In the Packers' final preseason contest, the game turned out to be a sidelight to the evening's "entertainment," courtesy of the weather. Thunder and lightning, shortly accompanied by pouring rain which sent most of the 69,000-plus fans scurrying for cover under the stands, subsequently prompted Referee Bill Carollo to suspend the game with 2:05 remaining in the second quarter, following communication with NFL Executive Vice President Roger Goodell, who was on the phone to NFL Observer Jerry Seeman in the press box periodically throughout the evening.
After numerous and continuing discussions about whether to resume the game and, if so, whether to shorten the third and fourth quarters, it was finally decided to resume on the basis of 2:05 remaining in the second period and play full, 15-minute quarters thereafter. And, finally, at 11:01, the game was resumed and those fans who remained - an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 - emerged from the concourses and returned to the stands.
Unfortunately for the Packers, who trailed 14-3 at the time the game was suspended, their fortunes did not improve after the game was resumed. They went scoreless the rest of the way while permitting the Titans to add a touchdown and a pair of field goals to their collection.
Without quarterback Brett Favre, running back Ahman Green and wide receiver Donald Driver, all held out of the game, the Packers were unable to muster a consistent or productive attack, being forced to punt on 7 of their first 9 possessions and 10 of 15 overall.
Their futility was mutely underscored by the statistics, which revealed Nick Luchey as the team's leading rusher with a scant 13 yards in 7 attempts, a 1.9-yard average, followed by Herbert "Whisper" Goodman, with 8 yards in 6 attempts, a 1.3 yard average.
Tony Fisher was the only substantial contributor to the offensive cause, snaring 6 passes for 64 yards, a 10.7-yard average. Like his fellow running backs, he also had trouble rushing the football, settling for 2 net yards in 3 attempts.
Overall, the Titans out-yarded the Packers, 395 to 248.
The game ended, mercifully, at 12:46 a.m.
GM/HEAD COACH MIKE SHERMAN'S POST-GAME COMMENTS:
(on the NFL's decision to finish the game) "As many times as I take all the information that is given and have to make a decision that has to be questioned by hundreds of people and some of them in this room, I am not going to question the NFL's decision to finish this game. I actually wanted to go out and finish the game. There was no danger on the field. The field was not sopping wet like our field in Canton was. The time delay was the only disadvantage that we had. There was no lightning when we went out there and I am glad we had the opportunity to finish the game. It gave me a further evaluation on players that I needed to have. I was actually considering bringing guys back for practice tomorrow just to get further evaluation. This was beneficial to me."
(on whether there were guys that benefited from finishing the game) "I would have to reserve judgment for the tape. I thought Antonio Chatman - and I can't guarantee anything at this point - but I thought he made good decisions catching the football, had a nice kickoff return, a nice catch that got us into the red zone that we did not convert into a touchdown...I thought he kind of jumped out there tonight. I thought a couple of the defensive lineman did some nice things at different times, but really I have to look at the tape and view it from that advantage point to be honest in my evaluation."
(on whether he was surprised they finished the game) "No, the longer we waited I knew we would go back on the field. You don't wait that long and then cancel the game. So I thought that they really had information from the weather service that would prove that we could finish this game. The field was dry enough, the grass held up nicely and there was no danger or risk other than the delay itself.
"I agree with what was decided tonight."
(on how he kept guys occupied) "Well they occupy themselves by sitting around and talking, but we did meet with them and went over some scheme issues from the first half that needed to be addressed. We stretched inside and did our work inside so when we came out onto the field we were ready to go."
(on keeping Brett Favre out) "I decided that last night and it was strictly for injury purposes. Brett had the opening drive last week. This preseason he has had 90-some plays and last preseason he had 82 plays. He was ahead of the numbers and the last time he was on the field he drove us seven plays, 76 yards for a touchdown. To put him out there for a series or two I didn't think the risk was worth the reward. Same thing with Ahman Green, he has had more touches this preseason...he has practiced more. He is as good as I have ever seen him. I didn't see a reason to put him out there and plus, I wanted to look at those other backs. I got to look at Lamar Smith, Luchey at fullback, Fisher, and Herbert Goodman."
(on injuries from the game) "Ford had the MCL, Paris Lenon had a shoulder stinger I believe, nothing significant, and I do not know about the lengths on those injuries."
THE PLAYER PERSPECTIVE:
Quarterback Doug Pederson: (on suspended game) "It was pretty crazy to have two preseason games have weather issues. In my 13 years in the league, this is the first time I've seen anything happen like this."
(on preseason overall) "We had the weather games and the power outage and some weird things happen. You just don't get that in a normal preseason and it makes you stronger as a football team when you can overcome those things. You're going to have some bumps even in the regular season, so I think this was a good test for us. We got the preseason out of the way and now we have to get focused on what we have to do. We're looking forward to next week (against Minnesota)."
