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Monday, October 25, 2004
Previewing the Packers Potential
by Thomas Pyc
A field goal, then a touchdown, a touchdown, then a field goal and finally three more touchdowns in a row were the results of the Packers first seven possessions. Looking at the Packer offense on paper, it is easy to see the potential and versatility it contains. Three solid wide receivers, two stud fullbacks, a Hall of Fame quarterback, a Pro Bowl tight end and a running back with a more-than-sufficient backup. Finally, arguably the best offensive line plays in the trenches and wears down opposing defenses consistently. Over the past two weeks this offense, under Mike Sherman’s immediate direction, has racked up 79 points and looked like the unit that everyone expected to see at the beginning of the season.
Before Mike Sherman took over the play calling two weeks ago, the Packers’ offense ranked 5th in the league but their record was a disappointing 1-4. During the past two games, Green Bay has not only racked up the yards and points, but they have utilized their offense to control the game and keep their most vulnerable unit, the defense, off the field. The results speak for themselves.
The return of Grady Jackson was immediately noticed against the Cowboys as he clogged up the middle throughout the first half. Both Nick Barnett and Nail Diggs appeared to roam more freely around the line of scrimmage and make plays. With the combination of the unstoppable Packers’ offense and a rejuvenated run defense, the Cowboys became one dimensional, predictable and eventually overwhelmed.
On the Cowboys’ first two drives, they managed to get into Packer territory but the defense stepped it up and Dallas settled for two field goals. The Packers kept pace with the Cowboys as Ahman Green punched it in on their second possession to give the Pack a 10-6 lead. But from that point on, the Green Bay offense lit up the Cowboys through the air and on the ground. After Roy Williams made a stellar tackle for a two yard loss on Ahman Green at the beginning of the Packers’ third possession, Green Bay marched down the field for a second touchdown. Antonio Chatman made a difficult one handed, behind-the-back grab on a third and seven to keep the drive alive. Javon Walker contributed to the cause with a pair of his own third down conversions, as well as a touchdown reception. By the half, the Packers had a modest 200 yards in total offense and a 20-6 lead.
The second half started off as smoothly as the first ended with the Packers utilizing several off their offensive weapons, including Tony Fischer’s right arm as he completed the drive with a touchdown pass to Bubba Franks. The Cowboys first drive of the second half also found the end zone as Al Harris was burned by tight end Jason Whitten’s double move. Un-phased, the Packers responded with a play-action pass to Donald Driver for a 33-yard touchdown. Ahman Green finished the third quarter and the Cowboys’ chances with a 90-yard touchdown dash. Robert Ferguson contributed to the remarkable run with a hustle block that allowed Green to go untouched for the final twenty yards.
Overall, the Packers appear to be a rejuvenated team that is having fun while winning. The status of Darren Sharper and Marco Rivera is still unknown and both are key contributors to the team’s success. Pending their return the Packers’ future looks bright and if they can continue to build on the momentum of their two game winning streak they can put themselves back in the hunt for a playoff spot.