Green & Co. run over Vikings
Monday, November 3, 2003
BY GREG JOHNSON
Ahman Green made the Metrodome turf his personal playground Sunday night.
The Green Bay running back made a season's worth of highlights in the first half to lead the Packers. He and his teammates kept up the onslaught over the final 30 minutes as the Packers grabbed a 30-27 victory over the Vikings.
Green carried 21 times for 137 yards and caught five passes for 52 yards. The Packers rushed for 261 yards, an average of 7.7 yards a carry.
"This was big all around for us to come out and get a victory like this,'' said Green, who scored on a 5-yard pass play in the second quarter to give his team a 13-7 lead. "We had a bye week to focus on what we needed to do right. We kept our penalties down and stayed focused on the positive things.''
Green rushed for 95 yards in the first half as the Packers kept the Vikings' defense off balance. He had most of his success running outside the tackles on toss plays in which he showed patience before bursting through the open space.
"When you're hitting on all cylinders, it seems like everything works the way it's supposed to,'' Green said. "We were all doing our assignments, and everything was coming easier.''
The Packers' game plan worked early and often as they continually put the ball in Green's hands. The Pro Bowl running back gained 18 yards on his first carry and added a 27-yard run off a pitch to the right three plays later.
Green Bay's run offense, which featured more misdirection fakes than the team has used, put the Vikings on their heels. Besides Green, wide receiver Donald Driver had a 45-yard run on a reverse. Backup running backs Najeh Davenport and Tony Fisher added runs of 22 and 19 yards.
The Packers had 182 yards rushing at halftime, but it was their last drive in the fourth quarter that sealed their victory.
Green Bay pounded the ball at the Vikings on a 12-play drive that covered 71 yards. Every play but one during the six-minute, 40-second drive was a run. The exception was an 18-yard pass from Brett Favre to Javon Walker.
"After the last game, the Vikings were talking about how physical we aren't,'' Packers left guard Mike Wahle said. "We took that personally. If you needed any more motivation than that, then you've got problems.''
The Packers' offensive line took more pride in running the ball late, when the Vikings' defense knew they were trying to consume time. The drive ended with a 27-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell that became the winning margin.
"We're real confident in our ability,'' Wahle said. "My hat is off to everyone on the offensive line and the tight ends who blocked well. It was a situation as an offensive lineman that I couldn't be happier in how things turned out. We had the opportunity to close the game out, and we did it. We showed them today.''
Packers coach Mike Sherman said running the ball at the Vikings was what his team planned to do all week.
"Our goal was to get 150 yards rushing, and they gave me a lot more than I anticipated,'' Sherman said. "It takes that kind of effort against a heck of a good football team. Our guys rose to the challenge. We didn't run the football very well against the St. Louis Rams two weeks ago.
Greg Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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