to short-circuit the blitzes that will be coming. Seems to make sense. It might also be a good thing if the Packers can get a few rushing yards out of Ryan Grant early on, just to keep the defense guessing and perhaps give Brett time to find a receiver downfield on occasion. There will be opportunities to make plays, Larrivee said. Indeed. Other pundits have pointed out that this will be a high scoring game. Probably so.

As to what the Packers will look like on the field, the offensive unit should have all pieces in place. On the defense, we already know that two pieces of the defensive front rotation will not be available: Johnny Jolly and Colin Cole. KGB is also hurting. Ryan Pickett got nicked up. That puts more pressure on the players who are available. It also gives opportunities for some of the other young players to step up in a huge game. Primary among them will be the Packers first round draft pick, Justin Harrell, who to this point of the season has been nearly invisible, actually inactive for quite a few games. This will be an opportunity to show the team and the fans that his selection was not the mistake that many thought it was. How the coaches will play him in the rotation will be an interesting subplot to the game. The other critical question mark on the defensive side of things is the health of Charles Woodson's toe, which he injured on a punt return last week. He will be a gameday decision, although Larrivee said that Woodson would definitely start. The question, as Larrivee acknowledged, will be how long he is able to go. If he can play even the majority of plays, he and Al Harris can take on Dallas' receivers in ways those players haven't seen this season. If Woodson can't go, Larrivee pointed out that Jarrett Bush -- who Larrivee thinks is a fine young player making progress each week -- will be tested. Tony Romo will go right at him the way that John Kitna did last week after he replaced Woodson. Bush will have to step up his game in a hurry. If you want to read the latest on the injury front, check out this article.

That's enough for now. More later.

Breaking News: New Packers President to be Named

The Green Bay Press Gazette is reporting that the Packers will name current Northwestern University Athletic Director Mark Murphy as the new President and CEO of the Green Bay Packers. Murphy has no prior NFL administrative experience, which was something the current and outgoing President Bob Harlan indicated he felt was essential. So much for that idea. Murphy did play in the NFL for eight years as a safety for the Redskins and has some experience with the NFL Players Association. You can read more on this important story here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Packer - Cowboys week: the local angle

And what did you do on your weekend vacation, Bobby? You know, the one without Packers football? Yes, we had our treat early, true, with that Thanksgiving day victory over the Lions. But still...didn't it seem...empty on Sunday? Of course, the talking heads at ESPN and elsewhere did give some mentions of the Pack over the Lions and the upcoming game against the 'boys in Big D. But still...well, you're a Packer fan...I don't have to explain, do I?

One of the main story lines for this week, at least in Wisconsin, is that of the homegrown QB for Dallas, Tony Romo, from little Burlington in the southeastern part of the state. Nothing to really distinguish Burlington except for its annual Chocolate Fest and perhaps the distinction of being the only "Chocolate City USA" in the country...which comes by way of having a Nestle's plant in the city. Then there's the world famous Burlington Liars Club which, as it so happens, is still taking entries through Dec. 17 in search of the 2007 World Champion Liar (see this article for more on that). Oh, and it also has Fred's, Home of the World's Best Burger. OK, there are a few things which make Burlington a nice little city. But Burlington has probably never gotten as much attention as it has since Tony Romo began his rise to NFL star status. He grew up watching and rooting for Brett Favre. Now, he gets to play him for the first time. Some pundits are even starting to say Romo is the next Favre because of the way he plays. Let's wait about 15 years before we see how that works out, shall we?

But by all accounts, Romo was a good kid from a nice family, who -- according to the Burlington High School Athletic Director in a radio interview -- worked for everything he got. So, as you might imagine, hearts and minds are a bit divided this week in Burlington. The consensus might be that locals hope Tony has a good game individually but that the Packers win the game. I think that would be a good compromise, too.

If you'd like to read a story about Burlington's split personality this week, check out this story.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Just in time for the holidays

This is a blatantly commercial plug, fellow Packer fans. Just in time for that most blatantly commercial time of year. You know, the season for buying and exchanging gifts and racking up even more credit card debt than ever before. It's the American way, after all.

It's in that spirit that I have set up a shop. It's a place where you can get official (what other kind would there be?) PackerFansUnited merchandise. You'll find apparel for guys, gals and kids, as well as some cool gift items. Things you can get for yourself, for fellow Packer fans, or even to give to those less fortunate fans of those...other teams...just to annoy them. You know who I mean.

Other items may be added later. But for now, there will be enough to get you started on your holiday shopping. You can either click on the link in the right hand column that says "Visit my store..", or you can click here.

Thanks for reading. And thanks for shopping!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Packers banged up

It's that time of the NFL season when team depth starts to show, well, how deep it is. (Is that a redundancy?) Fortunately for the Packers, they have so far been able to fill every hole that has opened up. Some folks questioned the reasoning in keeping 11 defensive linemen. Not any more. Example: yesterday Colin Cole was not only activated for one of the few games this season but saw a lot of action because of the injury the prior week to Johnny Jolly. Cole wound up fracturing his forearm during the game and he is definitely out for the game against the Cowboys and perhaps longer if surgery is required. Mike Montgomery came in and was involved in several pressures and tackles. This coming week, with both Jolly (out indefinitely) and Cole definitely out, that means first round pick Justin Harrell and Daniel Muir, another rookie, will move up in the D-line scheme.

