THE WEEK PAST: With their defense riddled by injuries, and on a slick New England field courtesy of a light but persistent rain, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman and coordinators Tom Rossley and Ed Donatell developed a simple but highly-effective game plan to deal with the Patriots.
With a presumably vulnerable defense - one missing five starters - it obviously was important to keep that depleted unit off the field - and, thus, to run the football as often and as well as possible, utilizing the considerable talents of Ahman Green...And, in the overall process, throw the football with care.
With the significant and somewhat unexpected aid of the patchwork defense, the plan worked to virtual perfection.
Green ran the football with impressive abandon, amassing 136 yards and a touchdown with a career-high 31 attempts and also contributed in the passing game with 3 receptions for 21 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, when the Packers possessed the football, quarterback Brett Favre was a virtually flawless performer, completing 17 of 27 passes for 147 yards and 3 touchdowns - without an interception - and taking full advantage of defensive contributions, converting an interception and a fumble recovery into scores.
There was no hint of what was to come, however, the first quarter ending in a scoreless standoff. And the Patriots, in fact, struck first, taking a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter on a 32-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri, hero of New England's Super Bowl victory last January.
It was at that juncture that the Packers' careful and conservative game plan began to pay dividends. With Green rushing five times for 34 yards en route, Favre maneuvered the Green and Gold 76 yards in 12 plays for the first touchdown of the afternoon, which came on a 3-yard Favre pass to fullback William Henderson on a rare visit to the end zone. With Ryan Longwell's conversion, Green Bay moved into a 7-3 lead, an advantage that was to become permanent.
The Packers were to be back in the end zone less than a minute later. A fumbled lateral pass from New England quarterback Tom Brady to running back Kevin Faulk was eventually recovered by the Packers' Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila at the Patriots' 8-yard line after a hustling Marques Anderson alertly made the first attempt to recover the loose ball. New England coach Bill Belichick challenged the on-field ruling but the replay validated the call and Favre quickly capitalized on the opportunity, firing an 8-yard scoring pass to Green. Longwell's conversion made it 14-3, the score that prevailed at the intermission.
There it remained until well into the third quarter, when the Packers swelled their lead to 21-3. The catalyst, in effect, was Torrance Marshall, who recovered Darrien Gordon's muff of a Patriot punt at the Green Bay 6-yard line.
Favre proceeded to orchestrate the longest drive of the day, a 7-play, 94-yard march capped by a 2-yard dart from No. 4 to tight end Bubba Franks.
The Pats then responded with a threat of their own, reaching the Green Bay 35-yard line, but Anderson, filling in for the injured Sharper, intercepted a Brady pass at the Packers' 13-yard line and returned it 22 yards to the 35 to short-circuit that New England bid.
For a final time, Favre made maximum use of the opportunity, directing a 7-play, 65-yard drive climaxed by Green's 1-yard bolt over right guard into the end zone.
One exchange later, the Super Bowl champions put together their only touchdown march of the game, Brady passing 4 yards to David Givens for the score at 9:03 of the final period.
The revamped defense opened the game with Tod McBride at left cornerback in place of Mike McKenzie, rookie Marques Anderson at strong safety in place of Darren Sharper, joining Matt Bowen in the secondary, where he had replaced starter Antuan Edwards four weeks earlier, after Edwards had suffered a broken arm.
Additionally, rookie Aaron Kampman and third-year pro Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, normally a designated pass-rusher, stepped in at the ends for Vonnie Holliday and Joe Johnson. Holliday is sidelined with a torn pectoral muscle and Johnson with a season-ending triceps injury.
All of the "newcomers" made substantial contributions to the cause but the ubiquitous Anderson was a standout, amassing a team-high 12 tackles (11 of them unassisted) and posting an interception.
THE FAVRE FILE: Although the game plan and the weather conditions didn't permit Brett Favre unfettered opportunity, the Packers' remarkable field general had no problem making another major assault on the National Football League's record book.
With three more touchdown passes, he supplanted John Elway as the third-ranking author of scoring passes in pro football history, elevating his career total to 301.
The retired Elway, who had been third, is now fourth with 300.
Dan Marino is the NFL's all-time leader with 420, followed by Fran Tarkenton with 342.
Favre also moved pass the legendary Johnny Unitas into seventh place all-time in career passing yardage with 40,244 yards. Unitas ended his NFL career with 40,239 yards.
Additionally, Favre took over fifth place, all-time, in career victories by a quarterback with 108, passing Terry Bradshaw (107). Immediately ahead: Joe Montana (117).
From the durability standpoint, Favre played in his 165th consecutive game, lifting him to within one of Willie Wood, who ranks second in Packers' history with 166.
Favre also took sole possession of seventh place in career games played for Green Bay. He had been tied with Robert Brown at 164.
