Even a record rushing performance by Ahman Green couldn't make the Packers' latest appearance on ABC's "Monday Night Football" a success.
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman succinctly summed up the Packers' unhappy fate on the prime time showcase, presented on a cold and rain-swept evening.
"We didn't do what we needed to do at the end of the game," he said "to keep them out of the end zone."
The Packers had been out front, 14-10, the result of a 45-yard scoring run by the runaway Green, when they punted to the Eagles with 2:43 remaining in the game, Philadelphia taking over at its own 35-yard line.
To the Green and Gold's dismay, the Eagles were in the Green Bay end zone in the span of 2 minutes and 16 seconds, quarterback Donovan McNabb finding wide receiver Todd Pinkston in the left corner of the end zone with a 6-yard scoring strike.
After placekicker David Akers added Philadephia's 17th and final point and Antonio Chatman had returned the subsequent kickoff to the Green Bay 36-yard line, only 27 seconds remained to play.
But there was still hope on the Green Bay sideline. Quarterback Brett Favre, who customarily thrives in such challenging situations, hit tight end Wesley Walls and wide receiver Javon Walker with 14- and 8-yard completions - calling a timeout after each - and the prospect of a game-tying field goal began to develop.
Favre, however, fumbled while attempting to pass on the next play, the Eagles' Darwin Walker recovering, with one second left. The play was challenged by the Review Assistant and upheld...and the game was over.
A major irony in the overall process is the fact that the Packers again mounted a dominant, clock-controlling running game, rushing for 241 yards as Green powered and sprinted his way to a new team single-game record, personally amassing 192 of those 241 yards. But when they needed to put the Eagles away with a first-down or two late in the fourth quarter, they came up short.
With first down at their own 32-yard line and only 4:35 remaining, Green was held to a one-yard gain, then to 4 yards on a second attempt. Favre's third-down pass to fullback William Henderson went for no gain and a punt was in order, setting up the Eagles' final and decisive opportunity.
Favre, who after the game observed, "The wind and rain seemed to bother us more than it did them," closed out the evening with a modest 109 yards passing, on 14 completions in 22 attempts, fumbling the wet, slick football three times in the overall process.
Aside from last year's game against Washington, when he had posted 89 yards before being injured in the second quarter and leaving the contest, it was the fewest passing yards he has had in a regular season game since Oct. 31, 1994, when he settled for 82 yards in a game at Chicago's Soldier Field on a stormy night that saw winds escalate to more than 50 miles per hour.
The Packers' scoring task was complicated when the invariably accurate Ryan Longwell was short with a 45-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter, thus suffering his first field goal miss of the season, ending a string of 11 consecutive successes.
THE GREEN FILE: Already prominent in Packers archives, Ahman Green further entrenched himself in the team's record book Monday night with three major accomplishments.
-By rushing for 192 yards in 29 attempts, he eclipsed the club standard of 190 yards, set by Dorsey Levens against the Dallas Cowboys Nov. 23, 1997 (also in Lambeau Field).
-In the process, he propelled himself over the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth consecutive year and he thus becomes only the second player in the organization's 84-year history to do so. Jim Taylor holds the team record, having rushed for 1,000 yards in five consecutive years (1960-64).
-By closing out the evening with 224 yards of offense (he caught 3 passes for 32 yards to complement his 192 rushing yards), Green set a new single game record for a Green Bay running back. The previous mark, 221 yards, was established by Jim Taylor against the then-Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 13, 1964.
Green also caught a touchdown pass for the fourth consecutive game, becoming the first running back in Packers annals to have such a streak.
His 100-yard rushing performance was the 20th of No. 30's Packers career and left him only 6 behind the team's career leader, Taylor.
THE FAVRE FILE: Although it was not a typically productive night for Brett Favre statistically, he did add to his imposing record collection. His second quarter scoring pass to Green extended his string to 18 consecutive games in which he has unfurled a TD throw, tying the second-longest streak in team history. He already owns a streak of that length, forged over the 1997 and 1998 seasons, as well as a third-longest 17-game string, a total he now has recorded twice.
Cecil Isbell, who put his streak together over the 1941 and 1942 seasons, holds the club record, having thrown a TD pass in 22 straight games.
By making his 182nd consecutive start, Favre also extended his NFL record for quarterbacks and, by playing in his 184th straight contest, he now is only three games shy of the club record, 187, held by Forrest Gregg.
GM/HEAD COACH MIKE SHERMAN'S POST-GAME COMMENTS:
(on lost opportunity) "Well, we had a lot of opportunities on that field to take advantage of that we did not take advantage of. Anytime you don't win a game, whether it is this one or the next one or the one after that or the previous one, you miss an opportunity. You only have so many. You have sixteen of them, and you have to take advantage of the ones you can."
(on why Bhawoh Jue played at the end of the game) "Al Harris had cramped up during the game. He cramped up one time when we were on the sideline but was able to get back out. And he cramped up after that long pass that he defended out of bounds and couldn't go back out, and that is were Bhawoh Jue had to step in for us."
(on Brett Favre's problem holding onto the ball) "Well, the balls were very, very slick. It seemed to affect us more than it did them, however, which concerns me. But the ball was slick, and we did have a hard time gripping the ball. It didn't feel like it was a result of the thumb, but I am sure that would be na‹ve of us to say it wasn't. And talking to Darrell Bevell, he didn't seem to think it was. It was just that the balls were very slick."
