Johnnie Gray: Post-game review

Packer Hall of Fame safety offers thoughts on Packers win over Vikings

Another fine performance by running back Ryan Grant. He may not be as big as the number 25 (Dorsey Levens) who was with the Packers during the 1990s, but he sure runs just as hard.

When asked about Grant after today's 34-0 win over the Vikings, quarterback Brett Favre eyes glistened and mentioned there are some similarities. Grant has a punishing running style, but shows elusiveness with spins and quickness to avoid would-be tacklers. Grant possesses deceptive speed, soft hands and a comfortable sense of awareness with the offense for not being here very long. He impressed me the most on his catch-and run-against the Giants when he put on a spin move and then ran over the defender. Should Grant keep running like his did today, and Koren Robinson continues to develop, the Packers will be home for the playoffs.

This team's roster is full of players that want to make the big play. Robinson made that catch on fourth down, getting up and stretching for the first down, leading to the Packers' first score. Greg Jennings nearly got his head knocked off on a great catch during the Packers' opening drive in the second half that ended with a play-action pass to tight end Donald Lee for a touchdown and a 20-0 lead.

Wide receiver Ruvell Martin caught a tipped ball that should have been an interception for the final touchdown, but with all this talent, it all comes back to the quarterback. Favre completed passes into a nine-man zone. His receivers had to work harder to get themselves open, but for him to thread the needle was awesome. When listening to him in the post game I kept waiting for him to say, "We were in a zone out there today."

Not so for the defense, as it played its bend-but-don't-break style of defense. The Packers attacked the offensive line, forcing piles in the backfield with no place for running back Adrian Peterson to go. It's unfortunate that Peterson was injured, but he still would have been just as sore on Monday because of the relentless pursuit of the defense. The hogs up front kept forcing Peterson to the sidelines where linebackers A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett were able to flow to the ball without any hesitation or bodies to step over, and when they were tied up, both safeties Aaron Rouse and Atari Bigby had pads ready to shut down the Viking running game.

Rouse got his first NFL start and had a couple of missed tackles, but overall played very well. The defense needed him to step into the hole when all the garbage cleared. Also, he is one of key players for formation recognition and getting the calls out. The rookie did okay.

At 8-1 and with a running game I'm going with the Packers again next week against the Carolina Panthers. With Grant running for 119 yards, the Packers were able to hold onto or control the ball for two-thirds (forty minutes/forty seconds) of the game, now that's typical west coast offense at it's best.


Johnnie Gray

Former safety Johnnie Gray played for the Packers from 1975-84. He was inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame in 1994. E-mail him at gray24@gbpackersfan.com.


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