Stills: Packers put together solid game

Former Packers safety Ken Stills breaks down Green Bay's overtime victory over the Detroit Lions last Sunday night, and offers his opinion on what the Packers need to do Monday night in Baltimore to beat the Ravens.

This was a well-played game by the Packers. If you eliminate the first half turnover and the long kickoff return, you could consider this one of the Packers' better games. Any time you can come away with a win it's a good game.

What seems to happen when teams lose games, everything gets magnified ten times over. There were mistakes in this game, but because the Packers won, the mistakes don't seem so big. As coaches we always think that after a win any mistakes that happened during the game are correctable. There was that fluky forward pass, fumble/holding call down at the Packer goal line in the fourth quarter. If the Packers had lost the game, this play would have been blown totally out of proportion. Since Green Bay won the game, in hind site that play made Coach Sherman look pretty smart. Taking time to call the official over, discuss the situation and make the officials see that play in a different light, in effect it saved Green Bay two points and possession of the football.

Offense
Offensively whenever you can get a ball carrier to rush for more than 100 yards in a game you have a good chance of winning. Statistics show that whenever teams produce a 100-yard rusher the odds are higher that you'll win the football game. Why? If your team can effectively run the football, then you can control the clock. If you can control the clock, that means you're keeping the other team's offense off the field. If the offense isn't on the field, then it's pretty hard to score points, and without points it's tough to win games. When you get a running back that nearly rushes for 200 yards, then really good things are going to happen.

I'd like to take my hat off to Samkon Gado and the Packers' offensive line. This group has gone through a lot of adversity and dealt with a lot of criticism, but they've persevered through everything. Again, Coach Sherman has done a great job of keeping his players focused. These guys were determined not to let any outside forces sidetrack them. A Packer rookie record for Gado, six touchdowns in a season with three games to go. Nice job Samkon and the offense line.

Defense
Lately the defense has been playing outstanding. They played another sub-par offense but did what they had to do to help this team to victory. If it wasn't for the three goal-line stands by the defense, Detroit could have easily scored 21 points. The Packer defense did a great job against Detroit on the first drive of the game as well as the second drive, holding the Lions to two field goals on both drives. In the fourth quarter when Detroit decided to go for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 1 was the play of the game. The Packers again rose to the occasion and stopped Jeff Garcia on a quarterback sneak. Why would you give the ball to your quarterback on a sneak when you have a number-one draft pick at running back in Kevin Jones, along with another big bruising running back in Artose Pinner? Pinner's thighs are the size of Garcia's entire body, yet the coach decided to give the ball to the quarterback. This is a call that I have to look back on and wonder what Coach Jauron was thinking. If Detroit kicks the field goal, then maybe the game doesn't go into overtime.

The defense is starting to play with a lot more consistency. With three games to play, if the defense can continue to play at this level against the offensive teams they'll be facing, there's a good chance of winning at least two of the next three games and finishing on a positive note.

Special Teams
What's going on with this part of the team? A blocked field goal and a long kickoff return that set up Detroit's first and only touchdown. Since I coach special teams I guess I'm a little more critical of this phase of the game. I wonder how much time the Packers spend practicing their special teams. Based on their performances lately, not much. Coach Sherman is going to have to re-evaluate his personnel and coaches regarding his special teams at the end of this season. This in my opinion is an area where a team can win three or four games a year as well as lose three or four.

Monday's Game
The Packers will play on prime time against the Baltimore Ravens. Here's another good opportunity for the Packers to get a win.

The Ravens offense is just that, offensive. They've scored 171 points the entire season, which averages out to 13 points a game, second lowest in the NFL. They do have a talented group of guys on offense. Derrick Mason is an outstanding wide receiver, who led the Titans in receiving last season. The Ravens also feature Jamal Lewis, a Pro Bowl running back, and Todd Heap, another Pro Bowler at tight end. The Packers defense can not overlook these guys.

The Ravens defense is ranked just under the Packers statistically, and both teams are playing pretty solid defense at this point of the season. Terrell Suggs (defensive end), Samari Rolle (defensive back) and of course Prime Time himself, Deion Sanders, are a few of the star Raven defenders.

Offensively the Packers will need to continue running the football with Gado to control the clock. They have to eliminate the penalties and turnovers because this Ravens defense thrives on missed opportunities and mistakes.

On defense the Packers have to slow down Baltimore's running game and the talented Lewis. Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller continues to struggle in the passing game and this is an area where the Packers need to take advantage of the Ravens. Coach Bates has to put together a great pressure and blitz package and make Boller win the game with his arm.

This game will be a defense showdown. The teams that can minimize their penalties and turnovers will win this game.


Former safety Ken Stills played for the Green Bay Packers from 1985-89. He is currently an assistant coach with the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe.


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