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Pack rout Browns 31-3 in warmup for Favre's return

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Associated Press
October 26, 2009
— Aaron Rodgers never let his eyes wander, never let his thoughts drift. For 60 near-perfect minutes on the field, Green Bay's quarterback focused only on the Cleveland Browns.

Once the game ended, Rodgers looked ahead to next week and a matchup the Packers and their fans have been anticipating for months.


Brett Favre is coming to Lambeau Field.


The Packers are ready for him.


Rogers tuned up for his former teammate Sunday by throwing three touchdown passes and Ryan Grant rushed for 148 yards as the Packers overwhelmed Cleveland in the air and on the ground in a 31-3 throttling of the Browns, who recovered from the flu but remain sickly.


Rodgers completed 15 of 20 passes for 246 yards with no interceptions, a stat line that earned him a 155.4 passer rating just under the perfect 158.3. And after being sacked a league-leading 25 times coming in, Rodgers left the field with hardly a grass stain on his white No. 12 jersey.


"We came out and played the way we felt we're capable of playing on offense," said Rodgers. "It was our best performance technically."


Green Bay's defense was nearly as good, holding the Browns to three points one week after shutting out the Detroit Lions.


It would have been understandable if the Packers (4-2) had overlooked an inferior opponent with their eyes on Favre's hyped return to Cheeseland. But Rodgers and his teammates took care of business against the abysmal Browns (1-6), who have scored just four offensive touchdowns and 72 points all season.


Rodgers, who steps a little further out of Favre's immense shadow with each win, credited Packers coach Mike McCarthy with keeping the Packers from peeking ahead.


"Mike kept us focused on the Cleveland Browns," Rodgers said. "It's tough to win in this league, I don't care who you're playing, especially on the road."


So when did he start thinking about the Vikings, who beat the Packers 30-23 on Oct. 5 in Minneapolis?


"Just now," Rodgers said with a smile.


Rodgers connected with Donald Driver on a 71-yard TD and a 41-yarder to tight end/linebacker Spencer Havner in the first half. In the fourth quarter, he tossed a 5-yarder to James Jones that capped a 99-yard drive after the Packers' defense stopped Cleveland at the 1.


Rodgers' day did not start so smoothly. On Green Bay's first series, Browns linebacker David Bowens yanked off Rodgers' helmet and punched him in the face. Rodgers didn't name Bowens, but said "96" when asked about the incident, which he called "kind of a dirty play."


Bowens said he was just playing hard.


"I was just trying to grab anything I had," he said. "It wasn't malicious, I was just trying to get a stop. I apologized to him for it. He can call it what he wants to call it, but the refs didn't call it. I'd treat him different if he was passing the ball, that's different. But if he's running the ball, he's a running back. It's called football."


Right now, the Browns seem to be playing something else.


They were outclassed again, dominated by the Packers, who outgained them 460-139 and seemed to know their every move.


On Rodgers' TD pass to Driver, Green Bay got the Browns into a defensive alignment they practiced for all week. Studying film from Cleveland's loss to Pittsburgh, the Packers noticed the Browns blitz in the formation. So when safety Abram Elam came up, Rodgers threw to the open spot, hitting Driver in stride, and the wide receiver stiff-armed Brodney Pool and ran out of two attempted tackles by cornerback Eric Wright.


"We practiced it to the right during the week," Rodgers said. "Actually, (reserve linebacker Desmond) Bishop played it better than (the Browns) played it today. He got there quicker. Today, we went long count and I was sitting there thinking, 'I hope that guy comes because if he comes, it'll be a big play.' I threw it quick and he looked quick and the rest was Driver being Driver."


And the Browns being the Browns.


A tumultuous week that included 12 players missing practice on Wednesday with the flu ended with another lopsided loss and Packers fans nearly outnumbering Cleveland supporters by game's end.


"We aren't good right now," said quarterback Derek Anderson, who went 12 of 29 for 99 yards. "That's it. Period."


Despite fans chanting for backup QB Brady Quinn, Browns coach Eric Mangini said he didn't consider pulling Anderson. Mangini, though, vowed to make changes so his team doesn't get embarrassed again.


"I'm going to look at everything," he said. "We have to improve in a lot of different areas."



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