GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers set up a locker with Reggie White's No. 92 jersey at Soldier Field last week and Mike Sherman implored his players to honor their late teammate by playing like him.
They did, getting a franchise record-tying nine sacks, four by Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, in a 31-14 win over Chad Hutchinson and the Bears.
The Packers know it's going to be harder to get to -- and tougher to bring down -- Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper today when the bitter rivals meet in the playoffs for the first time.
"He's a big guy, he's shifty," defensive end Aaron Kampman said, shaking his head.
Culpepper is a mobile quarterback in a fullback's frame with tailback moves.
"He's a runner but not a runner that runs," Sherman said. "He's a runner that sees the field and can throw the ball down the field at any time."
Also, the Vikings' pocket of protection -- Bryant McKinnie, Chris Liwienski, Matt Birk, David Dixon and Adam Goldberg -- trumps the Bears' young group that allowed eight sacks on four-man rushes.
"But at the same time, I saw a relentlessness with our guys. Their feet never stopped. They kept coming, they kept working," Sherman said. "I do think we gained some confidence from that. But it was the relentlessness, not so much the sacks. It was just the effort that we had, the tenacity."
Packers defensive coordinator Bob Slowik is counting on a carry-over.
"Anytime you can get nine sacks in a football game, that's a pretty awesome production, so it creates a little bit of confidence, it gives us a little bit of momentum," he said. "It gives Kabeer a little bit of momentum, it gives him some confidence."
The Packers sacked Culpepper four times on Nov. 14 in Green Bay, but he still threw for 363 yards and four scores. They couldn't get to him at all on Christmas Eve, when he threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns -- all on successive second-quarter throws.
With those kinds of stats, it's amazing the Vikings didn't win either game.
"Then I look at Brett's stats and know why," Minnesota Coach Mike Tice said of Brett Favre, who threw for 601 yards and seven touchdowns against the Vikings this season.
The Packers are focused on containing Culpepper better than they did on Christmas Eve, when McKinnie and Goldberg neutralized KGB, the first Packers pass-rusher ever to record four straight double-digit sack seasons.
Slowik doesn't buy the argument the Packers might have a false sense of confidence after Bears left tackle Marc Columbo tried to block Gbaja-Biamila without help.
"It don't matter. Everybody that lines up out there is a professional and I don't think you can make light of the fact of who he was rushing against," Slowik said. "That guy is a No. 1 pick and he did a heck of a job, Kabeer did, and hopefully we can build upon it this week."
Even after tying the franchise mark of nine sacks set in 1965, the Packers' defensive line still has its problems, however.
Nose tackle Grady Jackson is playing on a bum knee that needs an operation and his snaps have decreased by the week. Tackle Cletidus Hunt was benched in favor of upstart Cullen Jenkins last week because of his poor play at Minnesota, and Sherman is angry with disappointing defensive end R-Kal Truluck, who did an alligator crawl to celebrate his sack in the waning minutes Sunday.
"I didn't like it," Sherman said. "I just got done seeing the highlight of Reggie White at his funeral, and after every play he went back and high-fived it with his teammates. And that guy is the best that ever played and most sacks of anybody and he didn't feel a need to do that.
"I don't think there's a need for somebody who has 2 1/2 sacks to do that."