Notebook: Return Game Plays Big Role

ST. LOUIS - Special teams continues to play a huge role for the Packers in 2007. One week after scoring two touchdowns on special teams, the Packers had three strong returns that all set up scores in the first half on Sunday in St. Louis. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Rams Game Center


ST. LOUIS - Special teams continues to play a huge role for the Packers in 2007. One week after scoring two touchdowns on special teams, the Packers had three strong returns that all set up scores in the first half on Sunday in St. Louis.

"I think our special teams played a huge part in that because we played with favorable field position all four quarters," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said.

Koren Robinson had two of the returns on kickoffs. Robinson ran back the opening kickoff 43 yards to the Green Bay 48-yard line, and the offense took advantage of the field position to drive for a touchdown.

After the Rams tied the score, Robinson found daylight on another kickoff return, going 88 yards and stumbling at the St. Louis 13-yard line when it appeared he was headed to the end zone.

"I was trying to cut back across field, and my cleat got caught in the turf," Robinson said.

The clumsy footwork didn't cost the Packers, though, because Tramon Williams was called for holding at the St. Louis 35-yard line, shortening Robinson's return to 66 yards and putting the ball on the St. Louis 45. The offense needed just four plays to score another touchdown.

Still, it was a display of just how dangerous Robinson can be in the open field and a sign that he's truly rounding into form since returning from a one-year suspension.

"It's me trusting what we're doing, me getting my legs up under me, just everything," said Robinson, who finished with 130 yards on three kickoff returns for the game. "I feel like now everything's clicking. I feel like we've definitely had good schemes as far as special teams, and the other nine guys know me and Tramon, we can make something happen back there when we get the opportunity and if everybody does their job."

The Packers' final score of the first half was helped by an effective punt return. Will Blackmon ran up to field Donnie Jones' low 39-yard punt and knifed his way up the middle for 16 yards to the St. Louis 45. The offense managed just one first down, but the field position was good enough for Mason Crosby to hit a 44-yard field goal, giving the Packers a 17-14 halftime lead.

Sack attack is back

The Packers ended a two-game drought without a sack by recording four sacks of St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger.

Linebacker Nick Barnett led the way with two sacks, the first two-sack game of his career. Fellow linebacker A.J. Hawk also had a sack, his first of the season, and defensive end Aaron Kampman notched his team-leading 12th on the year.

"We got pretty good pressure today," Kampman said. "Early in the game, they had us on our heels a little bit with the run game. We didn't really get them in a situation to really rush, but when we did, I thought we did a good job getting after them."

Coming into Sunday's game, only 11/2 of the team's 32 sacks had been tallied by defenders other than defensive linemen. Barnett had recorded those.

Continuing a recent trend of blitzing more often than the defense had been, the Packers doubled that total in this game alone with the three sacks combined by Barnett and Hawk.

"It felt great," Barnett said. "We brought some pressure. The guys up front got there, and we mixed it up a little bit."

{sportsad300}Still moving up

With his 80 yards receiving on Sunday, Donald Driver moved into fourth place on the franchise's all-time list for receiving yardage, surpassing Boyd Dowler. Driver now has 6,945 career yards, 27 more than Dowler.

Driver also surpassed 1,000 yards on the season and became just the third Packers player with five 1,000-yard seasons, joining James Lofton and Sterling Sharpe.

Driver now had 78 catches for 1,016 yards in 2007. He's just two catches shy of his fourth 80-reception season, which only Sharpe has accomplished in team annals.

For his career, Driver has 499 receptions and with his next catch will join Sharpe and Lofton as the only Packers with 500.

Injury update

McCarthy didn't address the injuries after the game, but it appeared the only one of significance was a hamstring injury to fullback Korey Hall, which forced him to leave the game in the first half.

Defensive tackle Justin Harrell had a thumb injury, but x-rays were negative and he returned to the game. Cornerback Charles Woodson had a knee bruise but returned. Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett and Barnett also had minor leg bruises but continued to play.

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