Green in High Gear

A wrinkle here, a wrinkle there, and Packers running back Ahman Green was off to the races Sunday night...

MINNEAPOLIS - A wrinkle here, a wrinkle there, and Packers running back Ahman Green was off to the races Sunday night.

Green Bay coaches threw some new offensive looks at the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome Sunday night, and the players ran them to near-perfection in Green Bay's 30-27 win in Minneapolis.

"Teams had been trying to stop our power running game, so we switched things up," Packers right tackle Mark Tauscher said. "Our coaches came up with a great plan, and when Ahman got the ball in his hands, he was hard to stop."

The Packers finished with 261 yards rushing, and Green himself had 137 yards on 21 carries. He also caught a team-high five passes for a team-high yards, including the Packers' first touchdown of the game.

"We had some plays where I could take even more advantage of cutting back," said Green, who has gained more than 100 yards five times this season. "Maybe what we were doing confused them a little bit, but we just went out and ran the plan."

Minnesota coach Mike Tice credited the Packers with their scheme. "They had a nice plan to stretch us and to use our speed against us," he said. "We were overrun a lot and we missed a lot of tackles. We seemed to have them stopped, but didn't rally to the ball with more bodies to take them down and finish the play."

Green and the Packers offensive line showed they meant business on the first drive of the game. Green swept around the right tackle, got two nice blocks and sprinted 18 yards. Three plays later he took a pitch from quarterback Brett Favre, went around the left side, cut to the middle and gained 27 yards. The Packers got a field goal and Green had 45 yards on four carries after the first possession.

"That was a great way to start the game," Green Bay center Mike Flanagan said. "Sure, you want to get the touchdown, but we wanted to get some points right away. We thought we could get their crowd out of it."

On the second possession, wide receiver Donald Driver got his turn to show off his legs. He took a reverse handoff from Green and galloped 45 yards to the Minnesota 29. The drive ended in another field goal that narrowed the Vikings lead to 7-6.

Early in the second quarter, backup running back Najeh Davenport (6 carries, 43 yards) got into the act by gaining 22 yards around left tackle. He got two huge blocks from right guard Marco Rivera and fullback William Henderson. The run put the Packers at the Vikings 17. Two plays later, Green caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Favre to make it 13-7.

Even Tony Fisher, who missed the last two games because of a groin injury, gained yards. He dashed 19 yards near the end of first half to help set up Favre's 12-yard touchdown pass to Javon Walker with 21 seconds left in the half. Fisher finished with 38 yards on four carries.

On the last play of the third quarter, Green showed his amazing balance, strength and speed all on one play. He took the ball at the Green Bay 46 and headed right. He was stuffed for an apparent loss, but spun out of the tackle, dashed to the left side, got a block from Favre and gained 17 yards to the Vikings 38.

The play set up Favre's touchdown pass to Walker with 13:14 left that gave Green Bay a 27-20 lead. But the game basically came down to one possession. After forcing a Minnesota punt, the Packers took over at their 20 with 9:18 left and a 27-20 lead. The Packers ran on 10 of the next 11 plays. Green had gains of nine and nine yards. Davenport had runs for 10 and 8 yards. Fisher added an 18-yard dash to the Minnesota 10.

"Before that drive, the five guys of the line got together and we told ourselves we were going to take it down and score," Flanagan said. "The game came down to that drive, and we knew we could do it."

The drive ended with a 27-yard field goal that gave Green Bay a 30-20 lead.

The drive also erased 6:40 off the clock. The Vikings had only 2:37 to overcome a 10-poiut lead.

"Every play was so big for us," Green said. "Every game is big, but that drive really gave us confidence. Everything was working so well. It was a great feeling to do that here."


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