THE WEEK PAST: Virtually all of the fireworks in the Packers' preseason finale against the Tennessee Titans occurred during the fourth quarter - which produced four of the game's five touchdowns.
And, in Green Bay's case, with rookie quarterback Craig Nall presiding over the offense. Nall, entering the game with the Packers trailing, 7-6, engineered 46 and 82-yard drives that eventually pulled out a 21-20 win over the Titans in what had been a tightfisted defensive struggle for the first three quarters.
Rookie defensive back Marques Anderson provided the Packers' initial impetus, recovering a fumble by Titans quarterback Neil O'Donnell at the Tennessee 46-yard line in the final minute of the third quarter.
Five plays later, Nall found wide receiver Charles Lee with a 16-yard touchdown pass with only 48 seconds gone in the fourth quarter. Sherman then elected to essay a 2-point conversion and it proved the "right" call, Nall hitting wideout Robert Ferguson in the end zone to send the Packers up, 14-7.
The latter proved to be a short-lived lead, the Titans retaliating with a 71-yard scoring drive of their own to square matters. Tennessee quarterback Billy Volek fired a 14-yard strike to running back Robert Holcombe, who fumbled at the Green Bay 1-yard line when jolted by a Rob Holmberg tackle. Titans wideout Justin McCareins subsequently fell upon the loose ball in the end zone for the touchdown. Joe Nedney's conversion made it 14-all.
The Titans were not so fortunate with another fumble on their next possession. Holcombe lost the leather when hit by defensive end Jamal Reynolds and Packers rookie John Gilmore re-covered at the Green Bay 18-yard line.
Nall proceeded to take full advantage of the opportunity, launching an 82-yard drive with a 44-yard strike to standout rookie Javon Walker out of the shotgun, a maneuver which carried to the Titans' 38-yard line.
Five plays later, Nall worked another productive collaboration with Lee, hitting the third-year pro with a 25-yard throw for the score. Ryan Longwell's conversion provided the Packers with their 21st and final point of the evening.
Again, the Titans were not disposed to concede. With Volek still at the controls, they staged a 64-yard march to the Green Bay 2-yard line, where a stout goal line stand forced the visitors to go empty-handed when Volek's fourth-down pass into the end zone fell incomplete with 1:17 left in the game.
The Titans were not finished, however. Taking over at the Green Bay 36-yard line with 52 seconds left, following 32-yard Josh Bidwell punt, they were given a glittering opportunity when a roughing-the-passer penalty on Rod Walker provided them with a first down at the Green Bay 13-yard line. Volek found wide receiver Eddie Berlin for the score on the next play.
Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher, making an "all-or-nothing" decision, called for a 2-point conversion attempt and Volek's pass was incomplete, sealing a 21-20 Green Bay victory with 4 seconds left.
The Packers closed out the evening with 346 net yards, to 289 for the Titans. Only 46 of Green Bay's came on the ground, however, and just 4 of them in the first half as Tennessee's defense focused on stopping the run. The Packers defense was similarly effective, particularly in the early going, holding the Titans to 29 yards rushing in the first half.
Individually, Nall had an impressive outing, completing 12 of 19 passes for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns - without an interception.
Running back Ahman Green had an unrewarding preseason finale, having to settle for a minus-1yard in 9 rushing attempts - a result of the Titans' major commitment to stuffing the Packers' running game - essentially No. 30.
GM/HEAD COACH MIKE SHERMAN'S POST-GAME COMMENTS:
(overall) "I think we've made progress and I think we'll continue to get better as a football team. We have a young group of players on offense we need to mesh. It's a little harder to do that than on defense, and we're not quite there yet.
"I was real impressed with Brett Favre. It doesn't look great on the stats but we had two drops, two big plays, that were drops. I thought he put the ball on the money just about every time."
(on the defensive performance) "Our first-team defense and our second-team defense played extremely well. Our second team defense was going against a lot of their starters, and I thought they held their own pretty much."
(on the running game) "I was disappointed that we didn't run the football more effectively. Part of that had to do with the fact that they were committed to having eight guys around the line of scrimmage and stopping the run, making us throw the football."
(on Brett Favre's game) "I thought Brett Favre had an outstanding day. We dropped two passes on him, but he was very efficient. I was really impressed with (him.) I thought he put the ball on the money every single time, I was really impressed."
(on kickoff coverage) "I was very frustrated with the kickoff return for a touchdown for a second week in a row. It was not our starting kickoff team, but still, you would hope that, especially after last week, you would have that fixed regardless of who was out there. (It's corrected with) personnel."
(on Craig Nall's game) "I thought Craig Nall stepped up. I thought he did a marvelous job, he was very efficient, had a couple blocked at the line of scrimmage, had a drop, threw one out of bounds, but I thought he played extremely well."
(on Terry Glenn's debut) "I think Terry Glenn wanted to see Terry Glenn. I think he wanted to prove (himself) to his teammates more than anybody. I have a lot of confidence in Terry's ability but I think he wanted to demonstrate that he could do some things, and he did. Other than his dropped catch on the sidelines that he should've caught, I thought he made a huge play beating a guy underneath in the seam down in the red zone. So, I thought he did a nice job."
