Lineman's gamble pays off big

Rod Walker majored in criminal justice at Troy State and would someday like to work as either a prison warden or probation officer once his playing days are over. For now, however, the defensive tackle will concentrate on casting a watchful eye over the end zone.<p>

Walker, starting in place of the injured Gilbert Brown, came up with one of the biggest plays of the game during the Packers' 30-20 win over the Chicago Bears Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field.

With Chicago up by one and set up at the Green Bay 1 midway through the third quarter, Walker was able to penetrate and knock the ball out of Bears center Olin Kreutz's hand right as the snap was taking place. Walker recovered the fumble, and the Packers turned the miscue into three big points when they embarked on a 14-play, 90-yard drive that ended with a Ryan Longwell 27-yard field goal.

The play was huge because Green Bay was able to regain the lead at 16-14 rather than fall behind by eight points. As a result, the Packers never trailed the rest of the way.

"I was just anticipating the snap count and put a hand on the ball," said Walker, who finished with a pair of tackles. "When you're that close to the goal line, you just got to try to make plays and try to make something to turn it around.

"Luckily it worked. But if it wouldn't have worked, it probably would have been real ugly for me."

That's because it initially appeared Walker had lunged into Kreutz prior to the snap. But no whistle was blown and the Packers were able to take over from there.

"I actually got my hand on the ball," Walker said. "It came right back to me, and I just laid there."

Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell credited Walker with making a big-time play since swiping the ball away at the snap is not normally worked on in practice.

"He reacted to the center's snap," Donatell said. "But other than that, I'm not even sure what happened. I have to look at the tape to see what happened. That's not what we coach, I just think he got a good ‘get-off' on the ball."

Brown, nursing an ankle injury he suffered in last week's loss to Tampa Bay, was inactive for the game.


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