Green will have to wait another week to set record
Monday, December 8, 2003
Green Bay News Chronicle
By Tim Froberg
When the Chicago Bears stuffed Ahman Green on the game's first play from scrimmage Sunday, they sent a message to the NFC's second-leading rusher. They weren't going to let him break any tackles - or any records.
The Bears played stout, stingy rush defense to keep Green bottled up all day and prevent him from breaking Jim Taylor's 40-year-old single-season franchise rushing record.
In Green Bay's 34-21 victory, Green ran for 80 tough yards on 30 carries (a subpar 2.7 average) to fall 12 yards short of breaking Taylor's 1962 record of 1,474 yards.
Patience - in running with the football and allowing blocking schemes to develop - is an area in which Green has improved this season. And that's the approach Green is taking toward Taylor's record, or any others that will come along. He knows he will almost certainly break the record Sunday at San Diego. Besides, he wants the world to know that he is driven by team success, not individual feats.
When asked about falling short of Taylor's record, the soft-spoken Green, who didn't appear to be downcast or frustrated, simply replied: "So what? We won the game. I don't care about no records. All I worry about is our record at the end of the year. Records come and go. As long as I keep playing a long time, I'll continue to break records. But I'm not going to worry about it. I'll take a victory like this."
Green appears sincere about putting any personal records in the background. Just ask his linemen.
"Ah, we know we're going to get that and Ahman, he doesn't care about that," said Packers center Mike Flanagan. "Winning is all that matters to him and to us."
The Bears geared their game plan toward containing Green and the Packers running game after being burned for 187 yards in the teams' first matchup this season. This time, the Bears succeeded in shutting it down. Green Bay finished with 97 rushing yards - its fourth lowest output of the season - and a 2.6 per-carry average. The Packers entered the game leading the NFL in rushing yards per game with a robust average of 163.3.
Chicago's run defense has improved dramatically in the second half of the season, and the Bears have held five of their last seven opponents to less than 100 yards rushing. On Sunday, Chicago defensive coordinator Greg Blache dared Packers quarterback Brett Favre to beat him, crowding the line of scrimmage with eight, sometimes nine players.
"They brought everyone the first quarter," said Packers left guard Mike Wahle. "They brought both their cornerbacks and had nine guys in the box at times. They brought a ton of people to shut down our running game, but that opens up other things and that's what happened today."
Flanagan added: "We weren't clicking, but they have a good defense. (Keith) Traylor is a tough guy to move, Urlacher is a sideline-to-sideline guy and they're were bringing the safety up a lot into the box."
Despite Green Bay's lack of early success in the running game, the Packers didn't abandon it - even after they spotted the Bears a 14-0 first-quarter lead. Green Bay finished with three more rushes (38) than passing attempts.
"Their defense came in with the idea that they were not going to let us run the ball," said Packers right tackle Mark Tauscher. "They had guys up on the line and were doing lots of stunts. But in the first quarter, we just weren't finishing our blocks and when we're not finishing, we're not a very good offensive line.
"Everything in the NFL starts with running the football. We got a little off track today, but Tom (Rossley) and the coaches stuck with it, and it's a big confidence boost. We just kept pounding the rock."
Green's longest gain of the day was for 10 yards. Whenever he seemed to squirt through a hole, Green found few cutback lanes available and was quickly brought down by Chicago's relentless pursuit. After rushing for eight 100-yard games in Green Bay's first 11 contests, Green has been held to 137 hard-earned yards on 43 carries for a 3.1 average the last two weeks.
It is obvious that opposing defenses are building game plans around stuffing Green. While the Bears had some success with the strategy, it wasn't enough to shut down the Green Bay offense, since Favre had a respectable day through the air, completing 22 of 33 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown.
"We know teams are going to try and stop the run, but you have to stay with it," said Green. "One play, a guy is going to miss his assignment and that's when you get a big run."
Green managed to reach one milestone. With his 2-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter, he became the third player in Packers history to score 15 touchdowns in a single season. Taylor holds the all-time club record with 19 in 1962, the same year he set the team's single-season rushing mark.
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