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Butler: Aggressive Packers Bite Bears


I don't mean to brag, but man I'm good!

If you watched the Packers-Bears game on Monday night, then you might have noticed that when Ahman Green broke free on his 60-yard touchdown run, it was center Mike Flanagan making the block on linebacker Brian Urlacher.

I said Flanagan would be a key to the Packers' success against the Bears, and he was. Led by their center, Green Bay's offensive line was like a steel wall. The Packers finished the night with 187 yards rushing and didn't allow a sack.

Flanagan had a tough task in handling Urlacher, but he wasn't the only one that played well. You also have to give credit to the rest of the line: Mark Tauscher, Marco Rivera, Mike Wahle and Chad Clifton.

I know it's hard for fans to see on TV, but the Packers' offensive line looked very athletic in taking it to the Bears. In my mind, they're the players of the game.

But don't forget about Green, who on that touchdown put a great move on Jerry Azumah before racing up the sideline. That early score set the tempo of the game for the Packers, which is huge on the road and coming off a tough loss to Arizona the week before.

Brett Favre remained aggressive with his passing. He threw one away, but was precise for the most part. He has a history of eating the Bears alive, and Monday night was no different than all those meetings before.

It was good to see wide receiver Donald Driver get involved early. Driver had only two receptions against the Cardinals, but doubled that against Chicago.

Even the balls Driver didn't catch had an impact, like the pass interference call he drew in the end zone.

Driver played like the Pro Bowl caliber receiver he is, and that's a great thing for the offense. By commanding that much attention in the secondary, it opens things up for other receivers and the running game.

On special teams, Antonio Chatman continues to impress. He seems to be the piece of the puzzle that was missing since Allen Rossum left the team after the 2001 season.

In addition to the speed and quickness that he flashed on his five returns -- especially the 32-yard kickoff return -- Chatman has also demonstrated that he has great hands by making good catches and not turning the ball over.

Ryan Longwell continues to be a solid kicker for the Packers (34-yard field goal Monday). Same goes for Josh Bidwell, who was only used three times, but still put one inside the 20-yard line. Between Bidwell and Longwell, the Packers have one of the best punter-kicker tandems in the league.

Of course the big play on special teams was the blocked punt by Marcus Wilkins.

That's great coaching by John Bonamego. The way he designed it, Bhawoh Jue and Wilkins came through on a stunt. Jue occupied two blockers and that allowed Wilkins to make the block.

That was a key to the game, because two plays later the Packers put the ball in the end zone again.

In fact, the Packers were making so many big plays against Chicago that I had trouble keeping up with my notes and had to rely on the replays a few times to see plays that I missed.

That kind of excitement and big-play potential from Bonamego's special teams is something the Packers have been missing.

In addition to the punt block, the Packers kickoff coverage unit was outstanding: nothing but speed and aggressiveness. Those guys are jumping over blocks, making tackles and trying to strip the ball out. They're tough!

As for the Packers defense, let me start with a memo to Ed Donatell: You're the man!

The defensive game plan he designed for the Bears game is one that any football player would love to be involved in. The Packers blitzed well over 60 percent of the time and took quarterback Kordell Stewart out of the game.

The 'A-Train,' Anthony Thomas, did break off a 67-yard touchdown run, but the game was already put away at that point, so we don't even have to talk about it.

Watching Darren Sharper's two-sack performance made me think of, well, you know who.

Without question, Mike McKenzie and Al Harris not only have the longest hair in the league, they're two of the best cover corners around. With their ability to shut down receivers, there's no reason that the Packers should stop bringing their safety up to help make plays on the quarterback.

Antuan Edwards was also very impressive against Chicago. He looked aggressive, fast and strong at the point of attack. I'm very proud of him.

At linebacker Na'il Diggs continues to play at a Pro Bowl level, and Nick Barnett is right where the Packers want him to be: ahead of every defensive rookie in the league.

Already, Barnett has proven himself as one of the better draft choices the Packers have made in quite a while.

And didn't I tell you Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila would have a great game against Chicago?

KGB made six tackles, one of them a sack in which he was a total blur going around Mike Gandy. Later on, Gbaja-Biamila also applied pressure on Stewart to force an interception that sealed the game.

Overall I don't think you can look at the game without appreciating the job done by head coach Mike Sherman.

He did a hell of a job getting his troops focused on the big picture coming off the Arizona loss. Sure, the Packers wish they were better than 2-2 right now, but they couldn't let their performance against the Cardinals ruin their effort against the Bears.

They also couldn't let the hype and the excitement surrounding the new Soldier Field distract them from their mission.

Keeping players focused is one of the biggest responsibilities a coach has, and Sherman and his staff were very successful in that regard this week.

I said going in that it was a need-win, and it's going to be the same thing this week against the Seattle Seahawks.

To climb out of the hole in the NFC North, the Packers have to take things week by week. They got off to a good start in Chicago.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is providing exclusive analysis to with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays and a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website,*

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