From the league perspective, Favre made his 163rd consecutive start, again extending his NFL record for quarterbacks.
From the historical perspective, Favre has now played in 35 NFL venues and won in 22 of them. In the process, he has thrown a touchdown pass in 30 different stadiums.
FUTURE BOOK: Over the next month, in which the Packers will play three straight home games, Favre will be in a position to throw the 150th touchdown pass of his career in Lambeau Field. He will be entering Sunday's home game against Washington having authored 142 scoring passes in "Lambeau."
THE GREEN FILE: Ahman Green's 136-yard effort, the 13th of his Packers' career, lifted him into a tie with John Brockington (1971-77) for second place in Green Bay history.
Jim Taylor (1958-66) is the team's all-time leader with 26.
In Sunday's process, Green went over the 3,000-yard mark in career rushing as a Packer (he spent his first two NFL seasons with Seattle before being acquired in a 2000 trade). Green, with 3,014 yards, is the 10th running back in team annals to rush for 3,000 yards in a career.
He also became the fastest in team history to surpass the 3,000 mark, turning the trick in 37 games. Brockington previously held the "fastest" honor, having reached the 3,000 mark in 40 games.
On target for a third consecutive 1,000 season, Green has rushed for 552 yards to date - an average of 110.4 per game (he has played in five games, sitting out the Detroit contest with a quad injury). With 10 games remaining, he needs average only 50 yards per game the rest of the way to scale the 1,000-yard plateau.
THE (NFL) STATISTICAL UPDATE: The Packers, acquiring four turnovers in Sunday's victory over New England, now lead the NFL in the all-important takeaway-giveaway computation with a plus-9 rating. They have harvested a league-high 19 takeaways (12 interceptions and 7 recoveries of opponent fumbles) compared to 10 giveaways (7 lost fumbles and 3 opponent interceptions).
San Francisco is next up with a plus-7 reading.
Third a week ago, the Packers now rank fifth in the NFL on offense (ninth in rushing and fourth in passing).
Defensively, they moved up from 20th to 16th (22nd against the pass and 14th against the run).
Individually, quarterback Brett Favre leads the NFL in passing with a 102.5 passer rating, based upon 142 completions in 219 attempts for 1,617 yards and 14 touchdowns - with only 3 interceptions.
Favre also ranks sixth in the NFC in third-down and seventh in fourth-quarter passing. He has an 85.6 rating in the former, based on 36 completions in 61 attempts for 443 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 1 interception, and an 86.7 rating in the latter, based on 27 completions in 43 attempts for 253 yards and 1 touchdown, without an interception.
Running back Ahman Green has moved up to second place in NFC rushing - only 30 yards back of leader Deuce McAllister of New Orleans - with 552 yards in 119 attempts, a 4.6-yard average.
He also continues to rank third in the NFC in total yards from scrimmage with 697, including 145 yards receiving.
Teammate Ryan Longwell leads NFC scoring with 53 points, having made all 20 extra points he has attempted and 11 of 16 field goal tries.
Split end Donald Driver ranks fourth in the conference in receiving yardage with 483 yards, a 17.3 average. He is tied for 10th in receptions with a career-high 28.
Fellow wideout Terry Glenn is tied for ninth place in receiving yardage with 386 (a 14.3-yard average) and is tied for 13th with 27 catches.
Defensively, Darren Sharper is tied for second place among NFC interceptors with 3 and Mike McKenzie and rookie Marques Anderson are tied for eighth with 2.
Teammate Cletidus Hunt is tied for 13th in quarterback sacks (with the New York Giants' Michael Strahan, among others) with 3.5 sacks.
Josh Bidwell is the NFC's sixth-ranking punter with a 44.0-yard average for 57 punts.
GM/HEAD COACH MIKE SHERMAN'S POST-GAME COMMENTS:
(on the importance of the victory) "It hasn't sunken in yet, but this is a big win for us. We beat a very good team. They're world champions, so this was a big win."
(on the performance of the patchwork defense) "No, I'm not surprised by the way our defense played today. We practiced hard all week and we took the field as 45 players and 17 coaches and we played well.
"We brought (Bryant) Westbrook in on Wednesday and worked him out, then schooled him on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and got him ready to play. It was a difficult week to not look for excuses to lose, but for reasons to win. But our guys did that. They went out to win."
(on what Green Bay's defense did to contain Patriots quarterback Tom Brady) "We tried to do a couple different things. We didn't do anything fancy, just try and generate a four-man rush and disrupt his rhythm."
(on the team's approach) "We've handled adversity the entire season. We've been losing players right and left."
THE PLAYER PERSPECTIVE:
Wide receiver Terry Glenn: (on whether he was happy his return to New England was over) "Very happy. If this was later in the season, I don't know what I would have done. I'm just glad it's over with. I'm glad we got the victory coming in here on the road."
