Matthews Plays Like a 'Predator'

Clay Matthews brought the Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie to life with a second consecutive three-sack outing. Matthews talked to our W. Keith Roerdink after another dominating, hard-hitting performance.

Three times on Sunday afternoon, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews chased down Bills quarterback Trent Edwards. After each sack, Matthews sprung to his feet, flexed his biceps, then crouched down, extended his arms to the side and let out a primal scream.

Only it wasn't an exaggerated "You're out!" motion or homage to baseball umpires that Green Bay's second-year pass-rushing prodigy was giving. Rather, Matthews was imitating the title character from "Predator," the classic 1987 flick with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura that came out a year after he was born.

"I'm a big ‘Predator' fan," Matthews said. "Where he takes his mask off and him and Arnold are going down with the epic battle … that's the ‘Predator' for you. I like to mix it up a little."

If ever there was a movie to associate with what Matthews has done through two games this season, "Predator" might be it. Philadelphia's Kevin Kolb and Buffalo's Trent Edwards would probably buy into Matthews as a technologically advanced extraterrestrial sent to hunt them down. With six sacks through just eight quarters, Matthews is more than halfway to last year's 10-sack total. It's also the first time since sacks became an official stat in 1982 that a Packer has had back-to-back three-sack games.

Matthews didn't need to turn invisible or use heat-seeking thermal vision to bring down Edwards in the 34-7 home opening victory. Hard work, hustle and a healthy dose of film study did the trick.

Less than 5 minutes into the game, Matthews came blasting in off the right side on third-and-9 from Buffalo's 20-yard line, driving Edwards into the turf for a 13-yard loss. Green Bay was in its Psycho package, the brain child of defensive coordinator Dom Capers in which the team lines up with one defensive lineman, five linebackers and five defensive backs and sends five players after the quarterback. It's controlled chaos as offensive and defensive players figure out where the pressure is coming from, but more often than not, it gets results.

"I think I ran into Nick (Barnett) before that first sack, but yeah, it does create some confusion, no doubt about it," Matthews said. "I think it's a very unconventional package, but it works for us, so hopefully we'll keep doing it."

That play forced a punt, and six plays later, Packers kicker Mason Crosby would boot a 24-yarder to put Green Bay up 6-0.

Buffalo established the ground game in the second quarter, riding Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson for combined 58 rushing yards to keep it close, 13-7. But after some halftime adjustments by Green Bay, Lynch gained a mere 14 yards in the third quarter and the Bills were forced to go back to the pass. But that wasn't working out real well for them, either.


Clay Matthews drills Trent Edwards.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Matthews' second sack – a 12-yard loss -- came halfway through the third quarter on a play-action bootleg that he recognized from his film study. That no one bothered to block him on his way to the quarterback didn't hurt, either.

"That really came from film work," said Matthews, who was lined up on the left side for sack No. 2. "They run a lot of ‘boots,' especially to my side and leave the left end or left outside linebacker untouched in hopes that he plays accordingly and gets underneath that fullback. But from film study, I knew with how the play was developing and the o-line and all that, that he was ‘booting' and I took a shot and, fortunately, it paid off and we got some good negative yardage there and swung the momentum."

It may have been overstating to say Buffalo had any momentum at that point, trailing 20-7. But Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who went unsacked, would run in from 9 yards out on their next possession to push the game even further from Buffalo's reach.

Edwards would get some up-close time with his least favorite linebacker one more time. Trailing 34-7 early in the fourth quarter, the Bills were looking for some measure of pride on fourth-and-11 at the Packers' 31. But as Edwards began to move to his right, defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins – who had a sack of his own already – appeared in front of him. As Edwards took a step back, No. 52 beat left tackle and former Packers draftee Jamon Meredith to make the play.

"I felt like I saw him a lot today, unfortunately," Edwards said. "He's a great football player and a guy who gives 100 percent for 60 minutes and that's a great defensive player."

Unlike last week, when Matthews had to wait until Wednesday for the NFL to review film and award him a third sack, he left nothing to chance this time around. Still, he'd be OK if the same thing happened again this week.

"Maybe they'll give me four or three-and-a-half or something," Matthews joked. "It looked like maybe (Edwards) lost the ball a little bit on what could've been my second one. Jenks (Jenkins) got his. I don't know, maybe I'll send it in and make Jenks upset and see if I can steal half away."

Matthews is, after all, on pace for 48 sacks.

"I think that's a little early in the season to look to 48," Matthews said cracking a smile. "What is it, 22.5 (the single-season record)? I got a ways to go. We we're just talking about how disappointing it's going to be if I end up with a zero-sack game one of these games. But I'm just going to keep it up, keep up my work ethic, how I study, how I go about my business, and hopefully it will pay off. Hopefully, I can keep getting sacks for this team and keep helping this defense out."

NFL quarterbacks beware. You're being hunted.


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W. Keith Roerdink has covered the Packers since 1992. E-mail him at karoer@msn.com.


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