Packers-49ers grades

Courtesy of, here is a look at the performance of the Packers offense, defense, and special teams in their victory this weekend over the 49ers.

The Packers broke a two-game losing streak at home Sunday with their 20-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers but didn't gain any ground on the Minnesota Vikings. The Packers improved to 6-5, one game behind Minnesota in the NFC North Division.

The Vikings overcame an upset bid by Detroit with two late fourth-quarter touchdowns on defense to win, 24-14, at the Metrodome.
"We would have liked to get that one," linebacker Hannibal Navies said, referring to the Vikings' game against Detroit. "But we have to pin it on ourselves and just win the rest of our games."

Victories over Tampa Bay and San Francisco have given the Packers some momentum and put the heat on the Vikings to stay on top.
"Absolutely," guard Mike Wahle said. "Ever since we beat them up there (Nov. 2), they've kind of gone on a slide. We're going to keep putting the pressure on. If they hold up, my hat's off to them. But we're going to hold up."

If the playoffs started today, the Packers wouldn't be in them. Philadelphia and Seattle would be the two wild cards in the NFC.
The game in Detroit on Thursday against the Lions could be a potential pothole in the road given the Packers' inability to string together more than two victories this season.

"I'd rather play Detroit coming off a win because you don't like playing a wounded animal," center Mike Flanagan said. "But we have to go down there. It's a short week and we get right back to it."


PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Brett Favre threw 15 passes compared to 48 runs. He hit 10 for 138 yards and two touchdowns and three interceptions. Javon Walker beat nickel back Jason Webster for a 66-yard touchdown on the third play of the game, the first long pass that Favre has completed since Week 5 of 2002. Robert Ferguson beat cornerback Mike Rumph on a 16-yard fade-stop for the other score. Two of the interceptions were Favre's fault but the third was shared by Antonio Freeman, who let Rumph cross his face on a slant.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A-plus -- It doesn't get any better than this. The 49ers saw what happened to the Packers' last three opponents against the run and were primed to stop it. They played virtually every snap with eight in the box and even inserted a linebacker for a cornerback in a 4-4-3 configuration on some snaps. But with Ahman Green leading the way with 27 carries for 154 yards, the Packers had 48 rushes (their most since October 1981) for 243 yards. That's the most allowed by the 49ers since September 1978.

PASS DEFENSE: A-minus -- Terrell Owens beat Al Harris and Marques Anderson on a 24-yard touchdown pass. Otherwise, T.O. was a non-factor. Part of the problem was Owens' half-hearted approach to running routes ala Randy Moss. Another was the strong pass rush led by Cletidus Hunt, which sacked Tim Rattay four times. The Packers ran a lot of stunts and blitzes when veteran right guard Ron Stone left after the first series with a hamstring and was replaced by Dwayne Ledford.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Garrison Hearst carried 16 times for 59 yards and Kevin Barlow was 4-18. Linebackers Hannibal Navies and Na'il Diggs were quick to fill and aggressive in pursuit. At the point, nose tackle Grady Jackson and power end Aaron Kampman were very stout. The Packers tackled better than usual.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus -- For the second week in a row the decision to remove Antonio Chatman on kickoff returns paid dividends. His replacements, Robert Ferguson and Najeh Davenport, averaged 24.3 on three returns. Ferguson was all over the field making tackles in coverage. Ryan Longwell made from 38 and 37 yards on a sloppy track but missed short from 49.

COACHING: B -- Give tremendous credit to Larry Beightol, the esteemed offensive line coach. The Packers are running the ball better than they have since the days of Lombardi and Beightol's unit is playing remarkably well.

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