Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Packers seek more strong blocking vs. Giants
By Rob Demovsky
January 14, 2008
Even Green Bay offensive coordinator Joe Philbin wouldn’t sugarcoat the way his offensive line run blocked in the Packers' Week 2 win over the New York Giants.
What was one of the biggest question marks for most of the season turned into one of the dominant units in the 42-20 rout of the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday in the NFC divisional playoff round.
Behind an offensive line that had been in flux at the guard positions all season, first-year running back Ryan Grant ran for a team playoff-record 201 yards and scored three touchdowns, even after fumbling twice on his first three touches against the Seahawks.
Highlighted by a near-flawless individual performance by right tackle Mark Tauscher, who essentially shut down Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney, it was perhaps the best collective performance by the Packers’ offensive line all season.
“I would say it was one of the best (performances) of the season,” Packers offensive line coach James Campen said. “Definitely one of the best.”
With little or no help, Tauscher all but dominated Kerney. Much of the focus last week was on that matchup, especially after Kerney had a field day in the Seahawks’ wild-card win against Washington. Kerney had 14½ sacks in the regular season but never got close to Favre.
“I don’t know about perfect, but Mark played an exceptional game,” Philbin said. “There was a lot of hype, a lot of talk about the matchup he was up against, but Mark’s a professional, a consummate team guy, and I thought he did his job very well.”
For Tauscher and left tackle Chad Clifton, the assignment only gets tougher against the Giants, whose defensive end combination of Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora combined for 22 sacks during the regular season. Neither got to Favre in the Packers’ 35-13 win at Giants Stadium on Sept. 16, but Strahan was just rounding into shape, because he skipped training camp while deciding whether to play this season. Tauscher likely will face Strahan, who typically plays the left defensive end spot.
“He consistently matches up well against the better defensive ends in the league,” Campen said of Tauscher. “To limit Kerney to no tackles, no sacks and no pressures – and Kerney’s a fine football player – for what we asked him to do schematically in that game, he did an outstanding job.