Defense Puts on a Show

Putting the tragic events of Sept. 11 in perspective, Packers defensive tackle Santana Dotson reminded members of the media that all he really is, is an entertainer.

For three hours and 11 minutes on Monday night, Dotson and his defensive mates provided all the entertainment they could muster with a 37-0 shutout of the Washington Redskins, Green Bay's first since Dec. 28, 1993 against the Raiders.

Green Bay sacked quarterback Jeff George five times, including one each by Dotson, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Vonnie Holliday, Billy Lyon and a shared sack by John Thierry and Nate Wayne. Wayne also picked off a third quarter pass that led to a 13-0 Green Bay lead. But perhaps the most impressive defensive statistic of the night was that the Redskins didn't mount 100 yards in total offense until the 2:50 mark of the fourth quarter.

"We're just trying to ease people's minds, whether it's the (terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon) that happenned two weeks ago or just somebody who has day-to-day business... the guy in the plant who works 40 to 45 hours a week and wants to sit back, have a beverage and watch the game.

"What we do is an escape and it felt good to get back to it and hopefully we eased some peoples minds, even if it was just for three or three and a half hours."

After defeating the Detroit Lions 28-6 in week one, it marks the second year in a row that Green Bay has gone consecutive games without surrendering a touchdown, having done so on Sept. 17 of last year with a 6-3 win over Philadelphia and Sept. 24 with a 29-3 victory at Arizona.

"We're really enjoying the scheme," Dotson said. "As defensive lineman, we're rushing well as a unit and it's a lot harder to rush when it's just one pass rusher or just one side of the ball. We're making a concerted effort as a defensive front and George didn't have a lot of gaps to run or scramble to and that makes our work a lot easier."

Midseason form: As well as the defense is playing, the offense has been keeping pace, piling up 65 points in their two contests thus far. An encouraging part of that surge has been wide receiver Antonio Freeman. While he only had two catches in Week 1, he provided a key block on an Ahman Green scoring run.

Against Washington on Monday night, he had four grabs for 37 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown that brought a flag-waving crowd of 59,771 to their feet.

"I was able to get inside and head straight for the goal posts," Freeman said. "Brett (Favre) read the safety coming up a little and he threw it right over his head. Six points."

Freeman also returned punts in place of the injured Allen Rossum. He had 39 on five returns.

"I felt good back there. That was like being in the play yard again, like being a little kid and just having fun."

USA, USA: One hundred-fifty policemen and firefighters from Green Bay and other Northeastern Wisconsin communities combined their efforts to unfurl a large American flag shaped like the United States during pregame ceremonies. Members of both the Packers and Redskins joined in the effort.

The flag, which measured 90 by 120 feet, was displayed during the National Anthem, sung by country music star Martina McBride.

Fans were handed small American flags as they passed through the gates and chanted "USA!, USA!" moments before kickoff.

Linebacker Chris Gizzi, a reservist for the Air Force and one of just two reservists in the NFL, led the Packers out of the tunnel carrying and waving Old Glory.

"I was going a million miles an hour," Gizzi said. "My heart rate was through the roof. I just hope everyone got as excited as I was. It was a great way to start off the game."

Wolf's Pack: Former vice president and general manager Ron Wolf served as the honorary captain for Monday night's game. Inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame in 2000, Wolf retired June 1 following a nine-year reign in the Green Bay front office.

Wolf brought the Packers back to prominence, highlighted by a Super Bowl championship in 1996, seven consecutive playoff appearances, six straight trips to the playoffs and 101 wins.

Roster update: The only player unable to play due to injury was return specialist/cornerback Allen Rossum, who has been nursing a sore hamstring.

Inactive for the game were running back Herbert Goodman, linebacker Torrance Marshall, guard Bill Ferrario, wide receiver Charles Lee, wide receiver Robert Ferguson, defensive end Jamal Reynolds and quarterback Henry Burris.

Reynolds, the Packers' top pick in April's NFL draft, had been sidelined with a knee injury but did return to practice the week leading up to Monday's game.

Because Rossum and Lee were inactive, backup running back Rondell Mealey handled the kickoff duties, while starting wide receiver Antonio Freeman took care of the punt returns.

As for the game, Wayne sprained his left patellar tendon in the second quarter but returned in the third quarter and went on to record his first career interception.

Lost for the game was backup tight end David Martin, who sustained a contusion to a joint in his right shoulder in the second quarter.

Extra points: When Brett Favre hooked up with Freeman for a 12-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter, it marked the 52nd time the duo has connected for a score, placing them ninth in NFL history.

Up next on the list are the Redskins' Sonny Jurgenson Charlie Taylor, who teamed up to post 53 touchdowns.

* Favre became just the 12th quarterback in league history to surpass 35,000 career passing yards with a first-quarter reception.

* Kicker Ryan Longwell reached 500 career points with a 28-yard field goal in the second half to become only the sixth player in team history to reach that plateau.


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