(on what is different from a year ago) "There is not a lot of difference. I'm a different person and a lot of things that happened last year really enlightened me to a lot of things about life."
(on how the Patriots defensed him) "I think they tried to put a lot of guys around me...They have a very good secondary."
(on playing in New England) "When I was out there, I played my heart out. I always did that. I never had really bad things to say about New England. There was just a gray area at the end where a lot of things started snowballing."
(on being a Packer) "My first game at Green Bay, I knew it was a class act organization."
Quarterback Brett Favre: "We deserve a little credit that we are a good football team. Going on the road and winning against anyone is difficult. The Patriots have lost to good football teams and they are by no means out of it. They started out 0-2 last year and lost their quarterback and next thing you know, they win the Super Bowl.
"They made crucial mistakes in crucial situations, and we capitalized. We didn't make many mistakes and regardless of who you're playing, that's the key. We made the most of their mistakes."
(on Terry Glenn) "I didn't know Terry Glenn before he came to play for us. I knew who he was, but I didn't know him. I can tell you that we are glad to have him on our team. The past is just that for Terry and we didn't judge him before he came to play for us. It didn't take long to figure out how good he was.
"Not everyone is a people person and I'm not saying that Terry Glenn is or isn't, but just because you don't hang out and be real talkative doesn't make you a bad guy."
Safety Matt Bowen: (on the defensive approach) "We just wanted to hold together as a group. Those little 4- and 5-yard gains, who cares? We said, 'They throw a ball deep, let's make a play on it.' That's what we did."
-Sunday's victory gives the Packers the lead in their series with New England. They now have won four of seven regular season meetings with the Patriots.
-Sunday's win also marked the Packers' second successful visit to a new NFL venue in two opportunities. Prior to besting the Patriots in New England's new Gillette Stadium, the Packers defeated the Lions in their new Ford Field showplace on Sept. 22 (37-31).
-The final score, 28-10, is identical to the result of the Packers' most recent visit to New England (Oct. 27, 1997) when they also defeated the Patriots, 28-10.
-It was the third straight road victory for the Packers, with all three having come in venues in which the Packers were playing for the first time (Detroit's Ford Field Sept. 22; University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium, temporary home of the Chicago Bears, Oct. 7 and Gillette Stadium, the Patriots' new home).
-In defeating the Patriots, the Packers played a turnover-free game on the road for the first time since Dec. 17, 2000 at Minnesota. Overall, Mike Sherman is now 6-0 when his team plays without a turnover (also vs. San Francisco 10/15/00, vs. Minnesota 11/6/00, vs. Chicago 12/3/00 and vs. Minnesota (12/30/01).
-Through six games, injuries have required Packers starters to miss a total of 20 combined games, including 4 by Mark Tauscher and 3 each by Mike Flanagan and Vonnie Holliday. Last season, by way of comparison, injured starters missed only 24 games over the 16-week season. This year, the coaching staff has had to change starters at 11 of the 22 positions; in 2001, injuries affected only six positions.
-Sitting out Sunday's game ended a 69-game starting streak for safety Darren Sharper, who had started every game for Green Bay since the beginning of the 1998 NFL season.
-Appropriately enough, former Patriot Terry Glenn pulled in a 9-yard pass from Brett Favre on the opening offensive play of Sunday's game in No. 83's return to New England.
-William Henderson's second quarter touchdown, which staked the Packers to a 7-3 lead they were not to relinquish, was his first receiving score since the 2000 season (at Detroit Oct. 8, 2000). It also was the sixth scoring reception of Henderson's eight-year Packers career.
-Newcomer Bryant Westbrook's first-quarter interception was the 13th of his NFL career, the Packers' 10th of the season.
-Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell had wide receiver Javon Walker aligned as an extra defensive back when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady unfurled a "Hail Mary" pass to the Green Bay end zone on the final play of the first half. Donatell employed seven defensive backs, in addition to Walker, on the play. The pass was incomplete.
-The Packers scored two touchdowns within the space of 43 seconds in the second quarter of Sunday's game, the first on Brett Favre's 3-yard pass to William Henderson at 11:14 of the period and the second on Favre's 8-yard TD toss to Ahman Green at 11:57.
-Green's 1-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter was his first rushing touchdown of the '02 season.
-The Packers were "perfect" in the red zone Sunday, posting touchdowns on each of their four incursions inside New England's 20-yard line.
-Packers inactives Sunday included defensive backs Darren Sharper, Mike McKenzie and Antuan Edwards, running back Najeh Davenport, tight end Tyrone Davis, defensive ends Vonnie Holliday and Jamal Reynolds and designated Third Quarterback Craig Nall.