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Turnovers Topple Packers (11/08/2006)
By Dave DeLano

The Green Bay Packers turned out to be their worst enemy Sunday as the Pack lost to the Buffalo Bills by a score of 24 - 10. Four turnovers made the difference in this game, which was otherwise dominated by the Packers. Only elite teams are good enough to overcome four turnovers and the young Packers certainly are not in that category right now.

This game started slowly for the Pack as they could not establish decent field position largely due to poor special teams' execution. Three turnovers by the offense in the first half didn't help either, and by halftime the Packers were fortunate to only be down by 10 - 0.

By the third quarter, momentum had swung to favor the Packers. The offense began to rack up big yards and the Packer defense was outstanding. At one point in the second half the defense forced the Bills to punt on eight consecutive possessions. By the fourth quarter, the score was tied at 10 points each and the Packers were driving. With the ball on the Bills' one-yard line, Coach Mike McCarthy called a quick slant pass which was deflected, intercepted and eventually cost the Packers the game.

Ahman Green was running at will at the time and with four downs to produce a go-ahead touchdown, it was a bad coaching mistake. But... there were lots of mistakes made Sunday. Center Scott Wells had a bad game. His premature snap caused a turnover in the red zone and on another occasion a botched snap caused Brett Favre to fumble. Tight end Bubba Franks had a horrible game dropping two passes and missing several blocks. Franks is a former number-one draft pick who is paid big bucks, but right now his head isn't into the program. He should be replaced with David Martin, who is having fine season.

Defensive end Aaron Kampman continued his fine performance this year and is now leading the NFL in sacks. Unfortunately, his counterpart, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, is not faring as well. KGB is another big bucks guy who is struggling defending against the run. KGB is a lean defensive end and as such he seems to get picked-on by opposing teams as they choose a direction to run. KGB's forte is rushing the passer and I suspect he would be more effective at that if he took fewer snaps and someone a little heftier like Mike Montgomery got more playing time on the likely-to-run downs.

Cheeseheads hope that improvement comes quickly as next week the Pack travels to the Humpty Dump, infamous for electronically-induced fan noise and raucous Viking fans throwing beer and whiskey bottles at the players. The Vikings were upset Sunday by the lowly 49ers. Their offense lacks explosive players this year and whip-arm quarterback Brad Johnson won't beat many teams via the pass. The Packers will be underdogs in this one, but they could make a game of it if they pressure Johnson, improve special team performance and avoid those stupid turnovers. 


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