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PACKER PARTISAN: Young Packers Prevail in the Humpty Dump (11/15/2006)
By Dave DeLano

The 5-point underdog Packers charged fearlessly into Minneapolis Sunday and came away with a well-deserved 23 - 17 win over the floundering Vikings. The Packers out hustled, outplayed and made fewer mistakes than their opponent and thus deserved an important win, as the young Packers took another step in learning what it takes to win in the NFL. The result leaves the Pack with a 4 - 5 record on the 2006 season and vaults them into second place in the North division.

Mike McCarthy and staff put together a nice game plan and thoroughly out-coached their counterparts. Brett Favre came out firing bullets, mostly to Donald Driver, but also to six other receivers. By halftime Driver had a long touchdown and over 150 yards in receptions as the Pack pulled away to a 17 - 14 lead. A couple weeks ago the New England Patriots routed the Queens by almost exclusively throwing the football. McCarthy's plan Sunday was for Favre to throw the ball at the Vikings a lot...throwing the ball away when necessary... but not to commit turnovers. Favre was brilliant in execution Sunday.

The Packer defensive secondary has developed a nasty habit this year of gifting their opponents with blown coverage and allowing "big" pass plays. This happened again Sunday and the Vikings capitalized on another "missed communication" and scored on a long touchdown pass. These mistakes are inexplicably happening when the Packers are in "cover two" defense...which means that there should be two safeties roaming where no receivers get behind them. The Packer safeties seem clueless on how to play this coverage properly, as the same mistakes seem to resurface every game. Nick Collins in particular needs to sharpen up in this area.

By the second half though, the Packer defense took control of this game. The pressure was relentless on the Vikings' quarterback, who was sacked four times and hurried and harassed into poor decisions and throws. The Packer's young linebackers had an outstanding day. In fact, I cannot remember a day when all three Packer linebackers displayed so much talent. Of course, sacks come easier when your opposition's quarterback has the approximate agility of a mail box. Nonetheless, Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk and Brady Poppinga are very good players and gaining confidence every week.

Next up for the Packers are the New England Patriots. The Pats are a very good team. They have lost two games in a row though and will be mighty hungry when they invade Lambeau next week. Bill Belichick is probably the best coach in the NFL. No doubt he will note the propensity of the Packer safeties to commit brain-lock deep coverage mistakes. Defensive secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer better earn his salary this week in preparation for the Pats.

Cheeseheads have to feel good though about the direction the 2006 Packers are headed. No one predicted the Packers would win more than 6 games this year, but just maybe this young team will do that and more. 


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