Report card vs. Seahawks

Sherman gets an 'A' in his final game as head coach of Packers

If Sunday's game indeed was Brett Favre's last as a player, he went out on a satisfactory, if not high, note. His expertly placed 9-yard fade pass to Antonio Chatman on third-and-goal in the third quarter not only ended Favre's career-worst drought of four games without a touchdown throw, it regained the lead for the Packers for keeps at 20-14.

Favre, save for his only interception on CB Jimmy Williams' diving grab of a low throw in the fourth quarter, was generally on the mark in piling up 259 yards through the air. As usual, he turned to Donald Driver for six catches that amounted to a lofty 118 yards. Half of Driver's yardage total came on the team's longest pass play of the season on a downfield heave from Favre late in the third quarter. Late-season pickup Rod Gardner may have justified an invitation back next season with a nifty 33-yard catch-and-run early in the game, though he couldn't come up with a couple of deep throws from Favre.

Once late-season savior Samkon Gado suffered a season-ending knee injury Dec. 19 at Baltimore, little was expected of the running game the last two games. Sure enough, the remaining healthy tandem of Tony Fisher and rookie Noah Herron had little production to speak of. After gaining only 65 yards in the Christmas Day loss to Chicago, the Packers mustered but 68 on Sunday, averaging a sickly 2.1 yards per carry. Nevertheless, Herron proved to be a workhorse in running the football a career-high 23 times for 61 yards. He exhibited good burst in getting out to the perimeter on an 11-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, aided by tackles Mark Tauscher and Kevin Barry sealing off Seattle's pursuers.

Thanks in part to Matt Hasselbeck playing only the first half in an otherwise meaningless game for Seattle, the Packers solidified their ranking as the NFL's best team defending the pass this season. They limited the combination of Hasselbeck and Seneca Wallace to just 174 yards through the air, which was reduced to a more meager 147 net yards because of losses from four sacks.

After giving Wallace some early confidence in a long touchdown drive to open the second half, the Packers clamped down and harassed the untested backup. CB Al Harris made a nice break on a badly thrown ball to Peter Warrick on an out route and grabbed only his third interception of the season to set up the offense deep in Seattle territory for a go-ahead touchdown. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (two) and Cullen Jenkins (one) busted through the Seahawks' patchwork offensive line for three sacks later in the second half. The only blemish during that time was CB Ahmad Carroll whiffing on a would-be tackle of Warrick on a short pass play that turned into a 33-yard gain.

As was the case with Hasselbeck, the defense was off the hook once Shaun Alexander was relegated to the visiting sideline for the final two quarters. In the first half, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren served up a heavy dose of Alexander (20 carries) to ensure that he would get the single-season league record for touchdowns and this season's distinction as the NFL rushing champion. Alexander had to work for both, averaging a pedestrian 3.7 yards per carry. His longest run was 12 yards, which he attained twice, the latter of which resulted in a crucial fumble on a hit by S Marviel Underwood inside the Packers' 10-yard line late in the first half. The Seahawks finished with 98 yards on the ground, the first time in nine games Green Bay didn't yield triple digits.

If kicker Ryan Longwell goes elsewhere in free agency this off-season, he at least concluded his record-setting career in Green Bay on a positive note after enduring a dismal season. Longwell connected on all three of his field-goal attempts, none longer than 32 yards, and tallied 11 points. It's only the third time he reached double figures in the scoring category this season, in which he totaled a personal-low 90 points, breaking a noted streak of eight straight years with at least 100 points.

Punter Ryan Flinn had a comedown after a promising debut as the replacement for an injured B.J. Sander the previous week. Flinn averaged only 32.7 yards on three kicks, including a 21-yard shank in the third quarter. Antonio Chatman went backward on punt returns, averaging minus-1.7 yards, while Carroll lost his job on kickoff returns after turning the ball over on a fumble in the second quarter.

Little did Mike Sherman know it would be his last hurrah after six seasons at the helm. Before Ted Thompson pulled the plug Monday, Sherman was able to walk off the Lambeau Field turf with his head held high for a change. The players didn't have their bags packed and their minds set on making a quick getaway after the season-ending game, a testament to Sherman and his staff that they had the team prepared sufficiently to make the best of those final three hours and come out with a rare victory. Sherman did it up right in giving Favre, who's contemplating retirement, a proper sendoff by replacing him with rookie Aaron Rodgers in the final minute and allowing Favre to come off to a standing ovation.

Packer Report Top Stories