By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 24, 2002
Stopping Green key to controling Favre
While attention will focus on the classic competition between Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp and Packers quarterback Brett Favre, the Bucs admit that securing a win has as much to do with stopping Ahman Green.
The running back torched the Bucs for 169 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown, the last time they played, a 21-20 Bucs loss Nov. 4, 2001, in Green Bay.
"I think the key to stopping Brett Favre is not letting them get a running game going," cornerback Dwight Smith said. "We have to worry about Green. Hopefully, we can stop Green and make Favre beat us."
Defensive end Simeon Rice, who will spend the day chasing Favre, said it's not a slight on Favre but a testament to Green's impact.
"We've got to make the team one-dimensional right off the bat, and that means we have to stop No. 30 (Green)," Rice said. "We understand that right off the bat. Before we even start the game, we understand that."
SOME INSIDE STUFF
Today's game could have an effect on the playoff seeding, but through the locker room the Bucs pledge they attach no extra significance.
"You circle every one," quarterback Brad Johnson said. "You circle 16 games, and they're all the same to me. There's no one that's any bigger than the other. Of course, the division races and stuff will figure itself out come the first of January."
-- Talking to Green Bay reporters Wednesday, Sapp was asked whether he has an advantage getting into the head of Packers offensive linemen and "winning the verbal battle."
The Pro Bowl tackle said: "I don't know how you win a verbal battle anyway. They don't keep score of how many good one-liners you have."
-- The Bucs will line up against former teammate Hardy Nickerson for the first time since he left for the Jaguars three seasons ago. That Nickerson is a starter in the league after 16 seasons is impressive.
"It gives you great encouragement," safety John Lynch said. "It shows you that if you do the things that it takes, in terms of taking care of yourself in the offseason, you can play for a long, long time."
WHEN LAST THEY MET
A 55-yard punt return for a touchdown by Allen Rossum late in the fourth quarter gave the Packers a 21-20 victory Nov. 4, 2001, at Lambeau Field. The return capped a comeback in which the Packers erased a 17-7 deficit in the third. The Bucs forced three turnovers, including interceptions by former Bucs Donnie Abraham and Jamie Duncan, and fullback Mike Alstott chipped in a 19-yard score on a screen pass for a 10-point lead.
4: NFL teams flagged more times than the Packers.
8: sacks by Sapp of Favre, the most Sapp has against any NFL quarterback.
14: fumbles forced by the Packers (league best).
21: interceptions by the Bucs (league best).
111: career wins for Favre (he has 56 losses).
THE LAST WORD
"He's a great player and you've got to respect that. But at the same time, we feel we're a great team too, and we have to go out and create a lot of opportunities against him. We're going to show up on Sunday and play the ballgame. He brings out the best in you, and you try to bring out the best in him."
-- Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks on Packers QB Brett Favre.
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