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[Packers] Spotlight finally finds Longwell

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  • [Packers] Spotlight finally finds Longwell

    By Rob Demovsky
    PackersNews.com

    John Bonamego, the Green Bay Packers special teams coach, does the same thing every time he sends kicker Ryan Longwell into the game to attempt a field goal.

    No, he doesn’t cross his fingers, pray or go through any superstitious routine. None of that, Bonamego says, is necessary.

    “I walk to the other end of the sideline,” Bonamego said, “and get the kickoff team ready.”

    That’s how certain Bonamego is that Longwell will come through.

    What had been another solid yet quiet season for the eighth-year kicker has turned into a heroic one in the last two weeks, when Longwell has kicked game-winning, last-second field goals to keep the Packers in a share of the NFC North Division lead. In their history, the Packers have won 41 games on fourth-quarter or overtime field goals, but only one other time have they won games in consecutive weeks on last-minute kicks.

    Longwell, who booted a 33-yarder as time expired to beat Minnesota on Nov. 14, curled in a 46-yarder last Sunday night to beat Houston at the final gun to match Jan Stenerud’s back-to-back feat from Dec. 4 and Dec. 12, 1983.

    “To have one that ends a game in a season is even rare,” Longwell said. “But to go back-to-back, it’s very humbling.”

    What could have been a trying season for Longwell, who watched his best friend Josh Bidwell leave the Packers in the offseason and had to endure a midseason change in holders, instead might end up being his finest.

    Longwell never has made a Pro Bowl despite being one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL. He entered this season as the fifth-most accurate field-goal specialist in NFL history, having converted 82 percent of his kicks.

    This season, his only misses have been a 45-yarder that hit the right upright against Chicago in Week 2, a 52-yarder that hit the crossbar against Indianapolis in Week 3 and a 49-yarder that was wide right against the Texans.

    Packers coach Mike Sherman called Longwell “underrated,” and punter Bryan Barker, a 15-year NFL veteran, said Longwell is a “Pro Bowl-caliber” kicker.

    What might help Longwell in the Pro Bowl voting this season is that his game-winning kicks have come in high-profile games. The Vikings’ game was the 3:15 p.m. featured game on Fox. The Texans’ game was the Sunday night ESPN game. Longwell also made a 53-yard field goal on “Monday Night Football” against Tennessee on Oct. 11.

    “I think I’ve kicked the ball well enough to go to the Pro Bowl,” Longwell said. “I’d love to go there. It would be a dream of mine.”

    Though Longwell’s game-winning kicks have been called clutch by teammates, Barker said that word doesn’t do Longwell justice.

    “To say he went out and made an unbelievable kick, I don’t think that gives Ryan enough credit,” said Barker, who took over the holding duties in Week 5 after Doug Pederson got hurt. “He went out and made the kicks that he always makes.”

    What Barker means is that whether it’s an extra point in the first quarter or a game winner, Longwell approaches each kick the same way. Bonamego believes that’s what makes Longwell so consistent.

    “When you watch Ryan closely, all of his kicks look the same,” Bonamego said. “I don’t think it’s any accident that he’s a scratch golfer. The same type of mental discipline that’s required in golf is being consistent over a long time. You’ve got to take each individual shot and execute a smooth stroke with mechanical precision. It’s the same thing with a kicker.”

    Longwell, 30, believes he’s in the prime of his career.

    Whether that will be in Green Bay, however, is another matter. Longwell is under contract through next season. He is owed a $500,000 roster bonus in March and again is scheduled to earn a base salary of $1 million in 2005.

    He watched Bidwell leave for Tampa Bay after the Packers balked over an additional $100,000 in signing bonus money that Bidwell wanted. It’s unknown whether the Packers again will be willing to give Longwell a premium contract. By then, quarterback Brett Favre could be retired, and the team might have a hard-time paying a top-notch kicker that kind of money if it is in a rebuilding mode.

    Longwell said he thinks he can kick in the NFL for 10 more seasons, but he already is eyeing a post-football career in golf.

    Last offseason, he moved his family to the Orlando suburb of Windermere, Fla. He and his wife, Sarah, bought a home in the golf-course community of Isleworth, the same subdivision where Tiger Woods lives. The private golf course is two minutes from his front door.

