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Packers outgun Vikings in a Thriller (11/17/2004)
By Dave DeLano

The Green Bay Packers prevailed in a thriller at Lambeau Sunday and came away as North Division leaders with a 34 - 31 victory. What a remarkable turnaround for the Packers. After a miserable start, some had the Pack written off a month ago. Now, at 5 - 4 and with momentum, the Packers are again a force to be reckoned with and actually have themselves back in the thick of play-off possibilities.

This game was a battle between two teams with potent offenses and highly questionable defenses. As is often the case under this scenario, the game came down to special teams and who had the ball last to determine the winner. Fortunately for Cheeseheads, the Packers have the better special teams and Ryan Longwell delivered the decisive measure with a game-winning field goal as time expired.

Brett Favre and Ahman Green both played outstanding games as did the offensive line. Green was able to run at the Vikings' porous defense and Favre had a heyday throwing four touchdown passes. The Packer defense was another story. The secondary was scalded time and time again by the Vikes' passing assault, a theme which is getting altogether too familiar. The Packer youngsters in the defensive secondary are still on the steep slope of the learning curve and, for whatever reason, the linebacking corps seems to have taken a step backwards this year.

The Packer defensive line showed some signs of life as KGB and a couple others occasionally generated some heat on the Viking QB. Shifting KGB to the opposite side where he manhandled a rookie tackle seemed to be a good move. The Pack should move KGB around more often. Another bright spot came in the 2nd quarter when the Vikes were driving for a TD. On third-and-one from the Packers' one yard line, Grady Jackson absolutely stuffed the hole where a running play was designed to go, forcing the back to cut outside where he was easily tacked for a loss. Because of that play the Vikings had to settle for a field goal rather than a touchdown, which turned out to be the difference in the game.

There was one other memorable play which came after the Vikings had come back to tie the score at 31 all. On the ensuing kickoff and with less than two minutes left, Robert Ferguson made a nice kick return for almost 40 yards. As he was tackled though, he coughed up the ball. Third string tight end Ben Steele, whom the Packers had picked up earlier this year after he was cut by the Vikes, came up with the loose football. It was previously unheralded Ben Steele who allowed Longwell the opportunity for the game winning field goal. What a great story for Ben Steele to tell his grandkids someday.

Next week the Pack travels to Houston to play the Texans. This is clearly a game that the Packers should win, but so were several other games that went sour earlier in the year. The Packers need to be on their guard to avoid a let-down. They have already won their share of "good fortune" games this year and now need to solve their defensive problems. The Texans offer them that opportunity.

D H D 


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