Green plows through Panthers
Tuesday, September 14, 2004

By Dylan B. Tomlinson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ahman Green stood up, stared at the NFL’s best defensive line and never blinked.

Facing off against a front four of defensive tackles Kris Jenkins and Brentson Buckner and defensive ends Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker would prove to be a daunting task for even the NFL’s best running backs.

But Green, as he did all of last season, made it look like a cakewalk. Against a Carolina defense that allowed only four 100-yard rushers last season, Green rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns. If that wasn’t enough, Green caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Brett Favre to further complete his glorious game and complete Green Bay’s 24-14 win over Carolina at Bank of America Stadium on Monday.

It was just the second time during Green’s career that he had a three-touchdown day. He rushed for three against the Washington Redskins during the 2002 season.

But that wasn’t on the road.

But that wasn’t on “Monday Night Football.”

But that wasn’t against the defending NFC champions.

“We pretty much did what we wanted,” Packers guard Mike Wahle said. “And that was against a really good team.”

As the Packers did all of last season, they started the game by going to Green. The Packers went to him often and he gradually started to chip away at the Carolina defense. Late in the second quarter, Green broke free for a 6-yard touchdown that gave the 10-7 lead that the Packers carried into halftime.

During the entire game, Green never broke a run of longer than 12 yards, but almost every time he slammed into the Carolina defense, he seemed to jump up and walk away with a gain of 5 to 7 yards. In the third quarter, after Brett Favre hit Donald Driver for a 16-yard gain, Green stepped in on the next play and went straight through the middle of the line for a 3-yard touchdown.

“It was just like any other game,” Green said. “The line gave me some good holes. I’m just glad we won.”

As Carolina’s defense tried to stop Green, Favre was able to be quietly effective.

On the Packers’ next possession, they switched up the pass and the run as they marched down the field. While Green broke runs of 8, 9 and 12 yards, Favre moved the team with a 13-yard pass to tight end Bubba Franks, and a 9-yard pass to running back William Henderson.

It was only fitting that the 11-play, 67-yard drive culminated with Favre and Green finding each other for a touchdown pass that put the game out of Carolina’s reach.

While the Packers were able to open the season with a win, several of the players said they felt the offense didn’t begin to show what it was capable of doing.

“We weren’t as crisp out there as we usually are,” Packers tackle Mark Tauscher said. “A lot of times we gain a lot of yards but don’t get into the end zone as much as we want to. That wasn’t the case tonight. We were efficient. We scored points.”

After a quiet preseason where he spent the final week nursing a minor left knee injury, there were some questions as to whether Green would have a rusty week or two before he reverted back to his 2003 form.

After Monday’s performance against one of the NFL’s best defenses, Green was his old self again.

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