    “I don’t know what (my golf aspirations) are, but I’d certainly like to give it a shot,” Longwell said. “All I mean by that is, I’d like to practice and play year-round just to see where I could get. If I get to where I’m shooting even par every time, then I know I’m just not good enough. But I if I can get to where I’m shooting 64 or 65, which I don’t know if I have in me, I’d like to give it a shot.”

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  • DJRamFan
    [Packers] Packers timing it just right
    by DJRamFan
    Green Bay has won five straight since it flopped in its last appearance on 'Monday Night Football'


    By Todd McMahon
    News-Chronicle
    There was a time, not long ago, when a general consensus had formed that the Green Bay Packers' time was all but up in the 2004 season.

    They left a national TV audience equal parts flabbergasted and appalled the evening of Oct. 11. The Tennessee Titans stormed Lambeau Field and battered the Packers into submission by way of a 48-27 defeat, the most points ever surrendered by the home team at its sacred stadium.

    Like that, the two-time reigning NFC North champions had sunk to the unfathomable low of being at the bottom of the division with a 1-4 record spun out of a four-game losing streak.

    That was the last time the Packers had a co-starring role on ABC's "Monday Night Football." My, how the times have changed in the seven weeks leading up to their return engagement - and there's more to it than the network's catching flak for one of its desperate housewives baring herself to Philadelphia star receiver Terrell Owens in a recent pregame locker-room spoof.

    At 8 tonight, the coast-to-coast TV audience will be introduced to a Green Bay team that has taken on a new, albeit familiar identity. All the Packers have been doing since bombing in their last "MNF" episode is win.

    They put a five-game winning streak on the line against St. Louis (5-5) at Lambeau Field. At stake for the 6-4 Packers is maintaining a hold on the NFC North lead, a concept that seemed a pipe dream in the wake of the debacle against the Titans.

    "We know how it feels to be 1-4. That feels pretty bad. We've been through that, and we don't want to go back there," said right guard Marco Rivera.

    No turning, or looking, back is precisely the outlook head coach Mike Sherman drilled into his players' heads Wednesday morning. It was his first meeting with the team since addressing it late last Sunday night, following its gritty 16-13 comeback win at Houston in another prime-time game.

    He paralleled what transpired in those four quarters to how the Packers' season has unfolded to date.

    A 13-3 deficit through a dismal three quarters mirrored their 1-4 start in the win-loss ledger. "In that game, things weren't looking very good," Sherman reflected.

    Lo and behold, the Packers caught fire in the final 15 minutes to score 13 unanswered points, pulling out the victory on Ryan Longwell's 46-yard field goal as time expired. A microcosm of how they've rallied in the past month and a half to string together the five wins.

    "The guys hung together throughout the game; they believed in themselves," Sherman continued with the analogy. "You're down 13-3 going into the fourth quarter, and guys battled back. I thought...
    -11-29-2004, 01:21 PM
  • ramsanddodgers
    .... and now, Don Majkowski
    by ramsanddodgers
    Don Majkowski Demands to be Reinstated as Packers Quarterback

    Former Green Bay Packers starting quarterback Don Majkowski has entered in a bitter dispute with his former organization, admitting he is “guilty of retiring too early” 12 years ago, while demanding he be reinstated as the team’s starter or given the opportunity to play elsewhere.

    “I was mentally drained after the 1996 season,” says Majkowski. “I couldn’t commit myself fully at that time to coming back, so I stepped away. That’s the kind of guy I am. I have to be able to promise that I’m going to give my all.”

    But before long, Majkowski started to have second thoughts.

    “I guess it was nine or 10 years later, I called up Packers GM Ted Thompson and told him I was thinking of coming back. That would have been 2005 or 2006, I guess,” said Majkowski. “But he just sighed and said it was too late. That the team had moved on to Brett Favre and had even drafted this Aaron Rodgers kid to follow in place of Favre. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t even open to considering my return after all I’ve done for the franchise.”



    Majkowski played six seasons in Green Bay from 1987 to 1992, earning the beloved nickname “Majik Man,” and leading the league in yards, completions and attempts in 1989, which earned him a Pro Bowl nod at age 25. He also was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.

