Eight turnovers doom Packers against high-flying RamsPosted: Sunday January 20, 2002 7:54 PM
Updated: Sunday January 20, 2002 9:47 PM
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Green Bay Packers were beaten by a potent offense and a great quarterback -- their own.
The Packers committed eight turnovers in their worst postseason beating ever.
"If you have eight, nine turnovers, it's hard to beat anybody," wide receiver Antonio Freeman said. "It's hard to beat a Pop Warner football team, let along the St. Louis Rams."
Favre never shied away from throwing against a defense that kept deflecting and robbing everything he put up.
"I could have thrown eight had we gotten the ball back," Favre said. "But I was going to keep chucking it."
The Rams got takeaways on three of Green Bay's first four possessions and used two more turnovers early in the third quarter to turn a 24-10 halftime lead into a four-touchdown cushion.
Cornerback Aeneas Williams, who will join Favre in the Pro Bowl, became the first player to return two interceptions for touchdowns in a playoff game. Favre tied a postseason record, held by three others, for most interceptions in a game.
It all began to unravel for Green Bay when wide receiver Bill Schroeder kept sprinting down the sideline instead of cutting off his route for a quick hitch and Williams had a 29-yard interception return for the game's first points.
"It was just a miscommunication," Schroeder said.
"But I'm the one pulling the trigger," Favre insisted.
Head coach Mike Sherman said he'll accept the blame for that interception and all the others, too.
"Every one of them was my fault," he said. "Put them on me."
That's when Packers defensive coordinator Ed Donatell unveiled his "dollar" defense, with seven defensive backs and four down linemen. It produced a sack, a deflection at the line and an interception by Darren Sharper.
But after the teams exchanged touchdowns, Favre threw his second interception, and safety Kim Herring returned it 35 yards to the Packers' 4, setting up yet another score that made it 21-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, Rossum found a seam and was off to the end zone, but Marshall's hold erased the score and any hope the Packers had of keeping up.
On the Packers' first possession of the second half, Freeman was stripped by Williams after a third-down catch, and Marshall Faulk's 7-yard TD made it 31-10.
Linebacker Tommy Polley returned an interception for a touchdown after Grant Winstrom deflected Favre's pass, making it 38-10 with 8:12 left in the third quarter.
Both of Favre's final two pickoffs went off Green's hands.
Polley picked off one and Williams returned the other 32 yards for a TD and a 45-10 lead with 7:50 left. Dexter McCleon intercepted Favre in the closing minutes.
"I don't know if it was so much their pass rush as it was their hands," Favre said. "I think we all saw the tipped balls. They did create some problems, but it's not the worst pass rush I've ever seen. It's the most tipped balls I've ever seen."
What made it even more amazing was that Favre threw just three interceptions in the last eight games.
"Today wasn't one of his best days," Sherman said. "It wasn't one of our best days, either."
The Packers took solace in at least making the playoffs after a three-year absence.
"If we had fumbled and stumbled previous to this point, we wouldn't be here," Sherman said.
Favre promised he will never look back.
"People on the plane will say if we would have done this or we wouldn't have done that," Favre said. "Like I always say, if a chicken had lips, he could whistle."