Trickle-down effect

Veterans finally set example for Packers' youth movement

Throughout the off-season, general manager Ted Thompson said many times that the success of the Green Bay Packers this season will depend on the team's veterans. Until the bye week, however, the team's veterans were hardly leading the way. They were more cause for concern than the crop of rookies and first-year players that Thompson placed on the roster.

That wasn't the case on Sunday. Brett Favre, Ahman Green, Charles Woodson, Donald Driver and David Martin came through when the Packers' needed them most. As a result, Green Bay won for the first time ever during a regular season game in Miami, topping the the Dolphins, 34-24, at Dolphin Stadium.

For a team desperate for playmakers, Green Bay's veterans provided prime examples of how to win an NFL game. In the process, they may have even convinced themselves that they can still make big, game-changing plays. Through the first five games, it was the plays that veterans didn't make – dropped passes, penalties, interceptions, fumbles - that led losses in a few games (New Orleans, St. Louis) that the Packers were on pace to win.

"It's been a long time since I've been in the end zone," said Woodson. "It's one of those things that can change the momentum of the game and coming out in the second half we wanted to go out and establish ourselves and make something."

On the second play of the third quarter, Woodson found himself in the right place at the right time to pick off a deflected pass and run it back 23 yards for a touchdown. Give an assist to linebacker A.J. Hawk, who thumped tight end Randy McMichael on the play, causing the ball to deflect off McMichael's hands to Woodson.

The veterans certainly showed Sunday that they are catching on to Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff's line of thinking. Favre has definitely made better decisions passing the ball this season. He has generally put the ball where only the receiver can catch it, though, he got lucky on his game-clinching touchdown pass to Martin. Safety Travares Tillman had a chance to intercept the pass, but the pass sailed through his hands and Martin made a fingertip catch for the score. It was good to see Favre run with the ball 14 yards for a first down when the opportunity presented itself. On the next play Driver made a spectacular catch between two defenders for a touchdown.

The determination that Favre and Driver displayed on that touchdown drive in the third quarter, which gave the Packers a 20-10 lead, is another example of how the veterans on the team can set the tone for the rest of their teammates – young and old. Their wise decisions and big plays will only help develop a confidence in younger players in Green Bay's final 10 games.

Same thing with Green. He hit the hole provided by the offensive line perfectly on his 70-yard touchdown run after Miami closed to 20-16. Even without Chad Clifton in the lineup due to the flu, the Packers' offense line, shuffled right before game time, played well against a defensive ranked fourth in the league entering the game.

The progress is evident by the team's young and older players. Maybe Sunday's victory is a sign of things to come for the Packers.

Green Bay's veterans also provided a great lesson on how to keep a mediocre team like the Dolphins down in their own house. By the end of the game, many of the always-fickle Dolphins fans were cheering for the Packers. While Thompson may not have envisioned that scenario, victories like the one on Sunday is what he has in mind in McCarthy's first season as head coach.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

Packer Report Top Stories