Report card vs. Rams

Coaching, special teams get high marks; rush offense and rush defense low marks

PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Brett Favre had a rare hit-and-miss outing throwing the football, even though he completed his first nine passes. Two ill-advised downfield throws resulted in interceptions by safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. Yet, Favre capitalized on coverage miscues by the Rams to throw a pair of touchdowns, including a decisive 44-yarder in the third quarter to Greg Jennings, who got ridiculously open behind the secondary.

Yards after the catch continued to pile up for the league's No. 1 producer, including by Donald Driver and halfback Vernand Morency on a third-and-long conversion in the game-opening touchdown drive.

The pass protection against the Rams' frequent and diverse blitzes was solid, with Favre not being sacked once. Halfback Ryan Grant turned the ball over when he was hit on a screen pass. Good pressure recognition by the line.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D-minus -- As well as the line protected Favre, the blockers were overmatched by St. Louis' tenacious mix of stunts and shifts up front. Consequently, the Packers were held to 52 rushing yards -- their lowest since Week 4 -- and only 2.3 yards per carry. Grant managed to break free for a 24-yard gain in the fourth quarter, helping boost his total to 55 yards, matching his worst output as the featured back in the last eight games.

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus -- Thanks to a heavy dose of blitzing, the defense put a stop to its two-game drought without a sack. Marc Bulger was dropped to the artificial surface four times, with Nick Barnett crashing through the line for two sacks and fellow linebacker A.J. Hawk getting in for another.

Bulger's receivers proved to be his worst enemy, however. Drops and deflections bailed the Packers out of what could have been a big passing day for the Rams. Both of safety Atari Bigby's interceptions came on throws off the hands of St. Louis players. Torry Holt had only three catches for 21 yards, but he baited Al Harris to the inside for a four-yard touchdown on an out pattern.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- Green Bay's recent struggles against the run were magnified by Steven Jackson, who averaged 6.0 yards per carry and totaled 143 yards. Jackson was unstoppable in the first half in generating 103 yards on 13 carries. His second-quarter touchdown jaunt of 46 yards was as much a credit to Jackson's split-second recognition and cutback as it was blame on Barnett for being caught out of position on a blitz, an absence of backside containment and Bigby failing to wrap up Jackson 20 yards from the end zone.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A-plus -- The group received the game ball after Sunday's dominating performance. Big-time kickoff returns by Koren Robinson, who averaged 43.3 yards on three chances, and workmanlike gains by punt returner Will Blackmon, who averaged 10 yards, were at the heart of unbelievable field position. Green Bay's average starting point was its 48-yard line.

Thanks to consistently deep kickoffs by Mason Crosby and an assertive coverage unit, St. Louis' average starting point was its 17.

Crosby shrugged off his recent struggles kicking in Green Bay by connecting on all four of his field-goal attempts, including a 50-yarder.

COACHING: A -- Mike McCarthy recognized early that the running game that had been prolific of late wasn't going anywhere with the Rams intent on crowding the box. Although Favre's execution on the two throws that were intercepted weren't to McCarthy's liking, the coach trusted his quarterback to make the key plays that enabled the Packers to pull away.

However, McCarthy's decision to throw deep with 9 1/2 minutes left in the final quarter and the score at 30-14, which resulted in Atogwe's second pick, was a head scratcher.

Defensive coordinator Bob Sanders is finding that a heavy use of blitzing can be effective.

Special teams coordinator Mike Stock has his charges' hitting on all cylinders.


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