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Butler: Packers Must Bounce Back From Tough Blow


Just like you, I had a case of the sniffles after the Packers' overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs over the weekend.

Just like you, I thought the Packers were going to win that one and prove themselves as one of the NFL's elite and a Super Bowl contender.

In a game that was like a heavyweight boxing match, the Packers had the Chiefs on the ropes. They gave them a left, a right, an upper cut, but then they made mistakes that left them victim to the knockout punch.

And as heart-wrenching as the loss was, now the Packers have to find a way to forget about it and move on. The way they do that is by looking at some of the positives to come out of the Chiefs game, and there were many.

For the third week in a row, the offense came out firing. On the Packers' first scoring drive, Brett Favre completed all six of his passes to six different receivers. He ended the game having gone 25-of-36 for 272 yards, while connecting with nine different guys.

That kind of execution and balance is what every playoff team looks to achieve.

Playoff teams also look to pound the ball with the running game, and the Packers are definitely doing that.

With his third 100-yard game in a row, Ahman Green proved that he's among the NFL's elite. The only black mark on his performance was that fumble in overtime.

Green needs to find a way to hang on to the ball, but other than that you can make an argument that he's the best running back in the league. Why? Because he took on the other guy people are calling the NFL's top back, Priest Holmes, and he outplayed him. What other conclusion can you come to?

One of the reasons Green is running so well -- and that Najeh Davenport had so much success Sunday -- is the outstanding play of the Packers' offensive line.

If you could give the MVP to a group of guys, the O-line would be the Packers' MVP to this point of the season. They dominated the game, giving Favre good protection and opening holes for the running game.

Mike Wahle is playing excellent. Chad Clifton is playing excellent. Heck, Mike Flanagan, Marco Rivera and Mark Tauscher are playing excellent, too!

Playoff teams have to win the battle in the trenches, and the Packers are doing that right now. If the line can keep it up, the Packers will go on a winning streak.

Speaking of strong play, how about the performance of the 'old man' Wesley Walls! He was running away from guys Sunday, and he flashed those soft hands while making that outstanding catch when Favre took a rare hit.

The Packers offense sputtered a bit in the fourth quarter, but they're really getting into gear.

Meanwhile, special teams play has been excellent all season.

Josh Bidwell proved that Dante Hall isn't invincible when he first took him down in the open field, then sacrificed his body to slow down Hall on the sidelines. With that kind of effort, and with his steady punting, Bidwell is making an outstanding argument for the Pro Bowl!

I know it's early for that kind of talk, but Bidwell is a guy that will do whatever it takes to help his team win, and you can't ask for anything more from a player.

Ryan Longwell got some bad luck on two of his kickoffs against the Chiefs, but he was outstanding otherwise.

Did you see that 50-yard field goal? He could have put that through from 55 yards, and I'd put Longwell up against any NFL kicker in the winds of Lambeau Field. People have no idea how tough it is to kick there.

As feared, Hall had some big returns on the Packers, but it wasn't because of a lack of effort. There were a few times the Packers probably tried to put the kill shot on him and missed tackles as a result, but Hall is a game-breaker and tough to contain.

You also have to give credit to the Green Bay special teams for that huge blocked field goal. In the end, it wasn't enough to give the Packers' the win, but it could have been the turning point.

Cletidus Hunt got great penetration and put his big paw up there to knock it down. It was a big-time play in a crucial moment of the game, and the Packers seem to have a knack for that on special teams.

Defensively, the Packers set out to shut down No. 31, Holmes.

For most of the game, they did just that. It wasn't until overtime that Holmes had any success running the football.

But the defense wound up giving up 400 yards for the game, and everyone knows that's too many.

Trent Green had a dream day, taking advantage of injuries to Joe Johnson and Mike McKenzie, to pick on the Packers' 1-on-1 coverage.

I know a lot of people are wondering how Tony Gonzalez got open on that 67-yard reception in the fourth quarter, and that was due to a miscommunication.

Basically what happened was Bhawoh Jue thought he was going to get some help in the middle from Darren Sharper. But when that didn't happen, Trent Green read the defense and hit Gonzalez for a big gain.

The Packers can't afford mistakes like that, and they know it.

Of course until overtime, the Packers held the Chiefs in check. Then Holmes started finding success on the ground, and the Packers had to put eight men in the box to stop it. That's how the running game contributed to that final touchdown.

The Packers had two opportunities for interceptions late in the game. The first was when Marques Anderson jumped in front of a pass near the end zone. The second was just before Hunt's field goal block when Sharper got his hands on one.

Both Anderson and Sharper feel that they need to be able to make interceptions if they get their hands on the ball, but it's not as easy as it sounds.

On Sharper's play, for example, his job is to cover the first guy in the flat. As a defensive player you have to find the receiver first before you can look back at the quarterback.

The ball hit Sharper right on the fingertips of his left hand, but he would have had to dive ahead of time and gamble on the play to make the interception. If he'd guessed wrong, it would have been six points for the other team.

I know Sharper feels bad about not making the play, but I'm not sure he really could have. I don't think I would have been able to.

But if the Packers want to make a run at the playoffs, they have to be able to force turnovers. They also have to get more pressure on the quarterback, whether that comes from the defensive line, the linebackers or the secondary.

When the Packers look back on the Chiefs game, they're going to look at blown plays and missed opportunities on both sides of the ball, and it's going to make them sick.

But they don't have time to look back now. Now they have to look ahead, or else they're going to feel sick all over again after going up against the St Louis Rams.

Believe it or not, the Packers probably come out of that Chiefs game with more positives than negatives, other than the injuries. But unfortunately that doesn't change the fact that they dropped to 3-3.

They're heading into must-win territory here against the Rams if they want to keep pace and make the playoffs.

The best thing to do right now is to forget about all the mistakes and focus on the positive.

Later on the Packers can feel sorry about a missed opportunity. But right now there's no time for that, and there's still no reason to consider the Packers down for the count.

*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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