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Packers will try to solve Rams outdoors
St. Louis won the last two meeting inside its cozy dome.
By Arnie Stapleton ~ The Associated Press
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers finally have the St. Louis Rams right where they want them: at Lambeau Field, on grass, in freezing weather.
Forgive Brett Favre if he's not jumping for joy.
"Well, I would much rather play them here than at their place. We haven't had much success at their place, and there's no guarantee that we will here," Favre said. "I think it's going to be a very difficult game. Either way. Here or there."
That might be, but he tied an NFL playoff record by throwing six interceptions at St. Louis 22 months ago, then broke his right thumb there last year.
The desperate Rams (5-5), who have lost three of four games, face the surging Packers (6-4), winners of five straight, tonight in a crucial game for two teams hoping to display some playoff pedigree in the jumbled NFC.
The Packers are banged up in both backfields, which might very well negate any home-field advantage -- something that sure was missing the last time they played at home on a Monday night, a 48-27 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 11.
"We'd like to erase that memory with a special Monday night performance and get rid of some of those ghosts we have from earlier in the season," Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman said.
The problems with the Rams go back to Jan. 20, 2002, when Favre threw those half-dozen interceptions in a 28-point playoff loss.
In October 2003, Favre broke his right thumb in a loss at St. Louis. Because he decided to play the rest of the season with a splint instead of having season-ending surgery, he kept alive his consecutive starts streak, which will reach 200 in the regular season tonight, 219 counting the playoffs.
Few teams have had Favre's number like the Rams, who capitalized on 12 Packers turnovers to outscore Green Bay 79-41 in their last two meetings.
So the Packers have been looking forward to this night ever since the schedule came out.
"They're a different team, as everyone knows, indoors," safety Darren Sharper said. "The fact that we have them at home hopefully will play into our favor. But we're just happy to see them because they put a whooping on us last year and we'd like to get a little payback."
Payback? Guard Mark Tauscher is thinking more along the lines of a setback.
"You can't do anything about what happened last year, or the year before," he said. "But we can give them a big setback and knock them off here and really give ourselves a big boost, because anytime you struggle against somebody and then you get over that hump, that's big emotionally."
Just like back in the 1990s, when the Packers lost seven straight to the Dallas Cowboys, three times in the playoffs and all at Texas Stadium. They finally got the Cowboys at home in 1997 and routed them 45-17 on their way to a second straight Super Bowl appearance.
The Packers are looking for a similar turnaround against St. Louis.
Favre is 36-1 at home when the temperature at kickoff is 34 degrees or below. It's expected to be 20 degrees with a chance of flurries tonight.
Rams coach Mike Martz dismissed the notion that the conditions will be a factor, saying that although his team practices and plays indoors, St. Louis isn't exactly a warm-weather city, and the Rams aren't exactly strangers to the snow.
"It's snowing like crazy here. It's a whiteout, actually," Martz said last week during the season's first big snowstorm. "But we've played enough games I think in that type of weather over the last few years (that) it shouldn't be an issue for us anymore than it would be, I guess, for the Packers."
Actually, the Packers are built for the cold and the grass, just as the Rams are built for turf and domes.
"We're not really as concerned about what's going to happen to them as to what it brings to the table for us," Green Bay guard Mike Wahle said. "We always feel like we're a really good bad-weather football team just because of the things we can do on offense as far as running the ball and the quarterback cutting through the wind. He can cut through the wind better than anybody just because of his arm strength.
"So it really doesn't slow us down. We're confident we can move the ball in any kind of weather."