Never a Doubt in Blowout

As secure as Lambeau Field was Monday night in wake of the recent terrorist attacks, the Green Bay Packers made sure their half of the field was sealed off from the Washington Redskins as well.

Shutout football is rare these days in the NFL, but the Packers never gave the pathetic Redskins a chance to score and waltzed to a 37-0 blowout victory before 59,771 fans at Lambeau Field and a national television audience.

Green Bay's defense slammed the door time and time again against the Redskins, who have struggled to score just three points this season under new coach Marty Schottenheimer. The Packers, who opened the season with a 28-6 victory over the Detroit Lions, got stronger as the game went on in all phases and won their sixth straight since the end of last season.

The layoff due to the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., that many felt might interrupt the Packers' momentum never was a factor. Coach/general manager Mike Sherman said his team practiced well and it showed.

Rondell Mealey capped the rout by scooping up kick returner Michael Bates' fumble and returning it 27 yards with 3 minutes remaining. When it ended, the Packers got their first shutout win since whipping the Los Angeles Raiders 28-0 on Dec. 26, 1993 at frigid Lambeau Field. It was the largest margin of victory ever in a Monday night game and the biggest victory since a 40-3 win Dec. 11, 1994 at Chicago.

"They were very much touched by the events that happened in Washington (D.C.) and New York," said Sherman of his team. "To be able to come back to work this past week and focus on what had to get done during practice, I thought we had a tremendous week of preparation. I told them last night and I told them today that, 'You guys prepared extremely well and should win the ballgame.' I think our preparation proved that we did prepare well and were prepared to play."

If the Packers could only play the Redskins more often. It was the first time the two teams met since Oct. 23, 1988 when the Redskins won 20-17.

"It's not going to be this easy all the time," said Packers quarterback Brett Favre, who threw for three touchdowns, completing 20 of 31 for 236 yards. "If we play sound football we can beat anybody. But there will come a time, maybe this week, when it's dogfight every play, every series."

The Packers face perhaps their toughest stretch of games this season, beginning Sunday at Carolina (1-1). After that, they travel to play at Tampa Bay, return home against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, then travel to play at Minnesota before the bye week.

The Packers held the Redskins to 137 total yards, their best defensive performance since Nov. 15, 1998 when they held the New York Giants to 127 total yards in a 37-3 victory. The Packers held quarterback Jeff George to 102 yards passing, sacked him five times and took advantage of the many penalties by the ragtag Redskins, not to mention three turnovers.

Despite a sluggish start, the Packers never seemed to be in any danger of losing their lead.

Green Bay led 10-0 at halftime, then took advantage of linebacker Nate Wayne's interception early in the third quarter and took a 13-0 lead on Ryan Longwell's 32-yard field goal.

As the game progressed, Green Bay pounded away at a Redskins defense that is impressive on paper but has yet to reach its potential this season. The Packers' offensive line dominated throughout the game, which allowed Ahman Green to rush for 116 yards on 25 carries (4.6 per carry). He also had six catches for 30 yards.

Green currently leads the league with 273 yards rushing through two games. His ability to run the ball opened the passing game, despite talented cornerbacks Champ Bailey and rookie Fred Smoot.

Favre, like in Week 1, spread the ball around, this time hitting eight different receivers.

Freeman, who only had two catches for 12 yards in the season opener against Detroit, finished with four catches for 37 yards. He gave Green Bay a 7-0 lead by making a fingertip catch in the middle of the end zone on a 12-yard pass from Favre with 6:23 left in the first quarter as the Packers took a 7-0 lead. "I caught a seam route and I think they got mixed up on the motion," said Freeman. "I was able to get inside and head straight for the goalposts. Brett (Favre) read the safety come up a little and he threw it right over his head. Six points."

Longwell gave the Packers a 10-0 lead with 3:10 left in the first half with a 28-yard field goal. The Packers set up the score by running the ball seven straight times, as Green and Dorsey Levens combined for 50 yards, moving Green Bay to Washington's 10. But the Redskins forced the Packers to settle for the field goal by stopping Green for no gain on a shovel pass from Favre in the middle of the line.

"When we started to run the football and pound at them, I thought we were able to create some situations in the pass game," Sherman said.

Favre drove the Packers to Washington's 17 near the end of the first half, but threw his first interception of the season when Smoot intercepted a pass in the end zone with 23 seconds left in the half. Favre was trying to throw to Freeman, but threw the ball up for grabs under heavy pressure by blitzing safety David Terrell and Smoot picked it off for his second interception of the season.

Green Bay's defense forced the Redskins to punt the ball away on all five of their possessions in the first half. The Packers held the Redskins, who were whipped 30-3 by San Diego in the season opener, to 70 yards of offense and never allowed them into Green Bay territory through the first two quarters.

The Packers had 217 yards of offense in the first half. Favre completed 15 of 22 passes for 164 yards.

Longwell finished the night by making all three of his field goal attempts and four extra points.


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