As he viewed ape a week before Green Bay's Oct. 27 showdown with New England, Packers coach mike Holmgren vas enormously impressed with the Patriots' effectiveness when they stunted and blitzed. If he quickened the pace, Holmgren figured, he would make it harder for the Patriots to mix up their defense and pin their ears back against his battered line.
Holmgren has always thought the no-huddle was gimmicky, and he doesn't like turning the play-calling over to his quarterback, which the scheme requires. But he figured this was the ideal team to run it against. His staff liked the idea, and quarterback Brett Favre was thrilled. "I love having total control," he said. "What quarterback wouldn't?"
Holmgren installed 12 no-huddle plays—seven passes, five runs—in the days leading up to the game. A code word was established for each play, making it easy for Favre to make the call at the line of scrimmage. How did the system work? Beautifully. Green Bay used it on 20 of its 74 plays, including on every snap of a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the first half of a 28-10 win. "You could see it was the last thing in the world they expected from us, plus they were sucking wind," Favre said. "But we won't have that advantage anymore. Now everybody knows we might use it."
Running the no-huddle on every down, an offense Sam Wyche and the Bengals brought into the league a decade ago, all but disappeared from the NFL landscape last year after it was abandoned by the Bills, the last team to use it regularly. "We'll never be Buffalo," Holmgren said last Saturday, watching his team go through its final paces before facing the Lions. "But I really liked how it worked against New England, and we're expanding it this week. We could use it a lot one week, then not at all."
Sure enough, during a 20-10 win over the Lions on Sunday night, Green Bay ran only one play out of the no-huddle, a Favre incompletion.