July 29, 2021

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Vonnie Holliday gets five cold, hard sacks

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Vonnie Holliday gets five cold, hard sacks

In this new series, packers.com takes a look back at one of the team’s single-game records and how the individual set the mark. The series continues with Vonnie Holliday’s five-sack performance vs. Buffalo on Dec. 22, 2002.

GREEN BAY – Sack records are tricky.

Because sacks didn’t become an official NFL statistic until 1982, sack records don’t encompass as much history as rushing and receiving marks, and the like.

So when defensive end Vonnie Holliday set the Packers’ single-game sack record with five late in the 2002 season, it came with the proverbial asterisk.

According to the team media guide, both Ezra Johnson (in 1978 at Detroit) and Dave Pureifory (in ’75 at the LA Rams) recorded five sacks in a game for the Packers before the magical “official” date of 1982.

But that shouldn’t take anything away from the dominant game Holliday had on a windy and chilly late December day at Lambeau Field.

A 25-mile-per-hour breeze made 27 degrees feel like 13, according to the league’s official game summary, though many players told reporters it felt a lot colder than that.

More consequential, the weather made throwing the ball extremely difficult, and therefore offense was hard to sustain, even for two teams like the Packers and Buffalo Bills accustomed to the cold.

The two quarterbacks, Brett Favre and Drew Bledsoe, combined to complete less than 50 percent of their passes (33-of-49) and throw four interceptions. They had less than 300 yards passing between them.

The difference in the game was Holliday, who came into the game with just one sack on the season (he had missed six games due to injury). Yet the most notable element to his five-sack performance might be that he didn’t even get his first sack until less than six minutes remained in the third quarter.

At that point, the Packers led just 3-0, and the Bills faced third-and-goal from the 5-yard line. Holliday’s 10-yard sack forced Buffalo to try a 33-yard field goal, and kicker Mike Hollis missed it wide left.

Holliday’s other four sacks all came fast and furious in the fourth quarter, and he forced fumbles on three of them.


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