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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Packer Defense Dominates In Victory Over Texans

by Mark Quarderer
PackerChatters Staff

The Packers won a classic “trap” game Sunday night over the much improved Houston Texans, 16-13, on a last second 47-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell.. Minus an injured Ahman Green, the Packers struggled to put points on the board against one of the NFL’s weakest defenses and started the fourth quarter trailing 13-3.

But Packer fans were treated to the greatest road comeback win in Brett Favre’s career as he managed two scoring drives—a touchdown and a field goal—which set the stage for Longwell’s heroics as time expired.

The Packer defense was dominant in the fourth quarter. In three possessions, the Houston offense managed only 16 total yards of offense and did not get a first down, recording three consecutive three and outs. Houston began the fourth quarter with a punt, and the Packers took it 80 yards in 2 ½ minutes to close the margin to 13-10. Houston went three and out and the
Packers marched 40 yards in seven plays and kicked the tying field goal with just less than eight minutes left in the game.

Houston again went three and out, and the Packers seemed poised to strike, but a penalty put them in a long yardage situation and the drive ended with a 3rd and 17 interception on the Houston 16 with just over 3 minutes remaining.

But Houston was unable to capitalize. Despite having the NFL’s 9th rated offense, they recorded their third consecutive three and out and the Packers took over with two minutes remaining at their own 31 and drove 38 yards to the Houston 31 before Longwell kicked the game winner.

The game-changing fourth quarter drives were accomplished almost exclusively through the air. With the running game stalled in Green’s absence, and only three points on the board, the Packers put their fate in their QB’s hands and he delivered, converting 4 out of 6 third downs in the fourth quarter. This would stand in marked contrast to the relatively inefficient performance in the first three quarters of the game where the Packers were only 2 for 8 in third down conversions.

The fourth quarter heroics were only made possible by a Green Bay defense that was nothing short of dominant in the second half, where the Houston Texans managed only three first downs and 27 yards of offense.

In short, this was a gritty and encouraging win by the Packers. For the second consecutive week, after 10 consecutive failures stretching back to last season, the offense had the ball in their hands at the end of the game with a chance to win or tie and they succeeded. All of this was accomplished despite being without their primary weapon in Ahman Green. With the load on his shoulders and facing an uphill climb in the fourth quarter, Favre played under control and refused to make the big mistake that would end the comeback. The defense put out their best 60 minute effort since the Detroit game, essentially stuffing a Top Ten offense in the second half.
But it is clear that the Packers struggle to put points on the board without Ahman Green in the lineup. Scoring only three points in three quarters against one of the weakest defenses in the NFL is not a recipe for success, and the Packers need to strive for a more consistent, 60 minute effort on offense.

• The Packers are 23-0 in the Sherman era when holding their opponent to 13 or less points. This is essentially half of the 47 victories in the Sherman era, which somewhat exposes the “Packer defense has sucked for years” school of thought as the myth that is.
• The 2004 Packers have held six of their ten opponents to 14 points or less.
• Ryan Longwell is the Packers all time leading scorer. The winning field goal was his second game winner in two weeks and the sixth of his career.
• Despite throwing 50 passes, the offensive line did not permit a single sack.
• The winning drive in the final moments was the Packers second such drive in two weeks. Prior to that, the last time the offense won a game in the final moments was the 2002 season against Minnesota. In between, the powerful Packer offense had 10 opportunities to win or tie a game in the final moments and failed every time.
• Despite throwing for nearly 400 yards, Favre’s quarterbacking rating for the game was only 79.3, as the two interceptions hurt the rating probably more than they hurt the team at the time. Essentially, both interceptions were long downfield throws in lieu of a punt.

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