Others who came out of the game nicked up include: Charles Woodson, who apparently has a jammed toe suffered on his 34-yard punt return; KGB, who hurt his ankle; Aaron Rouse, who was starting in place of the injured Nick Collins, came out with a knee injury; Mark Tauscher's already injured ankle made him give way late in the game for Tony Moll; Donald Driver appeared to have a sore ankle after getting rolled up on while blocking on a rushing play.

Of course, some players have already been out for a while: Bubba Franks and Will Blackmon among them.

So, as we go into this showdown of 10-1 teams next Thursday night -- only the fifth time in the last 60 years that two teams with 10 wins or better have matched up in the regular season -- it might be important to keep an eye on the injury reports for both teams. If you want to keep up to date on the Packers injury status, go here. If you care to keep an eye on the Cowboys injuries, go here.

The Pack needs as many of their topline players available as possible come next Thursday. Given that veteran players like Woodson, Driver, and Tauscher will want to be in that game, count on adrenalin to help carry them onto the field if at all possible. The Pack will need to be firing on all cylinders for the entire 60 minutes of the game. If the starters can't go, the back ups have to be ready. So far this season, they have been. And they'll have to take their game to another level. This game could very well determine home field advantage throughout the playoffs. It will be the Pack's biggest challenge yet. They have the team -- and the coaching -- to get it done. Let's get ready to r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-umble!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pack beats Lions 37 - 26

As expected, the Packers beat the Lions today. The Pack took the lead up by 22 points at one point in the fourth quarter before the Lions made it close again by scoring 14 points in about 3-1/2 minutes. The Pack closed their scoring out by driving down for a 26-yard field goal to make it an 11 point victory. The Lions got one more chance with the ball after that with about 1-1/2 minutes to go.

Items of note: Brett set a new Packers record for pass completions in a row with 20 -- he surpassed the previous record of 18 held jointly by Lynn Dickey and Don Majkowski; Brett has an NFL record 63 three TD pass games; he had his 7th 300+ yard passing game of the season; Ryan Grant surpassed 100 yards rushing on the day with some nice cut back runs, including a couple key runs in the last scoring drive.

All in all, quite a game. A little more nerve-racking at the end then it needed to be, but as Brett said in the post-game on air interview, "We made plays when we needed to." He pointed out that "We have things to clean up" and "At 10-1, we're not a bad team." Indeed, Brett, indeed.

It will be interesting to see as the Pack prepares for next week's showdown in Dallas how some of the injuries they incurred today will come into play. Donald Driver came up gimpy after getting leg whipped and his ankle rolled up on during a 4th quarter running play. Neither Charles Woodson nor KGB returned to the game after halftime. So hopefully all will be healed and ready to roll.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner, folks. 10-1. Gobble gobble...and pass the cranberries, please.

Halftime: Packers 17 - Lions 9

This has not been a pretty half for the Packers. The defense let the Lions march down on their first drive for a field goal. A fumble on the Pack's first offensive play occurred when Brett was stepped on coming out from behind center and the exchange between he and Ryan Grant got messed up at about their own 25. Luckily, the defense held and the Lions had to settle for another 3.

When Aaron Rouse picked off a John Kitna pass and took it down to about the 10, the Pack converted a TD immediately on a quick slant pass to Greg Jennings. Packers 7 - Lions 6. The Pack then held the Lions and commenced an 80-yard drive, consisting of some great catches by Donald Driver and a 5-yard TD run by Ryan Grant. Packers 14 - Lions 6.

After a touchdown-saving tackle by Tramon Williams on the kickoff return, the Lions had to once again settle for another field goal as the Packers D continues to bend but not break. Packers 14 - Lions 9.

With a little more than 2 minutes left in the half, the Packers began a 78-yard drive which took the ball down to about the Lions 2-yard line. They had to use their third and final timeout of the drive to stop the clock with about 4 seconds to go. Mason Crosby came on to make a a 20-yard field goal to put the pack up by 8 at halftime, 17-9.

Some interesting stats: Detroit has run 45 plays to the Packers' 25; Detroit has 113 yards rushing, the Pack 7. The time of possession heavily favors Detroit.

On an injury note, CB Charles Woodson left the game in the first half after injuring a toe on a return; KGB left the game late in the half after apparently getting an ankle injury while making a sack on Kitna; report is KGB is done for the day.

Favre set to carve

Gobble gobble, Packer fans. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. May your plate be full and your pants be expando-matic today. This is the day we give thanks for all the good things in our lives. And certainly, one of the things we are most thankful for this year is our 9-1 Packers. And what better way to rejoice in all that is America's real team than to start our holiday celebrations by watching the Packers beat the Lions?

