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Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Game Review: Rams @ Packers
by Mark Lawrence
Today, the 5-5 Rams came to Lambeau field to face the 6-4 Packers. In the previous two years, the Packers have faced the Rams at Saint Louis in the dome, and been thoroughly humiliated. Favre threw 6 interceptions in those one of those games, and the Packers had 12 turnovers in the two of them.
The Rams have been a very inconsistent team all season, and today the reason seemed clear: this is a team that lacks discipline. The Packers offense dominated the Rams defense, and the Packers defense watched while the Rams offense blew themselves up with turnovers, penalties, and all-around sloppy play.
Ahmad Carroll really stood out on defense today: he made two huge plays that broke the Rams back. The first was a fumble recovery for a touchdown, caused by a strip made by fellow rookie and sometimes sparring partner Joey Thomas. The second was an interception in the end zone, killing another St.Louis drive.
Favre spent almost the entire day playing against the Ram's version of the cover-2: after getting burned on two blitzes, the Rams defense pulled back into a soft zone and waited for the seemingly inevitable interceptions. There were none. Favre went 19 for 28 with three TDs and no ints, a basically flawless performance. There were a few highly annoying drops, but in a game played at 27 degrees I think a few drops must be expected.
Ahman Green was held out of this game due to strained ribs, and perhaps some general knee / ankle issues that seem to have been nagging him all season. Najeh Davenport filled in admirably with 178 yards on 19 carries, a gaudy average of 9.4 yards per carry. Teams must think very carefully now about trying to hurt Green: Davenport may be a cure that's worse than the disease.
The Packers offense scored often, and if anything too quickly. This paired with Slowik's obvious decision to play a bend-but-don't-break defense for most of the game resulted in the Rams having a time of possession advantage of 17 minutes to 13 minutes in the first half, and about 35 minutes to 25 minutes in the second half.
The Packer's defense held up surprisingly well against the Rams top-10 offense. Although the Rams ran up 448 yards passing offense, a new Lambeau record I believe, they only managed a 47 yards on 17 carries, a rather forgettable 2.75 yards per carry. Marc Bulger threw the ball up 53 times for 35 completions, 2 TDs and 1 int.
The Packers defense also had 4 sacks, 2 fumbles forced, and an interception. The Packer's defense has been notably poor at causing turnovers or sacks, but today against a perhaps somewhat predictable team (59 pass attempts, 17 rush attempts) they took a big step towards respectability.
Once again the Packer's defense was tested with several trick plays, and once again the Packer's defense blew up every trick play thrown against them. This defense is now seemingly impervious to trick plays, and very stout against the run. It must be admitted that there is still substantial room for improvement in covering the pass.
Next up, at 10-1, the league-leading Philadelphia Eagles. This team has beaten the Packers in each of their last three encounters. I expect the Eagles will be favored in Las Vegas by likely about 7 points. The Packers certainly have their short-week work cut out for them.