Monday, November 24, 2003

Packers 20, San Francisco 10. THIS was the best game of the year for the defense, replacing the Tampa Bay game as the previous best game. They held San Francisco to 192 yards and 3 for 12 on 3rd downs. Brett Favre threw 3 interceptions to give San Francisco some hope, but those 3 turnovers only led to 7 points. The score looks like this was a close game, but it was not close.

First Quarter: After the great run defense (they only allowed 73 yards on 21 carries all game) keys a 3 and out, Favre connects to Javon Walker on the first side line bomb I can remember working all season. Favre throws at least one of these passes a game, but this one worked, in large part to the single coverage on Walker. The next San Francisco drive dies in Packer territory in large part to Cletdius Hunt. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila got the sack, but it was caused by Hunt. Hunt had several big plays in San Francisco's back field, generated a pass rush all game, and easily had his best game of the season. Unfortunately, Favre throws a pass too high for Bubba Franks and Zack Bronson is in the right place at the right time to intercept it. Although they start at the Packers 20 yard line, the drive stalls and Todd Peterson, San Francisco's third kicker of the year, misses a gimme 28 yard field goal. Franks ends the quarter with a holding penalty to call back a first yard run by Ahman Green. Packers 7, San Francisco 0.

Second Quarter: Franks did not have his best game, as another pass intended for him is intercepted. Although San Francisco has great field possession again, this time at the Packers 22 yard line, 2 penalties and 2 incompletions push them out of field goal range and they have to punt. At this point I am thinking the game is over if San Francisco has the ball twice on 1st down at the Packers 20 yard line and they come away with no points. The passing game keeps leading to interceptions, so the Packers run 7 times in a row. What was amazing was that San Francisco knew they were going to run, because backup tackle Kevin Barry and backup fullback Nick Luchey were in as extra blockers on multiple plays, but they just ran it right at them. On the 25 yard run by Najeh Davenport, he had a giant running lane. The two passes Favre attempted were both completions and Robert Ferguson had a fantastic catch on a pass throw behind him and then he spun around after he caught it to cross the plane of the end zone just before falling out of bounds. San Francisco responds with a nice looking 6 minute drive which leads to a gimme field goal that Todd Peterson actually makes. Last week in Tampa Bay, the Packers ran an awful 2 minute drill at the end of the first half, but this week they did everything right. They ran and pass the ball successfully, ran all the time off the clock, and Longwell kicked a short field goal. Packers 17, San Francisco 3.

Third Quarter: More running Packers. Why not when your top two rushers Green and Davenport are averaging over 5 yards per carry, and 3rd string running back Tony Fisher isn't too far behind at 4.2 yards per carry. Longwell has been accurate all season on field goals, but he can't get enough distance for a 45+ yard field goal and his 49 yard attempt falls short. San Francisco answers with a 3 and out series and Antuan Edwards stuffs Terrell Owens (he tackles him around the waist, lifts him up, and slams him to the ground). Edwards is solid in coverage, apart from a poor week 1 vs. Randy Moss, but he hasn't been too good in run support, which is very important for a strong safety. For example, Anthony Thomas ran over and around him a few weeks ago in Chicago. So to see Edwards come up in run support and make a big run stop on 3rd down is a very promising sight. Unfortunately, Darren Sharper got hurt during the series. San Francisco can't get anything going on offense until Favre throws his 3rd interception of the game, when Mike Rumph plays the quick slant perfectly and cuts off Antonio Freeman on the route. Favre should have seen Rumph sitting there, but he probably thought he could squeeze it in. This leads to San Francisco's touchdown drive, when on 4th and short, Marques Anderson, Sharper's replacement, takes a bad angle on deep coverage of Owens and Owens runs past Anderson at the 5 yard line to catch the ball in the end zone. Anderson is great in run support, but his problems in coverage have led to him falling behind Edwards on the depth chart. You could see Al Harris talking at Anderson after the play. The Packers run, literally, out the clock on the quarter. Packers 17, San Francisco 10.

Fourth Quarter: The Packers ran the ball 16 times in the quarter and passed only twice. They had the ball for literally 13 minutes compared to 2 minutes for San Francisco who only had 8 plays (with 4 incompletions and 1 interception). San Francisco couldn't stop them from running the clock out and Edwards (what a great game for him!) jumped a corner route by Tim Rattay to intercept the ball with almost 6 minutes to go. The Packers just ran out the clock for the last 6 minutes, went 3 for 3 on 3rd downs on that last drive, including a great 3rd down run by Favre (of all people) to end the game. Packers 20, San Francisco 10.

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