It's a slightly early start time today, 11:30 a.m. Central time. And, of course, the Pack is coming off just a few days rest following its victory over Carolina on Sunday. But nothing should prevent the Pack from taking care of business in Detroit. Of course, they will have to stay focused and not start thinking too soon about those big turkey dinners waiting for them when they get back to Green Bay later this evening. Or looking past the Lions to the game against the Cowboys next Thursday evening.

Detroit was hot, now they've lost two in a row. They need to win to keep within striking distance of the Pack, although that's a long shot. As is the playoffs for them if they don't win today. As one of the Packers players said in a radio interview earlier this week, this will be Detroit's Super Bowl. So the Lions will be jacked up and may keep it close for a while.

Perhaps this year more than in recent memory, the Lions actually think they have a good team. But the passing game is about all they have. They've rushed for minus-18 and 25 yards in the last two games. And QB John Kitna has to rely on his not-so-great O-line to protect him while the receivers try to get down field. As a result, Kitna's been sacked a lot...a lot. Now, put that up against the Pack's D-line who have been known to get an effective pass rush going and it could be a long day for Mr. Kitna. Cue Aaron Kampman and KGB. The Pack will be missing DT Johnny Jolly, but Colin Cole and the other guys in the rotation will fill in admirably. Now, don't get me wrong, Kitna will make some throws and, if the Packers D-backs aren't on their usual game, could burn the Pack a time or two. This must be what the oddsmakers are factoring in to their 3-1/2 spread in favor of the Pack.

But those same oddsmakers must be forgetting the porous secondary the Lions will be putting on the field to go against the Pack's group of outstanding receivers. How many 4 and 5 receiver sets do you think we'll see today? Word to the Lions secondary: be very afraid.

The Pack have the running game going enough to keep the defense guessing, despite starter Ryan Grant having a bit of a gimpy ankle coming out of last week's game. Brandon Jackson and Vernand Morency might see a bit more action than in prior weeks, but the group should still be able to keep things rolling. And as for ol #4? Count on a big game today.

Take the Pack to reveal the Lions for the turkeys they really are. And pass the gravy, please.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Packers Fan Hall of Fame voting underway

If you weren't aware of it, the Packers not only have their own Hall of Fame for their outstanding players but also have a Fan Hall of Fame for those fans who are exceptional in their love and support for the Pack. (I know, I know, who isn't, right?) They've had this up and rolling since 1998. Nominations are submitted and then a group of finalists is selected that the public can vote upon. Only one person is selected for the honor each year.

All candidates certainly are worthy of consideration. However, I'd like to put in a special plug for one of the finalists, Bill Riley. You can read about him here. Bill was born in Milwaukee in 1949 but has lived in California since the age of 3.

Now, all true Packer fans can stake claim to certain occasions when their devotion leads them to do some amazing things to see a game. But the mark of someone who deserves recognition in the Fan Hall of Fame is a lifetime of such actions. Extraordinary actions. In Bill's case, that notion is especially true. As you'll discover in his bio, Bill is reliant on a wheelchair to get around. Check this out (from his bio): "One of the many challenges Bill has overcome is traveling alone to see the Packers play. Despite his walking disability, Bill managed to fly alone to Green Bay to see the Packers in 1996, took a bus to Green Bay in 2004 (3 days each way), and traveled by train to San Francisco to see the Packers against the 49ers last December. His latest trip was flying to Green Bay to watch the Packers play against the Redskins in October 2007. His dream was to see Brett Favre play before he retired. These stories are just a few reasons why Bill Riley should be the 2007 Packer Fan of the Year."

Read his story and then please vote for Bill. You have until Friday, Dec. 7 to do so. The winner will be announced by Friday, Dec. 14.

Good luck, Bill! Here's hoping to see you in the Green Bay Packers Fan Hall of Fame!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


So the NFL is investigating whether or not certain Packers players violated league rules by offering to pay teammates for some type of in-game performance. Last week, ESPN reported that a couple Packers defensive backs offered to pay the D-lineman $500 each if they held ViQueens running back Adrian Peterson to less than 100 yards. Peterson only had 45 yards rushing in that game, and departed for good in the second half after sustaining a knee injury after being tackled by cornerback Al Harris.

Question: do we expect players to know that they can't, on their own, give a little inside incentive to fellow teammates? Seems pretty natural. We've heard stories of running backs and QBs taking offensive lineman out after they've had great performances. Or players buying other players watches or some other bling as a reward or thank you. What's so different here? All this nervousness dates back to the "Bounty Bowl" Thanksgiving Day game in 1989 between the Cowboys and Eagles. Afterward, Dallas coach Jimmy "isn't my hair perfect" Johnson accused Eagles coach Buddy Ryan of putting bounties on QB Troy Aikman and kicker Luis Zendejas.

In an episode of today's ESPN Sports Center, one of the former football-player-turned-commentator (can't remember which one, they all blend together after a while, don't they?) was asked about this, after being shown a quote from Detroit QB John Kitna saying that if this type of thing isn't allowed it should be. The ESPN talking head said that this type of thing happens all the time across the league. It has happened for years and will continue to. It has nothing to do with hurting someone -- that was Kitna's point -- it's about incentives for performance.

