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Sunday's Rushing Attack One To Remember


Jeff Jagodzinski doesn't remember the "Snow Bowl" game the Packers played on Dec. 1, 1985 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which before Sunday was the last time Green Bay had two running backs go over the 100-yard mark.

But you can be certain that the Packers offensive coordinator won't forget Sunday's rushing effort anytime soon.

Considering the fact that Ahman Green had 21 carries for 106 yards and Vernand Morency finished with 101 yards on just 11 attempts, it would also be surprising if anyone on the team didn't keep Sunday's 31-14 win over the Cardinals in the memory banks for quite some time.

Jagodzinski, the Packers offensive coordinator, was in his first season of coaching football as a running backs coach at UW-Whitewater while Green was 8 years old and Morency was only 5 when Gerry Ellis (101) and Eddie Lee Ivery (109) accomplished the feat 21 years ago.

According to Jagodzinski, Sunday's performance was one both the coaching staff and players have been focusing on since the mini-camps in May. He knew it was just a matter of time before the zone-blocking scheme would yield the results they were looking for.

"The guys executed and they did what they were coached to do," Jagodzinski said. "It's all about execution. And we practiced the five-man line all week. We knew when they were coming in. We told them to make sure they're paying attention because it may be checked (at the line)."

The five-man line Jagodzinski made reference to is somewhat of a unique one in the NFL. Whereas many teams line up in a 4-3 front or even a 3-4 defense, the five-man line was something the Cardinals showed on film they would employ from time to time. And it's crystal clear the Packers were prepared for it as they racked up 203 total yards on the ground.

"It's definitely rewarding considering where we were at the beginning of the year," center Scott Wells said. "We took some strides from the Miami game. Getting over 150 (yards) in that game was huge. So we were able to build on that and get over 200 this week.

"Hopefully we'll continue to build on that and go up in our rushing attack."

Besides preparation, Wells said that every bit of added experience helps, especially for a line that starts two rookies in guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz and at times has made use of rookie Tony Moll as well. Getting used to each other's tendencies and developing chemistry has also been crucial according to Wells.

"The more time you spend on it each day, the better you get at it," he said. "To be able to continue to rep it, get the same guys in there that are working on it everyday helps. To build on last week -- we left some yards on the field last week -- we made some corrections, netted more yards, and were more successful with the running game this week."

Perhaps more telling than anything is the fact that both Wells and many of his linemates, including left tackle Chad Clifton, said they believe that the line can get even better.

It's that type of attitude that has allowed for Wells, Clifton, and Mark Tauscher to lead the youngsters of Colledge, Spitz, and Moll. And it's also the mindset that the Packers will continue to have in all areas, not just the offensive line.

"We've by no means arrived," Clifton said. "But we're making strides in the right direction. We realize that each week we need to go out there and improve and continue to get better.

"We had a good day today, I'm sure we'll be able to go back and look at film and find some things that we could have done better. That's what it's all about. We just have to continue to improve weekly."

Green and Morency certainly weren't complaining about the holes in front of them. And Green noted that the offense as a whole did a great job, not just the running backs and the offensive line.

"These guys have been working hard from day one in the mini-camps and it's starting to show," Green said. "Give all the credit to the O-linemen, tight ends and the receivers blocking downfield opening up the holes and getting us to the second level against the DBs."

The irony to all of this is that Jagodzinski said the Packers ran only three rushing plays on the day. Of course, they came out of different formations and with different personnel at times, but it was just a matter of making sure every man knew his assignment and executed it because that would make things click for the whole team.

"I think a good running game helps everybody," Jagodzinski said. "It helps your defense, it helps your offense, it helps your passing game, play action. You have to be able to run the ball in this league. I'm happy we're starting to see more production there."

Another key to this production is having a one-two punch in Green and Morency. While some running backs prefer to dominate all of the carries, Green, who is coming of a ruptured right quadriceps from a season ago, admitted that he likes having Morency take some of the load off.

"I've always said if I was a coach at any level of football, I'm going to have two starting running backs that can get the job done," Green said. "Especially with me and Vernand back there, and Noah (Herron) too, that's a good thing."

Green moved ahead of Paul Hornung for second place on the team's all-time list of rushing touchdowns with his 51st in a Packers uniform, and also rushed for multiple scores for the first time since doing so against the Washington Redskins in 2002.

The ninth-year pro admits that although he may not be as quick as he used to be, he's still plenty fast and he still likes to mix it up with linebackers and cornerbacks. He acknowledged that getting healthy as well as becoming acclimated with his offensive line have allowed him to achieve such success lately.

"It's a little bit of both," Green said. "I'm getting comfortable with them. My body is adjusting now, getting back out there and building up my endurance for everything. Once we get in the stretch run toward the end of the season, my team is going to need me along with everybody else offensively.

"When we get the running game going here, it's something dangerous with a quarterback like Brett. They have to prepare for both of us, the run and the pass."

Certainly the running game has also been boosted with the addition of Morency, who came over from Houston on Sept. 13 in a trade for Samkon Gado. The speedster has been the 'ying' to Green's 'yang,' starting when he has to or just giving Green the break he needed in times like today.

"With 11 carries and over 100 yards, that's a hell of a day," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's getting more comfortable and we're really glad he's here. He's been outstanding on special teams and he's been an excellent addition to our football team."

Jagodzinski echoed those sentiments.

"Mo has done a nice job," Jagodzinski said. "He fits with what we're doing. What a great change-of-pace guy."

While they may not remember the game of 21 years ago against the Buccaneers, you can bet that the Packers won't forget the outstanding rushing attack that mirrored it on Sunday.

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