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Archive for Friday, December 22, 2006

Favre leads Green Bay rally

Game could be quarterback’s last at Lambeau

December 22, 2006

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— It might have been Brett Favre's final fling at Lambeau Field, and it wasn't pretty.

But after nearly throwing the game away, Favre helped the Green Bay Packers pull out yet another come-from-behind victory.

Favre threw an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter, then rallied the Packers for a late field goal and a 9-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night.

Packers kicker Dave Rayner, who had missed two field goals earlier in the game, hit a 44-yarder with 1:34 remaining.

"It was probably the most nervous I had ever been in my entire life, but it worked out," Rayner said.

It was the 36th game-winning comeback for Favre, who has not announced whether he will play next season and did not speak with reporters after the game.

He held the ball aloft after the final gun and hugged a couple of former teammates now with the Vikings, safety Darren Sharper and kicker Ryan Longwell. He also saluted his family in a Lambeau skybox, along with the fans surrounding the tunnel to the locker room.

"I'm hoping he comes back and I get more opportunities (for interceptions)," said Sharper, who picked off Favre's next pass after the TD return. "Talking to him after the game, he looked like he didn't know either."

Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said he talked with the three-time MVP before the game - and as far as McCarthy is concerned, Favre is still under contract. "We're going to take the time and talk about it after the season," he said.

For now, the quarterback helped the Packers (7-8) keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

"I'm trying to stay away from that P-word," McCarthy said.

The Vikings (6-9) managed only three first downs all game, the lowest total in a game in team history.

"You can't have nine out of 13 series go three and out and beat anybody," Vikings coach Brad Childress said.

But it didn't seem to matter after cornerback Fred Smoot returned Favre's pass 47 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter, giving Minnesota a 7-6 lead.

Favre looked down the left sideline for rookie receiver Greg Jennings, but threw the ball directly into Smoot's hands as Jennings continued running down the field. Smoot tried to celebrate by doing a "Lambeau Leap" into the stands, but was pushed back onto the field by fans.

"When Smoot took his TD back to score, I thought we had the game right there," Sharper said.

After throwing the interception to Smoot, Favre threw the interception to Sharper on the Packers' next offensive play.

Favre rallied the Packers for a potential go-ahead drive early in the fourth, but tight end Bubba Franks fumbled near the goal line - the third time in the game the Packers drove deep into Vikings territory but came away empty-handed.

Favre drove the Packers right back into Vikings territory in the final three minutes with a 36-yard pass to wide receiver Ruvell Martin. The drive stalled on Packers penalties on back-to-back plays before Rayner delivered the winning kick.

"I just think it shows (Rayner's) resiliency," McCarthy said. "I had full confidence he would make that kick."

Favre finished the game 26-for-50 for 285 yards with the two interceptions. He didn't throw a touchdown for the second straight game, meaning he still needs eight more TD passes to break Dan Marino's career record of 420.

Favre won ugly for the second week in a row - he threw three interceptions in a victory over Detroit on Sunday - but he certainly outperformed Vikings rookie Tarvaris Jackson, who was making the first start of his career.

Jackson, a second-round draft pick out of Alabama State, was 10-for-20 for 50 yards and one interception.

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