Veteran vs. Youth

San Diego Chargers quarterback Drew Brees learned firsthand just how good Green Bay Packers legend Brett Favre is. While Brees and the Chargers squandered opportunities, Favre was making the most of them. Four-of-five inside the red zone, compared to one-of-five, is just one of the differences between a playoff bound team and the first pick in the NFL Draft.

The Chargers came into the game with their focus squarely on Ahman Green, the record setting running back of the Packers. It isn't that they forgot about Brett Favre, but they were of the mindset that if they stop the back who leads the NFC in yards from scrimmage they would have a good shot at a win.

"They have a lot of good athletes on their defense," said Green Bay coach Mike Sherman. "They have a few first round draft picks, guys that play hard every play. They play with speed."

Green simply broke the oldest team single-season rushing record in the NFL on Sunday when he eclipsed Hall of Famer Jim Taylor's mark of 1,474 yards set in 1962 and now has 1,538 on the season.

"I take my hat off to my O-linemen and all the guys blocking for me," Green said afterwards. "They know who they are. I couldn't have gotten here by myself."

Based on that – they must not have done a very good job on containing Green. Just the opposite, actually. Green rushed the ball 19 times for 75 yards and one touchdown. Not terrible numbers, but one would think the Chargers got the best of this matchup.

"Our plan was to stop Ahman Green," Marty Schottenheimer said. "If you don't stop Ahman Green they are never going to throw the ball. If you can't stop the run, you have no chance."

"I don't blame them. I'm old and washed up," Favre replied. "That doesn't bother me."

"You can't forget about Brett Favre," Marcellus Wiley said. "You got a guy that knows what to do. It showed on Sunday."

Now would be a good time to add Green also snared a touchdown through the air from Favre.

Favre, in fact, threw four touchdown passes, going 23-33 for 278 yards in the process. Three of those touchdown passes came in a span of seven minutes and twenty seconds. On those three drives, Favre had just one incompletion. Simple, right?

"It was just a matter of making plays," Favre said.

Bring in the young guy. Brees did his best impression of Favre, throwing for 363 yards through the air and two touchdowns. He completed 28-of-48 and was on target most of the day.

"He is back to being the Drew Brees everybody knows," Antonio Gates said.

Gates was the beneficiary of five passes from Brees for 117 yards, both career highs.

What didn't show up in those stats were three costly turnovers by Brees. Two fumbles and an interception. That turned into 17 Packers points and cost the Chargers with field position inside Green Bay territory twice.

"Drew was just out there trying to make plays, trying to make things happen and help the team. When you do that, sometimes you're going to make plays and sometimes bad plays are going to happen."

It wasn't so much as trying to make something happen as not holding onto the ball and feeling the pressure around him.

He was spot on with his touch for the day and actually had a few of his 20 incompletions fall because of dropped passes (none by Reche Caldwell mind you).

He was also competent on third down. Entering the game as the worst rated passer on third down, Brees guided the Chargers to a 44% conversion rate. Four of his conversions had seven yards or more to go and three were over ten yards. That confidence in his ability was a huge difference between the guy seen on Sunday and earlier in the year.

In the end, it was the veteran who lit the way. Favre showed why he has been able to start 187 consecutive games as the Packers starting quarterback. Just when everyone is ready to write off the Packers and Favre, he leads them to victory and an 8-6 record.

"He is terrific," Schottenheimer admitted. "Isn't it ironic, there was a team in the league that didn't feel they needed him?"

More obvious was the Chargers are still searching for answers in their 3-11 season. They still need to go back to the drawing board and work on their experience. It almost isn't fair to expect the Chargers secondary, largely made up of rookies and first year starters, to be able to keep up with a Brett Favre led team.

"Green Bay is better than we are," Schottenheimer said. "We have not learned how to win football games."

A year ago this time, Schottenheimer debuted the mantra that the team has not learned how to win games. It still doesn't know how. When will they learn?


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