In other words, it seems there is a bit of an over-reaction on the part of the league about this. Why they decided to do this with the Packers when they apparently could have done it with any team in the league? Your guess is as good as anyone's.

If you want to read more about this, check out this article.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Final: Packers 31 - Panthers 17

The final quarter saw the Panthers mount a drive with about 5 minutes to go. Al Harris took a snooze and let his man get wide open. This resulted, with run after catch, in nearly a 50 yard gain for the Panthers. This was soon followed by a screen pass during which the Packers missed several tackles, allowing the Panthers to take the ball down to the 5-yard line. Vinny threw a TD pass to make it 28-17. The Panthers attempted an onside kick, which was recovered by Donald Driver at the Panthers 37. The Pack failed to convert and tried their third field goal attempt of the day, a 47-yarder by Mason Crosby. Unlike the prior 2 attempts, this one was good. Pack 31 - Panthers 17. Vinny kept tossing the ball. Inexplicably, the Packers were rarely able to get any pressure on this standing stone in the backfield. Vinny can still throw completions when given the time. In fact, he even ran for 16 yards with just over a minute to go. How does that happen? Carolina gave it their last shot on 4th and 5 with about 55 seconds to go. The pass was broken up by A. J. Hawk. Game over. Packers 31 - Panthers 17.

This game was nowhere near as dominant as the game against the ViQueens. The field goal squad could obviously use some work. Those two missed attempts could be the difference in a close game. They have to get that worked out. The D-line didn't look like they really turned it loose on more than a few occasions, but perhaps they didn't need to.

This was the first of three games for the Pack in the next 12 days, with two of those games -- the next two -- on the road. This is a tough stretch. With the Lions losing today, the Pack is up by 3 games in the division. Assuming they don't become the turkey on Thanksgiving in Detroit, this sets up a major showdown in Dallas on Nov. 29. That game could well determine home field advantage throughout the playoffs. And bringing any team to Lambeau in January is something we can all get our chattering teeth into.

The Packers are 9-1. 13 out of their last 14. Sweet.

3rd quarter: Packers 28 - Panthers 10

The second half opened with the Packers receiving the kick off. Koren Robinson took the kick and had a 67-yard return down to the Carolina 28. A few plays later and the Packers were once again in the end zone courtesy of a 12-yard TD pass from Brett to Donald Lee. Packers 28 - Panthers 3. Following the kick to Carolina, Testaverde threw an interception on the first play to Charles Woodson at Carolina's 36-yard line. But for the second time today following a turnover, the Packers failed to convert and had to settle for a 49-yard field goal attempt. Which, also for the second time today, was no good. The first was blocked, this one was wide right. Carolina took over and orchestrated a 60+-yard drive culminating in a 2-yard TD pass for Carolina. Packers 28 - Panthers 10.

Halftime: Packers 21 - Panthers 3

The second quarter saw the Pack offense finally get into gear. There was a 49-yard pass to Donald Driver, who laid out to make the catch. This was followed a few plays later with a 5-yard TD pass to Greg Jennings. Packers 14 - Panthers 3. Ryan Grant had a few good runs in the quarter, including a 23-yard scamper. With just under 2 minutes left in the half, Brett hit Donald Lee with a 26-yard TD pass to go up 21-3. The end of the half ended with a horrible pass interference call on Jarrett Bush to take the ball down to about the 10 yard line. Following this play, Testaverde dropped back to pass and Corey Williams collared him causing a fumble with the Packers recovering. One knee later, halftime. Packers 21 - Panthers 3.

1st quarter: Packers 7 - Panthers 3

Weird quarter. Rookie DB Aaron Rouse intercepted Vinny Testaverde on Carolina's first series at about the Panthers 35-yard line. The Pack couldn't muster a first down of their own, and went for a 49-yard field goal, which was blocked by Julius Peppers. The Pack then held Carolina again, forcing them into a field goal which became a pooch punt instead. Tramon Williams returned it 94 yards for a touchdown. On its next series, ol' Vinny completed a 40+-yard pass to move the Panthers within field goal range, which they converted. Packers 7 - Panthers 3.

The Packers offense hasn't really been on the field long enough in the quarter to even get in sync. Which they are not. And, as was a concern, Panthers DE Julius Peppers has apparently awakened from his season-long slumber. He not only blocked the Pack's initial field goal attempt, he also already has a sack on Brett.

The Pack needs to have the offense wake up. It's game time, boys! And the Packers defense hasn't come close yet to sacking Vinny. C'mon, guys! He's a stationary object back there! Get him!!!

Pack vs Panthers mini-preview

The spread for this game has come down from 10 to 9-1/2. Big whoop. Granted, the Panthers have the potential for an upset, especially if the Packers are thinking about the Turkey Day game in Detroit or the game against the 'Boys in Big D a week later instead of taking care of today's business. But that's not likely. Yes, Julius Peppers may decide to reprise his years as a dominant pass rusher and give a gimpy Mark Tauscher (or his backup if he can't go) some problems. And Steve Smith, if he can go for the Panthers, might catch a few balls from Old Man Time -- that would be Vinny Testaverde -- himself. But unless the Packers turn the ball over countless times and regress to a point we haven't seen since Da Bearz game, this is another game in the "W" column for the Pack.

