Defense gets shorn by Barber

Many Packers fans choose to wear a foam representation of cheddar cheese atop their heads. The Green Bay Packers defense is an 11-player representation of Swiss cheese.

Two weeks after allowing the Chicago Bears to rush for 182 yards and one week after being dismantled by the Indianapolis passing game, the New York Giants ran the ball for a dumbfounding 245 yards during Sunday's 14-7 upset victory at Lambeau Field.

New York's Tiki Barber, certainly one of the best running backs in the league, was next to unstoppable, especially in the second half. From his 52-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter to his 17-yard run on third down with about two minutes to play, Barber ran circles around a stupified Packers defense to the tune of 182 yards on 23 rushes.

"He (Barber) had a productive day," said Packers linebacker Na'il Diggs, who tallied a game-high 15 tackles but was victimized on most of the Giants' big runs.

Barber finished the first half with 49 rushing yards but erupted for nearly four times that many in the final two quarters. Barber made the play of the game in the third quarter, just moments after Brett Favre's awe-inspiring 28-yard touchdown to Javon Walker. With the crowd roaring and the Packers leading 7-0, Barber ran off right tackle, cut through an opening, juked an overpursuing Nick Barnett and sprinted 52 yards for the tying touchdown.

"That was a big momentum swing," defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "I mean, Brett had just come back to make that touchdown pass and it was a great moment. Barber swung the momentum back in their favor."

With the score still tied at 7 early in the fourth quarter, Barber broke loose for 38 more yards to set up the game-winning touchdown. Then, with the Giants trying to milk the clock, Barber ran for 17 yards around left end on third-and-8. That first down allowed the Giants to keep the ball until less than 30 seconds remained.

"I thought when they gashed us on a run we kind of lost our confidence. It just seemed like we got stung there and we never regained our confidence in regard to the run game," Packers coach Mike Sherman said.

The common denominator on all three plays was the blocking of unheralded second-string tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. On the long touchdown, Packers safety Darren Sharper was supposed to fill the hole left by blitzing linebacker Torrance Marshall, but Shiancoe rocked Sharper to create a huge hole. On the 38-yard run, Shiancoe opened the hole with a trap block on Kenny Peterson at the line of scrimmage. On the 17-yard run, Shiancoe with help from fullback Jim Finn sealed Diggs to allow Barber to get around the corner.

"A major part of our game plan was based on stopping the run," defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt said. "But 21 (Barber) is a stretch guy and he made some plays."

It was the same thing with Bears running back Thomas Jones. While the loss of nose tackle Grady Jackson to a dislocated kneecap left a big void in the middle of the Packers' defense, Green Bay's run defense has been beaten to the outside more than to the inside.

"I miss Grady, everyone on this defense, everyone on this team misses Grady," said Diggs. "But that's football. Injuries happen to every team."

After the game, Diggs put up a brave front despite the defense allowing 403 yards, 21 first downs and what should have been 30 points if not for three missed field goals and a boneheaded interception thrown by Kurt Warner.

"I really thought we were going to shut them out," Diggs said.

Sharper offered a more realistic analysis. "We've got to find a way to get things fixed."

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