Favre silences critics with stellar game

When given time, Brett Favre shows he's still got the talent and fire to overcome his team's flaws and lead Green Bay to a victory that means much more than just a 'W' in the win column, PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence says.

Just a hunch here, but ESPN Radio's Dan Patrick, Sports Illustrated's Michael Silver and the countless other "experts" out there who keep wondering when the Packers will bench — or trade — Brett Favre probably will be quiet for a week.

For the second week in a row, Favre showed there's plenty of gas in the tank, tread on the tire, fire in the belly and power in that golden right arm.

And on Sunday, he was good enough to lead Green Bay to its first victory of the season.

Favre's not as good as he was when he was winning MVPs and building a legend, but he's good enough to carry a team to victory when he gets enough help from his friends.

 And that's about all he got — a little help — in Sunday's 31-24 victory at Detroit.

Donald Driver looked like a mere mortal for a change, with only two more catches than drops.

The running game looked like it's running in quicksand, though at least coach Mike McCarthy remembered handing off the ball not only is legal but prevents the quarterback from being a bull's eye for three hours.

Running back Noah Herron gave away at least three points with a fumble inside Detroit's 10-yard line. Worse, his slippery-fingered cohort, Ahman Green, almost gave away the game with his last-minute fumble.

The pass rush was mostly nonexistent until the bitter end.

The secondary continued to make last season's No. 1 ranking against the pass look like a typo, if not a flat-out farce.

Through it all, Favre, looking like a kid playing in the biggest game of his life, passed, prodded and cajoled an underwhelmingly talented but overwhelmingly young offense to 400 yards, 31 points and victory.

 "I'm in it for right now," Favre said. "I enjoyed the heck out of the game today. I'm not out to prove anything to anyone. There is nothing like winning. There is nothing like playing, period. That's why I came back."

He didn't come back to set records, though his 400th career touchdown pass — a brilliant piece of running by the deceivingly fast Greg Jennings — will be what's remembered most about this game. Favre celebrated the milestone touchdown with glee. Then again, he celebrated first downs with the same childlike zest.

"What can I say? We needed a win a lot more than I needed 400 touchdown passes. That's the icing on the cake," Favre said.

What does this win mean in the big picture?

Short term, probably little, although it should shut up the critics for a bit. It came against, after all, the pitiful Detroit Lions. For as great as Favre played, with the special teams clearly winning their battle and with the defense scoring a touchdown, the Packers barely won. And if not for Jon Kitna throwing a horrible pass to a wide-open Mike Furrey near the goal line in the fourth quarter, the Lions might have made the game a whole lot more interesting.

Even Favre admitted as much.

"I have to admit, right at the end of the game, I'm thinking, ‘We're going to end up losing this game,'" Favre said. "I don't want this to come across as being negative, but it's a hell of a lot easier to lose it in those situations than win it. ... We're not good enough right now to overcome a lot of mistakes. As good as we passed the ball and caught the ball, we still almost lost the game."

Big picture, the win might mean more.

For McCarthy, 1-2 sure beats 0-3 when it comes to getting your message across in the locker room. All the schemes and beliefs McCarthy has been preaching since his hiring might have started to fall on deaf ears. At some point, the players needed to taste success to show that McCarthy's plan might be the right one.

For the defense, that unit was chewed up and spit out for much of the game, but it came through at the end. On what should have been the Lions' last chance, Detroit failed to get so much as a first down, much less threaten to score a tying touchdown. When Green got careless with the football and gave the Lions another opportunity, Green Bay's defense didn't buckle. A.J. Hawk had his best game as pro. Same for Corey Williams, who had two sacks, including a drive killer on the Lions' next-to-last possession.

While it's true the victory came against a bottom-feeder such as Detroit, you've got to crawl before you can walk. The Packers did enough good things to find a way to win and they did enough bad things to give the coaches plenty to talk about.

And most importantly of all, they've still got Favre, who when given the time to operate is still plenty good enough to give the Packers a puncher's chance.

His critics be damned.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

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