Favre gets record, Packers beat Vikes, 23-16

Brett Favre broke Dan Marino's career touchdown-pass record early on, then put the Minnesota Vikings away late in the game with another touchdown pass, and the Packers hung on for a 23-16 victory Sunday in the Metrodome.

Favre became the National Football League's all-time leader for touchdown passes by connecting with wide receiver Greg Jennings on a slant from 16 yards out to give the Packers an early 7-0 lead over the Vikings. Favre's 33-yard touchdown – the 422nd of his career - to wide receiver James Jones with 5:46 left in the game gave Green Bay a commanding 23-9 lead.

Minnesota closed to 23-16 on Kelly Holcomb's 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Sidney Rice with 1:55 remaining. Though it appeared that all Green Bay had to do was run the clock out after Donald Driver recovered the ensuing onside kick, the Packers gave the Vikings one last gasp when running back Ryan Grant fumbled an exchange on a handoff from Favre and the ball was recovered by linebacker Chad Greenway with 1:45 left.

But Green Bay's defense, which only gave up a touchdown in the game, sealed the deal when safety Atari Bigby made his first career interception off a deflected pass with 1:06 left in the game.

The Packers, who have won four of their last five games in Minnesota, are off to their first 4-0 start in nine years. Green Bay entered the game as one of five undefeated NFL teams. The Packers, who last made the postseason in 2004, have won eight straight dating back to last year.

"It's very important for this football team to keep its eye on the target," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy afterward. "We have a lot of work to do. We've got the Chicago Bears coming to Lambeau (Field). We've got to stay the course and take it one day at a time."

After Favre surpassed Marino's record, which has stood since he retired after the 1999 season, the game was stopped for about two minutes late in the first quarter for a video of Marino congratulating Favre that was played in the stadium.

Favre completed 32 of 45 passes for 344 yards as the pass-happy Packers avoided rushing the ball as much as possible against Minnesota's stout run-defense. Green Bay finished with 46 yards on 20 attempts for 2.3 per carry average. Minnesota, behind star rookie running back Adrian Peterson, racked up 155 yards rushing for a 7.0 per carry average, but struggled to get into the end zone behind Holcomb, who started in place of Tarvaris Jackson (groin).

"We need to keep banging away at the run game. There are some things we need to get cleaned up," said McCarthy. "You've got to credit Minnesota's run defense. They're one of the best, if not the best, in the league. We have a lot of work to do. We're an improving football team that will continue to work to improve."

Vernand Morency started in place of the injured Brandon Jackson (shin), but only had one carry for 2 yards. Morency, who returned to practice last week after being out with a knee injury since the first day of training camp, also caught three passes for 33 yards, but also fumbled the ball away out of bounds after one of the completions. DeShawn Wynn led the Packers with 20 yards on 10 carries.

Meanwhile, Peterson finished with 112 yards on just 12 carries, but was held to four yards in the second half.

"We did a better job of staying square, staying in our run lanes," said McCarthy. "I thought we did a better job of tackling him, but we need to do a better job of run defense. He's an exceptional young running back."

Without any hint of a running game, Favre fired away, completing passes to 10 different receivers. Driver caught seven passes for 58 yards while Donald Lee had four catches for 66 yards to lead the Packers. It marked the second straight game that Favre has attempted 45 passes. He also attempted 42 passes in Week 1 against Philadelphia.

"Everyone had a hand in this game today," said Favre. "It's no secret that everyone said, ‘Man, I hope you get the record' and all that stuff. I said, ‘Well, I would much rather win this game, but in order for us to win, I'm going to have to throw a touchdown pass. We're in a throw mode right now, but the win itself would feel great, but to win and to get this behind us is a great feeling."

Favre completed 14 of 20 passes for 197 yards, including his record-breaking touchdown in the first half as the Packers took a 10-6 lead over the Vikings.

Favre's 27-yard pass to Lee moved the Packers to Minnesota's 19. Two plays later, he hit Jennings streaking across the middle for the touchdown with 4 minutes, 56 seconds left in the first quarter. Just before the play, Favre told Lee to run to the corner of the end zone in order to move the safety over. Knowing that the middle of the field would be open and with a blitz coming, Jennings got inside of cornerback Marcus McCauley and made the catch in stride for the historic touchdown.

"I thought they were going to come with an all-out blitz, which they did," said Favre. "I changed the play to more of a blitz-type play. The two-receiver side is the logical side to change. … Greg got it fine. That part was easy. The tough part was to make sure your interior guys, whether it be linemen or tight ends, get it. The key to the play was Donald (Lee) getting that checked. Had he kept his route on that was called in the huddle, he probably was in the way of Greg, and I knew that. … I felt like this could be a big play if we could get it off."

The Packers were en route to another score in the second quarter, but Lee lost the ball after a 28-yard completion when it was ripped out of his arms by safety Dwight Smith. Cornerback Cedric Griffin recovered deep in the Vikings' territory.

But Peterson, who had 108 yards on 10 carries in the first half, ripped off a 56-yard run to Green Bay's 32. Green Bay's defense held, as Holcomb, who was 11 of 20 for 139 yards in the first half, threw incomplete and Ryan Longwell booted a 44-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3.

Longwell added a 35-yard field goal with less than 2 minutes remaining to make it 7-6, but Favre moved the Packers to Minnesota's 4 in the final 1:50 of the second quarter on his 14-yard completion to Donald Driver. Favre was sacked at the 10 with 5 seconds left, and kicker Mason Crosby responded with a 28-yard field goal to give the Packers a 10-6 lead.

The Vikings held the Packers to 13 yards rushing in the first half. Minnesota had 120 on the ground.

The Packers stretched their lead to 13-6 with 6:04 left in the third quarter on Crosby's 44-yard field goal. Jon Ryan faked a punt and ran seven yards to Minnesota's 43 to spark the drive, which consumed the first 8:56 of the quarter. Favre completed a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Ruvell Martin, who made diving catch at Minnesota's 28, but he threw incomplete twice and the Packers settled for the field goal.

Longwell sliced Green Bay's lead to 13-9 with 3:18 left in the third quarter by making a 48-yard field goal attempt. Chester Taylor, who broke free for a 33-yard run, moved the Vikings to the Packers' 25, but Green Bay's defense forced the Vikings to attempt a field goal when Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila sacked Holcomb and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Vikings on third down.

The Packers made it 16-9 after settling for Crosby's 33-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter after Favre threw incomplete to Driver on third and inches from the Vikings' 15.

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