Sometimes salvation and damnation reside in the same jersey.
The same player that audibles from a quick out on the game’s first play from scrimmage to an 80-yard touchdown pass off a fade route is also the player who threw three interceptions in less than 7 minutes on the game clock to put his team in a 22-19 hole.
Brett Favre’s arm has been both blessing and curse through eight games this season, throwing 17 touchdowns to go with 15 interceptions. He has been picked off three times in four of his last five games. Against division rivals Minnesota and Detroit, it proved too much to overcome. But against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Favre delivered the Green Bay Packers to football nirvana with a fourth-quarter, 62-yard scoring strike to Antonio Freeman that broke a 22-22 tied and led to a 36-22 win.
It was Freeman’s second score of the day, having snared the 80-yarder to start things off, and Favre’s third, having also found flanker Robert Brooks for a first-quarter score.
“I’m drained, probably as much as I’ve been in a long time,” Favre said after hanging a fifth-straight “L” on San Francisco. “That was a huge game. They’re a heckuva football team. We made mistakes, I made mistakes, but in that type of game, you can go one of two ways and I still knew I had time to win that ball game. Emotionally, it’s tough. You feel you’ve let not only yourself down, but your team down when you make bad plays. But once again, you’ve got time to come back and do something with it and I was pretty excited when we got that touchdown.”
So was his coach.
“Right now we have to throw and probably take a few more chances because our running game has not been what it should be,” Mike Holmgren said. “And what we have to do is eliminate the bad ones. When you throw the ball there’s some risk involved. He’s a great football player and we’re going to keep doing what we do, he’s going to keep playing the way he plays, I’m going to keep trying to correct what I think is wrong, and if we still have the results we have tonight – I’ll take it.”
Diary of a Record Season
Working the Room Before Super Bowl XXXI
New Era, Same Favre
Laying It All on the Line
Jeckyl and Hyde
Dealing with a Favre-less Season
Special Game, Special Place
Dad ‘Was Watching Tonight’
By the Numbers
Teammates Return for ‘Icon’ Favre
Holmgren might also be taking high blood pressure medication, but that’s the essence of the reigning three-time league Most Valuable Player: He’ll have coaches, fans, and even teammates pulling their hair out on one play (or three) and shaking their head in awe on another play (or three).
“Everyone’s scared to look at me (after an interception),” Favre said. “Mike’s ranting and raving. (Quarterbacks coach) Andy (Reid) is wondering what he should say, but the person out there who’s more relaxed than anyone is me. I wasn’t happy about it and I wasn’t happy about what I’ve done in previous games, but we’re 6-2 and just beat a team that I don’t think too many people gave us a chance of beating.
“I threw three interceptions but I’ve never counted myself out. Never. Never in any situation. All of our guys know that and I don’t really care what other people think. I said, ‘I still have a chance to get the ball in my hands and I like my chances.’”
Favre finished the day 15 of 28 for 279 yards, a total that vaulted him ahead of Packer legend Bart Starr on the team’s career passing list. He now has 24,719 yards, eclipsing Starr by 2 yards. Favre did it in 102 games over seven years as a starter, while Starr needed 198 games over 16 years.
“We throw the ball obviously a lot more than he did, and Bart’s accomplished unbelievable things here,” Favre said. “He’ll always be remembered as a great player.”
With no disrespect to the significance of the accomplishment, Favre didn’t dwell on the record. His team begins a three-game road stretch that includes Monday night’s matchup with the Steelers, a trip to the Meadowlands to play the Giants, and a rematch with the Vikings that has playoff implications written all over it.
Brace yourself, interceptions may occur. But with the ball in Favre’s hands, he likes his chances.