Edwards enjoys Finest Game

Safety comes up with handful of big plays

GREEN BAY - A sense of relief, satisfaction to a point, came over Antuan Edwards as he was asked about his performance against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at Lambeau Field.

"It's been a long road, man," he said. "It felt really good. I've got to thank the man upstairs. I kept pressing on, but it doesn't stop here. You don't stop here, you've got to keep going."

After spending four years in the NFL dealing primarily with injuries and trying to find a permanent position in the Packers' lineup, Edwards is beginning to make a steady contribution this season. Against the 49ers, he said he played perhaps his finest game as a Packer, and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell agreed.

"I certainly agree with it since I've been watching him," said Donatell. "He did a lot of good things in the football game. He can build on this. It is one game. We want to move ahead to the next one. I think he's capable of having many good games here in the future."

Though he was inactive for two games this season, Edwards has remained a starter at safety alongside Darren Sharper since the season opener and coaches have praised his consistent play. Coming into last Sunday, however, he had been frustrated by his lack of big plays this season. That changed in a 20-10 Packers' victory with his first interception of the season, his first sack of the season, a pass defensed, and a perfect "form" tackle of Terrell Owens on a third-down reverse attempt.

As a result of Edwards' play and others, the Packers were able to turn in one of their better defensive efforts of the season, allowing a season low of just 119 net passing yards to the 49ers.

"We have a talented group in the secondary," said Edwards. "You have to credit the D-line for putting pressure on them early, but Mike (McKenzie), Al (Harris), (Darren) Sharper, those are athletes right there. It's not a big surprise to us to get it done. We knew we had the ability to do it. It's just going out there every game and making it happen. We got it done today."

Midway through the third quarter, Edwards "got it done" on a safety blitz that sent 49ers' quarterback Tim Rattay to the turf. Edwards said it was the first time he had blitzed all season, and when he found a free lane to the quarterback, his sack forced the 49ers to punt.

Later in the game, Edwards made his first interception since Dec. 10, 2000 (against the Lions' Charlie Batch). Playing short in zone coverage, he stepped in front of a pass intended for wide receiver Tai Streets, making the catch before being pushed out of bounds at the Packers' 48-yard line.

"That's my play to make," he said. "I got a good read on the quarterback and he threw it right to me."

"I've been waiting on that (interception) for a long time, man. It felt really good. Just a big game like that. I've got the ability, it's just making it happen. I went out there and had a good game today."

The interception ended any 49ers' comeback hopes trailing by 10 points with just 6:08 left in the game. The Packers' offense promptly took over and ran out the clock. Edwards also said that Sunday's game was a confidence builder for him. Not only did he made several big plays, but he made them with Sharper out for much of the second half due to an injury.

"That's him taking on a leadership role," said Donatell. "That's him advancing and developing. Antuan's saying, ‘Hey look, I can be that guy to step up and make that play for your team."

At least for one game, he can enjoy the fact that he did just that.

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