Packers Reach Into Bag Of Tricks

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Playing football is supposed to be fun. Up until the last two weeks you probably wouldn't have found anybody in the Packers locker room who said they were having a great time. But things sure do change when you mix in a couple wins and a trick play here and there.

With their 41-20 triumph over the Cowboys Sunday afternoon, the Packers continued to roll on offense with sound execution and a mix of gadget plays. It was the second time in as many weeks that the Packers notched a victory and it marked the first home win of the season. Certainly a win at home was long overdue, but the fashion in which it was achieved wasn't lost on the players, either.

It's safe to say that the Packers had fun on Sunday and they had every right to feel good about their latest victory. After all, they were moving the ball with ease and the coaching staff opened the playbook yet again with a successful halfback pass that broke the Cowboys backs.

It may not be the most conventional play in the NFL, but the Packers proved that Brett Favre isn't the only player on the team who can toss a touchdown every now and then. For the second consecutive week, a running back shared that honor. Last week it was Ahman Green who launched a 20-yard pass to Donald Driver in the victory over the Lions and this time it was Tony Fisher who showed he has some passing skills as well.

In the third quarter and the Packers already leading 20-6, Fisher took the handoff from Favre and ran up to the line of scrimmage as if he was taking off on another power play. With that in mind, the Cowboys defenders reacted as if it was a run and Fisher lofted an eight-yard touchdown pass to Bubba Franks.

Although there was almost a full half yet to be played, the touchdown seemed to energize the Packers and their fans. It also put some excitement back into the offense for the Green and Gold.

"It's always good to keep a defense off balance," Franks said. "Once you get going in your base offense you can kind of get lost in it and forget that you have trick plays. It's always good to keep a team guessing because they don't really know where to hit you at."

The Packers certainly hit the Cowboys from many angles and because the team was having so much success running the ball, the Cowboys had to honor that aspect of the game first. Simply put, Fisher's pass was the perfect call for the perfect situation and he was more than happy to do it.

"If it was up to me, if it was my number, I would call it all the time," Fisher explained. "It's one of those plays where Coach Sherman had a gut feeling that the time was right and he called it."

GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman agreed with Fisher for the most part. He admitted it was the right play, but he wasn't the one who called it. After taking over those duties following Offensive Coordinator Tom Rossley's angioplasty surgery on October 12, Sherman has been sending in the plays. However, he credited this one to Rossley.

"The halfback pass was Tom Rossley's call," Sherman said.

It didn't matter who called the play, according to Fisher. To him the execution was more important.

"You've got to sell it somehow," Fisher explained. "If you don't sell it, it won't be effective. That's why Bubba was so open. I took a couple steps like I was going to run the ball and then I just rose up and threw it."

Franks said he knew that Fisher could do it, but when the ball was in the air he was starting to have his doubts.

"I thought he was going to throw it in the stands," Franks said. "It was up there for awhile and it finally came down I had to be careful not to run out of the end zone but we got it done. A.G. (Ahman Green) used to do it and he does it a little different than Tony but Tony did a good job out there."

So which running back throws a better ball? After two games and plenty of practices, the reviews are mixed.

Wide receiver Donald Driver said he thought Green was the better passer, but Fisher wasn't buying it.

"I think I can put it on a tighter rope and I probably have more of a touch than Ahman," Fisher said. "He might throw a tighter spiral, but it's one of those things that we had a little competition in practice and Coach Sherman has the confidence in me and Ahman to throw it.

"Before it was only Ahman getting those plays but I showed them in practice one time when Ahman was only allowed to do it. I just snuck in there, threw it and they went ahead and let me have a chance."

Now that Green and Fisher have added a touchdown pass to their resumes, not to mention two crucial wins, is it time for another backfield partner to throw his hat in the throwing rotation?

Driver thinks so.

"Right now we have to get Najeh (Davenport) a touchdown and it would mean all of our backs have thrown a touchdown," Driver said.

As long as the Packers continue to rack up touchdowns as well as wins, the running backs will no doubt lobby for the coaches to dial up the halfback pass. How often Sherman or Rossley go back to it is yet to be determined, but one thing is certain: you can't argue with the results.

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