Green is true to his word
Running back's play speaks volumes Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Running back's play speaks volumes

By LORI NICKEL
lnickel@journalsentinel.com

Last Updated: Sept. 30, 2003

Chicago - Through all the criticism of the last three weeks, Ahman Green has been the rock for the Green Bay Packers. Steady and solid, he is every bit the two-time Pro Bowl running back.

That the relatively introverted player addressed his teammates earlier this week, in a motivational speech much like Brett Favre's before the Detroit game, only put the pressure on himself to back up his words on the field.

Monday night, the six-year veteran tore up the new grass of Soldier Field for 176 yards, seven more than his previous career high against Tampa Bay on Nov. 4, 2001.

Green did it in just 19 carries, for an average of 9.3 yards per touch. With 442 yards in four games, Green is the second-leading rusher in the NFL behind Baltimore's Jamal Lewis (611).

In essence, Green played old-fashioned football in a new-age stadium, ducking down, lunging forward, breaking tackles and dragging along defenders. Green made Green Bay look like the division leader everyone expected it to be instead of the up-and-down team of September.

"He ran the football well," said quarterback Brett Favre. "The offensive line blocked extremely well. I had a feeling - I knew we'd run the ball well.

"Ahman was fired up. Our offensive line, you could tell, they were ready to go. And it didn't take long."

Scoring on the Packers' second and fourth possessions of the first quarter, including a 60-yard tear, Green extended a few critical streaks that spell victory for the Packers.

Green Bay is now 23-3 under coach Mike Sherman when the Packers score first, as they did on Green's 60-yarder. The Packers also are 16-0 when Green rushes for 100 or more yards.

Green's 60-yard run was sublime. The Packers practiced the play on Thursday, but it was botched when Green tripped over Favre in the exchange, prompting cornerback Mike McKenzie to yell, "Nice tackle, Four!"

Against the Bears, the play was perfect. Green put a move on Bears cornerback Jerry Azumah, broke right past him and went all the way just 3 minutes 5 seconds into the game.

"I don't have many moves," he said. "It's a reaction thing. You just go out there and do it."

Green's second touchdown was a 6-yard run that followed a block by Bubba Franks. "I just blocked my guy," said Franks.

During a team meeting last week, Green spoke to his teammates. It was as rare a gesture as Favre specifically rallying the team, as he did two weeks ago, but it was effective.

"I'm a quiet guy," said Green. "I said, 'Play as one team. You win or lose together as a team.' "

After playing with right-knee and quadriceps injuries for much of the 2002 season, Green was still good enough to make it to the Pro Bowl. But he wasn't running with this kind of dominance.

"I don't think you can appreciate how hurt he was during last season," said Sherman. "He was pretty well banged up and was not playing how he is now."


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