Packers will carry confidence to San Fran. Team looks to make jump to league's elite level

January 01, 1996|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

GREEN BAY, WIS. — `TC GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Notice to all those fans who intend to occupy front-row seats at Super Bowl XXX in Tempe, Ariz., later this month: Watch out for flying Green Bay Packers.

"We're going to win it all," coach Mike Holmgren said rather nonchalantly yesterday after Green Bay's 37-20 NFC wild-card victory over Atlanta at Lambeau Field. That would suggest that the Packers expect to launch themselves past the 49ers in next week's NFC divisional playoff game against the 49ers in San Francisco.

"I don't know how close their stands are in San Francisco," said Green Bay wide receiver Robert Brooks, who took LeRoy Butler's impromptu 1993 dive into the stands celebrating a defensive touchdown, and modified it into his own routine this season. "But if they're close enough, I'm jumping."

Bold talk, of course, for a team that has been in this same position the past two years only to fall flat. Bold talk, indeed,

because the last time the Packers won a divisional playoff game was in 1967, when Vince Lombardi was the coach.

"We're going to win it all," said Holmgren, who will be matched against San Francisco -- his former team -- for the first time since leaving after the 1991 season to become the Packers' coach.

"You know what? Why not?" Holmgren added. "We know that San Francisco and Dallas, until they are beaten in the NFC, they are the best teams. But I'm sure Ray [Rhodes] is talking to his group in Philadelphia and I'm going to talk to our group and we're both going to go in believing we can win those football games.

"We'll talk about that all week -- the situation we have been in the last two years. But I think we're maturing and developing a different type of attitude toward the playoffs. That all comes with growing up."

Beaten by the Cowboys the past two years, the upstart Packers contend they cannot be stopped this year.

"When we started off the year, our goal was to make the Super Bowl," said Edgar Bennett, who passed Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung (tied with 105 yards each) to set a Packers playoff single-game rushing record with 108 yards in 24 carries. "We're looking forward to this game with San Francisco. I think it will put us up there with the elite."

The Falcons, meanwhile, who slipped past the 49ers at the Georgia Dome last week to gain their playoff berth, just slipped and fell against the Packers on the mushy tundra.

Not that the Packers weren't wary.

"After seeing what had happened to Detroit against Philadelphia, it was kind of a wake-up call for all of us," said Packers quarterback Brett Favre, referring to the Eagles' 58-37 rout of the favored Lions in the other NFC wild-card game Saturday.

"We were hearing things from Atlanta about how they had us right where they wanted us, with us being overconfident. But we weren't that way. we were ready for a battle."

NOTE: Packers guard Aaron Taylor tore the patellar tendon in his left knee yesterday and will be lost for the balance of the playoffs.

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