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Holliday sacks Bledsoe five times

12/22/2002

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Vonnie Holliday's best day as a pro came
after the worst night of his life.

Question on the Bills: Did Drew Bledsoe forget that opposing teams are actually allowed to recover fumbles?
Bledsoe is what he is -- he's not mobile or athletic, so it's tough for him hit the floor quickly to recover his own fumbles. But he has a great arm and gives the Bills the ability to come back. I was surprised at how poorly both Bledsoe and Packers QB Brett Favre played in this game.

Question on the Packers: If they don't get home-field advantage, how do you like their Super Bowl chances?
I don't think their Super Bowl chances are looking good even with home-field advantage. Offensively, the Packers aren't clicking. Favre seems to lack confidence in his receivers. With one game left, you want to be hitting your stride on offense. The Packers have lost a few steps toward the end of the season.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Holliday set a team record by sacking Drew Bledsoe five times,
forcing him to fumble on three of them, in Green Bay's 10-0 victory
over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Thanks to Holliday, the Packers (12-3) are the league's only
team to win all its home games this season.

His exceptional performance came less than 24 hours after his
16-year-old cousin died of a congenital heart defect.

"I know I have another angel looking down on me,'' said
Holliday, who pointed toward the sky after each of his sacks. "I
know today his presence was there and he gave me that extra push,
that extra passion.''

Holliday's cousin, Marcus Warren, died in Hilton Head, S.C.
after collapsing during a high school basketball game.

"In our family we certainly thought he was the next superstar
in basketball or football,'' said Holliday, who had to break the
tragic news to a large group of extended family members who made
their annual trek to Green Bay.

Holliday said he spent a sleepless night asking God, "Why?''
and also praying for strength.

Holliday's first forced fumble led to Green Bay's only
touchdown, and his last one ended Buffalo's hopes with 1:13 left
and the Bills at the Green Bay 17.

He collapsed on the field, then again on the sideline, crying.

Holliday, plagued by a torn chest muscle and a sprained knee
this season, had just one sack coming into the game. He took off a
restrictive shoulder harness last week against doctors' orders and
had a solid game against San Francisco.

But nothing like Sunday, when he broke Bryce Paup's club record
of 4½ sacks set on Sept. 15, 1991, against Tampa Bay.

The Packers need to win at the Jets next week and also for
Philadelphia or Tampa Bay to slip up to get anything more than a
first-round playoff game at Lambeau Field, where they've never lost
in the postseason.

Green Bay lost its best defender in safety Darren Sharper, who
sprained his right knee on his league-leading seventh interception
return in the first half. Sharper took helmet in his knee and will
be re-examined Monday.

The Bills (7-8) saw their playoff hopes crushed when Donald
Driver caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Brett Favre with 7:23
remaining. It came one play after cornerback Nate Clements thought
he had a long touchdown on a fumble return. But officials ruled
Ahman Green dropped the pass -- one of six by the Packers on a
windy, cold day.

Holliday dropped an interception at the Buffalo 20 with Green
Bay clinging to a 3-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.

"With five sacks, I'm sure he's not going to think about that
interception,'' Marques Anderson said.

Bills punter Mike Moorman then caught a gust of wind, and his
punt sailed a team-record 84 yards to the Green Bay 2.

The Packers went three-and-out and punted, but Holliday had
consecutive sacks of Bledsoe, forcing a fumble on the second one
that teammate Jamal Reynolds recovered at the Bills 39.

On third-and-10 from the 11, Driver scored. It was the only one
of six takeaways the Packers converted into points.

Green had 116 yards on 26 carries as the Packers improved to
14-0 in games in which he tops the century mark. Favre improved to
35-0 at home when the temperature at kickoff is 34 degrees or
lower.

Swirling 25 mph winds gusting to 30 -- and making the 27-degree
day feel like 13 -- kept both offenses in check. The Packers led 3-0
at halftime on Ryan Longwell's 33-yard field goal into the wind.

Mike Hollis was wide left from the same spot in the third
quarter.

Favre's 114 yards passing were the fifth-lowest in his career
and his 39.2 quarterback rating was his sixth-worst ever.

When told he supposedly liked playing in the cold, Favre
retorted: "I don't know about hurricane force winds. That was the
worst as far as wind and cold that I've ever been associated
with.''

The Bills, who gained just 53 yards in the first half, couldn't
run or throw. Travis Henry carried 20 times for 46 yards and
Bledsoe's passer rating was 41.3.

"Today was a tough day for me or Brett to throw the ball,''
Bledsoe said.

Game notes
Green Bay's last shutout was Sept. 24, 2001, 37-0 over
Washington, and Buffalo was blanked Dec. 2, 2001, 35-0 by San
Francisco. ... Only the Chicago Bears, with 13, have more than the
Packers' 11 undefeated regular seasons at home. ... Bills CB Nate
Clements picked off Favre one play after muffing a punt at his 36
in the fourth quarter. ... Bledsoe surpassed 4,000 yards passing
for the third time in his career.