The Green Bay Packers clawed their way back into division contention by emerging victorious over the Washington Redskins 28 - 14. Although it wasn't real pretty Sunday, the Packers have now won three straight and with the bye week coming at a perfect time next week, they have an opportunity to heal some wounds and prepare for the second half of the season.
This game started out for the Packers very much like the last couple weeks, with the Packer offense pretty much moving the ball at will. Brett Favre spread the ball around in vintage Favre fashion, and the Pack quickly built a 17 - 0 lead midway through the second quarter. Unfortunately the momentum changed. The Skins got on the board, the Packers started committing turnovers, and soon it was a competitive game.
The defense actually played a pretty decent game considering Darren Sharper didn't play due to injury, and several others were gimpy. The Packers' pass rush, very quiet this year, made some noise Sunday, getting four sacks and harassing the Skins QB on numerous occasions, causing errant throws.
Somewhere during the game, Brett Favre's sprained and swollen throwing hand received additional trauma, leaving him unable to throw the ball like he did at the start of the game. In hindsight, he probably should have exited the game. But # 4 doesn't do that often. Three interceptions ensued. With four turnovers in all, the Packers were fortunate to have won a game that could have gone the other way.
With less than three minutes left in the game, Packer cornerback Al Harris made a huge interception which sealed the victory. Harris was one of the gimpy Packers who wasn't expected to start the game, but he has a way of coming up with the big plays in big games. Cheeseheads have fond memories of Harris' huge game-winning interception in the postseason game last year against the Seahawks.
So the Packers have evened their record to 4 - 4. Considering how bleak things looked three weeks ago when they were 1 - 4, Cheeseheads have to be reasonably optimistic at this point. This team still has much to prove though, especially on defense. But there has been improvement, and three wins in a row has to boost confidence. Rookies Batman Carroll and Joey Thomas seem destined to get additional playing time during the second half of the season. Both have big-time potential and could be long-term upgrades in the Packer defensive secondary. The linebacking corps and the defensive line have been dinged-up, so hope springs eternal in the Land of Cheese.
The bye week gives Favre and Company time to heal and time for the coaching staff to take a short break to reevaluate the team. In two weeks the Vikings visit Lambeau. The winner of this game likely will win the North division, so the stakes will be high.
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