Archive for September, 2009

On this date in…

by on Sep.24, 2009, under Commentary

1972: The Packers watched helplessly as a record-setting Raider and a referee stole the show.

Going into 1972, the Packers were not only coming off a 4-8-2 record the year before, but also were facing a staggeringly difficult schedule: Eight of their 14 games were against teams that had winning records in 1971, including the Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys.

The Packers started the season in impressive style by thumping Cleveland — a ’71 playoff team — 26-10. Week 2 would bring the ever-formidable Oakland Raiders to Lambeau Field.

Oakland opened the scoring with a field goal from 45-year-old George Blanda, but the Packers quickly drove to the Raider goal, taking the lead on a 1-yard plunge by John Brockington.

Later in the opening quarter, Green Bay got the ball back and was poised to score again. On a second-down play from the Oakland 6-yard line, QB Scott Hunter took a single step back from center and pitched the ball out to RB MacArthur Lane, who was running parallel to Hunter’s right.

Lane had a clear path, but the pitch bounced off his hands and into the right-hand corner of the end zone, where Raider S Jack Tatum was in coverage. None of the Packers near the ball saw it, and when it bounced straight into Tatum’s arms, he was off to the races. He quickly dashed out from four yards deep, put a move on Lane, and sprinted untouched for a touchdown.

Or so it was ruled.

As soon as the play was over, Packer players and coaches complained to the officials that the supposed fumble was actually a dropped lateral — or “muff,” in football parlance — and thus couldn’t be advanced. According to NFL rules, the play should have resulted in a touchback for Oakland. But since there was no instant-replay review then, the touchdown stood.

The Packers regained the lead in the second quarter on another Brockington blast, and held it until late in the third, when Raiders QB Daryle Lamonica threw long down the middle of the field for WR Fred Biletnikoff. Packer S Jim Hill intercepted the ball, but officials ruled that he had interfered with Biletnikoff. Oakland got the ball at the 1-yard line, from where Charlie Smith scored the winning points a play later.

The following day, the NFL acknowledged that Lane’s bobble was in fact a muff, and Tatum’s return shouldn’t have been allowed. But it was, and it — along with an equally long runback by Aeneas Williams in 2000 — remains to this day the longest fumble return in NFL history.

John Brockington (42) and MacArthur Lane (36)

John Brockington (42) and MacArthur Lane (36)

Sept. 24, 1972
Lambeau Field

		1	2	3	4	F
Raiders	       10	0	10	0	20
Packers	        7	7	0	0	14

OA: George Blanda 43 FG
GB: John Brockington 1 run (Chester Marcol kick)
OA: Jack Tatum 104 fumble return (Blanda)
GB: Brockington 1 run (Marcol)
OA: Blanda 14 FG
OA: Charlie Smith 1 run (Blanda)

Trivia: Whose record for longest fumble return did Jack Tatum break? The answer will appear in the Comments section tomorrow.

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Packers O-line looking for better game

by on Sep.19, 2009, under Commentary

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -Green Bay Packers guard Daryn Colledge didn’t walk or talk Friday like an injured player whose playing status is in question.

Colledge, who has a sprained right foot, ambled from one end of the Lambeau Field locker room to the other without a noticeable limp. He said the injury won’t jeopardize his playing streak Sunday when the Packers host the Cincinnati Bengals.

Daryn Colledge

Daryn Colledge

“I’m ready to go. I expect to be out there,” Colledge said. “I haven’t missed a start yet (for injury reasons). I don’t plan on missing one this weekend.”

The last thing the Packers need is to be short-handed on the offensive line after the unit had trouble protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the season opener last weekend. Colledge dropped out of practice Thursday with the foot injury, and he is still listed as questionable on the injury report for Sunday’s game.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Colledge has a good chance of playing against the Bengals.

“I think he’s going to be OK for Sunday,” McCarthy said.

Colledge was excused from practice Friday to treat the injury, which he said occurred when a teammate stepped on his foot.

“The coaches and the (medical) staff felt it was safer to say, ‘Hey, you’ve worked enough, we know what you can do, let’s just give you a chance to rest and be ready,”’ Colledge said. “I want to be 100 percent for the weekend. We’ve got a great defense coming in here, and it’s going to take more than 90 percent of me.”

Colledge has played in every game since breaking into the NFL as a second-round draft pick by the Packers in 2006. He has started all but four of those 51 games, including the playoffs.