What more is there to say?

Oh, yeah...Go Pack Go!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pack favored by 10

Going into Sunday's game at Lambeau versus Carolina, the Packers are currently favored by 10 points. That's a LOT of points. On the other hand, we thought 6 points was a big spread against the ViQueens. So much for that idea.

Another statistical tidbit: with Vinny Testaverde named the starter for Sunday's game, this game will see the oldest combination of starting quarterbacks ever in an NFL game. Vinny is 44 and Brett is 38. Who held the previous record? Vinny (a-duh) as a spry 43-year-old about a month ago and that young whipper snapper, 36-year-old Kurt Warner for Arizona. Birthdays have recently edged both Vinny and Brett into this heretofore unseen stratosphere of...I'm sorry...the hyperbole started to run rampant there for second.

Anyway, you'll be watching history. Of course, as Packer fans, we do that every week that Brett Favre plays, don't we?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What motivates the Packers?

Just a quick heads up on a really good article giving insights into what motivates some of the individual players on the Green Bay Packers. Hard luck stories, the drive to excel, feeling the need to prove the naysayers wrong...lots of things drive this current group of players. Whatever they are, they are obviously driving individuals -- young and inexperienced players as well as seasoned veterans -- to excel at high levels this season. You can read the article here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Packers keep flying high

As if their 8-1 record isn't enough -- actually, it is the most important thing, isn't it? -- the Packers now have the NFL's #1 passing offense. Not surprising, since for most of this season that was the offense. You throw a lot and complete a high percentage of passes, including some long TDs and -- BAM! -- you cop the #1 spot from the Patriots.

Now, consider that if the Pack can continue to have a respectable run game along the lines that has emerged over the last three weeks what that can do to continue to open up the passing game. Isn't it amazing to see these five-receiver sets that they are starting to integrate into the offense? It becomes a defense's nightmare. Look who you'd have to try to cover: Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Ruvell Martin, Koren Robinson. Actually, the Packers could throw Donald Lee in the mix and now you have six quality receivers to try to cover. With Brett Favre throwing the ball nonetheless. C'mon. Start waving the white flag.

Oh sure, the Pack is dead last in rushing still. But if Ryan Grant can keep pluggin' away for 100 yard or so each game, so what? That's enough to keep the opposing defense worried about stopping the run, which just gives ol' #4 and his merry band of receivers even more opportunities to make plays down field.

Of course, one area where the offense still is having some difficulty is finishing with a TD once it gets into the red zone. Too many time this year the Packers have driven inside the opponent's 20 only to have to settle for a field goal attempt rather than come away with a touchdown. Given the level of play of the Pack's defense, and the ability of the offense to eat up the play clock, this perhaps isn't as big a problem as for some other teams. But it is one of those areas you'd like to see them clean up. And no doubt they will. Seems as if most of the problem areas for the Pack have been getting addressed as the season goes on. They are getting better each week. That's the sign of a champion in the making.

Keep winning, get home field advantage for the playoffs and maybe we can have a rematch of that Packers vs. Pats Super Bowl...and even better, come away with the same result. It's still too soon to talk about bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay...but our dreams have just a bit more of a dash of reality about them than in recent years. And to that, we can give our thanks to this tremendous passing offense which has developed over the season and to the running game which is starting to come around at just the right time.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Packers smash the ViQueens 34-0

On the 'Queens first possession of the fourth quarter, they mounted their second drive of the game, down to inside the Packers 10. A pass to the end zone by Brooks Bollinger was tipped by the receiver and intercepted by Charles Woodson, who took it back out to the 4-yard line. Shutout preserved so far.

To give you a real good idea how bad things were for the 'Queens, on this Packers drive with just under 6 minutes to go, Brett threw a 30-something yard pass to Ruvell Martin in the end zone (after an earlier long completion to James Jones down the sidelines). The pass was underthrown and thrown late. Defensive back Cedric Griffin went up for the interception and had it his hands before fellow defender Darren "used to be" Sharper came flying across and slammed into him, causing the ball to pop up and right into the hands of Packers receiver Ruvell Martin. Score: Pack 34 - 'Queens 0. When it's going your way...

Brett passed for more than 300 yards for the sixth time this season, and got his 100th career home field win. Only John Elway has more wins at home, with 104.

One injury note -- although to what extent is unknown at this time -- is that right tackle Mark Tauscher got hurt near the end of the third quarter. He was seen walking to the locker room with a bit of a gimpy leg/ankle with about 3-1/2 minutes to go in the game. During the quarter, the Packers shifted Jason Spitz to Tauscher's position and rookie Allen Barbre moved into Spitz' right guard spot. Seemed like things didn't miss much of a beat. In the last Packers series of the game, back up QB Aaron Rodgers made an appearance. The Pack had to punt with about 2 minutes left.

