Green carries a full load again
His 218 yards rushing sets a team game mark Monday, December 29, 2003
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

His 218 yards rushing sets a team game mark

By TOM SILVERSTEIN
tsilverstein@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Dec. 29, 2003

Green Bay - If the Green Bay Packers were looking for momentum going into the playoffs, they turned to the right guy.

Just once in the last four games has running back Ahman Green topped the 100-yard mark, so Green, perhaps sending a message to the rest of the playoff field, decided to do double time and top the 200-yard mark.

Green rushed for a Packers single-game record 218 yards in 20 carries in a 31-3 victory over the Denver Broncos Sunday at Lambeau Field. The Packers' single-season rushing leader achieved almost half his total on a single carry, going 98 yards for one of his two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

"How many records has that guy broken?" center Mike Flanagan said. "Every time you turn the corner, he's doing something. He's an amazing guy. If he's not the best guy in this league, I don't know who is.

"There are guys with a lot more publicity but I would not trade him for anybody."

Green continues to gobble up Packers records with the same ferocity he gobbles up yards. On Sunday, broke Andy Uram's 64-year-old record for longest run from scrimmage (97 yards) and Jim Taylor's 41-year-old record for most touchdowns scored in a season (19) with 20.

He also extended his own record for most 100-yard games in a season to 10.

Green finished the season with 1,883 yards, tops in the National Football Conference and second in the National Football League behind Baltimore's Jamal Lewis.

"He's awesome," guard Mike Wahle said. "It couldn't happen to a nicer guy, either. It's too bad he didn't get to 2,000. Maybe next year."

Green's performance in a must-win game for the Packers underscored the importance he'll play in the playoffs. If the Packers can run the ball effectively, they'll have a big advantage, especially when they're facing teams with high-powered offenses.

Though the Packers were slowed for a stretch in November and early December, they seem to have regained some of their prowess on the ground. Granted, the defenses they have been playing lately haven't been playoff-caliber, but they at least have a running game that must be accounted for.

"It feels good to be a tough team where everybody looks at you and says, 'This is a hard-nosed and physical team,' " fullback Nick Luchey said. "We did it when we had to."

Green did it especially well in the fourth quarter, when the Packers were backed up on their 2-yard line after Denver failed to punch the ball in on fourth down. With little room in which to work, the Packers loaded up the line with tackle Kevin Barry at tight end and ran a misdirection play to the strong side.

The Broncos followed Luchey, who led to the left, but Green took a step left and then cut back right, where a giant hole opened up. Barry had cleared out a big path for Green and it was clear sailing into the secondary.

"We try to bait (the defense) to the left and come back right and that's basically what happened to perfection," Green said. "The offensive line blocked who they needed to block and the only person I had to deal with is the safety.

"I think he got pulled in from the action of the whole play at the beginning. That was the start of it and running to the end zone was the end of it."

Once Green broke into the clear it was a foot race and there wasn't anyone who was going to catch him. He ran down the right side and took the ball past a cheering Packers sideline into the south end zone.

The run was an indication that Green is healthy heading into the playoffs, something he could not say a year ago.

"None of us were healthy on this team," Green said. "It was more of a bitter taste in our mouths. Hopefully we come out here and play like we've been playing and do the things we're supposed to do against a good Seattle team. Hopefully, that taste will change, but we've still got to play the game."



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