Longwell finally gets chance to shine

One of the few bright spots in the Packers' 26-20 loss to Tennessee at Adelphia Coliseum Sunday was placekicker Ryan Longwell.<p>

Mired in an uncharacteristic slump, the fifth-year kicker came into Sunday's contest having missed three of his last four attempts. His 14-of-22 mark already set a mark for most misses in a season by the Cal product, and he'd toppled from his perch atop the NFL list of most accurate kickers.

So was it a good idea to set up Longwell with a 54-yarder in order to keep the Packers within close range at the end of the first half? Absolutely. Longwell's kick made it, squeaking past the right upright, and the Packers narrowed Tennessee's lead to 15-13 at the break.

The kick tied a club record, set by Chris Jacke on Jan. 2, 1994 at Detroit. That makes Longwell's effort Sunday the longest Packer field goal outdoors. This comes after a week in which the beleaguered kicker practiced outside in the elements at Lambeau in an attempt to shake his slump.

Longwell's previous career-long was 52 yards at Tampa Bay, Nov. 12, 2000.

Longwell also accounted for the Packers' first-ever points in Adelphia Coliseum. He kicked a 33-yarder in the first quarter to put Green Bay up 3-2. The score was set up by Antonio Freeman's'32-yard punt return, which also contributed to the special teams' improved performance.

The field goals were a welcome sight, but the game still wasn't picture perfect for special teams coach Frank Novak's charges. One of Longwell's kickoffs sailed out of bounds. Punter Josh Bidwell did an adequate job, but had trouble placing the ball inside the 20 when the Packers needed it. He paled in comparison to his Titans' counterpart Craig Hentrich, who boasted a 70-yarder to pin the Pack on the 1-yard line. That set up a safety when Jason Fisk buried Ahman Green in the end zone on the Packers' first-down play.

Hentrich's role in the safety may have had Packer fans reminiscing about the last time the former Packer was involved in a Green Bay safety. The last occasion was vs. the Detroit Lions on Dec. 31, 1994, in Packers' first playoff game at Lambeau Field sinc 1982, and the first in a full-season since 1967. With the Packers leading 16-10 in the waning moments, Hentrich had to punt from his own end zone. He purposely burned time off the clock by simply scampering around the end zone, until the Lions caught on and finally caught him for 2 points. It was too little, too late for the Lions, and the best 2 points the Packers ever spent.

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