Play of the game: Favre's fumble

Brett Favre's first-quarter fumble, caused by Bubba Franks failing to pick up a blitz, killed a promising Packers drive and set up the first of the Jets' four straight touchdown drives.

So, you want a play of the game in a deceivingly close 38-10 blowout?

It came on the Packers' first possession of the game, when they were trailing only 3-0 and had a little something brewing after picking up a couple first downs.

On first-and-10 from the Jets' 45-yard line, a simple one-man blitz befuddled the Packers' blockers.

Tight end Bubba Franks motioned to the right and lined up in a tight slot. When middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma looped around the outside on a blitz, Franks picked him up. So did running back Vernand Morency. Nobody bothered to pick up defensive end Bryan Thomas, who entered the game with five sacks and was lined up to the outside of Franks.

Brett Favre stepped up in the pocket, but Thomas stripped the ball from behind. Defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson recovered at New York's 49.

After the game, Franks took the blame for failing to pick up Thomas.

It was a costly mistake.

On the Jets' first play of the ensuing drive, quarterback Chad Pennington hit a wide-open Jerricho Cotchery, who somehow got matched up against safety Marquand Manuel, for 25 yards.

Two incompletions set up a third-and-10. Packers defensive coordinator Bob Sanders blitzed middle linebacker Nick Barnett up the middle, but he was easily picked up. Outside linebacker A.J. Hawk also rushed forward, but he pulled up at the line of scrimmage. It was hard to tell whether he was blitzing, too, but either way, he put himself in a no-man's land for neither going after Pennington nor being of any help in coverage.

The absence of Barnett and Hawk left the middle of the field open for running back Leon Washington, who got a one-on-one matchup with, of all people, the Packers' best rusher, Aaron Kampman.

Not surprisingly, Washington gained 13 yards for a first down at the Packers' 13.

On second-and-9, Charles Woodson dropped an easy interception. You see it all the time: Why do players jump for balls that hit them right in the numbers? Woodson's a good player, but that's fundamentally stupid football.

On third-and-9, Pennington hit Cotchery for a 12-yard touchdown. Cotchery ran what he called a "jerk" route. He circled toward the middle of the field, stopped, and then moved to the left. The stop-and-start send safety Nick Collins sprawling, and Cotchery scored an easy touchdown.

Why is it called a "jerk" route?

Because "it makes the defender look like a jerk," Cotchery said.

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


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