Green's heroic effort goes to waste against Eagles
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
By TOM SILVERSTEIN
Last Updated: Nov. 11, 2003
Green Bay - On a miserable rainy night, the Green Bay Packers' best chance for beating the Philadelphia Eagles was to keep putting the ball in running back Ahman Green's hands.
It was a risky proposition even with Green chewing up the Eagles as badly as his feet were chewing up the Lambeau Field turf. At least it was until Green finally got a grip on the football and stopped laying it down for the Eagles to recover.
Until Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb got hot in the final minute, Green stood above all others who attempted to navigate the sloppy terrain.
He overcame two early fumbles to set the Packers' single-game record for most rushing yards with 192, breaking Dorsey Levens' mark of 190 set against the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 23, 1997.
On most nights, his performance would have been enough to win a football game, but on this particular night McNabb rendered Green's performance all but meaningless, driving the Eagles down the field for the winning touchdown in the final minute of a 17-14 Philadelphia victory.
"It wasn't a victory," Green said. "I don't care what I do personally. I've been like that since I was in grade school. I don't care if I have negative yardage and no touchdowns, as long as we win the game.
"Regardless if I did good or bad, I want a victory. We did what we could and Philly did what they're supposed to do. They made plays in certain situations."
Green, who had 29 carries, would have been the hero in this game were it not for McNabb. Green scored the go-ahead touchdown with 7 minutes 3 seconds left when, on a fourth-and-1 play, he blasted off the right side for a 45-yard touchdown that gave the Packers a 14-10 lead.
It was a classic Green run on a classic Packers power running play.
The Packers needed merely 1 yard to keep their drive going, but like his long touchdown run against Detroit in Week 2, Green followed the block of pulling guard Mike Wahle, fullback William Henderson and tackle Mark Tauscher into a sizable hole off the right side.
The key block came from tackle Kevin Barry, who was in the game as a blocking tight end. Barry blocked down on end Brandon Whiting and drove him inside, then pulled off and shielded linebacker Mark Simoneau from coming over and making the tackle.
Once Green got through the hole, it was off to the races and he wasn't caught. The touchdown came on the series after McNabb had given the Eagles a 10-7 lead on a 1-yard run with 9:22 left.
"That showed how our offensive line was blocking and how well Ahman was running," quarterback Brett Favre said.
In the end though, it wasn't quite enough for the Packers, who fell to 4-5.
As he did a week earlier against Minnesota, Green jumped out of the gate early, busting runs of 9 and 6 yards on the Packers' first two plays. He carried on five of the Packers' first seven plays and had 27 yards to show for it.
Even though the Packers had to punt on the series, the Packers had established their running game against a depleted Eagles defense, which has lost four defensive linemen to season-ending injuries and was playing without injured safety Brian Dawkins.
When Green drove off the right side into wide open territory for a 32-yard gain on his next carry, the Packers were off and running again.
"A lot of misdirection and cutbacks," Eagles end N.D. Kalu said of Green's big day. "Those are things we practice and try to prepare for, but he's such a good back if you're not playing your 'A' game, he's going to expose you and that's what he did today."
Green's dominance seemingly came to a halt when, on his next carry, the ball was poked out of his arm by Simoneau. Safety Michael Lewis recovered it. It was Green's sixth fumble of the year and his fifth fumble lost.
The Packers have lost all five games this season in which Green has lost a fumble.
The Eagles weren't able to score, but they smelled a weakness and on Green's next carry forced him to cough up the ball again. Defensive end Brandon Whiting hit Green as he was going down, only this time Green was bailed out when tackle Chad Clifton recovered at the Packers' 28.
Soon afterward, Green changed to the cloth arm pads and went back to work. He started carving out short gains and by the middle of the second quarter had 102 yards in 14 carries.
"It was a matter of the conditions out there, trying to adjust and making sure I could be effective," Green said of the fumbling. "It was slick out there and they were ripping at the ball. I think I focused a little bit more on the ball and made sure I had the right equipment on."
It wasn't until late in the half, however, that he started to pick up where he left off earlier. The Packers got the ball at their 46 with 1:47 left and, after carries of 3 and 12 yards, he turned the game into the Packers' favor.
On first and 10 from the Packers' 24, offensive coordinator Tom Rossley sent out four wide receivers and screened right to Green. The Eagles blitzed nickel cornerback Sheldon Brown and strong safety Michael Lewis off the Packers' right side, leaving a huge void in their defense.
Favre swung the ball out to the right and Green got blocks from guard Marco Rivera on linebacker Ike Reese and guard Mike Wahle on cornerback Roderick Hood. He ran through the tackles of cornerback Troy Vincent and Lito Sheppard at the goal line for the touchdown with 40 seconds left in the half.
From the Nov. 11, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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