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Kampman's Effort Not Enough to Lift Packers to Victory


Aaron Kampman

Aaron Kampman had one of his best performances as a Green Bay Packer on Sunday afternoon, but unfortunately, he can't enjoy it the way he deserves to.

Kampman, the fifth-year pro out of Iowa, had three sacks, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery, yet the statistic that counts the most is one in which even he couldn't conquer versus the Saints: a win.

Because of that, the 6-foot-4, 278-pound defensive end didn't share much enthusiasm for his individual accomplishments in a 34-27 defeat to drop the Packers to 0-2 on the season.

"It's frustrating," Kampman said. "Just for our whole team. It doesn't matter (about my individual performance).

"It's frustrating for our team because we played well, we fought, we scrapped, but we let them back in the game. It's our own faults. We just about had that last nail in the coffin and we let them back in."

He's right, the nail in the coffin never came, but it did appear that Kampman alone was going to be enough to bury the Saints in the first quarter. After hitting quarterback Drew Brees as he was about to unload the ball, Kampman picked up the sack, the fumble and the recovery and the Packers were in business. The offense took over at the Saints 38-yard line and five plays later, Brett Favre hooked up with Greg Jennings to give the Packers a quick 7-0 lead.

According to Kampman, Head Coach Mike McCarthy stressed throughout the week the importance of getting out of the blocks early and it's exactly what the Packers did.

"We talked about starting fast all week," Kampman said. "We did that, and now sustaining that is the next step. If we would have kept pouring it on with some more points and some more stops in the second quarter, it would have been tough for them to come back.

"We saw a lot of growth today, and a lot of good things. We have to build off of that. We have to win, that is what it comes down to. We just have to keep the faith and keep swinging."

Kampman's three sacks tied a career high, and he became one of just five Packers to have multiple three-sack games in his career, joining Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (5), Reggie White (3), Tim Harris (2) and Bryce Paup (2).

But he wasn't the only one making plays in the Packers' solid start. Gbaja-Biamila and Al Harris also had a great first quarter as they kept the turnovers rolling with big plays of their own. Gbaja-Biamila's sack and forced fumble as well as Harris' interception in the opening frame gave the Packers two more scoring opportunities as the team jumped out to a 13-0 lead.

Unfortunately for the Packers, the defense didn't play up to it's capability after that, and the Saints went into halftime with a 14-13 lead. Explaining the momentum shift in the locker room after the game just might have been Kampman's most difficult challenge of the day.

"I don't know what it was, he said. "I don't think there's any excuses. It just happened. I don't know if we over-emphasized the whole 'starting fast' thing.

"We came out swinging. Everybody felt that. It was great for our team and for our confidence. We just need to sustain that."

Gbaja-Biamila didn't have the answer for the momentum shift, either, but one thing he was certain of was just how well the defensive end on the opposite side of him played.

In fact, "KGB" couldn't help but sing the praises of No. 74 when he was asked about it afterwards.

"Aaron Kampman from the get-go, did exactly what we've been trying to do," Gbaja-Biamila said. "He came out with a trifecta: the sack, the fumble, and the recovery. It gave our offense an opportunity to go out there and score a touchdown.

"I wish we would have won because he really set the tone for the game. I thought he did a great job, even throughout the game, he just kept playing (well)."

It was the type of performance that the Packers and their fans alike have come to expect from Kampman. This type of ability is undoubtedly what the organization saw in Kampman when it rewarded him with a long-term contract this past off-season.

And despite being widely regarded as a try-hard defensive end, one who plays the run well and makes the most of his ability, it's becoming increasingly clear that Kampman possesses much more talent than he's given credit for.

"Kampman deserves everything's he gotten," Gbaja-Biamila explained. "He's a hard worker, he's an athletic guy. I don't know why everybody keeps saying he's not athletic. You see it, and you see what he's doing. When you underestimate somebody, that's exactly what's happened.

"You can underestimate Kampman, but knowing Aaron, he's going to keep fighting. He's a true champion. Even off the field, he's a champion. I have nothing but respect for Aaron Kampman, and he's having a great start to the season."

It's high praise, especially coming from a great defensive end and teammate like Gbaja-Biamila, but it's not surprising that the selfless Kampman didn't want to talk about his strong performance after the game.

"I tried to do some things," Kampman said in his typical humble fashion. "I kept playing hard, but you never feel real satisfied when you lose."

Despite this effort, Kampman admitted that his primary goal is helping his team play winning football from here on out. According to him, there's no reason for him or his teammates to hang their heads this soon.

"It's a 16-round bout," he explained. "We're only in Round 3 this week. They don't hand out any prizes in the second week. We just have to keep swinging, that's what championship fights are all about."

To win that fight, opponents better have plenty of stamina because you just know that Kampman will be there until the final bell.

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