“I’ve been benched before,” Colledge said. “But, other than that, I’ve never missed a game – high school, college, pros. I don’t plan on starting this weekend.”

Colledge, as well as the rest of Green Bay’s offensive line, is highly motivated to get back on the field after struggling in the Packers’ 21-15 win over rival Chicago. Rodgers was sacked four times, including a safety.

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On this date in….

by on Sep.17, 2009, under Commentary

1961: The Lombardi dynasty got off to a shaky start.

Before the largest crowd ever to see a pro football game in Wisconsin to that point — 44,307 at Milwaukee County Stadium — the Packers stumbled in their first steps to repeat as NFL Western Conference champions.

The Packers scored the first time they had the ball, moving 69 yards in eight plays in a drive that culminated with Jim Taylor’s 1-yard scoring dive. The key play in the drive was a 45-yard run by Taylor.

But near the end of the first quarter, the Lions showed some firepower of their own. After returning the ensuing kickoff to their own 48-yard line, the Lions were led by QB Earl Morrall on a quick 52-yard touchdown drive sparked by Morrall’s 42-yard pass to WR Gail Cogdill.

Midway through the second quarter, the Lions struck again, scoring on a 15-yard Nick Pietrosante run to make it14-7 Detroit. It was the former Notre Dame star’s second touchdown of the day.

The Pack fought back, but two drives were killed by interceptions, and all they could extract from the stingy Detroit defense was a pair of Paul Hornung field goals. The last of these pulled the Packers to within a point midway through the fourth quarter, but the Lions quickly drove into position for Jim Martin’s 44-yard clinching field goal.

The unquestioned star of the game for Green Bay was WR Max McGee, who caught seven passes for 127 yards. Between them, however, the rest of the Packer offense managed as many catches for only 46 yards.

The loss seemed disastrous for the Packers, since the Lions were expected to be their top challengers in the West. But the Packers didn’t lose again until week 9 and finished 11-3 — well in front of the 8-5-1 Lions — and went on to capture their first NFL championship in 17 years on Dec. 31.

Still, there were few conference rivals who gave the Lombardi-era Packers more trouble than the Lions. Detroit handed Green Bay its only loss of the 1962 season with a 26-14 Thanksgiving Day trouncing, and Lombardi’s final championship season, 1967, began with an unexpected 17-17 tie with the Lions.
Max McGee
Sept. 17, 1961
County Stadium, Milwaukee

                   1          2          3          4          F
Lions              7          7          0          3          17
Packers            7          3          0          3          13

GB: Jim Taylor 1 run (Paul Hornung kick)
DT: Nick Pietrosante 1 run (Jim Martin kick)
DT: Pietrosante 15 run (Martin)
GB: Hornung 15 FG
GB: Hornung 26 FG
DT: Martin 44 FG

Trivia: Paul Hornung and Detroit’s Alex Karras were suspended in 1963 for betting on NFL games. The investigation was precipitated by a call to commissioner Pete Rozelle’s office from an NFL coach. Who tipped off Rozelle? The answer will appear in the Comments section tomorrow.

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AP Game Summary: Packers Outlast Bears 21-15

by on Sep.14, 2009, under Commentary

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Brett who?

Aaron Rodgers finally has his signature game-winning drive, throwing a 50-yard rainbow to Greg Jennings with 1:11 remaining to give the Green Bay Packers a come-from-behind 21-15 victory over the division rival Chicago Bears in Sunday night’s opener.

Greg Jennings

Greg Jennings

Rodgers began 2009 with a bang, proving he can pull off the kind of late-game fireworks his predecessor, Brett Favre, once was known for. Rodgers had a productive first season as a starter, but earned some criticism for coming up short at the end of several games last season.

“I was thinking, ‘We’re due. We’re due for one good drive,’” Rodgers said. “I told the guys, just give me one drive.”

Rodgers’ big throw ruined the debut of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who had a career-worst four interceptions and finished the game 17 of 36 for 277 yards with a touchdown for his new team.

“There were a lot of failures,” Cutler said. “We’ve got to go back and look at it. I think we’re still going to be a good football team, there’s no need to panic.”

The Bears lost a big game to their division rivals and lost several key players to injury. Brian Urlacher left with a wrist injury in the third quarter after fellow linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa left in the first half with an injured knee. Backup cornerback Trumaine McBride also injured a knee, and tight end Desmond Clark left with a back injury.

Bears coach Lovie Smith said Urlacher dislocated his wrist, and no timetable has been set for his return.

