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Butler: Packers Are Rolling


The Packers are really on a roll right now. I think this is the kind of roll that we all hoped they could get started and hope that they can continue for the rest of the season.

The way that Sunday's game started, you knew right away that the Packers were very focused and very aggressive. The defense first of all, took a hit when Darren Sharper went down with a knee injury late in the first quarter.

He was hurt after helping the 'D' hold the Cowboys in the red zone to just two field goals. Dallas had gone on a couple of long drives, but the Packer defense was able to stiffen and keep them out of the end zone. I think that was a key to winning that ballgame.

Bhawoh Jue came in for Sharper and was very serviceable. In fact, he led the team with seven tackles and played well. Ahmad Carroll started for the second straight week and played a solid game.

Overall, I think the defense got a spark from Grady Jackson coming back and James Lee also returning to the defensive line. Grady played very well in the middle and helped to limit Dallas to not making any long runs until late in the game when the Packers had just about put it out of reach.

If you noticed, the Dallas Cowboys came in and played an aggressive game offensively right off the bat. They came out throwing the ball down the field. Vinny Testaverde made some nice throws during the game, but for the most part, the Packers were able to confuse them with their combination coverages and blitzes to throw their timing off.

There were a few plays that might make you guys a little concerned, and they concerned me as well. On the touchdown pass to Jason Witten, their tight end, there was a situation where the Cowboys ran a formation that confused the defense that enabled him to catch a TD when he ran a switch route with Keyshawn Johnson.

By that point, the game was pretty much out of reach, but you still don't like for plays like to happen. That's a play that is coachable and I don't expect to see the Packers get fooled on that one again any time soon.

For the most part, I thought the Packers defense played well. They played well in the red zone and did what they had to do to win the game. Dallas' running game never really got going, but Richie Anderson did take a toss play and run it around the corner for a big gain late. The play didn't cost the Packers much, but a reason why you never want to see that is that opponents watch the film and could get an idea of what was successful against you.

I think the linebackers played aggressive Sunday and tackled well. This is the kind of game that the defense can really build off of. Two games in a row now, they have been able to keep the opponents to 20 points or less, and with the way the offense has played lately, that's more than good enough to win.

Speaking of the offense, I don't think that anybody can cover Javon Walker one-on-one. This guy is not only leading the league in yardage, he's really showing that he's one of the elite receivers in the NFL.

I know that when people think of #84 in the NFC North, they usually think of the guy with the Vikings, but now people have to worry about the #84 in Green and Gold. If Javon continues to play this way, he'll be one of the guys catching passes in Hawaii at the Pro Bowl at the end of the season.

Donald Driver continues to be very steady at the opposite wide receiver position. He's showing great hands and always seems to be open on third down. He's one of the top third down receivers in the NFL.

It was great to see Ahman Green flex his muscles the way he did on that 90-yard touchdown run. The way he cut back and outran the whole defense showed what a complete back he is. He can get the tough yards running inside and can show off an extra gear and run away from the defense when given the chance.

Brett Favre never ceases to amaze me. The guy sprained his hand in the second quarter and still continued to throw the ball both with velocity and touch. If you think about the touchdown pass he threw to Driver on the deep over route, the way he had to take something off of the ball - that just lets you know that he doesn't always have to throw the ball hard to make plays.

He also reminded everyone that he still has a rocket attached to his right shoulder when he zipped the TD pass to Walker just across the goal line. Not only does he have the strong arm at 35 years old, he still has the touch that it takes to make all the throws.

To play almost a whole game with a sprained hand is pretty phenomenal.

I think the offense is starting to understand that whatever the opposing defense gives them, that's what they have to take. If they need to throw the ball 50 times to win, they're more than capable of doing that. If they need to run the ball, they can dominate on the ground as well.

One thing that did disappoint me a little bit from the game on Sunday was something that didn't happen on the field. Late in the game, Antonio Chatman called for a fair catch on a punt that he probably could have returned and the crowd booed him. Chatman did the right thing on that play. If you're holding a big lead, you don't need to take any chances with a turnover; you just want to run out the clock.

Everyone at Lambeau Field is accountable in my book. If we're going to hold the team accountable for what happens on the field, I'm going to hold the fans accountable for booing, especially when a guy makes a smart decision.

Special teams-wise, I think the Packers are still making strides. As the season goes along, I think Najeh Davenport is going to be a force and will help the Packers get great field position on kickoff returns. The kickoff coverage was very good on Sunday and Ryan Longwell was kicking the ball deep. His leg is getting stronger - he had a touchback and kicked a few others inside the five-yard line.

Overall, I think the Packers have done what they had to do in the past two weeks to give themselves a chance to make a run. They're going to have to keep it up this week when they go into Washington, which is never an easy place to play. If they can do it - and I think they can - they will have reached 4-4 going into the bye week and have two weeks to get ready for the second half.

*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 again providing exclusive analysis to beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

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

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