Johnnie Gray: Post-game review

Analysis of Green Bay's 38-7 win over the Oakland Raiders

The Packers saw enough of this athlete in the preseason to keep him on the roster for some eight weeks. Any other player would have been put on injured reserve. It was another great move by Ted Thompson to allow second-year cornerback Will Blackmon to heal and contribute to this football team and what a day he had.

A glorious untouched 57-yard punt return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery in the end zone. For most players in this league, two big plays like that may happen in their career, but Blackmon did it in his second yea when the special teams unit needed a boost. The kickoff team appeared that it was not utilizing Mason Crosby's leg strength for distance but rather had him kick high to get more hang time to allow the defense to get down to cover. I was a little reluctant at this strategy as Sebastian Janikowski hit a 60-yarder both ways in pregame warm-ups.

Last week in the loss to the Cowboys the special units and the defense let the team down. The offense showed up late, but at least it showed up. That's what gave me confidence that the Packers can play with anybody if they played their style of Packer football. Unfortunately left guard Darren Colledge was unable to regain his starting role this week, so the offensive line started with Jason Spitz at left guard and Junius Coston took over Spitz's at right guard. This is how they finished the Cowboys game. Coston again had his hands full this week versus defensive tackle Warren Sapp and Terdell Sands. Coston has had his problems in the past, but at the end of the day, he has won a majority of his battles and that is all that counts.

The defense never regrouped against Dallas and was very embarrassed. Twenty-one mental mistakes and most of them were on the defensive side of the football. Against the Raiders the Packers' linemen got back to basics and sucked up blocks to allow linebackers Nick Barnett (10) and A.J. Hawk (8) to flow to the ball and make bone-jarring tackles. The pressure by those same linemen allowed the secondary to have opportunities to make plays (Atari Bigby and Al Harris each with interception and it should have been more) on the football.

I predicted a shutout in this game to heal the wounds that was inflicted by the Cowboys. If it weren't for a great throw from quarterback Josh McCown and a great take-away catch by wide receiver Joey Porter against cornerback Al Harris, the day would have been complete, but it's hard to argue with a North Divisional Title.

Go Pack!

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

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