Levens, Green rejuvenate Packers' stale running attack
Monday, October 16, 2000
Green Bay Press Gazette
By Aaron Wallender
After six weeks of offensive inconsistency, especially on the ground, the Green Bay Packers received a welcome boost from the running game heading into the bye week.
The Packers, who averaged a paltry 78.3 yards on the ground and had one rushing touchdown coming into Sunday's 31-28 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, used the tailback tandem of Dorsey Levens and Ahman Green extensively en route to a 132-yard rushing performance.
Green and Levens combined for 97 yards rushing and 67 yards receiving, and were able to pound in three touchdown runs.
"Basically when we're both healthy, it's something that keeps the defense honest and gets them off timing," Green said. "When you have Dorsey in there, he has his type of running style and when you get me in there it's another type of style where they have to adjust, and it takes a defense a couple of plays to adjust to a different runner."
Coach Mike Sherman said the offense came into the game wanting to run the ball in the red zone.
"We were going to try and hammer it in," Sherman said. "We've been fairly consistent about throwing the ball in the red zone, but when we got it inside the 5, I had a lot of confidence in our backs and I wanted our line to step up and make some plays. It worked out well."
With two rookie tackles, Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton, starting on the offensive line, it was uncertain how effective the running game would be, but Levens gave the line credit for a good performance.
"I think they did pretty well," said Levens, who scored his first touchdown of the season on the first drive of the third quarter. "They held up. (Quarterback) Brett (Favre) was protected pretty well, and there were a few holes. They're young (and) it's going to take time, but considering the circumstances, they did a (heck) of a job."
Both backs made crucial plays down the stretch, especially in the Packers' final touchdown drive. Green's second touchdown may have been the best offensive play of the game. After getting stopped on two straight runs from the 1-yard line, Green appeared to be stacked up at the line of scrimmage, but was able to lunge into the end zone on a strong third effort.
"As a running back you learn in Little League that no matter what, if you aren't down to keep your legs churning," said Green, who had his first professional two-touchdown game. "The play before they stopped us, they were talking a little noise to me. I love when the defense talks noise to me (because) that gets me going even more.
"I tried to jump over the top and the linebackers had better leverage than I did, (but) once I knew my feet were still on the ground it didn't matter who was back there, they were coming into the end zone with me."
Levens made his contribution on the drive after a vintage Favre scramble. Facing a second-and-10 on the Packers' 25, Favre was able to avoid a heavy pass rush and hit Levens for a 37-yard gain that moved the Packers to the 49ers' 38.
"It was pretty much a broken play," Levens said. "I just kept running, (Brett) scrambled to his left and there I was."
Levens, who has been battling an ankle injury and is recovering from knee surgery, said the bye week will give him a chance to recover.
"It's time to get some rest and try to heal up a little bit," said Levens, who couldn't say how badly the injuries bothered him. "It doesn't matter (how healthy I am), I have to go play no matter what percent I am."
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