The Green Bay Packers have found themselves a feature back. And because of it they are going to be a force that will have to be dealt with in the playoffs. Led by Ryan Grant, who was a castoff in a trade with the Giants before the start of the season, the Packers clinched a playoff birth with the clinching of the NFC North on Sunday with a 38-7 pounding of the Oakland Raiders in chilly Green Bay. Grant led the way with a career-high 156 yards on a day when the passing game was not as critical to the Packers game plan.
Grant now has four 100-yard plus rushing days in 2007, not bad for a guy that was not even the starter when the season kicked off. “I can’t say enough about Ryan Grant,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think he’s really coming into his own.” The back ran through Raiders all day long, breaking tackles and making 2-3 yard gains into 10-12 yard gains. “I don’t think the cold didn’t tackle today,” Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said. “I don’t think the cold threw incompletions today. I don’t think the cold had nine penalties. We did.”
The Pack was also helped by other Raiders mistakes, like bad coverage on a punt return by Will Blackmon that made it 14-0. Blackmon was not done, as later on he recovered a Tim Dwight fumble on a punt return in the end zone that made it 31-7 late in the third quarter. The Raiders made a game of it for awhile, with Josh McCown hitting Jerry Porter right before the half with a 25-yard score to make it 14-7. The Raiders though were chilled in the second half, being outplayed and outscored 24-0 in the final 30 minutes.
Brett Favre was 15-for-23 for 266 yards with two TD’s and one INT. His big play game at the 9:11 mark of the third, when he hit Greg Jennings on an 80-yard score on a ball that seemed to hang forever. Jennings made a great catch over a defender, and went the final 30 or so yards for the easy score to make it 24-7.
McCown hung around for as long as he could as the Pack defense was bearing down on him at every turn. He went 7-for-15 for 110 yards with one score and two picks. Andrew Walter came in relief and went 5-for-8 for 38 yards. Justin Fargas also suffered bruised ribs, but before leaving had 15 carries for 57 yards. It was a long, cold day for a Raiders team that had won two straight. Today they seemed more like the team that had lost six in a row at one point.
The Packers will take their NFC North title show on the road next week when they travel to St.Louis to take on the Rams. The Raiders will be at home for a huge test as they host the champion Indy Colts.