Defensive End Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila: (on playing in rainy conditions) "It's fun to play in these conditions. When you think of the old-time football games, this is what you think of - playing in the rain or the snow. So it's cool to play out here."
(on the defense's play heading into the regular season) "I think we're playing good. We have a lot to build on from the preseason. We're playing well, but we have to continue to get better as the weeks go on."
(on being double-teamed) "It doesn't affect my game. I try to be a team player and when I'm getting double-teamed, that means someone else is opening up, it means the coach can find ways to get others involved. Eventually, if they keep double-teaming me, something else is bound to open up. For me, it just means I have to get better at beating two people."
Running back Lamar Smith: (on returning to play after injury) "It felt pretty good. When I first went in, I was a little nervous because I hadn't been hit in over a month. Once I took that first hit, I was fine. It's just like riding a bike: you never forget."
(on suspended play) "I've never seen anything like this with the delay. I've never been involved in a delayed game. I don't think we lost focus. I just don't think we played well."
Defensive End Chukie Nwokorie: (on his individual performance) "I just came out to do what I was supposed to do. The game was unorthodox, but I knew I just needed to go out there and do what I had to do."
Defensive tackle Aaron Kampman: (on preseason/start of regular season) "We've definitely had a wacked-out preseason, but all that is behind us now. We're totally concentrating on Minnesota and we'll prepare accordingly."
Running back Tony Fisher: (on getting back into game shape) "Physically, I was a little winded. I still have some more to go, but I think I took a step in the right direction."
(on mental effects of delay) "We've got to go out there and play. Once it was time to go back out there, we had to go out and do our jobs."
Running back Ahman Green: (on suspended game/preseason) "I've never seen a preseason like this in high school, college or as a professional. It will create a very distinct memory that I can talk to kids, my grandkids and their kids about. When it's all said and done, there's a lot to remember about this season so far."
Safety Antuan Edwards: (on starting role) "I'm ready to go. Preseason is over with. The real deal starts next and I'm ready to rock."
(on Minnesota opener) "It's always a great game when the two teams get together. It's going to be a big fight. They have Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper and other guys who we're used to see playing, so we'll be ready and we're very excited."
-By closing out with a 2-3 mark, the Packers posted a losing preseason record for the first time since 1998, a year in which they went on to register an 11-5 regular season record.
-Predictably, Ahman Green was the Packers' preseason rushing leader - with 142 yards in 26 attempts, a 5.5-yard average.
-Surprisingly, in contrast, running back Herbert "Whisper" Goodman captured pass receiving honors with 11 catches for 100 yards, a 9.1-yard average. Goodman also emerged as the team's No. 2 rusher with 98 yards in 32 carries, a 3.1-yard average, closely followed by Najeh Davenport with 95 yards in 29 attempts, a 3.3 average.
-Quarterback Brett Favre, his efforts confined to 91 plays over the 5-game span, weighed in with a modest 67.9 passer rating, completing 35 of 56 passing attempts for 304 yards and 1 touchdown.
-Linebacker Torrance Marshall paced the defensive unit, posting 31 tackles, 24 of them solo, over the 5-game preseason schedule. He will be unavailable for the first four games of the regular season while he sits out a 4-game substance abuse suspension.
-Fellow linebackers Nick Barnett and Marcus Wilkins tied for runner-up honors, each registering 26 tackles.
-Wilkins also led the Green and Gold in both sacks (3.0) and special teams tackles (7) over the preseason route.
-Rookie Antonio Chatman annexed return honors, averaging 25.0 yards for 12 kickoff runbacks and 8.3 yards for 4 punt returns.
-Chatman's production included a 47-yard kickoff return - the Packers' longest of the preseason, which came shortly before the preseason finale was suspended because of the weather's pyrotechnics.
-Placekicker Ryan Longwell was the team's scoring leader with 21 points, making all of his 4 field goal and 9 conversion attempts.
-Safety Marques Anderson ended a major Titan threat in the second quarter. With Tennessee in first-and-goal position at the Green Bay 9-yard line, Anderson intercepted a deflected Billy Volek pass at the goal line and returned it to the 4.
-Fullback William Henderson, center Frank Winters, defensive end Joe Johnson, cornerback Mike McKenzie and placekicker Ryan Longwell were Packers captains for the Titans contest.
-Ten Packers did not dress for Thursday night's game, the list including guard Marco Rivera (knee), safety Darren Sharper (groin), nose tackle Gilbert Brown (biceps), wide receiver Jörg Heckenbach (kidneys), running back Najeh Davenport (hamstring), running back Adam Tate (knee), linebacker Na'il Diggs (shoulder) and safety Bobby Jackson (knee) cornerback Chris Johnson (knee), defensive end Jermaine Petty (knee).