Simply Favre-a-lous

Packers fans, and the rest of the nation, had an opportunity last evening to watch a powerful moment in a Hall of Fame career. Less than 24 hours after learning the stunning news of his father's death, Brett Favre started at quarterback for the Packers - what Favre believed his father would have wanted. The result was nothing short of amazing. Brett Christopherson has the story...

One of the greatest moments of an already great career for Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre came during one of the lowest, most painful times of his life.

Barely 24 hours after absorbing the numbing news that Favre's father, Irvin, had passed away as the result of a massive heart-attack, the younger Favre opted to play on.

Oh boy, did he play on.

Offering a resounding reminder that he can still compete at an MVP level, Favre tossed four first-half touchdowns and threw for 399 yards in leading the Packers to a 41-7 rout over the Oakland Raiders Monday night in Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland.

Heaving bullet after bullet, Favre threw scoring strikes to wide receiver Javon Walker twice, and tight ends Wesley Walls and David Martin as the Packers staked a 31-7 halftime lead.

Favre finished the first half with a perfect passer rating of 158.3 and completed 15 of his 18 attempts for a career-best 311 yards in what will undoubtedly go down as his finest 30 minutes of football.

And it wouldn't be a stretch to call Favre's overall performance one of the finest in sports history considering the circumstances.

"No one handles adversity better than he does and responds the way he does," Green Bay head coach and general manager Mike Sherman said of Favre. "I was proud of him, and I was also proud of the players that surrounded him today."

Sherman said he gave Favre the option of skipping the game. But after thinking about it, Favre decided to take the field, extending his NFL record for consecutive regular-season games played by a quarterback to 188.

"When I talked to him (Sunday) and presented him the option of not playing, he had to think about it because he was in a very difficult state of mind," said Sherman. "But after thinking about it longer, he felt that he had made an investment in the season and felt that he needed to play this football game for himself and for his teammates."

Favre was not made available to reporters following the game.

In painting yet another masterpiece that will be admired for years to come, Favre hit 12 different receivers and wound up with a career-high 154.9 passer rating.

He reached the 3,000 yard passing mark in a season for the 12th time in his career. He also reached the 30 touchdown mark for a seventh season, extending his own NFL record, and is tied for seventh in NFL history with a touchdown pass thrown in 24 straight games.

"He did not want to walk away from this thing because of the contributions he's made, the time he has put into it, the investment he has in it," fullback William Henderson said. "He didn't want to walk away, and his father wouldn't expect him to.

"And we wanted to come out here and make sure he wasn't doing it alone and knew he had everyone's support. Everything he proved today, he did a damn good job. We dedicate this one to Brett, his father Irv, and to the Favre family."

Despite Oakland's porous run defense, Favre and the Packers wasted little time in establishing the passing game.

Embarking on a six-play, 80-yard scoring march, Green Bay took a 7-0 lead on its first series when Favre rolled left and connected with Walls from 22 yards out. Favre lofted a high pass that sailed just over Oakland safety Derrick Gibson and into the hands of Walls, who caught the ball in the back corner of the end zone.

The touchdown reception was Walls' first with the Packers, and Favre set up the score moments earlier when he connected with receiver Robert Ferguson on a 46-yard pass on a third and long situation.

On Green Bay's next offensive series, Favre found Walker from 23 yards out to cap off a four-play, 53-yard drive.

This time, Favre rolled right on a play-action fake and found Walker open along the right sideline. Walker bumped into Oakland cornerback Phillip Buchanon and then slipped past when Favre delivered the ball.

The touchdown pass was the 343rd of Favre's brilliant career, moving him past Fran Tarkenton for second all-time in NFL history, and he finished the first quarter by throwing for 139 yards on seven-of-seven passing. The 139 yards were the second-highest that Favre has thrown for in an opening quarter in his career.

Favre remained hot in the second quarter, hitting Walker on a touchdown bomb from 43 yards out with 7:06 remaining and then David Martin from six yards out with only 54 seconds left in the half.

Lined up on the right side, Walker streaked downfield, positioned himself in front of Buchanon and Anthony Dorsett, leaped and then caught the ball before doing a backwards summersault in the front of the end zone.

Walker, who finished with a career-high 124 yards on four receptions, also played a role in Martin's touchdown reception when he caught a 46-yard pass. Martin later came through by catching a Favre pass in the flat for the score.

"Brett didn't have to be here," Walker said. "It shows that he's a warrior. I was happy to be a part of it and showing him the love that he needed to get what we needed to get done today."

Overall, the Packers piled up a season-best 548 total yards of offense with running back Ahman Green rushing for 127 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown.

Defensively, the Packers limited the Raiders to 298 total yards and forced three turnovers.

Defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila led the way with three sacks, giving him 10 for the season. It's the first time in team history that anyone has had three straight double-digit sack seasons.

Still, the talk afterward centered around Favre.

"What Brett accomplished today is truly amazing," said Gbaja-Biamila, who lost his mother in an automobile accident during the season last year. "I truly understand what he had to go through to play. It was an emotional day. He played his heart out."

Not lost in the victory was the fact that the win tied the Packers with Minnesota for first in the NFC North Division with a 9-6 record.

Green Bay, which still has not clinched a playoff berth, can win the division if it beats Denver on Sunday at Lambeau Field and Minnesota loses at Arizona.

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