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Notebook: Packers Can Pound The Ball


Back On Track

Many pundits said the Packers needed to emphasize Pro Bowl running back Ahman Green and the running game to solve the offense's woes.

The running game performed well in the first half as the Packers ran 17 times for 77 yards, and that led Green to take a positive from the 26-24 loss.

"I'm feeling better and better every week," said Green, who had 16 rushes for 54 yards. "Now we're kind of getting in a groove a little bit. We had some good runs, good solid runs. It was effective for the most part."

Head coach Mike Sherman said the team would have logged 35 carries if the score stayed close. But the offense faced a 19 to 7 deficit in the fourth quarter and had to abandon the running game.

"As the game played out," Green said, "we had to resort to the pass to get back in."

Running back Najeh Davenport gained 36 rushing yards, and the Packers finished with 116 yards on 30 carries.


Two Plays

The Packers allowed 391 total yards, but two plays determined the outcome.

"It killed us," defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila said. "It didn't give us a chance to win the game."

In the third quarter, Browns rookie wide receiver Braylon Edwards took a slant 80 yards for a touchdown, making the score 19-7.

"We were out of position to make that play." Sherman said.

On the play, cornerback Joey Thomas jumped outside, and Edwards beat him inside. The Packers did not have any safeties back to support, but Thomas owned up to the mistake in a classy manner.

"It's on me to make that play," Thomas said. "I take full responsibility."

After the Packers cut the Cleveland Browns' lead to two, Browns tight end Steve Heiden scored on a 62-yard pass. With 1:50 left in the game, that play sealed the victory.

"We should have had somebody on him, but I have to get the man down," safety Mark Roman said. "It's stuff we know, we just have to execute it. We blew the coverage, but I still have to get the guy down."

The Packers blamed both miscues on miscommunication.

"It was a breakdown in communication," Gbaja-Biamila said. "Some people are doing this, and other people are doing that."

Such problems have little to do with a lack of a talent or a poor scheme, and they will address them during the coming week.

"You watch the film and move forward," Thomas said.


Reversal Of Fortune

Browns quarterback Trent Dilfer entered the game with a 2-8 lifetime record against the Packers, but he and his team did not struggle on Sunday.

"This is big to come up here and erase some of those demons," Dilfer said.

Dilfer not only performed an exorcism by winning the game, but also looked like the best player on the field.

"He did a great job," Gbaja-Biamila said. "He capitalized on our mistakes."

Dilfer finished 21-of-32 for 336 yards and three touchdowns, earning a quarterback rating of 131.8. Much of his success came with the three-wide-reciever sets used frequently by the Browns.

"You can't take anything away from Trent Dilfer," Sherman said. "He should feel pretty good about himself."


Man Of Achievement

In the second quarter Brett Favre became the third quarterback in NFL history to surpass 50,000 passing yards, joining former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino (61,361) and former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway (51,475). Favre entered the game with 49,935.

To honor the distinction, the game was briefly halted, and the ball was retrieved. Favre acknowledged the applause of the fans by waving with both hands.

Neither that accomplishment nor his 32-of-44, 342-yard passing performance provided any solace for the losing quarterback of Sunday's contest.

"It's no fun practicing when you're losing," he said. "I've been fortunate throughout my career to have won most of the games. This is not very fun."

Favre threw three touchdowns and three interceptions on Sunday. He may have displayed more with his legs than his arm.

To the adoration of cheering fans, he scurried around the left end for 20 yards in the second quarter. The rush was his longest since 1999, and he finished with three rushes for 19 yards.


Injuries: Joey Thomas hurt his head in the first quarter but returned to the game. ... Tight end Bubba Franks (hip) did not return, and the extent of the injury is not known. ... Wide receiver Antonio Chatman had the wind knocked out of him. ... Sherman kept linebacker Na'il Diggs on the inactive list, saying he was not physically ready. Diggs only practiced three times in six weeks after spraining a knee ligament during training camp. "I didn't feel confident putting him on the field," Sherman said.

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