Report card vs. Raiders

High marks all around for Packers in NFC North Division-clinching victory

PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus -- Brett Favre wasn't asked to do much from the standpoint of letting loose with his sore throwing arm. After working out the kinks in a sloppy first quarter, which included a handful of off-the-mark passes and WR Koren Robinson failing to look back in time for a downfield throw that resulted in Favre's only interception, the crafty QB and his targets connected the rest of the way.

Favre finished 15-for-23 for 266 yards and two touchdowns, with a passer rating of 115.5 -- his sixth 100-plus rating in the past seven games. WR Greg Jennings and TE Donald Lee combined for nearly 75 yards after the catch on their 80- and 46-yard touchdown receptions in the second half. A revamped offensive line kept Favre sackless, though he had to shake off a few hits in the pocket.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A-plus -- Ryan Grant is warming up just as the temperatures are plummeting to zero. In an effort to protect Favre's arm, Grant was counted on to carry the offense for stretches and did so with a bang. By the time he was pulled from the game midway through the fourth quarter, Grant had 29 carries for 156 yards -- season highs for a once-undependable Packers running game.

Running lanes were abundant from the outset against Oakland's leaky front. On the rare occasions Grant encountered resistance, he lowered the boom and broke would-be tackles. Wily Warren Sapp shed newly inserted RG Junius Coston to drop Grant for a couple of losses; otherwise, the line was in sync blocking, for a change.

PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- Take away four straight passes from Josh McCown that added up to 72 yards and a touchdown before halftime, the Packers would have gained a shutout. On a day when McCown and Andrew Walter completed just 12 passes for 148 yards, that quick-strike series was reminiscent of the ease with which Dallas exploited the Green Bay secondary in the Packers' previous game. S Atari Bigby and CB Al Harris were the culprits, with Jerry Porter rising over the shoulders of Harris to pull down the 25-yard touchdown and hanging onto the football on a hit by late-arriving Bigby. Incidentally, both defensive backs had interceptions in the game.

Even with a more aggressive pass rush, bolstered by the return of Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Green Bay was shut out in the sack category for the second consecutive game.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Raiders, as expected, went with a heavy diet of running the football, to no avail. Linebackers Nick Barnett (10 tackles) and A.J. Hawk (eight) were tenacious in pursuit. Barnett ran down LaMont Jordan for a tackle at the ankles behind the line of scrimmage on a third-and-1 play in the third quarter.

Safety Nick Collins flew in to take down Justin Fargas for a 2-yard loss as Fargas tried to get to the edge on a fourth-and-1 call in the opening quarter. Fargas managed only 57 yards, averaging 3.8 yards per carry. As a team, Oakland averaged 3 yards on 28 rushes.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus -- Will Blackmon was "instant offense" in his second game back from a broken foot that had sidelined him since early October. He scored two touchdowns, the first on a 57-yard punt return that was electric for all of his cutting and darting to avoid traffic, though TV replays later showed he stepped out of bounds inside the 10-yard line.

Blackmon later wisely fell on the football in the end zone after it squirted through his hands as he attempted to pick it up twice inside the 10 following Jason Hunter's tackle that caused a fumble by Tim Dwight on a punt return.

Korey Hall had five tackles to spearhead a dominant performance by the coverage units that held the Raiders to a measly average of 16.6 yards on seven kickoff returns.

Mason Crosby's struggles at Lambeau Field continued on a cold but calm afternoon. He had an ugly miss from 43 yards and also was wide left from 52.

COACHING: A -- A scoreless, sputtering first quarter gave off impressions that Green Bay was having a hangover from its pivotal loss at Dallas. The players, though, turned it on in the final 45 minutes and outplayed Oakland in all facets to wrap up the team's first division title in three years.

Mike McCarthy was true to an unorthodox game plan of running the football at will, and Grant and the offensive line delivered. The organization's patience to keep Blackmon on the 53-man roster when he supposedly was headed to injured reserve paid off with the young player's breakout effort.

Defensive coordinator Bob Sanders turned up the heat more than usual with an assortment of blitzes to force premature throws by McCown and Walter.

Packer Report Top Stories