Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Rams vs. Packers

from ESPN.com

"I'm humbled by it," Favre said. "It is an honor to put on an NFL uniform. Just to suit up once is a dream and everything I've done after that is a bonus. I'm living a dream every day."

Backup tailback Najeh Davenport rushed for 178 yards and rookie cornerback Ahmad Carroll, the Packers' top draft pick, had his first career fumble recovery, touchdown and interception as the Packers (7-4) won their sixth straight to keep pace with Minnesota atop the NFC North.

"When you get drafted by Green Bay, the first thing you think of is playing with Brett Favre," Carroll said. "When I go home, the first question people ask me is, 'How does it feel playing with Brett Favre? What did he say in practice? How is he?'

"He is not like other people in the NFL."

That's for sure.

Favre's record streak of starts moved to 219, counting playoffs, and is almost 100 more than Ron Jaworski's previous NFL quarterback mark of 123.

Favre took over for an injured Don Majkowski on Sept. 27, 1992. Since then, 11 of his backups have gone on to start for another team. Last week, Eli Manning became the 178th quarterback to have started a game in the NFL since Favre last came off the bench.

The Rams have had 13 quarterbacks in that span.

Favre didn't like the hoopla surrounding his 200th regular-season start.

"It was a lot of pressure to perform," he said. "I didn't need all the added attention. (But) I treated this no different than any other game."

Davenport said after the fifth-highest single-game rushing total in franchise history that he was just glad to be a part of Favre's memorable night.

"Brett Favre is unbelievable. It's a great honor to play with him," Davenport said. "Who knows how long he's going to be around ... He's like an old man, but he's young at heart."

Favre topped 20 touchdown passes for the 11th straight season, breaking a tie with Dan Marino on a 7-yard toss to tight end Bubba Franks in the second quarter that made it 14-3. He also threw touchdown passes to Javon Walker and Donald Driver.

Favre didn't have his co-star, Ahman Green, who was out with injured ribs. But Davenport came up with a strong imitation, gaining 178 yards on 19 carries in his first NFL start even though he had two sore hamstrings and injured his ribs, too, on his third carry.

"You wouldn't expect anybody to do that to you," Rams coach Mike Martz said.

Marc Bulger threw for more yards -- 448 -- against Green Bay than any quarterback ever had, completing 35 of 53 passes, but he was overshadowed by Favre and St. Louis (5-6) missed a chance to tie Seattle atop the NFC's woeful West.

"Any time you play against Brett Favre, you're not going to get the spotlight," Bulger said. "It was his night."

Isaac Bruce caught nine passes for 170 yards and a touchdown but his two fumbles were returned for touchdowns, one by Carroll to start the scoring and one by Michael Hawthorne to cap the rout in the final minute. Carroll also picked off a pass in the end zone that was intended for Bruce early in the third quarter.

Bruce's 4-yard TD catch just before halftime brought St. Louis to 21-10, and in the third quarter Martz made a questionable call -- a fake field goal when a 42-yarder by Jeff Wilkins would have made it a one-possession game. Wilkins was stuffed 12 yards shy of the first down on fourth-and-7.

"We didn't make it, so I wish we hadn't done it," Martz said. "I felt like we needed the points."

Not only did the Rams get nothing out of a nearly eight-minute drive, but the Packers went 71 yards in four plays, capped by Driver's leaping 16-yard touchdown catch that gave Green Bay a 28-10 lead.

Bulger's 8-yard TD toss to Marshall Faulk made it 28-17, but the Rams never got any closer.

Davenport capped his night with a 40-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1 with 1:52 left to make it 38-17.

Rookie cornerback Joey Thomas forced a fumble on the Rams' first possession, and Carroll picked it up and ran 40 yards for his first career touchdown and gave Green Bay a 7-0 lead it would never relinquish.

It was the Packers' first recovery of an opponent's fumble since Sept. 19 against Chicago.

"We never looked back after that," Favre said.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Favre Leads Packers To Victory

AP Story, from NFL.com

Brett Favre sat silently as his Green Bay teammates anxiously chatted during halftime.

Trailing by 10 points and down to only one healthy tailback, the Packers were desperately searching for an offensive spark. They found the solution in a familiar place.

