This season is turning out to be a banner year for kickoff and punt returners. Already notable special teams athletes like Leon Washington (NY Jets) and Devin Hester (Bears) have helped make the leagues total number of kickoff returns for touchdowns this year on pace to beat by a wide margin the NFL record of 18 which was set in 1998. And in Green Bay this week the Packers decided to hop on the bandwagon. Midway through the first quarter with no score and facing 4th and 7 on the Packers 34 yard line, the Panthers had kicker John Kasay fake a 52 yard field goal, take a direct snap and punt away. That was the best thing that could have happened from the point of view of Green Bay’s Tramon Williams, a sparsely used cornerback in his second year out of Louisiana Tech who fielded the bouncing football at the 6 yard line. Williams proceeded to return it 94 yards for a touchdown, and the only resistance he met was when he bowled over Panthers punter Jason Baker who had been faking as the holder but probably should have been the one kicking the ball in the first place.
Carolina who were next to last in the league in sacks just could not get any pressure on Brett Favre who completed 22 of 30 for 218 yards and 3 touchdowns. Panthers QB du jour Vinnie Testaverde threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns. Vinnie was intercepted twice well inside Carolina territory but interestingly enough both pickoffs resulted in missed field goals by Green Bay so the turnovers were really not a factor. Unfortunately, neither was the Carolina offense who posted only 17 points in spite of rushing for 131 yards on the Packers and gaining 382 total yards to Green Bay’s 317. Carolina falls to 4-6 and extends their losing streak to 5 games in a row.