Favre slips, falls with decisions

Quarterback's woeful second half douses any chance of upset

Just when it appeared that Brett Favre and the young offense around him could be productive, the veteran quarterback slipped into his old ways. Favre began to fire away and shot the Packers square in the you-know-what.

For the past two-and-a-half games, Favre has shined. Even through the first half of Green Bay's 21-14 loss Sunday to the Bengals, he was sharp as a tack. The Packers entered the intermission trailing 14-7, and the score may have been tied if not for the first of his five interceptions when a screen pass was tipped by a defensive end and caught by linebacker.

Even then, it appeared as if Favre and the Packers could catch the Bengals on their home turf and win. Why not? Since the second half of Green Bay's game at Carolina, Favre appeared to play within himself and not try to force the ball past defenders as much as he did earlier in the season. He was keeping it simple and moving the chains the way the Packers need him to do because of injuries that have plagued the offense this year.

The Packers literally dropped the ball on two potential game-turning plays early in the third quarter, and that seemed to ignite a domino effect of poor decisions by Favre. Tight end Donald Lee dropped a long pass from Favre on third-and-three that could have been a touchdown. On the ensuring series, Bengals quarterback overthrew a receiver and safety Nick Collins dropped the pass that he could have easily returned deep into Cincinnati territory, or for a touchdown.

Perhaps Favre was feeling pressure to make something happen. But more often than not, that's when the situation has worsened for the Packers this season. Favre avoided a two-man blitz and completed a 28-yard pass to Donald Driver that moved Green Bay to Cincinnati's 40. He hit Driver again for a nine-yard gain to the 31. But after running back Tony Fisher pounded the ball to the 23, Favre was intercepted by cornerback Deltha O'Neal on a pass that was clearly off target.

Green Bay's defense forced Cincinnati to punt after three plays, but Favre ended Green Bay's next drive when O'Neal picked off a pass intended for Donald Driver.

Again Green Bay's defense forced the Bengals to punt after three plays. But on the first play of the next series, Favre, while rolling to his left, tried to muscle a pass to Fisher. Cornerback Tory James was in position to make the interception and Cincinnati took over.

Yet again Green Bay's defense stepped up and forced the Bengals to punt. And again, on the fourth play of the ensuing drive, Favre's pass was tipped and intercepted by Thurman at the Packers' 27.

This time the Bengals capitalized. Quarterback Carson Palmer dropped back on the first play and found fullback Jeremi Johnson over the middle for what turned out to be the winning touchdown.

It seems the harder Favre tries to make something happen, the more his decision process goes haywire. In the final seconds of the game, Favre inexplicably faked a spike, which erased any hopes of a touchdown as time expired.

Favre's decisions in the second half against the Bengals were detrimental to the Packers. Green Bay's game against Cincinnati was similar to games earlier this year when Favre tried to do too much. The end result was interceptions and losses in games the Packers could have easily won.

The Packers proved that they could move the ball against the Bengals Sunday as long as they didn't make mistakes. Green Bay finished with more yards in total offense than Cincinnati, but the turnovers short-circuited their ability to score more points at the end of the first half and throughout the second half.

Mike Sherman and offensive coordinator Tom Rossley have modified the offense in recent weeks because of injuries to key players. They're keeping it simple because of the new personnel. Favre must comply in order or Green Bay to win. When he has, good things have happened. The Packers whipped New Orleans and nearly upended Minnesota.

The Packers had every chance to beat the Bengals, but, instead, beat themselves. Unfortunately, Favre, who has been a hero so often for the Packers over the years, was the culprit. He didn't play within himself and finished with the most interceptions in one game in his career.

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

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