Packers-Giants game notes

With Mike Flanagan moved to injured reserve on Saturday, Grey Ruegamer started at center. He had a tough day, drawing two penalties.<p>

Ruegamer's holding penalty in the fourth quarter set Green Bay back from midfield into their own territory, and a late hit call negated a nine-yard Doug Pederson pass to David Martin.

Ruegamer wasn't the only one suffering through a bad day. In fact, the Packers were hard-pressed to come up with anything positive to take away from the 14-7 loss to the Giants at Lambeau Sunday.

"I don't look for silver linings. It's raining as far as I'm concerned," tackle Mark Tauscher said.

The black clouds hovering over the Packer running game on the otherwise sunny conditions saw the vaunted Packer running attack held to 81 yards. Ahman Green had 58 yards on 15 carries, but fumbled at the end of his longest run of the day.

Green reached midfield with a 19-yard run before linebacker Berrett Green jarred the ball loose and safety Brent Alexander recovered at the Packer 48. The Giants failed to capitalize only because of a horrendous day by kicker Steve Christie who missed his first of three failed FGAs after the fumble.

"Our offense was ineffective today. I'm disappointed that their defense was able to dictate what we did," Sherman said. "We were ineffective on third down. We were unable to run the football and they controlled the ball."

The Packers were 4-of-11 on third down, converting just one in the first half. Subsequently the Giants and their 245-yard rushing attack built at time of possession advantage of 35:53 to the Packers' 24:07.

Tauscher echoed his coaches' concern about the offense's struggles Sunday:

"We are obviously not doing the things we need to do to win football games."

Jekyll and Hyde: Was this the same team that scored 31 points last week? The end zone wasn't even on the radar screen most of the way as midfield posed an elusive enough goal.

The Packers failed to enter Giant territory in the first half and never made it into the Giants red zone. The first Packer foray into enemy territory came with about 13 minutes remaining in the third quarter. A pass interference penalty against Will Peterson on a Favre pass intended for Donald Driver put the Packers on the Giants 46. Favre had moved the team to the 29 before his injury, then capped the drive with his "unauthorized" TD. The only other time the Packers crossed midfield came midway through the third quarter. William Henderson's catch-and-run from Doug Pederson went 24 yards to put the Packers on the Giants' 46. They'd get as far as the 30 before a pair of incompletions and a minus-1 yard run by Green stalled the drive.

Craig Nall's first and only pass of the game to Robert Ferguson did cross midfield, but the Packers were unable to get another play off as time expired.

Depressing debut: Craig Nall has been a familiar name in training camp and at the bottom of the Packers' depth chart. In his third season with the team, Nall threw his first NFL pass Sunday. He completed his only attempt, a game-ending 24-yard strike to Ferguson, although the Giants were probably happy to give up the middle of the field with just 15 seconds remaining on the clock.

"I knew the clock was winding down pretty close, but I was just trying to make sure everyone was set," Nall said. "If we do et a penalty for not having everyone set, the clock isw oing to run off anyway. Too little, too late."

Nall's previous NFL action consisted of taking a knee on two snaps to end the Packers' emotional Monday Night victory in Oakland last season.

While Sherman said that he replaced Pederson with Nall due to a hit Pederson absorbed on the final play, it's also possible that Nall was the best man for the expected Hail Mary since Pederson isn't known for his ability to launch a missile downfield.

Putting in a third-stringer to take a shot at the end zone isn't unprecedented in a Packer game. In the final game played at County Stadium on Dec. 18, 1994, Atlanta tried to counter Favre's heroics by putting in unknown Perry Klein to attempt a three-quarters of the field bomb. Klein, a C.W. Post product, was not successful in his only NFL pass attempt.

Some sack success: The Packers pass rush which struggled with just three sacks through Week 3, broke through against Kurt Warner and the Giants. Green Bay tallied four sacks, one each by Aaron Kampman and Mark Roman plus 1.5 from Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who shared one with R-Kal Truluck.

Still, the 33-year-old Warner ran for 22 yards and two first downs. He escaped several pressures for completions.

"It's good we were getting the pressure and making him scramble, but not good that we weren't sacking him or tackling him for a loss," linebacker Na'il Diggs said.

Cheater's proof: That's what they call it on the playground. On the football field, it's just part of the ups and downs of the game. Safety James Whitley was flagged for what could have been an extremely costly personal foul after tackling Tiki Barber.

Repeated replays showed that Whitley had his arms around Barber's shoulders, and as Barber struggled to get away, the defender's hand was flat against the back of Barber's helmet - no grab, no facemask. Barber twisted away from Whitley as they fell out of bounds, losing his helmet. Barber got up jawing and made a "tsk-tsk" motion at Whitley. The flag flew and Whitley was pegged with a personal foul. Instead of fourth down, the Giants were awarded first-and-goal. Two plays later, Darren Sharper picked off Warner in the end zone. Instead for trading a field goal try for touchdown thanks to the flag, the Giants essentially lost three points because they weren't forced to try the field goal on the would-be fourth down and didn't get into the end zone.

Shaky start: Brett Favre's first pass appeared to be intercepted by rookie Gibril Wilson, who was thrust into the starting role of the injured Shaun Williams. One official signaled the Giants' possession, which would have marked a third-consecutive game with a pick by the newcomer Wilson, but he was overruled by the field judge who ruled that the ball had hit the ground. New York immediately called for a replay review, which confirmed the incompletion.

Injuries: Besides Favre, Truluck suffered a stinger after a key stop of Tiki Barber to set up third-and-long. He later returned, but went down again midway through the fourth. Linebacker Hannibal Navies aggravated his shoulder injury in the second quarter and was unable to return. Safety Darren Sharper suffered a back injury early in the fourth quarter and Michael Hawthorne and Antonio Chatman had ankle injuries but all returned after short respites. Doug Pederson was injured when he took a hit in the side on the Packers' last series. Sherman said he replaced Pederson will Nall due to the injury.

Out of Action: Green Bay's inactive list contained no surprises, but continues to include a disheartening number of starters. Sunday's inactives were CB Ahmad Carroll, CB Mike McKenzie, RB Najeh Davenport, DT James Lee, DT Grady Jackson, G Steve Morley, P B.J. Sander and QB Craig Nall. Five of the seven inactives have been in the starting lineup this season.

After placing C Mike Flanagan on IR Friday, the Packers moved Ruegamer into the starting center role. C/G Scott Wells was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad. On defense Cullen Jenkins moved into the starting lineup in place of James Lee.

McKenzie did not appear on the sidelines, but Sherman quieted any conspiracy theories.

"(Packer trainer) Pepper (Burruss) said that it wouldn't do him any good to stand out there, so he worked inside," Sherman said of McKenzie's absence from the sidelines. "He reported for treatment this morning."

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