Packers notebook

Another win means another first; Sunday may be bittersweet for Favre

The Packers started a season 3-0 13 times in the first 88 years of their illustrious history. Eight of their unprecedented 12 league titles were spawned by such a start.

Yet, Green Bay can achieve a first if it wins its third game in as many outings this season Sunday, when the Chargers visit Lambeau Field. The Packers have never opened 3-0, when all three of their victims were playoff teams the previous season.

A quiet confidence is coursing through the team's Lambeau headquarters this week that the nifty trifecta is within grasp.

"We have a lot of energy around here," head coach Mike McCarthy said.

Throw in the end of last season, when they turned the corner after a 4-8 start, and the Packers are in the midst of a six-game winning streak. It's the longest in the NFC and second only to Super Bowl champion Indianapolis' seven-gamer.

"I think (the positive vibes were) evident and really started coming off of last season," McCarthy said. "The offseason program, through training camp and really now with the two wins, I just see the confidence building. I think it's real confidence. It's not manufactured, and I think that's important. Our guys believe."

The league's youngest team for the second year running has begun garnering attention nationally for being perhaps more than a surprise 2-0 club that subdued the NFC East duo of Philadelphia and the New York Giants.

"Up to this point, we are (for real)," quarterback Brett Favre said.

Yet, Favre, who has a good 15 years of NFL experience over many of his teammates, was quick to put the pleasant start in perspective. The Packers haven't been in this position since 2001, the last time they also started 3-0.

The litmus test is on tap this weekend, never mind that the 1-1 Chargers are immune to scoring points in the first half, have gotten little out of reigning league MVP LaDainian Tomlinson and seemingly will be hard pressed to repeat their 14-2 antics of last season.

If underdog Green Bay can spring another upset, then the wheels will be in motion for it to challenge the Bears for NFC North supremacy and possibly reap bigger gains in January.

The Packers, though, have a big gorilla on their collective back. They have lost six straight and seven of their last eight to AFC opponents at Lambeau, dating to the 2003 season. Their only win over a visiting opponent from the other conference in that stretch was 31-3 against a playoff-bound Denver team that rested a number of starters in the 2003 regular-season finale.

Last year, the Packers were humiliated 35-0 by New England and 38-10 by the New York Jets in their two home matchups with foes from the superior conference.

"We're 2-0. No more than that," Favre cautioned. "I don't think we're making any reservations anywhere anytime soon and shouldn't be. No one should. All it means is we're 2-0. There's 14 (games) left."

Favre named offensive player of week
Quarterback Brett Favre subscribes to the adage that the more one does, he's liable to experience both good and bad.

Sure enough, Favre could be in for a bittersweet Sunday when the Chargers pay a visit to Lambeau Field.

Favre needs only three touchdown passes to match Dan Marino's hallowed NFL record of 420. Favre also is just two interceptions shy of equaling George Blanda's infamous league standard of 277.

"You can't have all of the good records. That's the way I look at it," Favre quipped Wednesday. "George Blanda was a pretty good player, I think. I'm not a numbers cruncher, but it's a lot of picks, it's a lot of touchdowns, but there's been a lot of attempts and there's been a lot of wins. If you're going to talk about the good ones, we might as well talk about the bad ones."

Favre is fresh off surpassing John Elway as the league's winningest quarterback, notching his 149th regular-season triumph in the Packers' road rout of the Giants.

Favre, who had three touchdown passes in the game, was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the 11th time.

With Favre on the brink of throwing past Marino for the TD benchmark, debate was waged across the country this week about which league record will best define Favre's prolific career.

Favre certainly hasn't short-changed himself. He has 8,303 pass attempts, a mere 55 from another Marino record. Blanda had less than half the attempts that Favre has had in his career - 4,007.

The touchdown-passes mark, though, has been likened to baseball's all-time home-run record, which Barry Bonds attained this summer.

Yet, some prominent people who have been close with Favre since he began his reign of dominance with the Packers in 1992 consider the newfound victories feat as his crown jewel.

"The all-time (record) in anything in this league is such a monumental achievement," said second-year Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, who also was Favre's quarterbacks coach in 1999. "One hundred forty-nine victories, I think that speaks for itself. If you ask me which is the biggest record he'll achieve, I think he's just accomplished it."

Former 49ers and Lions head coach Steve Mariucci echoed the sentiment. Mariucci was Favre's first quarterbacks coach in Green Bay, from 1992-95.

"The most important statistic that I think Brett can be proud of is the most wins because whatever style of quarterback you have, whether you run the wishbone, the run-and-shoot, the West Coast offense, what you want your quarterback to do is win games for you," Mariucci said. "Brett's done more of that than any quarterback that ever played the game. That's why, in my mind, he goes down as amongst the greatest because he's won more than anybody else."

More Favre numbers
Favre would prefer to discuss the upcoming deer-hunting season in Wisconsin than his record-setting achievements.

Yet, he is surprised just 42 players have been on the receiving end of his 417 touchdown throws, all with the Packers.

"I could probably come close (to naming all of them), if I had to guess," Favre said. "(But) I would have thought it was more."

Antonio Freeman tops the list with 57, then Sterling Sharpe with 41. Only five players have caught at least 20 TD passes from Favre. Current Packers Donald Driver (35) and Bubba Franks (27) rank third and fifth, respectively.

Favre laments the one touchdown pass to an unlikely receiver that got away. A one-yard throw in the end zone to right tackle Mark Tauscher, who was eligible on the play, during a Christmas Day game against the Bears in 2005 was wiped out by a holding penalty on Grey Ruegamer.

"That would have been special to me and to (Tauscher)," Favre said.

Also, by taking the first snap on offense Sunday, Favre will extend his starting streak to 240 regular-season games, a league record for a quarterback. That will elevate him to a share of second place with former Minnesota center Mick Tingelhoff for the longest starting streak at any position.

Jim Marshall, another ex-Viking, owns the iron-man record with 270 straight starts.

By the numbers
7 -- Players on Green Bay's 53-man roster who were with the club in 2001, when it last started a season 3-0: quarterback Brett Favre, long snapper Rob Davis, receiver Donald Driver, tight end Bubba Franks, defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and offensive tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher.


Packer Report Top Stories