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In End, White Scores Most Telling Blows : Packers: Green Bay defender takes his shots but makes the Rams pay.


GREEN BAY, Wis. — By late in the fourth quarter, Green Bay defensive end Reggie White had taken a couple of jabs to the jaw from Ram tackle Jackie Slater and was growing more than a little tired of it.

After all, getting roughed up by a 40-year-old offensive lineman can make for a pretty trying day.

"Jackie gets away with some things for his age," White said.

But White, the NFL's all-time sack leader, was the one delivering the most punishing blows in the final minute of the Packers' 24-17 victory Sunday at Lambeau Field.

White's pressure forced veteran Slater into making rookie mistakes--three costly penalties on the Rams' next-to-last drive.

And when he wasn't goading Slater into penalties, White was beating rookie tackle Wayne Gandy, as he did on the Rams' final offensive play. He blew by Gandy, forced Ram quarterback Chris Miller to fumble, and Green Bay defensive end Sean Jones recovered on the Ram 43-yard line with 11 seconds left.

"You come to expect that from Reggie White," Packer Coach Mike Holmgren said.

White, 32, said he expected more from Slater, a 19-year veteran who has played in 252 games. Did White sense Slater was tiring in the final minutes of the game?

"I don't know," he said. "He was punching me in the face, though. He gets away with that. He's a physical player. They (officials) called him for holding one time and it wasn't a hold--he about ripped my facemask off.

"But Jackie has always been a great competitor. He's trying to break Jim Marshall's record (for most seasons with one team). If I'm playing when I'm 36 or 38, please shoot me."

Between Slater and Gandy, who played both the left and right side Sunday, the Ram offense shifted into reverse in the game's final minutes.

Slater's one-on-one matchup with White turned into a circus of errors on the Rams' next-to-last drive, when he was whistled for two false starts and a holding penalty.

Gandy was called for holding Jones on a Jerome Bettis sweep play on second and goal from the Green Bay two. The false-start penalty on Slater cost the Rams another five yards and, two plays later, Miller was intercepted in the end zone by cornerback Lenny McGill.

The Rams tried to remedy Slater's problem by moving Gandy to the right side for the final series. But he barely got his hands on White, who knocked the ball away from Miller and ended any last-second hopes for the Rams.

"Down the stretch, I didn't see any panic out there," Jones said. "We run a great goal-line defense, and we weren't worried at all when the Rams were there."

No worries because the Green Bay defense, ranked fourth in the league, held the Rams to only 86 yards of offense in the second half.

No worries because the Rams didn't get a first down in the second half until eight minutes remained.

But the Packers were worried about Bettis, holding him to 65 yards in 22 carries, his second-lowest total of the season.

"I always call Jerome 'Tyson' because he looks a little like Mike Tyson and he's built like him," White said. "He's a great back. But we were determined not to let him run on us."

The Packers shut out the Rams in the second half, but were booed on their way to the locker room at halftime after spotting the Rams a 17-3 lead. Afterward, White lashed out at the Packer fans.

"I would like to send a message to our fans--they can't boo us," he said. "We have a lot of young guys on this team who can't take that. I hope from here on out that we get a little more respect than that."

Late in fourth quarter, the jeers had turned to chants of "Reggie, Reggie" as the Rams bumbled on their final two drives. White's last sack of Miller was his second of the day and fifth of the season, tying him with Jones for the team lead.

"Earlier this week, somebody asked me this ridiculous question about what it's like to share the spotlight with Reggie," Jones said. "I don't share anything. I'm holding the spotlight for him."

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