No love lost for Pack, Bucs Green Bay's Dotson takes shot at Middleton

Favre, Sapp nearly come to blows

NFC notebook

January 05, 1998|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded insults and cheap shots in yesterday's NFC divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field. Afterward, it was obvious the bad blood doesn't figure to disappear anytime soon.

In the span of two minutes during the second quarter, Packers defensive tackle Santana Dotson drew a personal-foul penalty and quarterback Brett Favre had to be restrained from going after Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

Dotson was penalized for unnecessary roughness when he dived into the knees of Bucs guard Frank Middleton after an aborted field-goal attempt by Tampa Bay three minutes into the second quarter.

After Green Bay's 21-7 victory over its Central Division rival, the 285-pound Dotson accused Middleton, a 340-pound rookie, of playing dirty.

"He did some questionable things early," Dotson said. "He went down and tackled me on one play, and then he charged me [on another]. I went down and cut him [Middleton at the knees] just to get it over with.

"I lost my composure a little but I've got to take care of myself. If I get a fine [by league officials], I'll tell them to rewind the tape and look at him cutting me."

Packers coach Mike Holmgren wasn't pleased.

"I don't like the personal-foul penalty in that situation," he said. "It hurt the whole team. Santana retaliated, and that was wrong.

"In this game, a lot of guys know each other, so you're going to have a certain amount of jawing. But too much jawing can be a distraction and our players need to know that. My quarterback is a fiery player on the field, and I want him to avoid those situations."

Sapp sacked Favre three times during the game, and forced a fumble on the first, just one series after Dotson's penalty. The two players stood face mask to face mask, and after they separated, Favre had to be restrained.

"It was kind of a friendly conversation most of the time," Favre said of the running feud with Sapp. "I think it's out of respect. He was telling me that he was going to be chasing me down all day and I said, 'OK.' What could I say? He was back there all the time. He's a great player."

Said Sapp of Favre: "I love to play with him, I love to play against him. Brett and I had a little conversation. I wished him New Year's cheer."

The Packers swept three games from the Bucs this season, becoming the 12th NFL team since 1950 -- and second this season -- to beat one team three times.

The bad feelings promise to linger. Informed by a reporter that Middleton had called Dotson a coward in the Bucs' locker room, Dotson issued this challenge: "If he'd like to, he can meet me out in the parking lot."

Or next year in the regular season.

Picking the Pack

The rivalry may be intense, but it doesn't cloud the Bucs' vision.

Asked about next week's NFC championship game between the Packers and San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy said he liked the defending Super Bowl champions.

"It will be close, but I have to go with the Central Division team," he said.

Said Bucs safety John Lynch: "The Packers do things more effectively. The Packers are always tough to defend; they are tough to beat. They are peaking at the right time."

Favre's newest weapon

The Packers' passing game found a new weapon in third receiver Derrick Mayes, whose two catches each set up a Green Bay touchdown.

Mayes made a 14-yard grab in the first quarter to set up Mark Chmura's 3-yard TD catch from Favre. On the last play of the third quarter, he made a tumbling reception of a ball that slipped through his legs and was cradled briefly in the crook of his right knee. That play, on third-and-18, went for 23 yards and a first down. It preceded a 2-yard TD run by Dorsey Levens.

"I would have protested and protested if they didn't give it to me," Mayes said of the second catch. "I knew what was going on. I'm pretty instinctive."


The Packers have won 27 straight games at Lambeau, and are 10-0 there in the postseason. Favre set a club playoff record for consecutive games (8) with a touchdown pass, breaking a tie he held with Bart Starr. Poly's Antonio Freeman, used for the first time this season as a kick returner, had a 90-yard touchdown return wiped out by a holding call against Darren Sharper. The Packers have not given up a touchdown pass in 27 quarters.

Third time not charm

The Packers are the 12th team since 1950 and the second this season to defeat another three times in one season:

Year Winner .. .. .. Loser

1997 Green Bay .. .. Tampa Bay

1997 N. England . .. Miami

1994 Pittsburgh . .. Cleveland

1993 L.A. Raiders .. Denver

1991 Kansas City ... L.A. Raiders

1986 N.Y. Giants ... Washington

1982 Miami N.Y. . .. Jets

1965 Green Bay .. .. Baltimore

1964 Buffalo . .. .. San Diego

1963 San Diego .. .. Boston

1958 N.Y. Giants ... Cleveland

1952 Detroit . .. .. Los Angeles

Pub Date: 1/05/98

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