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Packer Partisan (10/17/2007)
By Dave DeLano
Redskins Rejected

The surprising 2007 Green Bay Packers advanced their record to 5 - 1 by defeating the Washington Redskins Sunday by a score of 17 - 14. This game could have easily had a different outcome, but in the end the Packers' defense kept coming up with enough big plays to make the difference. Unbelievably, the Packers now enjoy a two-game lead in the NFC North division headed into the bye week.

It was a nasty foggy/rainy day in Green Bay" the type of day when one expects fumbles and sloppiness to factor into a game and it did. Teams with a good running game usually benefit from these circumstances. Since the Packers don't have much of a running game this year, the match-up with a very good Redskin team was a concern. Both teams scored touchdowns on their second possessions, but soon the first half shaped up as a battle for field position, which was mostly won by the Redskins. By half time the Redskins led 14 - 7.

Brett Favre was not razor sharp as he has been in prior weeks and with only meager production coming from the rushing game, it became quite clear that if this game was to be won, the Packer defense would have to step it up a notch. They did exactly that. At half time adjustments were made to slow down the things that worked for the Redskins in the first half. The Packer defense then proceeded to dominate the second half, holding the Redskins scoreless. The defense also scored the game-winning touchdown when Corey Williams stripped the ball from a Redskin wide receiver and Charles Woodson scooped it up and ran it back for a 57-yard touchdown.

Middle linebacker Nick Barnett is having an all-pro season. He has incredible speed for a linebacker and led the Packers in tackles Sunday. Aaron Kampman is another playmaker who made the difference against the Skins. Unlike Barnett, Kampman did go to the pro-bowl last year and is well on his way to a second trip. Another defensive player who is contributing mightily this year is safety Atari Bigby. On one of their "three and out" series in the second half, the Skins were shut down on all three plays by Atari Bigby.

So the Pack has next week off. Coach McCarthy will no doubt give the players a few well-deserved days off before concentrating on their next opponent, the Denver Broncos. Perhaps the coaching staff will take the opportunity to focus on the problem of a glaring lack of a rushing game. It seems like ever since the cut-blocking scheme was introduced in Green Bay, running production has declined. McCarthy and his staff surely have enough experience to correct the problem and the sooner the better. There will be more nasty weather days ahead.

On balance though, Cheeseheads have to be very pleased with the season thus far. McCarthy's coaching contract only lasts through the 2008 season. Ted Thompson ought to spend some time during the bye week thinking about extending it. 


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