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Lombardi would have been proud (11/26/2003)
By Dave DeLano

Dave DeLano
The late Vincent T. Lombardi would have been mighty proud of the 2003 Packers last week had he lived to witness the old-fashioned pounding given to the San Francisco 49ers. The 20 - 10 victory was a throw-back to the winning pro football formula perfected by the greatest coach of all time " a dominating defense and a ball-control, power-running attack. Sunday's performance was the Packer's finest of the year thus far.

It was a bit of a surprise that a defense that has been the subject of much criticism this year could rise to such heights, but Sunday that group was awesome. Na'il Diggs, Cletidus Hunt and safety Antuan Edwards led a defense that held the talented 49er offense to a total of only 192 yards. Edwards had a career game. Generally considered a high-draft-pick dud after several years of injuries and under-achievement, Edwards turned Sunday's game around twice. His bone-crunching, cartwheel tackle on Terrell Owens set the Packer's defensive tone for the game and later a key interception sealed the victory. It was an outstanding performance by a group I had all but given up on this year.

But the true beauty of this game was the power-running game that the Packers unleashed on the 49ers. In all, the Pack piled up 243 yards of rushing yardage against a team with a pretty decent defense. Two hundred forty-three yards is an awesome number that would have made Lombardi flash his famous gap-toothed smile. Running backs Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport and Tony Fisher ran with abandon and they ran to daylight, as Lombardi used to say. The entire offensive line's blocking efforts were noteworthy but dittos also for the fullbacks, wide receivers and the four tight ends. The offensive game scheme included a liberal dose of the stutter counter-gap plays and some new variations out of the "power I" or "heavy" formation". all of which seemed to work. Only twice before in my lifetime can I remember a Packer running attack matching this year's onslaught" during the glory years of the sixties when Jim Taylor/Paul Hornung et al perfected the Green Bay power sweep and a brief period during the 1970s when John Brockington and MacArthur Lane played together.

Although Brett Favre threw two touchdown passes, his broken thumb is still bothering him and he was picked off three times. All three of those passes were poorly directed. The combination of Favre's sore thumb and the success of the running game mean we will see much more of this brutish run-attack offense, which suits dyed-in-the-wool Cheeseheads just fine. The Niners knew that the Packer running barrage was coming as they geared their defensive schemes accordingly. On Sunday, however, Packer execution exceeded the efforts of the eight or nine Niner defensive players aligned in the box to stop it. It was quite a spectacle.

The Pack suffered a couple injuries to key players Sunday, notably Darren Sharper and rookie sensation Nick Barnett. They have a short time to recover as the Pack travel to Motown to play the early game against the Lions on Thanksgiving. The Lions are a lousy team this year but the Packer/Lion tradition of playing in Detroit on Thanksgiving is special and no doubt it will make the Lion's season should they be able to upset the Pack. I will go out on a limb this week and predict that the Pack will use their NFL-leading relentless running attack in an attempt to maul the Lions into submission in their home den. I could have predicted that the sun will rise tomorrow in the east, but there would be less certainty of that happening than the former. 


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