Ferguson absorbs cheap shot

Worse than the sight of any of the costly turnovers and penalties was seeing wide receiver Robert Ferguson carried off the field on a stretcher after a cheap shot left him motionless on the frozen field.<P>

Ferguson was carted from the field on a stretcher after absorbing a cheap shot from Jaguars' strong safety Donovan Darius after a 31-yard catch. Darius clotheslined an airborne Ferguson just under his chin, jettisoning the receiver's helmet. Amazingly, Ferguson held onto the ball, but was motionless on the Lambeau grass for an agonizing stretch of several minutes.

After medical staff immobilized Ferguson on the stretcher, he was wheeled off the field and taken to a Green Bay hospital for x-rays on his head and neck.

Ferguson alleviated the anxiety felt by the team and fans when he was able to give a thumbs up sign as he exited.

Darius was flagged for unnecessary roughness and ejected from the game.

"I thought it was a cheap shot," Packers coach Mike Sherman said.

Sherman let Darius know it, too. when the safety ventured out onto the field where medical staff and teammates were gathered around Ferguson, Sherman had something to say. From the look on the coach's face, it wasn't "have a nice day."

Darius claimed he was using a "technique."

"It's part of the game," Darius said. "Brett threw the ball and Ferguson was wide open. I was just running over trying to make a play, trying to separate him from the ball. I never intentionally try to hurt someone. I love to play the game and I play it 100 mph. Unfortunately, he got hurt. I pray for him. Everybody that saw it from our standpoint said it looked clean."

Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio didn't immediately backup Darius on that claim. Del Rio said he was looking at the pass rush and didn't see the hit, so he declined comment.

The Green Bay fans obviously didn't agree with Darius' technique. His exit was met with a shower of beer, cups and other objects from the south end zone spectators.

The decision to eject Darius was a sound one, Packer tight end Bubba Franks said.

"I'm pretty sure it would have gotten out of hand if he'd have stayed in the game," Franks said.

Darius told the Associated Press that he would appeal any fine the league.


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