    But despite all of that, not even two full decades after Majkowski left the team the Packers says they are committed to Rodgers. So the Majik Man felt he had to go public, share his side of the story and make his case to his dedicated fans in Green Bay.

    “Nothing against Aaron, I feel a little bit sorry for the position I have put him in,” says Majkowski, “I do. But I threw for 4,318 yards in 1989. That was only 19 years ago. Aaron has never accomplished anything like that at this level. This team can be something special and we need the veteran presence I can provide.”

    While the Packers insist they have no interest in brining Majkowski back, he says he may just show up at training camp later this month to call their “bluff.”

    “It’s going to be a circus there already as it is,” he said. “And if I show, do you really think they won’t hand the team back over to me? I am Don freaking Majkowski. There wasn’t a girl in all of Northern Wisconsin who wouldn’t remove her tight-rolled jeans for me back in the late ‘80s. I don’t think they can afford the negative fan reaction that would come from dumping me,” he added, pointing to fan protest outside Lambeau Field on Sunday that boasted numbers in the single digits, including his immediate family.

    And if showing up at Packers camp doesn’t work, Majkowski says he will show up at the camps of the other 31 NFL...
    -07-17-2008, 10:08 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Packers] Packers relish Rams' visit
    by DJRamFan
    By ARNIE STAPLETON
    AP Sports Writer
    GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Green Bay Packers finally have the St. Louis Rams right where they want them: at Lambeau Field, on grass, in freezing weather.

    Forgive Brett Favre if he's not jumping for joy.

    "Well, I would much rather play them here than at their place. We haven't had much success at their place, and there's no guarantee that we will here," Favre said. "I think it's going to be a very difficult game. Either way. Here or there."

    That might be, but he tied an NFL playoff record by throwing six interceptions at St. Louis 22 months ago, then broke his right thumb there last year.

    The desperate Rams (5-5), who have lost three of four games, face the surging Packers (6-4), winners of five straight, on Monday night in a crucial game for two teams hoping to display some playoff pedigree in the jumbled NFC.

    The Packers are banged up in both backfields, which might very well negate any home-field advantage _ something that sure was missing the last time they played at home on a Monday night, a 48-27 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 11.

    "We'd like to erase that memory with a special Monday night performance and get rid of some of those ghosts we have from earlier in the season," Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman said.

    The problems with the Rams go back to Jan. 20, 2002, when Favre threw those half-dozen interceptions in a 28-point playoff loss.

    In October 2003, Favre broke his right thumb in a loss at St. Louis. Because he decided to play the rest of the season with a splint instead of having season-ending surgery, he kept alive his consecutive starts streak, which will reach 200 in the regular season Monday night, 219 counting the playoffs.

    Few teams have had Favre's number like the Rams, who capitalized on 12 Packers turnovers to outscore Green Bay 79-41 in their last two meetings.

    So the Packers have been looking forward to this night ever since the schedule came out.

    "They're a different team, as everyone knows, indoors," safety Darren Sharper said. "The fact that we have them at home hopefully will play into our favor. But we're just happy to see them because they put a whooping on us last year and we'd like to get a little payback."

    Payback? Guard Mark Tauscher is thinking more along the lines of a setback.

    "You can't do anything about what happened last year, or the year before," he said. "But we can give them a big setback and knock them off here and really give ourselves a big boost because anytime you struggle against somebody and then you get over that hump, that's big emotionally."

    Just like back in the 1990s, when the Packers lost seven straight to the Dallas Cowboys, three times in the playoffs...
    -11-29-2004, 01:21 PM
  • DJRamFan
    200 next on Favre's iron-man streak
    by DJRamFan
    By Todd McMahon
    News-Chronicle
    One start a Hall of Fame legacy is not made. Yet, Brett Favre continues to mull all of these years later what might have been had he not gotten through that anxiety-filled first one.

    Head coach Mike Holmgren tabbed Favre as the Green Bay Packers' starting quarterback Sept. 27, 1992, against Pittsburgh at Lambeau Field.

    Seven days earlier, the 22-year-old Favre was summoned to relieve an injured Don Majkowski in the first quarter of a home game against Cincinnati. Favre rallied the Packers to a 24-23 victory, throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to Kitrick Taylor in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.

