Dominant victories over the hapless Lions and Browns have a man feeling cautiously optimistic. Yes, the combined 57-3 thrashing offers a positive vibe, but for the first time in the '09 Regular Season, the Green Bay Packers look like their having fun. The camaraderie is back. Unity is apparent.
Successful athletes walk a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Often times crossing the border. When in the spotlight, they want to look good. Feel good. Play good. Last week, as a unit, the Packers played this part. It was good to see a lil' flair in the wardrobe. T-Mon rockin' the yellow boots! Pickett, Ras-Al kickin' it with yellow wrist bands. We added flavor. A zest that this roster required. A new attitude.
Suddenly, the Packers are playing inspired football. Playing with a purpose. Clicking on all cylinders. TJ Lang getting to the 2nd level creating the extra space for Grant to bust into the secondary. Lang also providing gaps in which you could almost hear Vince Lombardi echoing, "you get a seal here and a seal here and you run the play through the alley!"
Rodgers goes for 246 and 3 TD's. For the most part, he was releasing the ball on cue. A nearly flawless performance. Displayed via a QB rating over 155. Connecting with 8 different receivers.
Grant was explosive. Following blocks and getting to the second level. Bouncing off defenders. Quinn Johnson makes Grant a different back.
Driver & Jennings running after the catch and looking as dangerous as ever. It was also good to see James Jones in the end zone again. Donald Lee continuing to show himself as a legitimate possession receiver. Spencer Havner! Are you kidding me?
Charles Woodson! Ohio native. University of Michigan grad. When I saw him lined across from Brian Robiskie wiggling his fingers early in the game, I turned to Vargas and A* and said, "Chuckie is lined up across from a Ohio State alum, you know he's grabbing a pick." Congrats on #4 for the season, Charles. And #40 for a career. 10 more and to me, you're a lock for the Hall of Fame. Also notable, in two games against Ohio teams this year, Charles Woodson compiled 13 tackles, 3 interceptions, a forced fumble and a TD. He's a stallion.
Cullen Jenkins makes a play every game. He'll never get Pro Bowl consideration, but he's deserving of being mentioned.
AK-74 playing possessed. He's hand is in the dirt. I love it.
Nick Barnett & AJ Hawk playing aggressively.
Why is Brady Poppinga on the field?
It's so nice to have Ras-A-tari back on the field.
Ras-Al playing like he's in his mid-20's.
The past two weeks have propelled the Packers back into the thick of the playoff race. One game out of the Division lead. In a 4-way tie for the Wild Card. Importantly, one game ahead of the hated Chicago Bears.
This week, it's the 'queens coming back to town. A tie for 1st place in the division is at stake. The forecast is calling for an epic early November day. Low 40's. Light snow flurries. It'll be picture perfect.
Brett Favre in Purple. The notion still seems wicked to me. Somewhere Peter Tosh is screaming "every time I see the wicked man, my blood turns cold." I'm not going to get into my sheer disdain over the last 6 months again. It's not beneficial to be redundant. However, I beg that the Lambeau Field faithful offer a rude welcoming for the man who brought our team back to football prominence.
In no way do I want him feeling comfortable. Please, G-Force, I beg of you, offer the entire Minnesota sideline a standing...BOOOOOOOO!!!! Be loud. Be proud. Hate the color purple. Do so with a spitting vengeance! For 60 minutes, this is an off 'yur ass, on 'yur feet type game. If you can't bring it for 60 minutes, offer your ticket to someone that can. This is a statement game for the future of our franchise. It's up to the G-Force to provide the support and heightened Green & Gold praise. Don't sway.
The game at Minnesota could be considered "sticking it" to Ted Thompson. The game at Green Bay would be "sticking it" to the Green Bay Packers. It's up to us to help not let this happen.
When I break down this game, the first place I look is Jared Allen vs TJ Lang. Lang has been terrific against mediocre talent. If Clifton can't go, Lang must elevate to show he can compete versus the best in the business. If so, he may be our LT for years to come.
