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Packers Hope to Snow Vick

January 04, 2003|J.A. Adande | Times Staff Writer

It's Showtime vs. Snowtime.

Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick, the most dynamic player in the NFL, takes on the Green Bay Packers, Brett Favre ... and the elements at Lambeau Field.

Ordinarily, a stadium wouldn't be a factor. But when you're talking about a January game in Lambeau Field it's impossible to ignore. There's a reason the Packers have not lost a playoff game there, and those reasons are much more likely to be found on the Weather Channel than on ESPN.

It will be hard for the jet-powered Vick to do his thing if the forecast of snow flurries and 20-degree weather holds up for tonight's playoff game.

The Packers might have better luck with their traditional ally than trying to execute what has become the conventional method to stopping Vick: Attack him and dictate his movements.

The template for that approach belongs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have held him to 188 total yards, only 16 rushing, in two games this season.

But the Buccaneers have much more team speed than the Packers, who don't have a Simeon Rice to apply pass-rush pressure, or a Derrick Brooks to roam from sideline to sideline. And the Packers might not have Pro Bowl free safety Darren Sharper, who is questionable with a sprained knee.

But they do have Favre, and who better to take into a playoff game? Especially when it's cold. He's 35-0 in home games played in temperatures below 34 degrees. And it looks as if he'll have his favorite receiver, Donald Driver, who has resumed practicing after recovering from a right shoulder injury.

The Packers looked like Super Bowl favorites at times this season. (Then again, so did half the NFL.) Green Bay started 8-1, but consecutive losses at Minnesota and Tampa Bay started the slide to a 4-3 finish ... which cost them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If they win tonight, they'll have to win at Tampa Bay and possibly at Philadelphia to get to the Super Bowl.

At least they're promised one game at the renovated, expanded Lambeau Field.

A 23-20 victory in November 2001 made the Falcons the only team to have beaten the Packers at Lambeau the last two seasons. And they took them to overtime in the season opener on Sept. 8, when Vick rushed for 72 yards and threw for 209 more. But that September game was played on a 90-degree day. And there's even a difference between November games and those in January.

How bad can it get in Green Bay in January? Thirty-five years ago the temperature was minus-13 for the famous Ice Bowl game against Dallas -- the one that gave birth to the phrase, "frozen tundra."

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