Grant Recovers, Runs Into Record Books

On Saturday, Ryan Grant had the all-time best playoff rushing performance in Packers history, and it had a great deal to do with his penchant for keeping his head up. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Seahawks Game Center


One of the critical factors in Ryan Grant's ability to run the football with such success this season has been his determination to always keep his head up. Doing so has allowed him to see the whole field, find the cutback lanes, and get to where he needs to go.

On Saturday, Grant had the all-time best playoff rushing performance in Packers history and to no surprise it had a great deal to do with his penchant for keeping his head up. Only this time it was different.

Grant had fumbled the football twice in the first minute and three seconds. Though that wasn't the way he or his teammates envisioned starting the game, Grant had two options. He could (A) go into a shell and let the turnovers slow him down the rest of the game, or (B) act as if it didn't happen and move on to helping his team advance to the NFC Championship game.

Two hundred one yards and three touchdowns later, it's obvious Grant chose option B. Not only did he bounce back from the two turnovers that led to a quick 14-0 lead for the Seahawks, he set a franchise record for rushing yards and touchdowns in the playoffs, surpassing the marks of Ahman Green (156 yards at Philadelphia, Jan. 11, 2004) and three other backs (Elijah Pitts, Travis Williams and Edgar Bennett, along with Green) who had scored twice in a postseason contest.

His performance was an incredible feat in and of itself for somebody appearing in his first postseason game, but it was his ability to stay focused that impressed his teammates the most.

"He has a lot of character," right tackle Mark Tauscher said. "He stepped up and did what he needed to do. It takes a guy that's very mentally tough to come back from putting it on the ground twice and he stuck with it. He let his talent play."

Center Scott Wells echoed those thoughts.

"He did an excellent job of keeping his head and keeping his composure," Wells said of Grant, who finished with a 7.4-yard per carry average on 27 attempts.

"He didn't show any signs of frustration and that contributed to why no one else did either. We were still confident, there was a lot of time left in the game. It's unfortunate to start a game that way, but we were able to bounce back and that's what's important."

For Grant, who seemingly never takes credit for his big games, it was the support of his teammates that allowed him to have a career day.

"It was unfortunate what happened," Grant admitted. "But I really appreciate everybody backing me and continuing to back me the whole time. From the training staff to the coaches, to the players, everybody said, 'Stay with it and do what you have to do and let it go.'

"We knew that we could move the ball and everybody did a great job. That shows the composure of this team and that guys don't back down."

On the first fumble, Grant struggled to haul in a pass in the flat and when he did he never really got his feet underneath him. Two defenders emerged to hit him and he lost control of the ball. On the second one, Grant found himself in the secondary for a 6-yard run before safety Brian Russell came in and jarred the ball loose.

Grant met with Bennett, his running backs coach, on the sideline and they both realized that the miscues were correctible, particularly on the second fumble.

"I should have had my pads down lower," Grant said. "The safety came down and hit me. I had two hands on the ball but he got underneath me a little bit and he (Bennett) said to keep the pad level down.

"He said, 'We gave them points, alright, but let's just get that out of our system and get back to doing what we need to do.'"

Grant did that and then some. He had four carries that went more than 20 yards, including a 43-yard scamper in the third quarter. And not only did he break out for those long gains, he was also effective pounding the ball between the tackles.

In a game that featured plenty of snow and slippery conditions, the Packers' ability to play a well-balanced, ball-control offense was probably the difference in the game.

{sportsad300}Hanging in there paid off for Grant and his teammates.

"We said before the game that these types of games, there's going to be good times and there's going to be bad times," Grant said. "Unfortunately we started off with bad times, but guys stepped up, played the whole game and we scored on six straight drives. It shows that when we execute and play as a team, good things happen."

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said after the game that he "never had one thought" of taking Grant out because of the fumbles.

"He was a big part of our game plan," McCarthy said. "I know I've pulled players in the past for turnovers but he was a big part of the way we approached this game.

"He handled the correction of it very well. Edgar Bennett does a very good job with the running backs. It was something that was corrected and we moved on. We never gave it a thought, which was obvious the way we stuck with our game plan."

Obviously, McCarthy's decision to stick with Grant turned out to be the correct one. It's also something that wasn't lost on Grant.

"I'm going to keep fighting until they take me out," Grant insisted. "I really appreciate the coaching staff backing me and supporting me the whole time. Even though I felt good and knew what I needed to do, some point in time they could say they might not feel comfortable with me still in. But they backed me and continued to have confidence in me."

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