Surprisingly, A.P. has been quiet this year. At Lambeau, we've done fairly well against him. Using Ras-A-tari as an extra LB at the line, Bigby has been a sure tackler and an 8th man in the box. Meanwhile, Collins has been deep preventing the BIG HR play. Obviously, we must contain A.P.
Favre to Sidney Rice has become one of the more lethal tandems in all of football. Rice tortured us in the first match-up. We have to trust that T-Mon can cover Rice over the top and try to have Nintendo Nick jump the deep slants that Rice has been running effectively.
Throughout his career, Berrian has been a stiff test for Ras-Al. He was in the first game. He will be again. He seems to make a big play every time they match up. Favre's going to go to this well. Unquestionably. Ras-Al must be up to the task.
Shiancoe continues to develop a great rapport with Favre. A consistent chain mover. A terrific red-zone threat.
In order to slow down the Minnesota offense, you HAVE TO GET PRESSURE FROM THE INSIDE! Without it, the 'queens are difficult to contain. But, if you can get in the immobile Favre's face, you can slow them down.
Losing J-Mike will hurt our offensive attack. He was our best weapon in the first match-up. Rest assured, McCarthy is sitting under a night lamp drawing up a bit of trickery to create points and to make up for J-Mike's absence.
The Packers come out throwing early. Attacking the left side of the 'queens defense where there's a huge void as they're playing without Winfield. Benny Sapp & Tyrell Johnson are the weakness of their defense. We go after them.
Puma route to Jennings. Short curl to Lee. Crossing route over the middle to Double-D. We move inside the 30. Grant gets stuffed on a 3rd & short. Yes, the Packers short-yardage offensive woes continue. However, Crosby is true from 43 yards. The Packers take an early 3-0 lead.
Favre leads the 'queens to midfield where miscommunication occurs on a 3rd down. The defense is off the field. The faithful are rowdy!
Early in the 2nd Quarter, Minnesota moves the football. A shovel pass to AP for 12 yards. AP pounds at the interior of defense. Favre to Shiancoe. It's Favre to Rice on a back shoulder fade into the corner of the end zone. Minnesota grabs the lead.
The Packers strike back. Showing a youthful fight. An exuberant energy inside the huddle concocts a Rodgers inspired drive. Rodgers picks on Benny Sapp again. James Jones fighting for extra yards. The Lambeau faithful shows their approval with a rousing ovation. It's Rodgers to Driver for 6 points and a Lambeau Leap into the South End Zone stands! The Packers regain the lead!
Percy Harvin responds with a big time return to put Minnesota into Packers territory. Minnesota closes the half with a late FG to tie it at 13.
Early in the third quarter, Berrian gets deep.
The Packers continue to play with heart. Pride abound. Under the lights of Lambeau. Players blowing cold smoke with each breath. Grant pounds for first down yardage. Almost unbelievably, the Packers find success with physical football. The Packers spread out Minnesota's depleted secondary and hit them with Grant who gets himself into the second wave of their defense. Inside the red zone, it's Rodgers to Jennings on a slant to the right side of the Minnesota defense. 20-20.
The Packers get their turnover. AK-74 gets to Favre and the football comes loose. Jenkins recovers. We convert into points.
It's late. 5 minutes left. Favre comes strolling out. One more magic Lambeau moment in his pocket. Methodically picking the Packers apart. Pissing us off with each 3rd down completion. Favre to Shiancoe. Favre to Rice. Favre to Taylor. AP plows into the end zone from 12 yards out.
And then, it's the true passing of the baton. It's 2 minutes left. Where Favre created his legacy. Standing on the sidelines. While Rodgers goes to work. Hollywood could not have wrote a better story. As time expires, it's Mason Crosby from 45 yards and a Green Bay Packers dagger into the hearts of the Minnesota Viqueens.
It's a thriller.
Green Bay 30. Minnesota 27.
This young generation of Packers grabs their first trademark victory in the post Brett Favre era. Against their former leader. It draws them into a tie for first place in the Division. There's an overwhelming state of euphoria inside the elite theater in all of sports. Pure ecstasy. Joy in a picturesque Lambeau Field.
Feel it on the inside. Wear it on the outside, baby!