Favre shoulders the load

Since the emergence of Ahman Green and the vaunted running game, Packers quarterback Brett Favre hasn't had to strap the offense on his shoulders in a long time.

With the Packers' running game being carted into the locker room or watching from the sideline, Favre proved that he's still got the Midas touch.

Curing everything that ailed a stagnant Packers offense through three quarters, Favre added another chapter to his legacy Sunday night by beating the host Houston Texans 16-13.

To be sure, the defense did more than its share to increase the Packers' winning streak to five games. But on prime time, Favre looked like he was in his prime.

Favre rallied the Packers from a 13-3 deficit through three quarters by producing points on three of four fourth-quarter possessions.

According to Favre, the comeback had less to do with halftime adjustments than it did simply making plays.

"I just listened because I knew what we needed to do," Favre said. "And the talk wasn't going to get it done."

As usual, Favre was no talk and all action. Favre had to shoulder the load — completing 33 of 50 passes for 383 yards — because his running backs were dropping like flies. Starter Ahman Green injured his ribs on the first carry of the game, backup Najeh Davenport didn't play due to a hamstring injury suffered last week and Walter Williams — called up from the practice squad on Saturday because of Davenport's injury — hurt his ankle.

"At one point, we were totally out of running backs," Favre said, noting Tony Fisher briefly left the game. "We had to alter our game plan some and had to abandon our running game a little bit."

The first of the fourth-quarter scores was the biggest. Favre capped a seven-play, 86-yard drive with a gorgeous pump fake and deep ball to Donald Driver. Driver, a Houston native, made a fingertip catch in the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 13-10.

Before the touchdown, though, Favre made the play of the game by hitting Robert Ferguson for 23 yards on a third-and-15 play. Ferguson found a hole in the Texans' zone defense and paid the price by surviving a jarring hit.

"It was a difficult game for us," said Favre. "We didn't score a lot of points, but in the end, we had guys making plays. I can't say enough about our wide receivers and our offensive line. It was a total team effort. If ever there was one, this was it."

Favre led the Packers to a field goal on his next possession to tie the game at 13. William Henderson, as he has done several times this season, contributed a hurdling, 20-yard reception, and a 15-yard hookup with Driver put the Packers comfortably in field goal range and nearly overcame an offensive holding penalty.

Favre had the Packers marching toward the lead score on the next drive. He even contributed a 17-yard scramble in which he bought himself probably an extra 10 yards with another pump fake and picked up even more yardage thanks to the stick-to-it blocking of Driver, but the drive was halted on an interception. The turnover wasn't a disaster because it came on a third-and-17 play and was the equivalent of a 26-yard net punt.

Favre was back on the field barely a minute later as the defense forced another three-and-out Texans punt. Favre, who failed to deliver on a two-minute drill to end the first half, didn't fail this time.

Starting with the ball at their own 31-yard line, Favre navigated the Packers 41 yards on eight plays to set up Ryan Longwell's game-winning 46-yard field goal.

After a pair of short completions to start the drive, Favre hit Antonio Chatman for 6 yards on a third-and-1. Favre hit Chatman for 11 yards on the next play to move the ball to the Houston 43 with 31 seconds left.

On first down, Favre hit Javon Walker for 3 yards, then spiked the ball to stop the clock. That would be his only incompletion of the drive, as his third-and-7 pass to Driver netted 12 yards and a first down.

Longwell snuck his winning 46-yarder through the uprights moments later, and Favre celebrated his 35th career fourth-quarter comeback.

Favre "gives you confidence that he is going to do something special in those situations," Packers coach Mike Sherman said. "To be able to rely on his leadership and abilities at those times gives us an opportunity to win a game like this."


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