Lombardi: Bounce back game

PackerReport.com's John Lombardi offers his thoughts on Green Bay's 30-19 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

The Packers roller coaster continues. Three games of ineptness, two of which were at home, followed by a strong effort on the road. The Packers have had a serious lack of big plays the past few weeks, but on Sunday, somebody stepped up and made plays.

Brett Favre had two touchdown passes on 22 completions. He chucked the ball 34 times for 293 yards. His passer rating was 111.5. I have no idea how they figure that out, but it was twice his rating the last two games combined. He had passes caught by nine different receivers.

Speaking of nine. Donald Driver caught nine passes for 160 yards and a TD.

Ruvell Martin caught a big TD pass to get things started.

As a team, the Pack rushed for more than 100 yards and piled up yards down the stretch when it needed to burn time off the clock. Vernand Morency came up big.

A.J. Hawk and Nick Collins made critical interceptions to shut down two possible Niners comeback efforts.

Charles Woodson had a big punt return and big pass defense.

Al Harris chased down Frank Gore on his 72-yard run and saved a sure touchdown. San Fran was forced to kick a field goal. Net swing four points. It might have been the play of the game. Had Gore scored, momentum might have swung the other way.

Alex Smith was only sacked one time (Aaron Kampman and Cullen Jenkins shared it), but he was constantly under pressure from KGB and friends.

The coaches made wholesale changes and refused to give up. Last week I said everyone was to blame for that awful showing, well this week they all deserve a round of applause. It was a good effort all around.

Probably, and most importantly, in a game where this team could have laid down and quit, it did not. After three bad losses, after the debacle against the Jets, after everyone including me tossed them into the ditch, they bounced back and took it to the 49ers. It was one game, and one game does not make a trend, but they stopped the bleeding and can now look forward to next week and another chance to succeed.

Taking that all into account, let us make sure that we do not jump back on the bandwagon as quickly as we jumped off. In spite of the great performance, the Packers still have a way to go. The Niners are a plucky team, but they are on a three game skid. They have a depleted defense that is last in the League in points allowed just ahead of the Packers. They are grossly one dimensional on offense. They have a green quarterback, no receivers to think about and a rookie tight end that is a rare talent, but who has been hurt and is still adapting to the pro game.

They looked like the Packers on Martin's touchdown with a blown coverage. They had 12 men in the huddle after Gore's long run. That five-yard penalty set them back five yards and contributed to the Packers holding them to a field goal.

It was a game the Packers had to win, could win and should win. They have not always done that this year (see Buffalo game).

Luckily for the Pack, they have the Lions up next and then the Vikings at home in a night game where the weather will favor the Pack. Taking into account my long held belief that you never can tell how a team will perform from week to week; the Packers should win those two games. After that they travel to Chicago in what will be a meaningless game for the playoff-bound Bears. A respectable record of 8-8 is the forecast. Who would have figured that a .500 record would be cause for celebration? Four straight wins will offset any hard feelings over other missed opportunities and the Favre retirement watch will begin. If they finish strong, I could see him coming back.

One last note, I thought it was a class move by Coach McCarthy to kneel on the ball at the end of the game and it was equally classy of 49er Coach Mike Nolan to kneel on it when they got the ball back. Both of these men might be looking for work in a year or two, but they showed that they understand how the game should be played.


John Lombardi

Editor's note: John Lombardi is the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi. His football experience includes stints with two teams in the World League (now NFL Europe); in the scouting departments of the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans; and graduate assistant coach and director of football operations at Vanderbilt. E-mail him at johnlombardi22@yahoo.com.


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