“It’s pretty simple what happened tonight,” Smith said. “Any time that you have four turnovers, you’re normally not going to win the football game, especially against a good Packers team.”

(continue reading…)

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On this date in…..

by on Sep.09, 2009, under Commentary

1990: Majik who?

The Packers and their fans entered 1990 with high hopes. Not only had the Packers finished 10-6 the year before, just missing the playoffs, but the team also seemed to have one of the top young quarterbacks in the NFL in Don Majkowski, who had thrown for 27 touchdowns and 4,317 yards in 1989.

That optimism was dampened during the 1990 pre-season, though, because of contract holdouts by several players, including Majkowski. After a 45-day standoff, the Packers came to terms with Majkowski on Sept. 4, only five days before their opening-day matchup with the Los Angeles Rams.

Knowing Majkowski likely wouldn’t be in game shape by Sunday, coach Lindy Infante announced that backup Anthony Dilweg would start against the Rams. Dilweg, a second-year player out of Duke (and grandson of Packer end Lavvie Dilweg), had only played in one game the season before, completing a single pass for seven yards.

But on this day, with Majkowski signaling in plays from the sidelines, Dilweg shocked the Rams — and most fans — by carving up the L.A. defense, hitting on 20 of 32 attempts for 248 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His counterpart, Jim Everett, wasn’t so lucky — while he passed for 340 yards, the Packers harassed him into two picks. The opportunistic Packers also recovered three Rams fumbles.

In fact, Dilweg’s job was made easier by a pair of Rams turnovers that allowed him to start touchdown drives from the Los Angeles 4- and 7-yard lines. But Dilweg was impressive during an 80-yard drive that culminated in a 7-yard scoring pass to Ed West, putting the Packers ahead 27-17 early in the fourth quarter. Another long drive later in the quarter led to a 40-yard Chris Jacke field goal that clinched the unlikely win.

The rest of Dilweg’s Green Bay career wasn’t so memorable, however. The following week, the Chicago Bears sacked him six times and intercepted him twice while rolling to a 31-13 win. Dilweg won only once more in five subsequent 1990 starts, and was out of the NFL by 1991.

Anthony Dilwegs Packer glory was short-lived.

Anthony Dilweg's Packer glory was short-lived.

Sunday, Sept. 9, 1990
Lambeau Field

                    1          2          3          4          F

Rams                7          7          3          7          24 

Packers             0          17        3          16          36

LA: Curt Warner 6 run (Mike Lansford kick)
GB: Ed West 4 yard pass from Anthony Dilweg (Chris Jacke kick)
GB: Jacke 26 FG
LA: Flipper Anderson 40 pass from Jim Everett (Lansford)
GB: Jeff Query 47 pass from Anthony Dilweg (Jacke kick
GB: Jacke 53 FG
LA: Lansford 41 FG
GB: West 7 pass from Dilweg (Jacke)
GB: Brent Fullwood 2 run (kick failed)
LA: Pete Holohan 2 yard pass from Jim Everett (Mike Lansford kick)
GB: Jacke 40 FG

TRIVIA: What was the result of Anthony Dilweg’s final pass attempt as a Packer? The answer will appear in the Comments section tomorrow.

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Excellent exhibitions helping Packers forget Favre

by on Sep.08, 2009, under Commentary

By CHRIS JENKINS – AP Sports Writer

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -While the rest of the football world was busy digesting you-know-who’s return with a division rival, the Green Bay Packers’ first-team offense was quietly enjoying an almost unstoppable preseason.

And instead of looking dazed and confused by the details of a major offseason overhaul, Green Bay’s new 3-4 defense was putting

Charles Woodson takeaway

Charles Woodson takeaway

pressure on quarterbacks and taking the ball away at a remarkable rate.

No, preseason games don’t count. But going into Sunday night’s season opener against Chicago at Lambeau Field, Packers coach Mike McCarthy believes the dominant form shown by the team’s first string is the real thing.

“Now, we’re zero-and-zero, and so is Chicago,” McCarthy said. “It doesn’t mean anything as far as your record for the regular season. But hell, that’s where we are – and we expect to get better.”

The Packers’ preseason performance went a long way toward erasing memories of last season, when an ugly unretirement controversy involving the team’s once-beloved former quarterback, several key injuries and an inability to win close games all played key roles in a disappointing 6-10 record.

McCarthy fired nearly all of his defensive coaching staff in response, bringing in veteran coordinator Dom Capers to install his version of the 3-4.

(continue reading…)

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