Receiver Resurfaces

Antonio Freeman's afternoon started with a dropped catch that resulted in a chorus of boos from a less than adoring crowd. But ths afternoon ended with high-fives, embraces and cheers.

One week after questioning his role in the Green Bay offense following one-catch, six-yard performance in a loss to Tampa Bay, Freeman showed flashes of his former Pro Bowl self, hauling in a game-best nine catches for 138 yards and one touchdown in the Packers' 31-23 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Freeman created a bit of a buzz among the media after the Buccaneers' game when he voiced his frustration at not having the ball thrown his way more often this season despite the fact that he felt he's been open on a majority of the plays.

But those concerns were quickly quieted when Freeman, who entered the game with nine catches for 80 yards and one touchdown, came up with some clutch catches that led to a handful of big plays.

"I don't mind being thrown into the fire," said Freeman. "But it was bigger than just me out there today. Donald Driver and Corey Bradford made huge catches. Our backs made good catches out of the backfield. We just performed well offensively."

According to head coach/general manager Mike Sherman, the game plan going in wasn't to make a concerted effort to get the ball to Freeman.

"His numbers were up today, but we didn't force the ball to him," Sherman said. "He had some opportunities. We didn't do anything different than we normally do in regards to who's getting the football."

Freeman's big catch of the day came early in the fourth quarter when he ran a quick curl route, caught a Favre laser, juked Baltimore cornerback Duane Starks and galloped 47 yards before being pushed out of bounds at the Ravens' two-yard line. One play later, Favre hit Bubba Franks for a 31-10 lead.

However, it was Freeman's eight-yard touchdown reception with only two seconds remaining in the first half which put an exclamation point on a very productive first half offensively for the Packers.

With Favre scrambling to his right, Freeman cut to the inside, pushed away from Starks and broke slightly to the right where he found himself wide open in the end zone to scoop in the scoring pass to put the Packers ahead 17-7.

On the defensive: The Packers' defense continued its unofficial campaign at being named the NFL's best unit. While it's still early in the season, Green Bay is plus-five in the turnovers-takeaway category. So far, the Packers have forced 14 turnovers — including four against Baltimore — compared to the nine they've committed. Stacked up against what many consider one of the best defensive units of all-time in the Ravens, Green Bay outplayed its counterpart as evidenced by the 4-2 turnover edge, as well as the 391-357 edge it held in total yardage allowed. A good chunk of Baltimore's yards came when the game had essentially been decided.

"That's our game, getting turnovers to get the ball to our offense," safety LeRoy Butler said. "We're just going to keep doing our thing, playing our game and getting as many turnovers as possible. We didn't get as many sacks as we wanted, but we got turnovers, and that's the main thing."

Roster move: Defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt returned to the field after a four-game absence that was incurred by the NFL in relation to its substance abuse policy.

Hunt came into the game in the first quarter, just in time to post his first fumble recovery, and wound up seeing plenty of action.

"I expected to play," said Hunt. "But I really didn't have a general idea of how many snaps I would get. I felt great out there, running around with the guys again and lining up next to the guys I love to be with. It was a great feeling to get into that three-point stance."

To make room for Hunt, the Packers released tight end Bobby Collins, although it's expected the team will re-sign Collins sometime this week. Sherman said he wanted to take a look at linebacker Andre O'Neal Sunday. O'Neal was filling in for injured linebacker K.D. Williams, who suffered a high ankle sprain to his right ankle in practice on Oct. 18. Injury report: The Packers suffered a handful against the Ravens, including defensive tackle Gilbert Brown (knee), wide receiver Bill Schroeder (ankle), fullback William Henderson (stinger), linebacker Na'il Diggs (ribs), wide receiver Donald Driver (quadriceps), wide receiver Donald Driver (quadriceps), cornerback Tyrone Williams (groin), and running back Rondell Mealey (shoulder).

All but Schroeder were able to play on, and Sherman said afterward he wasn't sure of the severity of any of the injuries.

Extra points: Defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila was held sackless for the first time this season.

Gbaja-Biamila has amassed an NFL-best nine sacks in five games, leaving him one short of the best five-game sack start to a season, which was set by Carolina's Kevin Greene in 1998. The second-year pro is on pace for a 29-sack season.

• Kicker Ryan Longwell moved into fifth place on the Packers' all-time scoring list. • Favre's touchdown pass to Freeman was the 53rd time the two have connected on a score, tying them with Washington's Sonny Jurgenson and Charley Taylor for eighth all-time in NFL history.

• Freeman reached the 100-yard receiving plateau for the 19th time in his career, tying him with Boyd Dowler for fourth all-time in team history.

• Franks recorded his first two-touchdown game of his career.

Packer Report Top Stories