Green means go for Packers' running game
Monday, December 18, 2000
Green Bay News-Chronicle

By Doug Ritchay

MINNEAPOLIS - Ahman Green was walking to the team's bus after Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings and LeRoy Butler stopped him momentarily to congratulate him on another impressive performance. It was the only time Green was stopped all day. The Vikings weren't able to do it.

The Green Bay Packers running back enjoyed his best game of his three-year NFL career Sunday, rushing for a career-high 161 yards on 25 carries as the Packers stunned Minnesota 33-28 at the Metrodome. "Ahman Green had a big game, and so did our offensive line," Packers' quarterback Brett Favre said. "It's amazing what our rushing game has done this year."

Green, who caught four passes for 31 yards and the Packers' second touchdown, was amazing Sunday as he had seven carries of 10 yards or more, four of which covered at least 15 yards. Two of those big runs came on the game-clinching final drive.

The Packers were trying to run the clock out, but needed one first down to do so. Green obliged on the drive's first play, running 16 yards to end any threat of a miracle comeback by Minnesota. Two plays later, Green gained another 28 yards.

"It was a situation we knew we needed to get a first down," Green said. "The offense knew if we could get one more big run off that would be it."

Although Green ran well beyond the line of scrimmage, he didn't forget to mention the job the offensive line did against Minnesota's defensive front. For most of the game the line gave Green holes to sprint through, setting up some of his big runs.

"The offensive line and (fullback) William (Henderson) opened great holes," Green said. "The cutbacks were there when I needed them. They performed real well."

Almost lost in Green's performance was the fact he cleared 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. He entered the game with 940 yards and at halftime he had 43 yards rushing, leaving him 17 yards shy.

Green exploded in the second half for 118 yards on 14 carries, giving him 1,101 yards for the season. His season total ties him with Jim Taylor for the eighth-best rushing season in team history, a tie that should be broken Sunday at home against Tampa Bay.

"It means a lot, because it means I'm a big contributing factor for my team," Green said of getting 1,000 yards. "I've gained more confidence during the season ... I've continued to work hard. I expected 500, 600 yards this season. I wasn't expecting 1,000. I got it, and I have to give a lot of thanks to my offensive line."

Green isn't the only player who takes pride in the 1,000-yard season. Right tackle Mark Tauscher said the offensive line feels good about it also, especially since the line has gone through changes during the season, including having rookie left and right tackles step into the starting lineup.

"You just take a lot of pride as an offensive lineman when you can get a running back to 1,000 yards," said Tauscher. "You feel good about that, especially where we've come from. We were getting dogged a lot for not being able to run the ball."

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