Packers dominate Holmgren's homecoming

The students got the best of the teacher as the Packers schooled Mike Holmgren's previously unbeaten Seattle with a 35-13 win at Lambeau Field Sunday.<p> The offense provided the fireworks, scoring on five consecutive drives, while the defense answered their challenge by rebounding from a shaky start. The result was the Packers' best performance of the season before an appreciative home crowd.<p>

"This was a great victory for us," Packers head coach Mike Sherman said. "I'm really proud of our defense. We got things together in the second half and made the adjustments we needed to make."

The defensive adjustments were evident on the field as they went from helpless to Herculean vs. Seattle's powerful running back Shaun Alexander. The other facets of Green Bay's game followed suit, settling some scores that weren't limited to this 60-minute showdown.

Quarterback Brett Favre put on an impressive show to welcome his former mentor. After suffering through a 6-turnover debacle in his first game against Holmgren's Seahawks back in '99, Favre proved that five days short of his 34th birthday, he's still as dangerous as when Holmgren was at the Green Bay helm.

Favre was 19-of-25 for 185 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He took chances, slid for yardage, threaded the needle and did all the things that probably made Holmgren feel as if he was watching his old home movies. Favre even showed his fire in a tussle with a Seattle safety after a late hit.

"Brett was in a zone and making plays," Sherman said in his post-game press conference. "It didn't have anything to do with who was on the other sideline I promise you, it has everything to do with the guys we had on the field making plays for him and him making good decisions and just play. I thought he was outstanding today. Just his leadership and how we played together I thought was outstanding.

"Reports of the demise of Brett Favre were greatly exaggerated," Sherman said, crediting Mark Twain's famous quote.

Likewise, the demise of the Packer defense may have looked imminent vs. Alexander early on. He ran for 102 yards on 20 carries, but almost all of it came in the first quarter. Things looked grim for the Packer D as Alexander tried to make up for a fumble - forced by Cletidus Hunt and recovered by safety Marques Anderson - which led to Green Bay's first score. On the Seahawks' second possession, Alexander sliced through missed tackles for the bulk of a nine-play, 71-yard Seattle drive which culminated in the RB's 1-yard score to tie it at 7.

The shootout advertised in the opening quarter was pre-empted by a renewed Packer D on the final play of the Seahawks next impressive drive. Seattle marched 80 yards in 16 plays, but The defensive rebound set the tone for this game, which was all about making things right.

"We lost some personnel, but we didn't let (Seattle) score. They got in there and pitched a shutout," Sherman said.

After that, Seattle couldn't get any closer than a 58-yard field goal by rookie kicker Josh Brown. After Green Bay scored on its final three possessions of the first half, Seattle was forced to play catchup and GB defensive coordinator Ed Donatell let loose the blitz. That made for a miserable day for QB Matt Hasselbeck, yet another Seahawk making a return to his former home. Hasselbeck was 23-of-39 for 225 yards with no touchdowns. He was picked off by former teammate Darren Sharper.

Running back Ahman Green downplayed his first meeting with his former team, but let his play do the talking. Green, whom Holmgren used seldomly in Seattle and traded to Green Bay in 2000, had 118 yards rushing on 27 carries with two touchdowns. He has three 100-yard games with 7 touchdowns this year, and the Packers are now 17-0 when Green eclipses the 100-yard mark.

Green scored on runs of 1 and 3 yards in the first half, the second one giving the Packers a 21-10 lead with 36 seconds left in the second quarter.

Despite the Packers' offensive dominance in the second quarter, the Seahawks kept the drama going through half time. With just 36 seconds remaining, Hasselbeck hit Alexander for 12 yards, Darrell Jackson for 20 and Koren Robinson for 12 to reach the Packers 32. New Packer Michael Hawthorne's sack of Hasselbeck looked to knock the Seahawks out of field goal range with just 3 seconds remaining, but Brown's feat kept the game within reach, at least until Green Bay took full control throughout the second half.

The Green Bay offense accomplished a rarity Sunday as three different backs scored touchdowns. Tony Fisher refused to be denied from 11 yards out in the third quarter, and minutes later fullback William Henderson caught a 2-yard shovel pass from Favre to close scoring.

"It comes down to blocking and guys running hard and that's what they did," Sherman said of the Packer ground game.

Donald Driver opened scoring for the Packers with a 34-yard reception from Favre with 9:54 remaining in the first quarter. The 5-play 49-yard drive took less than two minutes to establish Favre's demeanor for the game. He found eight different receivers Sunday, including tight end Wesley Walls' first catch as a Packer. Antonio Freeman also had a key 14-yard catch on third down.


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