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Butler: Big Players Made Big Plays In Win


Obviously when your Pro Bowlers play well, you have a great chance of winning, and that's what happened over the weekend when the Green Bay Packers handed the Seattle Seahawks their first loss of the season, 35-13.

On defense, Darren Sharper got his first interception of the year, just as predicted (wink, wink), ending what looked to be a Seattle scoring drive and sending the Packers on one of their own.

On offense, Brett Favre was the model of efficiency at quarterback. He was on the money with his passes, completing 19-of-25 attempts on the day and connecting with eight different receivers.

Donald Driver was one of them. Despite drawing double coverage in many cases, Driver led the team with seven receptions, including a touchdown, and his downfield blocking was sound.

Once again Ahman Green showed people across the land just what kind of a back he is. He took over the game in the second half and finished with 118 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

That of course brings us back to the offensive line. Offensive guard Mike Wahle was very active in the game, throwing some key blocks that helped spring Green. All together, the Packers' front five is playing like one of the top-5 groups in the league.

Veteran wide receiver Antonio Freeman made only one catch on the day, but it was a crucial one -- a 14-yard grab on third-and-3 that kept the Packers going on what was their second scoring drive. He might be in his ninth NFL season, but Free showed he still knows how to get free in man coverage.

Defensively the Packers had great offensive play-calling Sunday, keeping the blitz-happy Seahawks defense off-balance all game long.

On defense, Sharper controlled the airways. He did a good job of disguising coverage and on a few occasions he audibled the Packers into a different set that forced Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to throw into coverage.

Sharper's performance showed that he's a student of the game, and I was proud of the way he controlled the tempo.

With Antuan Edwards out, safety Marques Anderson made his first start of the season and was very physical. He was trustworthy in his assignments and I was happy to see that he's making strides toward becoming that crucial eighth man in the box against the run.

Anderson was one of the players of the game Sunday. The Packers are going to need a similar performance this week when they line up against the Kansas City Chiefs and Priest Holmes.

The Packers defensive line has taken a lot of heat in recent weeks, but they were active Sunday. When running back Shaun Alexander found a crease, the Packers' linemen didn't stop.

I like the way they chase the ball down the field. Everyone, including big Gilbert Brown, was in the act Sunday. If they continue to improve against the run but show the same relentless pursuit of the ball, they're going to force a lot of turnovers, either with fumbles or on tipped passes.

Rookie linebacker Nick Barnett continues to show flashes of brilliance. He led the team with 12 tackles against Seattle, and as he continues to learn the game his speed will give teams a lot of trouble.

There were a few times against Seattle where Barnett could have gotten another sack had he released from his man and chased the quarterback. That's part of the game that linebackers coach Mark Duffner will teach Barnett, and help him become an even more dangerous weapon.

Na'il Diggs got banged up Sunday (sprained MCL), but even when he was sidelined the defense didn't miss a beat.

I know that everyone is concerned about Seattle rolling up 343 total yards, but the most important thing is that the Packers kept them out of the end zone.

When it was time to nail it down, the Packers defense did just that. As a fan, you can't get caught up in the stats. Yards don't mean anything in terms of wins and losses, but points do!

The defense is coming around as a whole. They were shorthanded without Edwards, but Michael Hawthorne provided a key blitz that I thought was going to knock Seattle out of field goal range.

Even though Josh Brown kicked that 58-yarder, credit Ed Donatell with making that timely blitz call up the middle.

As for special teams, what can I say about Antonio Chatman?

If it wasn't for Kansas City's Dante Hall, Chatman would be getting a lot more publicity. He's close to breaking one and has looked very good on kickoffs and punts.

Speaking of Kansas City, the Packers have a tough test ahead of them this week. But they got a crucial win against the Seahawks, not just for this season, but because of what happened in 1999, when Mike Holmgren and the Seahawks upset the Packers at Lambeau Field.

In talking to Favre, he told me that he had fun playing against Coach Holmgren again.

His performance Sunday proved that he can perform just as well this season as he ever has.

And when the Packers' Pro Bowl players make Pro Bowl plays, they're tough to stop.

*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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