    With Majkowski still on the mend with a bum ankle, Favre was given his first shot in his second year as a pro to direct an offense from the outset of a game. The encore proved to be a smashing success, as Favre was an economical 14-of-19 passing for 210 yards and two touchdowns without an interception in a 17-3 win over the Steelers. The highlight was a 76-yard scoring strike to Sterling Sharpe.

    "I remember being extremely nervous and having a lot of uncertainty from my standpoint of, 'OK, what will happen? How will I play? Will we win this game? Things that really I couldn't control," Favre recalled this past week. "As I look back now, with so much experience under my belt, I think those were normal feelings. Now, I know what I can control and what I can't. That's as far as I go with it."

    Where the perpetually under-control Favre doesn't limit himself is how far he has been able to take what is shaping up to be one of the most hallowed achievements in sports, not just football.

    Having come a long way from that early-fall afternoon 12 years ago, Favre is set to make his 200th consecutive regular-season start Monday night, when the Packers host the St. Louis Rams.

    "Of all the awards that he's won and all the accomplishments that he's attained, I don't know if there's one he would be more proud of than the consecutive starts," said Mike Sherman, the Packers' head coach since 2000. "That embodies his character, and I think that's really what he's all about. I've never taken him for granted. I appreciate every day he's the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers."

    Technically, Favre reached the 200-start milestone for which he's garnered a lot of attention this week Nov. 16 last season at Tampa Bay. Counting playoff games, Favre has started 218 straight contests entering the game Monday.

    The league, however, doesn't combine regular-season and postseason time of service for statistical purposes.

    So, Favre will need to take the first snap in the Packers' initial series on offense against the Rams to become just the seventh player in recorded NFL history to start at least 200 consecutive games.

    Former...
    -11-29-2004, 01:22 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Packers] Offensive line shoots for big finish
    by DJRamFan
    It’s a long shot, but group could match Dolphins’ NFL record for fewest sacks

    By Pete Dougherty
    PackersNews.com

    The Green Bay Packers are protecting Brett Favre nearly as well as any team has protected its quarterback in NFL history.

    Favre has been sacked five times in 10 games this season, which is on pace for eight sacks for the year. The NFL record for fewest sacks allowed in a season is seven, set by the Dan Marino-led Miami Dolphins in 1988.

    With six games still to play, beginning Monday night against St. Louis, the Packers will need an extraordinary finish to tie the Dolphins’ record, let alone beat it.

    But they’ve had five sackless games already this season, so while breaking or even tying the record has to be considered a long shot, it’s also not out of reach.

    “If we give up less than eight sacks, it would be a pretty incredible feat,” said Mark Tauscher, the Packers’ right tackle. “I don’t think we’re going to sit here and dwell on it. The most important thing is to be effective moving the ball. But it’s something, if we can break it, we’d like to do it.”

    The five sacks in 10 games is barely one-fourth of the league average of 22.9, and only two other teams are in single digits for sacks allowed: Indianapolis (six) and Denver (seven).

    It’s also a continuation of the Packers’ excellent pass protection last season, when they set the team record for fewest sacks allowed in a 16-game season with 19.

    Perhaps most surprising is that the Packers are protecting Favre better than ever without starting center Mike Flanagan, who was lost for the season in Week 4 because of a patellar-tendon injury. Grey Ruegamer, a sixth-year pro with only three career starts coming into the season, has recovered from a shaky start in his first game against the New York Giants.

    All in all, things are going so well that some of the offensive linemen fear jinxing themselves.

    “Just talking about it makes me nervous,” guard Marco Rivera said.

    As in the running game, pass protection is very much a collective effort. Halfback Ahman Green, the NFL’s eighth-leading rusher, helps because opponents have to honor his play-action fakes. The running backs and fullbacks play an important role in protection, too, both in picking up blitzes and chip blocking before they go into their pass routes.

    Also, Favre has an excellent sense for pass rushers closing in, and though he’s not the scrambling threat he was several years ago, he’s still adept at avoiding rushers and making throws outside the pocket.

    Nevertheless, the offensive line is the key to pass protection, and the Packers’ line is peaking with the bulk of that group in its fourth season starting together. Coach Mike Sherman ensured that continuity by re-signing left tackle Chad Clifton as the protector of Favre’s...
    -11-28-2004, 05:37 PM
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