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Mike Vandermause column: Raucous cheeseheads help silence Rams

Oct. 21, 2012
 

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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers waves to fans as he runs off the field after a game Sunday against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. Green Bay defeated St. Louis 30-20. / Jeff Curry/US PRESSWIRE

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ST. LOUIS — There were so many Green Bay Packers fans roaming around St. Louis over the weekend that coach Mike McCarthy thought for a minute he was back home.

“I mean just to drive in from the airport (Saturday) to see Packer fans everywhere, you thought you were walking down Oneida Street,” McCarthy said.

The green-and-gold-clad fans then invaded the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday and much to the chagrin of the St. Louis Rams, they wouldn’t shut up in the Packers’ 30-20 victory.

“We just never got the chance to quiet them down,” said Rams defensive end Chris Long.

That’s because the Packers were dominant in the second half and gave the cheesehead brigade a reason to let loose.

“You never get tired of hearing ‘Go Pack Go,’ especially in St. Louis,” said McCarthy, whose team wore their green home jerseys because the Rams opted for white uniforms.

The Packers led only 10-6 at halftime before unleashing all their fury on the Rams.

It started with what quarterback Aaron Rodgers called the best touchdown drive of the season, a 12-play, 80-yard beauty that consumed more than half the third quarter.

“You like to take games over,” said center Jeff Saturday. “When you get the ball at the beginning of the second half, you’re only up four, you want to take the game over.”

That’s precisely what the Packers accomplished on the field, and their fans did in the stands.

The defense limited the Rams to minus-3 yards rushing and minus-4 yards passing in the third quarter. Their superior effort included a 9-yard sack by Clay Matthews and an interception by rookie Casey Hayward.

The Packers controlled the ball for nearly 12 minutes of the third quarter compared to 3 minutes for the Rams.

“We didn’t tackle very well in the first half,” McCarthy said. “We talked about our tempo as a football team, our energy and our finish and the players definitely responded.”

Packers fans also responded and provided a glimpse of what Lambeau Field would feel like with a dome.

“Our fans were louder than their fans, which made it like a home-field advantage,” said running back John Kuhn.

Every time Kuhn touched the ball there would be the familiar “Kuuuuuuuuhn” chant. Every time the Packers made a big play, which was often in the second half, there were boisterous cheers.

The Rams let out one final gasp on a Steven Jackson touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter to pull within 20-13, but the Packers stepped on their throat with yet another time-consuming 80-yard touchdown drive.

“We matched their tempo, matched their competition, and I think we just played harder than they did,” running back Alex Green said of the Packers’ second-half surge.

The Packers displayed the killer instinct they lacked earlier in the season when they couldn’t protect leads on the road against Seattle and Indianapolis.

“There’s been a greater sense of urgency with our team,” Rodgers said. “Our veteran players have spoken up when they’ve needed to. Our younger players are buying in and starting to believe. They’re starting to see what a successful team can look like if things are done the right way.”

If the Packers continue to do the right things, they will be difficult to beat, at home or on the road.

“We can be pretty dangerous,” Kuhn said. “I think we’re feeling that right now.”

The Packers return to play at Lambeau for the first time in a month on Sunday. “Seems like we’ve been gone forever,” McCarthy said.

Then again, against the Rams in the second half, it seems like they never left home.

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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