Run defense run ragged

GREEN BAY - Skip Hicks, Jamel White and Michael Bennett: Hardly household names in the corral of NFL running backs, but each of them have gashed the Green Bay Packers defense for more than 100 yards in the past three games.<p>

GREEN BAY - Skip Hicks, Jamel White and Michael Bennett: Hardly household names in the corral of NFL running backs, but each of them have gashed the Green Bay Packers defense for more than 100 yards in the past three games.

Hicks gained more than 100 two weeks ago in the Tennessee Titans' 26-20 win in Nashville, and White got 121 yards last week in Green Bay's 30-7 win against the Cleveland Browns.

On Sunday, it was Bennett's turn. The rookie from the University of Wisconsin gained 104 yards on 25 carries, and, as a team, the Minnesota Vikings rushed for 199 yards on 44 carries.

"They did a couple things that got us off balance, and they made some great blocks," said Packers defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. "But allowing that many yards is not our design, and it's not our standard. But we're not looking for stats, we're interested in winning."

That was a sentiment shared by Packers defenders, who allowed just one touchdown in the 24-13 win.

"We have to find a way to shut teams down before the fourth quarter, but as long as we keep them out of the end zone, I think we'll be all right," said linebacker Bernardo Harris, who led the team with 12 tackles and had an interception.

The Vikings scored two field goals and took a 13-10 lead in the fourth quarter on their only touchdown - a 47-yard pass from quarterback Spergon Wynn to tight end Byron Chamberlain.

"It was a lot of heart and will that kept them out of the end zone," said defensive tackle Santana Dotson. "We have a bend but don't break attitude."

In the defenses' defense, the Packers played without massive defensive tackle Gilbert Brown (sore foot), high-energy linebacker Nate Wayne (broken bone in back), and defensive end John Thierry (sprained knee). Plus, they lost veteran safety LeRoy Butler for the season with a broken shoulder blade.

"We can't really calculate how that affects us," Donatell said. "We know who we have here, and we feel we have all the tools to win a lot of football games and go deep into the playoffs."

"We're not concerned, getting the run defense down is a problem that we can fix, and we have time to fix it" Harris said. "Some team could run for 199 yards on us in the playoffs, and that might be the last game we play."


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