Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Well-Balanced Shutout

Packers 34 - Vikings 0

You read that right. Zero. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Bupkis. Et cetera. Look, I know how the Vikings "fans" feel. But damn if it don't feel good to me right now!

Things are going right for the Packers this year, where last year they were going very wrong. We kept losing the close games. Now we're doing what we need to do to win them. I was lamenting last week how we hadn't really just run away with a game yet. Even in our worst season, when we only won four in 2005, we absolutely killed the Saints.* I wasn't calling for a 52-pointer, but a game in which it felt like we could do no wrong would have been nice.

Enter the surprisingly-accommodating Vikings.

In this game, even when something bad was about to happen, it turned around in our favor. Two cases in point, both from the 4th quarter:
  1. The Vikings take advantage of a roughing-the-passer penalty and string together some good pass plays and a run to get all the way down to the 7. On 1st-and-goal, Woody picks off Bollinger's pass at the 2, preserving the shutout.
  2. On our possession following the INT, with just under 6:00 to play, Favre throws it to Ruvell Martin in the end zone on 3rd-and-5 from the 17. Cedric Griffin and Darren Sharper** both tried to pick it off, but collided. The ball popped up and landed safely in Ruvell's hands for his second TD of the game.
The other Packer to catch a TD pass was Donald Lee. His grab marked the 200th touchdown pass Favre has thrown at Lambeau Field. This was also the 250th consecutive regular-season sellout at the frozen tundra -- 264 if you count the playoffs (and you should). I've been to more than a dozen of those, of course, and Bob, Jeff, and Bob, Jr. will be making the pilgrimage together again for the Oakland game on December 9th for #266.

Along with the excellent defense, the run game made another resurgence in this game. The Packers ran for over 100 yards for the first time this season against the Broncos two weeks ago. This week, Ryan "Dorsey" Grant had already run for 81 yards by the end of the 1st quarter, including a 30-yard jaunt into the end zone to put us on the board. When he was done, he'd racked up 119 against a stingy defense, while the Vikings' rookie phenom Adrian Peterson had only 45 yards on 11 carries, and left the game with a boo-boo on his knee. We were expected to be able to run against Denver because their defense if the worst against the run in the NFL. Before this game, though, no one had been able to run for 100+ yards against the Vikings this season.

And of course the passing game didn't go away. In the 2nd quarter, Favre became the second QB in NFL history to pass for over 60,000 yards. He wound up with 351 on the day, which means he only needs 1,105 more to surpass Marino for that record.

One more stat: Favre wasn't sacked in this game, so kudos, too, to the O-line.

*This week's game was the second-highest margin of victory we've achieved since that Saints game. That was also the last time I got called out by Lisa for being a jerk to her... which also happened again this week. I have a penchant for unknowingly offending the people I love by either appearing to take them for granted... or by actually doing it. Frankly, I am always surprised by this when it happens because I can't imagine that someone would care that much about a lack of attention from me. Lisa just had a baby, and I couldn't be more thrilled for her and Nate.

When Brett was born six years ago, we were oblivious to the outside world. When I got the good news about baby Griffin, I was excited and anxious for Lisa, but didn't figure she'd give a shit whether I had anything to say about it or not. All of the cards and messages we'd gotten were nice and all, but I couldn't tell you who sent most of them or what they said. One thing I know for sure, though, is that Lisa sent us an awesome and very thoughtful care package. We always remembered that and we certainly wanted to repay that favor. We have prepared a care package, but part of it only just arrived, and now it's been almost a month, so we feel bad about not having sent it yet. Lisa, I'm sorry. I love you and I'm really thrilled about your growing family. Your care package is on the way, and I look forward to a play date sometime soon!

**Griffin (the Vikings player, not Lisa and Nate's son) and Sharper were also involved in another great Packers reception in the 3rd quarter, when they failed to beat the Jennerator to a 34-yard throw which led to Lee's TD two plays later. Thanks again, Darren!

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