The Packers desperately needed to unleash four games worth of frustration. The New Orleans Saints got in the way. The end result was one of the most lopsided victories in the Green Bay Packers' long, colorful history. They beat the Saints in every conceivable way and emerged with a 52-3 win at Lambeau Field last Sunday. On a crisp, sunny October afternoon, everything fell into place for the good guys -- much to the delight and relief of Packers fans everywhere.
True, it was only one game, and the Packers have plenty of work to do to emerge from the huge hole they've dug for themselves. But it was a win, and it gives the players and coaches some pleasant thoughts during the bye week as they heal up for their next game at Minnesota on Oct. 23.
The first and most obvious thing the Packers did Sunday was not turn the ball over -- at all. They also had had a lot of success running the football. Anytime you have the threat of running the ball and you have a great quarterback like Brett Favre, it helps you become more successful with play-action passes and misdirection bootlegs. I've said it many times this season in my column, on television and on the radio, but that is what makes the Packers offense go. Najeh Davenport was playing very well in the first half before he got injured, and the Packers presented a well-balanced offense the entire game.
You also have to tip your hat to the Packers offensive line because they won the battle at the line of scrimmage fo really the first time this season. Making it more impressive, left tackle Chad Clifton gutted it out on a bad ankle, and right tackle Mark Tauscher played with a painful arch. The Packers running backs are so capable and talented. All they need is a decent push by the line to give them a little crease and allow them to make plays. That's what they did Sunday, and it paid big dividends.
I also can't say enough about the way Favre played. He was extremely sharp all day. Heck, he played his best game of the year. He didn't force any passes. His few incompletions were throw-aways. He made great decisions and some incredible throws. Favre was really accurate and he hurt the New Orleans defense over the middle, hitting Donald Driver and beating the cover-2 zone coverage areas. It was just an impressive all-around performance by Favre.
One play in particular that caught my eye was Favre's 25-yard touchdown pass to Robert Ferguson. Brett made a great read and an unbelievable throw. They ran a fake stretch play to the right with a naked bootleg to the left. It was a two-tight end-set, and Favre's first read was to the left slot tight end on a little flat route. He was covered so Favre looked for his secondary receiver -- the tight end who lined up on the right side and dragged across to the left side of the field, but he was covered, too. So Favre saw the right flanker, Fergy, running a post pattern all the way on the backside. While running to his left, Favre saw him and stopped to make a great throw for the score. There are very few quarterbacks who can make that throw.
On defense, Al Harris set the tone with two picks, including a beauty for a touchdown as he and his teammates made life miserable for the Saints all afternoon. The Packers gobbled up five turnovers that directly led to 31 points. Late in the game Nick Barnett picked off backup quarterback Todd Bouman and raced 95 yards for another touchdown. It just goes to show you when the defense can create turnovers and the offense can keep from giving the ball away, good things can happen. This was the exact opposite of what Green Bay had done in the previous four games. It was great to see the Packers take it to Saints instead of the other way around. The Saints had turnovers, penalties and crummy field position for most of the game.
These young players can now see what kind of results they can have when they play total team football, offensively, defensively and on special teams. I was very happy to see these guys go out and play the way they are capable of playing instead of beating themselves with mistakes.
The victory over the Saints should be a huge morale and confidence builder for the Packers. Now they know they can win. They played hard and had fun. That's what this game is all about. They'll have to build on the lessons they've learned. The bye week comes at a great time because of all of the injuries. It's a shame that Najeh Davenport is out for the season, but hopefully guys like Ahman Green, Bubba Franks, Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher will be healed up and ready to go when the Packers take on the Vikings.
Don "Majik" Majkowski was inducted into the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame earlier this year. His career for the Packers spanned six seasons (1987-92), including being named to the Pro Bowl in 1989 when he led the NFL in passing yards. In addition to his duties with Packers.com, Majik provides football analysis for WSSP-AM, SportsRadio 1250 in Milwaukee, WDUZ SportsRadio 107.5 & 1400 The Fan in Green Bay, WTSO - ESPN 1070 in Madison, WDEZ in Wausau, and WIZD in Stevens Point. Visit Majik's Web site, www.majiknetwork.net, for more information.