Green makes impact without big numbers
Tuesday, December 4, 2001
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The eye-popping aspect of Green Bay''s come-from-behind 28-21 victory over Jacksonville on Monday night was that NFC rushing leader Ahman Green had a measly 31 yards rushing.
That''s 31 yards on 17 carries, too. Do the math. It ain''t pretty (1.8-yard rushing average).
It wasn''t as though Green was off his game, either, as he caught five balls for 74 yards and scored on a 13-yard shovel pass from Favre. It was merely a case of the Jaguars'' run-stoppers coming to play.
"They did really well, which we knew they would," Green said. "They''re very quick off the ball with (Tony) Brackens coming off the end."
Brackens, known for his unpredictable efforts, had one of his better nights, getting to Favre for a sack and a forced fumble, as well as forcing Green to the inside on many occasions from his right end position.
"They did a great job defensively," Green Bay coach Mike Sherman said. "They were very disruptive with some of the dogs that they brought on us. Brackens, I thought, had an outstanding game against us, against the run and the pass. He made plays."
It forced the Packers to go back to having Brett Favre in the shotgun, with Green or William Henderson to his side to help protect him or chip block when running routes.
"We solidified our protection a little more," Sherman said. "We went more with a seven-man protection and chipped our way out, and tried to take the edge off of Brackens. The minute we went away from doing that he started to get pressure again, so we went back to it."
Donovin Darius (six tackles), from his strong safety position, along with veteran middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson (four tackles) were particularly responsible. It was obvious right away, as well, as Green''s first four runs were for minus-2, minus-4, minus-1 and one yard, spanning the first quarter. It forced the Packers to attack the Jaguars through the air as Jacksonville built a 13-7 lead by halftime.
While Favre tore the Jaguars apart in the second half for 264 yards and three touchdowns (two passing, one running), the Packers went back to Green, showing faith in their back.
"You can hit him and stop him all 10 times," said Favre, who orchestrated his 20th fourth-quarter comeback victory that ended in a 6-yard touchdown run with 1:30 left. "On the 11th carry he''ll take it and go all the way. That''s the type of explosive back he is."
Green didn''t break one in the second half, though, despite rushing for 25 of his 31 yards and making a big impact as a receiver. After the game, as he sat by his locker amid a lively Packers'' locker room, the former Nebraska star didn''t seem down or distraught over his rushing performance at all. Not with his team escaping Alltel Stadium with a record of 8-3 to remain one game back of the Chicago Bears, who they will face next week in the comforts of Lambeau Field.
"To get a win like this on the road is big," said Green, who now has rushed for 969 yards on the season. "For anybody, any division, any team."
With the cold weather about ready to hit at any moment and with games within the black-and-blue NFC Central, Green knows his 30-carry games will still be coming. What''s important now is continuing the Packers'' winning ways.
"Along with the other wins we''ve had, it helps us continue to build our confidence as we try to reach our goals. Now, we rest up and get focused for the Chicago Bears, who are playing well right now."
Regardless of how well Chicago''s defense is playing, it''s unlikely anyone will hold a multi-dimensional back like Green to such low rushing numbers for the rest of the 2001 season.
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