Top Five: One for the Recordbooks

As the Patriots and Panthers prepare for Super Bowl XXXVIII, Packer fans can't help but think that Green Bay could be – and should be –there.P> While the 2003 campaign ended abruptly, leaving bitter disappointment behind, the season was full of great moments and memories. This week will review the Top 5 things to remember about the 2003 season.<p> Today: One for the Record Books -- Top 5 marks set in 2003. Next: Glory Days -- Top 5 memorable moments.<P>

Before Arizona receiver Nathan Poole caught the touchdown pass heard ‘round the league, one of the most distressing thoughts about the Packers missing the playoffs was that the record-setting year of 2003 would go down as a failure.

Instead, the Cardinals' improbable win over Minnesota handed Green Bay the second NFC North title. The catch accomplished something else of lasting value: as the 2003 Packers are written into the league and team record books, the season can now be remembered with the pride of the division championship and playoff win at Lambeau.

Here are our picks for the Top 5 records set by the prolific 2003 Packers:

5. Brett Favre's touchdown pass streak

While it's possible to win a game without a Brett Favre touchdown pass, it isn't likely and it certainly isn't as much fun. Favre entered the season with a streak of nine games with a TD pass, dating back to Nov. 4, 2002. As the season progressed, he drew closer to the team record set by Cecil Isbell more than 60 years ago (spanning the 1941-42 seasons).

Favre threw TD passes in every game this season including playoffs. He tied Isbell's mark in a win over the Bears on Dec. 7, then broke the record Dec. 14 in victory at San Diego on a 7-yard pass to Donard Driver with 33 seconds left in the first half.

That marked Favre's 23rd consecutive game with a TD pass. When the 2004 media guides are issued this summer, Favre will be the new record holder with his current streak of 25 regular season games with a TD pass. He also holds the third, fourth, and sixth spots on the list with streaks of 18, 17, and 14 (twice).

4. Ahman Green's single-game rushing record.

Running back Ahman Green's assault on the record books is legendary. When he ran for 192 yards on Monday Night Football Nov. 10 to eclipse Dorsey Levens' previous mark of 189 yards, the new record was tainted by a painful loss.

Green got his chance to put a happier spin on the record and become the Packers first 200-yard rusher in the season finale vs. Denver. Green rushed for 218 yards in the 31-3 win over the Broncos. He smashed the previous mark and gave the Packers even more to celebrate along with the division crown.

3. Brett Favre consecutive game streak

What more can be said about Favre's "ironman" streak? In sports we've learned to never say never, but it's a safe bet that the quarterback's incredible skein of 189 regular-season games (208 counting playoffs) will stand for a long, long time.

This season lent additional chapters to that legend. Favre played more than half the season with a broken thumb, and appeared to be affected adversely by the injury in one game. Favre threw three TD passes in a win in the Metrodome in the first game after the injury.

The second chapter is a sad one, but stands as one of the most memorable moments of Favre's career. Favre's father, Irvin Favre, passed away the evening of Sunday, Dec. 21st. Together with his family, Brett decided to stay with the Packers for their Monday Night game in Oakland. He threw 4 first-half touchdown passes, kept his team alive in the playoff race and, incidentally, kept the streak alive.

As a side note, Favre, also ran his consecutive games played streak to 191, including playing in two games which he did not start for the 1992 Packers. That broke Forrest Gregg's record of 187 consecutive games played (1956, 1958-70).

2. Longwell's all-time leading scorer record.

Field goal kickers don't get many long-term accolades. They are usually in the limelight only as either a hero (think Adam Vinatieri) or goat (Scott Norwood) with big games on the line.

A fortunate, talented few are consistent enough to become noticed for their overall service. Ryan Longwell, in his 7th year as the Packers' kicker, is definitely in that category.

This season, Longwell became the Packers' all-time leading scorer. The accomplishment was completed on an extra point during the Packers' win in San Diego Dec. 14. That's an incredible achievement for a franchise with as much history as the Green Bay Packers.

"The Packers are one of, if not the most storied franchise in the NFL," Longwell said in his post-game press conference after breaking the record. "To have a record like this, which is a pretty big deal and to be above the names that I'm above is very humbling and very satisfying at the same time." Longwell passed NFL Hall-of-Famer Don Hutson, who held the record for 58 years with 823 points (1935-45).

The kicker also earned a share of an NFL record in that game. His 8 points against the Chargers gave him 102 for the season, making him one of only three players in league history to score 100 or more points in each of his first seven seasons in the NFL. Vinatieri and Denver's Jason Elam share the honor.

Through the end of the 2003 season, Longwell's mark stands at 844 points and the No. 1 most memorable record set in 2003:

1. Ahman Green's single-season rushing record.

The "Ahman Green" watch began around the time that the running back posted three 100-plus yard games within four weeks early in the season. He warmed up with a 160-yard performance vs. Detroit in Week 2. In weeks 4, 5 and 6 Green rushed for 176, 118 and 139 yards, respectively. Suddenly, Green's name and that of Jim Taylor were linked together through statistics and speculation the rest of the way.

There were ups and downs along the way. Green understandably bristled at discussion of his quest for the record after a Packers' loss. He narrowly missed setting the mark in front of the home fans vs. the Bears Dec. 7. Despite any disappointment he may have felt missing that opportunity, Green entered the following week at San Diego knowing that the NFL's oldest rushing mark was his.

Needing just 12 yards, Green got the job done on the opening drive. He broke Taylor's record with a nine-yard rush that put the Packers inside the San Diego 5-yard-line. Green celebrated with a touchdown on the following play.

While the nine-yard gain pushed him past Taylor's longstanding 1,474, Green made sure he had plenty of cushion by season's end.

Simply put, Green turned in the best single-season rushing performance in the Packers' long history finishing with 1,883 yards. The mark set by Hall-of-Famer Taylor in 1962 fell after 41 years.

Green helped the Packers establish the team record for rushing yards in a season with 2,558, surpassing the 1962 Packers' 2,460 yards.

Packer Report Top Stories