THE PLAYER PERSPECTIVE:
Wide Receiver Terry Glenn: (on his Packers debut) "It felt pretty good. It's always good to get out there and get a couple practice plays in, a couple catches, get a couple hits, you know, get knocked around a little bit. It was great to make a catch from a Hall of Famer and have the fans behind me like they were, it was really pleasing."
(on his sore knee) "I took a few shots on it; I really felt it was a test for me to see where I was at. I felt great. I'm ready to go. I could've played the full game tonight, but it felt good to only play the first half. By next week, I'll be ready to play the whole game."
Quarterback Craig Nall: (on regaining confidence) "I've really got to credit Coach (Darrell) Bevell. He stuck with me, really preaching confidence. They knew I could play and I know I can play. It's just a matter of getting out there and doing it. Some of the other guys like Nate Wayne and Darren Sharper have talked to me on the sidelines, you know, 'You go out there and do it. Complete some balls. We know you can play.' So I really have to thank those people."
(on how the team looks going into the season opener) "We looked real good. There were of course a ton of things that we could do better, but overall we looked good. There were a couple things that shouldn't have happened, but you never really know until week one hits. I'd say overall, we did our jobs well tonight."
Safety Marques Anderson: (on his big game) "I was real excited to get out there and get a chance to play. Last week I got my feet wet, but today I made it a valued point to actually make some plays. The sack was big, and on the fumble recovery I didn't think anybody touched me so I got up to make an even bigger play, but they blew the whistle. It feels good to be done with my first training camp, hopefully there's many more to come."
Running Back Rondell Mealey: (on his second half performance) "It was nice for us to have some holes. It got kind of rough through the first half with those eight-man fronts they were throwing at us, I just made sure I was able to hit the holes when they opened up. We knew it was going to be hard to run against these guys, but it was just a matter of time before we found some holes. I've been going out there and trying to play my hardest every chance I get."
-Mike Sherman, who remained undefeated at home in the preseason (6-0) for his three-year tenure as Green Bay's head coach following the 21-20 defeat of Tennessee, posted his best preseason record to date with a 3-1 mark and now is 7-5 overall.
-Individually, second-year linebacker Torrance Marshall, rookie wide receiver Javon Walker and running back Tony Fisher, a first-year free agent, made impressive "statements' with their preseason performances.
-Marshall cut an imposing swath on both defense and special teams, leading the club in tackles in both categories. He paced the defense with 22 tackles, 16 of them unassisted, while also posting one interception, 2 passes defensed, a fumble recovery and a half-sack.
The 25-year-old University of Oklahoma alumnus also led Packers kamikazes with 6 tackles, including 3 solos.
-Walker, meanwhile, closed out the preseason as the team's leading receiver with 11 catches for 189 yards - including a team preseason "long" of 44 yards - and a substantial 17.2-yard average.
-Fisher, a 6-1, 222-pound free agent out of Notre Dame, edged third-year pro Rondell Mealey for the team's preseason rushing honors with 121 yards in 26 carries and a 4.7-yard average, the latter also club best for running backs.
-Mealey was close behind with 118 yards in 31 carries, a 3.8 average.
-Statistically, all three quarterbacks employed closed out the preseason with almost identical yardage totals. Starter Brett Favre posted 298 yards with 30 completions in 51 attempts, rookie Craig Nall of Northwestern (La.) State 290 with a 20-for-45 performance and Doug Pederson 289 yards with a 25-for-41 record.
-Placekicker Ryan Longwell, as per custom, was the team's leading preseason scorer with a perfect record across the board, making all 8 extra points and 8 field goals he attempted to finish with 32 points.
-Quarterback Craig Nall, getting off to a salutary start en route to his best performance of the preseason, completed his first four passes against the Titans upon entering the game early in the third quarter.
-Seven Packers sat out the preseason finale against the Titans. They included center Mike Flanagan (thumb), running back Herbert "Whisper" Goodman (knee), offensive tackle Earl Dotson (knee), kick returner Darrien Gordon (hamstring), cornerback Tod McBride (hamstring) and cornerback Hurley Tarver (hamstring).
-Friday night's victory over Tennessee was the Packers' 26th success in the 53-year history of their Midwest Shrine series, launched in 1950. The overall record: 26-24-3.
-With the Packers' contribution from the proceeds of Friday night's game, the series has raised more than $2,750,000 for the Shrine's burn centers and hospitals for crippled children.
-Frank Winters (offense), Hardy Nickerson (defense) and Rob Davis (special teams) were Packers game captains for the fourth straight preseason week.
-Another Hutson?: Marc Lillibridge, Packers pro personnel assistant, and his wife, Lora, were committed to endowing their new son and first offspring with a great football name. Hence, when he arrived last Wednesday (August 28), they named him "Hutson Steven Lillibridge" in honor of the legendary Don Hutson.
"We looked through the Hall of Fame book for names," Lillibridge explained, "and we decided to name him Hutson because Don Hutson was the greatest receiver of all time and it is a very unique name."
For the record, Hutson Steven, 20 inches long at birth, weighed in at 7 pounds even.