(on the mood in the locker room) "It's difficult. As I told the team, they made the plays they had to make to win the football game and to give them all the credit they deserve for winning the game. But two or three plays here or there and we have a winning locker room. We can't define ourselves by two or three plays. I thought the guys played extremely hard in the football game. I thought they played the way I asked them to play at a fevered pitch. I thought that they played physical football."
(on the weather affecting the game plan) "The weather certainly affected our game plan, particularly early when we were having difficulty holding onto the football. It was a very slick ball. I asked the officials to keep a dry ball in there, and I am sure they did their best."
(on the play of Grady Jackson) "Well, he demonstrated some pass-rush ability. (He) also solidified some things inside. I thought both he and Gilbert played fairly well."
(on whose decision it was for Ahman Green to take off his arm protectors) "I went over there to him and he was in the process of removing those at that time. I felt that was maybe something we need to change and see if that helped him at all."
THE PLAYER PERSPECTIVE:
Quarterback Brett Favre: (on losing at Lambeau) "Lambeau Field has been almost a shoe-in for us. I think it shows that there are no guarantees. Philadelphia is a good football team, Kansas City is a good football team, Minnesota has been playing well, so we lost to three good teams, but those last three games we should have won, in my opinion. Every time you lose one of those, it's tough to rebound from, because we played hard and gave great effort and that alone won't win games, though it'll keep you in them and sometimes win them."
(on offensive balance) "I don't think you ever go into a game with a goal of 'hey we're going to rush it 35 times or throw it 45 times.' The game itself will kind of dictate that. We run the ball so well, keep doing it. On fourth-and-1, (Ahman Green) busted for (45 yards) a touchdown and that just kind of shows how our offensive line was blocking and, of course, we were running the football great and you just keep going with it."
Running back Ahman Green: (on losing despite individual performance) "This game is played by guys that want to win on both sides, so regardless of what I did on the football field, even if I broke a new NFL record out there, it matters who makes the plays when they need to make them. They needed to make certain plays and they did that."
(on outlook for remainder of season) "I don't think we're digging a hole. I just thought it was rough on us out there. We have 53 players on each side of the ball giving their bodies, blood, sweat to win games out there. Nothing's over until the season over. We don't know where we're going to end up at until the end of December. That's where we're at right now. Right now it's a one-game season for most teams in the NFL. You just have to take it one game at a time. Some games are going to go great for you, some games are not, but what you have to do is correct the mistakes and never look back."
Offensive guard Mike Wahle: (on Ahman Green/running game) "He runs the ball hard every week. That's what he expects of himself every week and that's what we expect of him. Unfortunately, when you run the ball like we did today and only come up with 14 points, that's pathetic and we have to make corrections, but it's certainly no fault of his. He runs his butt off. He's a guy who we look to for productivity week in and week out and he keeps delivering."
(on losing at Lambeau) "We've lost three at home now. That certainly doesn't sit well with us. We have to get that back. We've lost two real close ones here and usually we're used to coming out with victories in games like that; this game and the Chiefs game. It's tough to swallow."
-Despite the loss to Philadelphia, the Packers still own a substantial advantage over the Eagles. It was the Eagles' 10th win in the series, compared to Green Bay's 22.
-Monday night's loss ended two Packers winning streaks - a five-game success skein on 'MNF' and an eight-game prime-time winning streak.
-It also ended a five-game personal 'MNF' winning streak for Mike Sherman.
-Following Monday night's misadventure, the Packers now own a 21-19-1 record on "Monday Night Football."
-For the Eagles, Monday night's victory represented a ninth straight November road victory.
-On his way to a new Packers single-game rushing record Monday night, Ahman Green had already rushed for 100 yards (102) by the midpoint of the second quarter and he had amassed 146 yards of offense (122 rushing and 24 receiving) by halftime.
-Green, with 1,063 yards (which already ranks as the 13th-best single-season rushing total in Packers history) and seven games remaining to play, is on a pace to rush for 1,889 yards. If he should visit that statistical neighborhood, he would easily break the Packers' single-season record, 1,474 yards, set by Jim Taylor in1962.
-With his first carry Monday night, Green surpassed No. 4 Tony Canadeo (1,025) on the Packers' all-time list for career rushing attempts. Green now has 1,054 attempts.
-Newly-acquired defensive tackle Grady Jackson made a productive debut, posting 4 tackles - 2 of them solo - and sharing with fellow DT Larry Smith an 8-yard sack of Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
-Ryan Longwell's third-quarter field goal miss ended a streak of 14 consecutive successes, including his last three efforts of the 2002 season.
-Linebacker Na'il Diggs made a key first-down play in the third quarter, barging through to throw Eagles running back Bryan Westbrook for a 6-yard loss as Philadelphia threatened at the Green Bay 7-yard line. The Eagles subsequently had to settle for a 21-yard David Akers field goal as a consequence.
-Diggs, who had a team-leading 7 solo stops and 8 overall, highlighted his efforts with 3 tackles for 8 yards in losses.
-Packers' captains Monday night included Brett Favre and Mike Wahle (offense), Gilbert Brown and Al Harris (defense) and Ryan Longwell (special teams).
-Nick Luchey started the game as a second fullback, taking the place of tight end Bubba Franks.
-Packers inactives Monday night included tackle/guard Marcus Spriggs, offensive tackle Brennan Curtin, defensive tackles Terdell Sands and Kenny Peterson, defensive end Jamal Reynolds, linebacker Marcus Wilkins, safety Curtis Fuller and Designated Third Quarterback Craig Nall.