The 'Queens then had a 49-yard gain on a simple screen pass to Chester Taylor, with a few players missing tackles, which took the ball down to the Packers 30-yard line. The Pack then followed that up with their second sack of the day, this one by Johnny Jolly. The Packers got another sack to take the 'Queens to 4th and 7. A short pass to former Packer Robert Ferguson was stopped short of a first down, allowing the Packers to take over and preserve the shut out. This is the first time the 'Queens have been shut out since they were beaten by New Orleans 26-0 in 1991. And, to cap it off, this is the worst defeat of the 'Queens by the Pack -- ever! Gotta like that.

BTW, Adrian Peterson never returned to the game after his injury near the end of the third quarter and was held to just 45 yards on 11 carries.

Important Packers stats: Brett was 33 of 46 for 351 yards, 3 TDs and no INTs; Ryan Grant rushed for 119 yards on 25 carries. Oh, and Coach Mike McCarthy is now 16-9 in his first 25 games as head coach of the Packers -- no other coach in Packers history has won as many as quickly. Of course, when you win 12 of your last 13 games going back to last season...

This was a tremendous effort by the defense, holding the ViQueens to under 100 yards total rushing for the day. And it was nearly perfect execution -- but not quite -- by the Packers offense. The Pack is humming along nicely. Next up is Carolina, followed four days later by a trip to Detroit for Thanksgiving. That's a quick turnaround. But the flip side of that is that the Packers will then have 10 days to get ready for their showdown with the Cowboys in Dallas.

It's great to be a Packers fan! 8-1 is mighty sweet.

3rd quarter: Pack 27 - 'Queens 0

The Packers received the second half kickoff and proceeded to put together an opening TD drive, keyed by a great 32-yard pass reception by Greg Jennings down to the 7 yard line. Jennings went up between two defenders to grab the ball. From the one-yard line, Brett faked a hand off to Grant and threw an easy little fade pass to TE Donald Lee in the end zone. Packers 20 - 'Queens 0. Another item of note: RB Ryan Grant went over 100 yards rushing on this opening drive, which took 5:31 off the clock. The Pack's second drive began at their own 30 and resulted in an eight-yard TD pass from Brett to Ruvell Martin. Near the end of the 3rd quarter, the 'Queens finally mounted a drive, before turning the ball back on downs. During that drive, Adrian Peterson wound up being helped from the game after being tackled by Al Harris. Looked as if it was a right knee problem.

Halftime: Packers 13 - 'Queens 0

The Packers are dominating the ViQueens in terms of both time of possession (19:56 to 10:01) and level of play. Still, as in other games this season, there were missed opportunities which meant the Pack left points on the field, including an end of half drive that got the ball down to the 'Queens 7-yard line before a false start penalty (of course) and a high pass in the end zone off the fingertips of Koren Robinson made the Pack settle for its second field goal of the half.

Adrian Peterson has been held to 9 carries and 45 yards. Not only is the Packers defense doing a great job containing him, but when the Packers offense is able to stay on the field nearly twice as long as the 'Qeens that keeps Peterson on the sidelines. That's the best defense of all.

Brett surpassed 60,000 yards passing on a pass to Donald Driver in the quarter, joining Dan Marino as the only two QBs who have passed for more than 60,000 yards in their career. RB Ryan Grant is approaching 100 yards rushing (92), which would be the first time this season that the 'Queens have allowed a 100-yard rusher.

If the Packers play the second half with the same intensity that they have played the first half, 8-1 is only 30 minutes of football away.

1st quarter: Packers 7 - ViQueens 0

The story of the first quarter was not RB Adrian Peterson for the ViQueens, but RB Ryan Grant for the Packers, who rushed for more than 80 years in the quarter, including a 30-yard TD run. The Packers defense has so far kept Peterson in check. As expected, QB Brooks Bollinger is, well, looking like the backup he is, throwing off the mark on the few passes he's attempted. What's a bit surprising, though, is that Brett has been a bit off the mark on a few of his passes, overthrowing Donald Driver on a sure TD route and misconnecting on a few other passes as well.

Pack vs ViQueens Preview

Today's the day the ViQueens visit Lambeau Field. The Pack won at the Humpty Dump earlier this season, and will win at home again today. They're favored by 6 points. While you like to see the Pack finally getting that kind of respect from the oddsmakers, that's a big point spread, particularly in this rivalry and no matter how good or bad the respective teams are at the time of play.

Basically, the 'Queens have nothing on offense except one of the best young running backs to enter the league since...Reggie Bush? OK, that was just a year ago. But Adrian Peterson is the real deal. And the Packers will have to focus their defensive efforts on stopping him. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. Peterson will get some yards. Probably more than 100. But as long as he doesn't set another single-game rushing record for the second week in a row, and doesn't make a habit of visiting the end zone, there should be no excuses for the Packers not coming out of this game 8-1. The 'Queens are down to former UW Badgers QB Brooks Bollinger as starter. While Bollinger was a great college QB, particularly within the UW scheme, he is nothing more than a serviceable backup (sorry, Brooks). Don't look for him to win games.