"I just listened because I knew what we needed to do," Favre said. "And the talk wasn't going to get it done."

Favre led the Pack all the way back in the fourth quarter and Ryan Longwell kicked a 46-yard field goal as time expired, sending the Packers to their fifth straight win, 16-13 over the Houston Texans.

Favre completed 6 of 7 passes for 42 yards on the final drive -- the only incompletion came when he spiked the ball to stop the clock -- to complete Green Bay's rally from a 10-point deficit in the final quarter.

He finished 33 of 50 for 383 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown to Houston native Donald Driver in the fourth period. Driver had quite a homecoming, catching 10 passes for 148 yards.

Favre "gives you confidence that he is going to do something special in those situations," Packers coach Mike Sherman said. "To be able to rely on his leadership and abilities at those times gives us an opportunity to win a game like this."

The Packers sputtered on offense throughout the first three quarters and clearly missed injured star tailback Ahman Green, who was knocked out of the game with a rib injury in the second quarter. He finished with 15 yards on only five carries.

Relying on a third-string tailback (Tony Fisher ) and a guy called up from the practice squad (Walter Williams), Favre was forced to shoulder much of the offensive burden.

"At one point, we were totally out of running backs," Favre said. "We had to alter our game plan some and had to abandon our running game a little bit."

That proved to be a good move.

Favre finally got going in the fourth quarter, leading the Packers on a seven-play, 81-yard drive he capped with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Driver.

Favre made a deft pump fake on the play, fooling rookie cornerback Dunta Robinson and giving Driver a wide-open path into the end zone.

It also extended Favre's streak of games with a touchdown pass to 35 games, second in NFL history to Johnny Unitas' 47 games.

The Packers scored again on Longwell's 38-yard field goal midway through the quarter, tying the game at 13.

Favre failed on his first attempt to break the tie, throwing an interception to Robinson, who was running step for step with receiver Antonio Chatman.

But the Texans went three plays and out for the third straight time, and Favre predictably came through in the clutch.

Green Bay (6-4) stayed tied with Minnesota for first place in the NFC North.

The Texans (4-6) played on national TV for the first time since their inaugural game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2002, a span of 40 games. Houston came through that night with a stunning 19-10 win over the heavily favored Cowboys.

Before a record crowd of 70,769 at buzzing Reliant Stadium, the Texans hoped to summon a little more prime-time magic.

The third-year team came up short, losing its third straight and learning a valuable lesson about letting a veteran team hang around.

"You don't get many chances to play in front of big audiences like tonight," said Andre Johnson, who had 107 yards receiving on six catches. "When you get no points in the second half, you just can't do that, playing against a team like that with Brett Favre."

Texans quarterback David Carr started fast, but finished with a thud.

Midway through the second quarter, Carr connected with Johnson for a 49-yard pass to the Green Bay 6. Carr found Domanick Davis in the flat on the next play for a 7-3 lead.

At halftime, Carr was 8-of-15 for 115 yards. After the break, he went 5-for-11 for 49 yards as the Texans were so bad on offense the crowd started booing. Davis was held to 65 yards on 21 carries -- about right for a team that ranks 31st in yards per carry.

"To go out and not score anything in second half is not acceptable," Texans guard Todd Wade said. "It's embarrassing."

After being decimated by Jake Plummer and Peyton Manning in consecutive weeks, Houston's beleaguered defense held Favre in check for three quarters. The fourth quarter, though, is the one that matters most with Favre: The 14-year veteran engineered his 32nd final-quarter comeback.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Key Issues

From FoxSports.com

The team needs to get back to the blitzing style it worked on all offseason. That means rookie CBs Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas have to become reliable parts of the dime package. The coaches must devise a way to put the athletic but mistake-prone duo in situations where they can succeed, which might mean moving them around and making them a part of the blitz package to lessen their exposure to tough coverage situations. Coach Mike Sherman must continue to be involved heavily in the offense on game day. When Sherman is calling plays, QB Brett Favre continually hears about ball security and better understands what Sherman wants done.

The Packers can compete with the NFL's elite only on offense, and a playoff run will require that unit to stay in top form every week to make up for the defense's shortcomings.