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Samkon Gado Runs With Opportunity


When opportunity knocks in the NFL, the old adage suggests that you do everything you can to take advantage of it or you may not last long.

If that theory holds true, Samkon Gado will undoubtedly be around for a long time.

The rookie running back stole the show in the Green Bay Packers 16-13 overtime win against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field Sunday night. Gado, who now has played in seven games in the NFL, has proven to be a quick runner and maybe an even quicker learner.

Gado finished with 171 yards on 29 carries, good enough for an impressive 5.9-yard per carry average. He also brought his team back to life in the second quarter when the Packers trailed 13-3. That's when the 5-10, 226 pound Gado hit the corner and turned on the jets down the right sideline for a 64-yard touchdown giving the Packers a much needed boost.

The big play was also significant on a personal level for Gado as it marked the team's longest rush of the season and served as his seventh touchdown of the season, moving Gado past Brent Fullwood and Gerry Ellis for the rookie record for touchdowns in Packers history.

The only problem Gado had on the big play was the celebration. He admitted that fatigue got the best of him in his attempt at a Lambeau Leap.

"That was more like a Lambeau skip," Gado said. "I was very tired."

Nonetheless, Gado had his best game as a Packer, and it obviously didn't go unnoticed by those around him, either.

"I thought he played a hell of a game," Brett Favre said. "When guys get an opportunity like Sam Gado, some take advantage of it, some don't. And I think he's making the most of his opportunity. He just had an outstanding game."

Right tackle Mark Tauscher, who played an instrumental role in creating running lanes for Gado, also was impressed.

"He ran pretty well from the get-go," Tauscher said. "He's got it going on right now. We're going to try and keep it moving and try to keep getting him yards."

Known for his quiet demeanor and his ability to remain humble throughout his success, teammates appreciate what kind of player and person Samkon Gado is.

"The guy deserves it," William Henderson explained. "I'm not considering Sam a rookie anymore because he came in like a determined older man. He's professional in his performance on and off the field. He's just solid in so many ways. He brings a lot to this locker room and I really appreciate having him here."

Tauscher also praised Gado's efforts.

"I think you can just see every game his confidence is growing and growing," Tauscher said. "He is a great guy and he works his tail off. He's been given an opportunity and he's run with it pretty well.

Gado, in his trademark style, however, shrugs off any notion that he's a great player at this stage of his career.

"I think it's too soon to say that, even if I have 100 yard games the rest of the season," Gado said. "I am not worried about being labeled as a legitimate NFL running back although I would like to be. I think in the end, I just want to get better."

And despite finishing with his third 100-yard effort of the season, Gado insists that he's had plenty of help from his teammates.

"It's obviously a team effort," Gado explained. "If you look at some of those runs, I wasn't even touched. It really is humbling to be a beneficiary of all their hard work."

Though Gado had a remarkable game running the football, one play that stood out after the game was one in which the Packers didn't gain a single yard.

Faced with a 1st and 10 on their own one-yard line, Green Bay was merely trying to get out of their own endzone with 7:07 left in the fourth quarter. Favre handed off to Gado, and the running back sensing that he was about to be stopped for a safety, shoved the ball forward out of the endzone.

The ruling initially was that the Lions stopped the Packers for a safety as Gado was ruled with intentional grounding. Mark Tauscher was also called for holding on the play. However, after discussing the situation further, officials ruled that Gado was not guilty of intentional grounding and Tauscher was out of the endzone when he committed the holding infraction.

Gado's pass was ruled incomplete and the safety was taken off the board. However, some players in the locker room, who hadn't had the benefit of seeing the replay, weren't exactly sure what to make of the ruling.

"It was confusing to be honest with you," Favre said.

"I don't know anything about it," Tauscher explained. "It's the rules. I'm sure if it wasn't judged properly, we would have had a safety and it would have been two points for them."

They sat down and I guess they got it right. I have no idea. I think you have to have a doctorate in something to get that right."

To no surprise, the Packers were relieved that the right call indeed was made.

"I appreciate the referee's interpretation of the play," Henderson said. "He (Gado) was in the pocket, he was behind the line of scrimmage, he did get the ball past the line of scrimmage and there was an eligible wide receiver there.

I appreciate the play. It gave us new life. It gave us the ability to go out there and close it. For once, the ball bounced our way and we'll take it."

The Packers were also glad to take the overtime win, one that was spearheaded by Gado and the offensive line according to Favre and Head Coach Mike Sherman.

"I think the biggest difference today is that we didn't have to rely on the pass as much because we ran the football well," Favre said. It enabled us to pick and choose some of our passes and not be as much of a gambling passing team. We ran the ball well enough."

"I think we're getting better," Sherman added. "Samkon has improved week by week by week. I think he's beginning to prove he's not a one-time wonder. I think he's seeing things better. It is a learning process.

Certainly he hasn't played a lot of football. I think he's improving, he's certainly not the finished product yet, but he made a statement today."

A statement in which Samkon Gado undoubtedly got everyone's attention.

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