As for the 'Queens defense, they have an excellent d-line; one of the best in the league in terms of rushing defense. So, let's think about this: the Packers rushing offense still stinks and they go against a great rushing defense. OK, nothing different than the rest of the season from a Packers standpoint. Keep the ball in the hands of ol' #4 and his band of merry receivers and all will be well. Oh sure, former Packer Darren "used to be" Sharper (my apologies to Chris Berman) will be ball-hawking in the secondary. Might even get a pick off his old teammate when he guesses correctly. But he will not be able to keep up with receivers going deep. Just ask Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly.

The Packers defense will have a change at safety, with rookie Aaron Rouse replacing Nick Collins who was injured in last week's game. Rouse is a different type of safety at 6'4". He has speed and size. Perhaps against a more experienced quarterback Rouse could be exposed as the rookie he is. But today, he has an opportunity to make plays particularly if the Packers defensive line continues its fine play, putting pressure on the opposing quarterback. With his size, he can also be an effective player against the run. Aaron Kampman could again have a big day with pressures and sacks, although Bollinger is a mobile QB and may negate some of the sack possibilities as a result. But that's only a factor if the 'Queens forget to hand off early and often to Mr. Peterson.

On the offensive line, the Packers will probably be going without Junius Coston at right guard. He continues to have a sore ankle which has been limiting his play. If he can't go, Jason Spitz will likely start at right guard with Daryn Colledge at left. Coach McCarthy had a meeting with his guards earlier in the week during which he expressed his displeasure with their performance not only in the running game, but also in terms of their protection of Brett Favre. We'll see how well they got that message, particularly against a stout 'Queens d-line.

This could be a classic letdown game for the Pack, coming off two remarkable road wins. But a letdown game doesn't come very often against division rivals. And it definitely shouldn't come against a team the Pack is far superior to. Of course, if they were to get sloppy and commit turnovers, or let Adrian Peterson scamper about, things could take a nasty turn. But the odds are against it. Just like they are against the ViQueens.

Count on the Packers to get it done back in the friendly confines of Lambeau.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Red flag key to Green 'n' Gold win

With some time to digest yesterday's Packers win at Kansas City, we can begin to look at individual keys to the win. While the Pack's playmakers did just that -- make plays -- in the second half, perhaps one of the biggest keys to the win was that little red flag in Coach McCarthy's pocket.

With just under 3 minutes remaining in the game and the Packers leading 23-22, KC QB Damon Huard completed a 36-yard pass to wide receiver Jeff Webb along the sidelines behind Al Harris at the Green Bay 42. It appeared Webb had both feet in before his momentum took him out of bounds. However, replays showed that his second foot came down on the line, thereby being an incomplete pass. Moments passed, and KC was in no hurry to get to the line to run a play...thank goodness. Apparently, the Packers assistant coaches upstairs saw the replays and called down to the sidelines. A camera shot of Coach McCarthy and one of the assistants on the sidelines seemed to show the assistant getting the word and telling McCarthy to challenge the play. He got that flag out and threw it as the Chiefs were breaking their huddle. Challenge made.

And, in those words we love to hear, "Upon further review...", challenge won. Talk about taking the wind out of the Chiefs' sails. Instead of a first down at the Packers 42 and needing a field goal to go ahead, well, sorry about that. Instead, the Pack gets the ball back after holding the Chiefs, Brett hits Donald Driver for a big one-handed catch over the middle for about 44 yards, setting up Mason Crosby's fourth field goal of the day. With the Pack now up by 4 with under 2 minutes to go, the Chiefs needed a TD to win. Except, the final TD went to the Packers on Charles Woodson's interception return with about a minute left in the game.

Green 'n' Gold are undoubtedly our favorite colors in the Packers Universe. But on this day in KC, red was also a very good color. Not in the form of the opposing team's colors, but that little red flag in Coach McCarthy's pocket.

For a more complete review of this key situation, you can read about it here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Final: Packers 33 - Chiefs 22

Oh man. There were six (or was it seven?) lead changes in this game. The last few minutes were the key: a 60-yard touchdown pass from Brett Favre to Greg Jennings, and a 29-yard punt return by Charles Woodson to set up a field goal that put the Pack ahead by 4 with a little more than a minute to go. Having forced KC to use all their timeouts, KC was in a hurry-up offense. On third-and-two, Charles Woodson intercepted a Damon Huard pass and returned it 46 yards for a TD, putting the Pack ahead by 11. Stick a fork in it. Done!

Brett finally gets a win against KC. Like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, he's also beat every team in the league. He was 24 of 34, for 360 yards, with 2 TDs and 2 INTs.

The defense played very well in the first half, but allowed KC back in in the second half, before finally closing things down. The Packers offense did what it needed to do.

There are lots of details in this closing quarter which are probably best left to the paid journalists to convey (including a recap of numerous penalties). As for us, all we need to know is the Packers are 7-1. And the ViQueens come to Lambeau next Sunday.

