Packers Invite Rams To Step Outside


For the first time since 1997, the Packers will play host to the St. Louis Rams and their high-powered offensive attack at Lambeau Field Monday night. Since that last Wisconsin meeting, the two teams have crossed paths twice in the climate-controlled conditions of the Edward Jones Dome, both clashes going the way of the home team.

The Rams, whose offensive prowess has been near the top in the league for the better part of the last decade, are a speed-driven team who take advantage of the fast artificial surface and non-existent wind conditions of their home stadium.

With multiple weapons on the offensive side of the ball, they earned the nickname "The Greatest Show on Turf."

A reminder about Monday night's game, though - speedy receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt and shifty running back Marshall Faulk won't be making their quick cuts on the sure Astroturf footing of their dome.

No, this game will be played on the grass of Lambeau Field, with game-time temperatures expected to be in the 20s and the usual late-season winds blowing through the stadium.

Packer players are eager to get the Rams on their home field. Safety Darren Sharper said he's looking forward to playing them outdoors on a surface not quite as suited to the visitors' speed game.

"Also in 20° weather will be a lot better situation for us," Sharper added. "We're looking forward to - you don't want to say payback - but they whipped us pretty good at their home field and we're looking forward to playing a good game and let them know how we play in our environment. They're a tough team, but we're definitely looking forward to having them come here rather than going there."

In his advanced scouting report for the game, Sharper noted some things about the St. Louis attack that could be affected by less than perfect playing conditions.

"They have extremely good timing with their routes," said the safety. "Their quarterback knows where the receivers are going to be and trusts them to be there. When he throws his passes, a lot of times it's two or three steps before the receiver makes his break, and that makes it tough for a defense to really know and get a jump on the football. That's why they're so successful."

The home conditions will not only be a benefit to the defense, though. Left guard Mike Wahle is another Packer looking forward to facing this opponent outside of their element.

"Obviously we've played them at their home stadium on that turf and with their crowd noise and come up shorthanded the last couple times, so it's going to be refreshing to get them up here where there's a lot of things we don't have to deal with," the offensive lineman said.

"They're still a very, very talented football team, but obviously having to play on that turf with their crowd noise and those guys getting off the ball is something that we don't like doing and we'll be happy to have them up here."

Although getting St. Louis out of their environment will be an advantage, Wahle said that the change of the season and the colder temperatures will be more of a positive factor for the Packers than anything else.

"We're not really concerned with what it does to them as much as what it brings to the table for us," he said. "We always feel like we're a really good bad-weather football team just because of the things we can do on offense running the ball and our quarterback can throw through the wind. He can cut the wind better than anybody because of his arm strength. So it doesn't really slow us down and we're confident we can move the ball effectively in any kind of weather."

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