Run Game Finds Success Early Before Sputtering

Averaging only 54.3 yards a game on the ground, the Packers were ranked dead last in the NFL. However, in a 121-yard effort, the Packers not only found a better gear but also a lot of open road. Well, at least early on. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Bears Game Center


Entering Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, the Packers' ground game wasn't stuck in first gear.

It was more like locked in park.

Averaging only 54.3 yards a game on the ground, the Packers were ranked dead last in the National Football League. However, in a 121-yard effort, the Packers not only found a better gear but also a lot of open road.

Well, at least early on.

To put the first-half dominance in perspective, consider that it took rookie DeShawn Wynn, who was starting for the second consecutive week, only four plays to reach 59 yards in the first quarter. And though Wynn left the for the rest of the first half with cramps after those four carries, running mate Vernand Morency more than picked up the slack, rushing for 43 yards on nine carries.

At halftime, the Packers had already rushed for 102 yards, which surpassed the previous season high game total of 83 yards against the Giants.

According to Wynn, it was just a matter of time before the running game got untracked for the Packers.

"I think we haven't come together the last four games like we did tonight," Wynn said. "The O-line did a good job opening holes up and Korey Hall did a good job blocking linebackers, especially (Brian) Urlacher. There were just a lot of good creases in there."

Unfortunately, however, for the Packers, they stumbled in the second half en route to a loss versus the Bears, but if there is any consolation, it's that the running game can and will exist for the Packers in the long haul. Now, it's just a matter of establishing it on a consistent basis.

"I wouldn't say it was a statement because we didn't win the game, but it was definitely good to see us run the ball like that being the fifth game and something we need to do to take the pressure off of Brett," Wynn explained. "Hopefully we can keep going from here and have a good mix throughout the season."

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the rushing success was the fact that Green Bay set the tone early with Wynn's two long runs, which put the Packers at the Bears 8-yard line with a first-and-goal. From there, Head Coach Mike McCarthy opted for three consecutive running plays, which paid off with Wynn's 2-yard touchdown burst on third down to put the Packers on top 7-0.

This success was in no small part due to the strong play of the offensive line, which had been doing a commendable job early in the season with pass blocking, but on the flip side could never get in a rhythm rushing the football.

Right tackle Mark Tauscher was pleased with the first half rushing results, but admitted the rushing attack could have fared much better overall.

"We tried to run the ball and we had some success in the beginning of the game, but they were doing some different things and we weren't able to take advantage of it (in the second half)," Tauscher explained.

"It would have been nice if we would have continued to do it and kept executing at that level because we were running the ball well. But again, you give them credit. They did what they needed to do to win and that's a sign of a good football team."

{sportsad300}McCarthy also admitted that the rushing game was rather bittersweet from his perspective as well. After the 102-yard first half, the ground game gained just 19 yards on nine carries after intermission.

"I'm disappointed with the way we ran the ball in the second half, especially with the way we ran the ball in the first half," McCarthy said. "I thought our first half tempo was excellent.

"Their run defense was better than our run offense in the second half. It was a big part of their success because we didn't move the ball very well."

Still, although there probably aren't any moral victories with every game being so critical in the NFL these days, at least the Packers demonstrated an ability to move the ball and establish the run more effectively than they previously had done all of the 2007 season.

Now they just need to keep enough gas in the tank to make it last the whole game.

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