It's great to be a Packers fan!

3rd quarter, Pack 13 - Chiefs 7

Missed opportunities is the continuing theme of this game for the Packers. After having a promising drive of passes and runs, the Packers failed to get a first down at the Chiefs' 42 on a third-and-one play. That also is a worrying trend of this season: failure to be able to rush for one yard when needed. This led to a missed 52-yard field goal, which Crosby hooked wide to the left. On the Chiefs' next possession, however, LB A.J. Hawk got an interception and took the ball to the Chiefs' 30. A swing pass to Grant got the ball down to the 15, before a holding penalty -- of course -- took the ball back to the 25. A pass to the end zone was ruled out, as Donald Lee couldn't get both feet down. The next play was a pass to Gregg Jennings over the middle, catching the ball at about the 10, and then breaking tackles to take the ball over the goal line.

Other developments are on the injury front. Safety Nick Collins went down with what looked like a bad knee injury, and D-lineman Corey Williams was also carted to the locker room.

The Packers have had 22 plays inside the opponent's territory to this point in the game; the Chiefs have had one...and yet, we're only up by 6 points. What kind of bizzaro world are we playing in???

Pack 6 - Chiefs 7 at Halftime

The first half of this game can rightly be called one of missed opportunities, and a bonehead move just before half. The Packers first drive stopped when Brett's pass to Greg Jennings was intercepted deep in Chiefs' territory. Their last play of the half led to a second interception setting up the Chiefs at the Packers' 30. Instead of running the clock out on third down with 35 seconds left, the Pack turned the ball over. That play was followed by a pass to the end zone and a pass interference play on -- who else? -- Atari Bigby. The Chiefs got a gift TD going into the half, with a rush from the 1-yard line by Larry Johnson. The Chiefs did nothing offensively the entire first half -- generating a grand total of 62 yards of offense -- yet lead 7-6.

In addition to the two interceptions, the Pack also had two fumbles, one on a botched hand off between Brett and RB Ryan Grant, and the other on a sack of Brett. Fortunately, the Packers recovered both fumbles. So, those could be missed opportunities by the Chiefs, too...if one were a Chiefs fan...which we are not. The Pack also missed an interception when Nick Collins couldn't hang on to the ball. The other missed opportunity came on yet another drive by the Packers. This was a third down pass ready for a conversion near the red zone, but Jennings dropped the ball. This led to Mason Crosby's first field goal, a 48-yarder by Mason Crosby. Late in the half, the Pack once again executed a drive, with the key play being a big pass play and run after catch by Donald Lee down the middle of the field. But the Pack stalled out and had to take its second field goal of the day with just under 2 minutes to go.

The Packers are getting opportunities, but not finishing. It is something that we saw last week against the Broncos, and earlier in the year against Da Bearz. When the opponent gives you the breaks you need, you better get the ball in the end zone...just like KC did with their second interception. The Pack has dominated this game, but the Chiefs were only one play away from having the lead. And they got it. That's never a good thing. The Packers need to get that fixed in the second half.

Packers - Chiefs Preview

We're just a few hours away from the kickoff in KC. The Pack are on the road against an AFC opponent for the second week in a row. It was a short week for them, too, coming off the Monday night OT win in Denver. And again they find themselves going into one of the loudest venues in the league and the last NFL city in which Brett Favre has yet to win a game. Let's just hope the Denver victory is a precursor to get that last monkey off Brett's -- and the Pack's -- back.

All this leads to the Packers being 2-point underdogs, despite them being 6-1 and the Chiefs being 4-3.

So, what to expect? The Packers' defensive line is going up against a weak KC O-line. Aaron Kampman and the others on that emerging D-line should be able to tee off all day long. Damon Huard is the QB. Yawn. TE Tony Gonzalez has to be kept in check, but with pressure on the QB that should do-able. RB Larry Johnson is a pounder and can cause damage if he gets room to get going. The way the Pack D-line and linebackers have been playing, that shouldn't happen. On the other side of the ball, though, the Chiefs have Jared Allen at defensive end. He's quick off the ball, and could give LT Chad Clifton problems if he's not on his game. At worst, there could be sacks aplenty, as well as false start penalties as Cliffy tries to gain position as quickly as possible.

As for what the Pack has to offer in this game, Koren Robinson will be on the field for the first time in more than a year, returning kicks. Whether he sees time at receiver or not is still undetermined, but it seems likely especially if the Packers go to 4 receiver sets. Expect Brett's growing chemistry with young receivers Greg Jennings and James Jones to be on display. And let's not forget ol' Double D, Donald Driver, who could also have a big day. TE Donald Lee could also help open the middle and stretch the field...something that has already earned him contract renewal talks. As for the running game, Ryan Grant will be able to show whether his 104 yards against the Broncos was merely a fluke or whether he is the real deal.

The Packers have the better team. The Chiefs have the definite home field advantage. If the Packers can get up early and take the crowd out of the game that will help considerably. Take the Pack to beat the spread and win this game.