Unsung heroes: Green, Schroeder rise up to challenge
Sunday, November 19, 2000
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
By TOM SILVERSTEIN
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Green Bay - There's something curious about a team that has a three-time Most Valuable Player at quarterback using its left-handed halfback to throw a pass to its split end.
But on a day when the Green Bay Packers needed a total team effort to upset the Indianapolis Colts, it couldn't have been more appropriate.
Quarterback Brett Favre was the star of the day in the Packers' 26-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at Lambeau Field. But truth be told, he couldn't have been half as productive as he was without the help of running back Ahman Green and receiver Bill Schroeder.
"Ahman ran really well," center Frank Winters said. "Brett played good and Bill Schroeder stepped up big. We had some guys who stepped up when we needed them and made things happen. Now we can just enjoy a win here against a tough opponent."
Before Sunday, the Packers were still looking for the kind of combined effort they got from Green and Schroeder. They had gotten a big performance from Antonio Freeman here and a big performance from Schroeder there, but never the joint production they got from their two starters against the Colts.
Green sliced his way through a suspect Indianapolis defense for a career-high 153 yards in 24 carries, a gaudy 6.4 average. He added an additional 27 yards receiving in what stands as the best game of his 41-game career.
Green's previous best rushing effort as a Packer was a 94-yard outburst during a 28-20 defeat to the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 29. On this particular day, however, he ran with much more authority and resembled someone who could be considered a go-to running back.
"I don't know if I'm the focal point of the offense, but I'm getting comfortable the more times I get the ball," Green said. "Everything is getting easier, it's slowing down. I'm seeing the right holes. I'm running better routes."
Green played a major role in every scoring drive the Packers mustered against the Colts, using a cutback move against eight-man fronts to break several long runs. On gains of 36 and 25 yards in the first half, the Packers faked a reverse behind Green to keep the defensive end at home and allow him to cut back against the grain.
Green's 36-yard scamper in the first quarter, the team's longest run of the season, set up kicker Ryan Longwell's 42-yard field goal that gave the Packers a 5-0 lead. His 25-yard run one series later got the Packers down to the Colts' 18, helping set up Tyrone Davis' 1-yard touchdown catch.
"We were patient with the running game," coach Mike Sherman said. "We had some runs that we thought were good, core runs. We had a couple scheme things we put in this week and it just seemed like it helped. I'm not surprised what he (Green) did. I expect more of that from him in the future."
When Green wasn't making cutbacks, he was slamming into the Colts' defense for significant gains, such as when he carried twice for 11 yards in setting up the Packers' second touchdown. About the only time he got stopped was at the end of the first half when after catching a short pass he got dropped inches short of the goal line as time ran out.
"He did a nice job," guard Ross Verba said. "The offensive line really jelled. That was just Packer football."
When Green attempted a halfback option to Schroeder with the ball at the Colts' 18 early in the third quarter, it wasn't clear what kind of football that was. But the play had a chance until Schroeder lost his footing in the end zone.
It was about the only time Schroeder didn't come up with the ball against the Colts. His eight receptions tied a career high and his 155 receiving yards fell 3 yards short of his all-time best, but this was definitely a big game for the Packers' No. 2 receiver.
Schroeder gobbled up almost everything Favre threw his way, hauling in passes of 14, 18, 19, 20, 22, 25 and 32 yards. He might have saved his most important grab for last when on first and 10 at the Packers' 31 he caught a 22-yard post route with 2 minutes to go.
The Packers were clinging to a 26-24 lead and needed to get the ball downfield so they could preserve the victory.
"Nothing is guaranteed, but you try to get open every play, no matter if you're the first, second or third read," Schroeder said. "You just try to do the things you can do. With Brett back there, you never know what can happen.
"He's going to hit the open guy, and you just go out and try to get open as often as you can."
Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Nov. 20, 2000.
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