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PRO FOOTBALL / WEEK 2 | GREEN BAY 23, TAMPA BAY 15

Sack Time: White Turns Back Clock

September 14, 1998|From Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Reggie White's farewell tour is starting out a lot like his grand entrance into the NFL 14 seasons ago.

The 36-year-old defensive end was in vintage form Sunday, getting three sacks and leading a pass rush that harassed Trent Dilfer all game as the Green Bay Packers beat Tampa Bay, 23-15, for their 29th consecutive home victory.

Dilfer was sacked six times, losing the ball on three occasions, as the Packers (2-0) put the Buccaneers (0-2) in an early hole in the NFC Central.

But the news wasn't all good for Green Bay.

Pro Bowl halfback Dorsey Levens, who missed all of training camp in a contract holdout, sprained his left ankle midway through the fourth quarter and was helped off the field. His status for next Sunday is uncertain.

Unable to run down the clock, the Packers watched the Buccaneers make it interesting.

Trailing 23-0, the Buccaneers scored when rookie Jacquez Green returned a punt a team-record 95 yards for a touchdown with 6:03 left, and Dilfer passed to Patrick Hape for the conversion.

The Buccaneers pulled to 23-15 on Dilfer's two-yard touchdown pass to Dave Moore with 1:57 left. But Bill Schroeder recovered the onside kick, redeeming the Packer special teams, which muffed two punts in addition to giving up a return for a touchdown for the second consecutive week.

White, who retired briefly in the off-season because of his bad back, increased his record sacks total to 179 1/2 despite the hot, muggy day that sent several players to the sidelines with cramps.

"When it's a big game, Reggie has that ability to go from a great player to the greatest player in the NFL," teammate Santana Dotson said. "We're kind of spoiled because we expect him to do those things regardless of back or age or whatever."

But White, who even hurdled Tampa Bay running back Warrick Dunn in the second half, surely surprised a lot of people.

"Are you crazy?" Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "He's the best. This guy has 179 1/2 sacks. You don't get to that level being make-believe."

Said Packer quarterback Brett Favre: "Reggie never ceases to amaze me. I was so happy when he came back to this team simply because he can be 50 years old and still it's going to be hard for people to stop him."

White had three sacks in a game for the first time since the Packers' victory in Super Bowl XXXI.

Asked how he felt, White smiled.

"It's sore off and on," he said. "But, couldn't you tell? I'm fine."

He's more than that.

His first sack, against right tackle Jason Odom, caused Dilfer to fumble, ending a drive that had reached the Green Bay 21. It was the 29th forced fumble of his career.

White burned Odom again to bury the Buccaneers at their own one and force a punt, and then he beat tackle Jerry Wunsch on the Buccaneers' next possession.

Not to be outdone, Dotson and Keith McKenzie both had sacks that forced fumbles.

In the first quarter, Dotson stripped Dilfer and rookie right end Vonnie Holliday recovered at the Tampa Bay 14. Two plays later, Favre passed to tight end Tyrone Davis for a 10-yard touchdown and a 10-0 lead.

McKenzie forced and recovered a fumble to end a fourth-quarter drive that had reached the Green Bay 13.

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