Favre bombs lift Packers past Broncos, 19-13

Who says Brett Favre struggles at throwing the long ball? The veteran quarterback heaved a pair of bombs, one early and one in overtime, to lead the surprising Green Bay Packers to a 19-13 victory in overtime over the Broncos Monday night at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver.

Favre's 82-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the extra period to wide receiver Greg Jennings provided the margin of victory and lifted Green Bay to 6-1, the Packers' best start since 2002. The Packers won for the first time in six tries in Denver and snapped a five-game losing streak on Monday Night Football.

"I thought it was an excellent team effort," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "It's a perfect example of the character of our football team, the way we battled all the way through and into overtime. We did a number of things wrong, and need to clean that up, but I'm happy to get a win in Denver. This is a tough place to play."

Favre completed 21 of 27 passes for 331 yards and two touchdowns for a sparkling 142.4 passer rating, saving his best pass of the night for last. The Packers used a play-action fake on the Broncos' Cover 2 defense with the intention of hitting tight end Donald Lee over the middle. But Favre spotted Jennings in single coverage against cornerback Dre' Bly and unloaded a deep pass along the left sideline that Jennings caught in stride for the score.

"We had practiced all week that if we ran this play against a single safety look that we were going to check out to a different play," Favre explained. "It was the first time we ran it in a game and I said, ‘I'm not going to check out (to a short pass). I'll just take a shot (deep).' (Tight end) Donald Lee was really out of the play."

Earlier in the game, Favre found rookie wide receiver James Jones wide open beyond Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey for a 79-yard touchdown.

"I think their corners are outstanding," said McCarthy. "I think they anticipate and jump routes as good as anybody we've played against this year, so it was important for us to go ‘on top' against Dre' Bly and Champ (Bailey). We obviously had a little bit of success with that today."

The Broncos used a 91-yard drive in the final 2 minutes, 27 seconds of regulation and tied the game on Jason Elam's 21-yard field goal as time expired. Quarterback Jay Cutler, who completed 21 of 34 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown, was stopped a yard short of a first down at the Packers' 2, forcing the Broncos, who were out of timeouts, to quickly set up for a field goal.

Aside from remaining a game ahead of the Detroit Lions (5-2) in the NFC North Division, the Packers revived their dormant running game behind little-known Ryan Grant, and had two receivers finish with more than 100 yards against the Broncos (3-4).

Grant, taking over for the injured DeShawn Wynn early in the second quarter, rushed for 104 yards on 22 carries for an impressive 4.7-yard per carry avg. Jennings led Green Bay's receivers with 6 catches for 141 yards, and Jones had three catches for 107 yards.

The Packers also were penalized a season-high 13 times for 103 yards, and a handful of those flags may have cost them from scoring more points in the first two quarters.

The Packers drove to the Broncos' 1 yard line twice in the second quarter, but were only able to cash in on a pair of Mason Crosby field goals as the Packers took a 13-7 halftime lead. Either penalties or lack of execution prevented the Packers, who were penalized eight times in the first two quarters, from scoring touchdowns in each case.

Grant, who entered the game with 27 yards rushing for the season, rambled for 81 yards on 14 carries (5.7 yards avg. per carry) in the first half after taking over for Wynn, who hurt his shoulder after ramming into a pile for a one-yard gain from Green Bay's own end zone.

Crosby's 26-yard field goal with 1:26 left in the second quarter gave the Packers a 13-7 lead. After Grant, who carried five straight times for 23 yards to begin the 51-yard drive, took it inside the 1, a pair of false start penalties stalled the drive, making it third-and-goal on the 8, and Favre's bullet pass to wide receiver Donald Driver was off the mark.

Linebacker Nick Barnett recovered a fumble by Cutler on Green Bay's 1 yard line late in the first quarter, and the Packers capitalized by driving 98 yards to Denver's 1 before setline for Crosby's 19-yard field goal and a 10-7 lead.

Favre connected with tight end Donald Lee three times in the drive for 35 yards, including a 15-yard pass early to give the Packers some breathing room deep in their own territory. Grant broke free for a 23-yard run to Denver's 18 to spark the Packers.

Elam made a 45-yard field goal attempt with 3 minutes left in the third quarter to close the Broncos to 13-10. Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Kampman sacked Cutler on third-and-14, forcing the Broncos to settle for the field goal. Kampman finished with two sacks, raising his season total to seven.

Safety Atari Bigby committed two penalties of his four penalties in the game, allowing Denver to drive 60 yards and take a 7-0 lead on Cutler's four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tony Scheffler, who broke free from Bigby to catch the pass. Bigby was flagged for a late hit on wide receiver Brandon Stokley after a 20-yard completion to the 16, moving the ball to the Packers' 8. Three plays later, Bigby was called for passing interference on tight end Daniel Graham in the end zone.

Despite a Cullen Jenkins' tackle of running back Selvin Young for a four-yard loss to the 5, Cutler scrambled to his left on the next play and found Scheffler wide open for the score.

Just 23 seconds after Cutler's touchdown pass, Favre dropped back and found Jones open against Bailey for a 79-yard touchdown that tied the game at 7-7. With safety John Lynch near the line of scrimmage, Favre spotted Jones in one-on-one coverage against Bailey. Jones got beyond Bailey to catch the ball at the Broncos' 37, then cut across the field against defenders and a fallen official to score his second touchdown of the season.

Back judge Jim Howey was knocked over by a defender in the middle of the field on the play, and was forced to leave the game with a hamstring injury.

"We're not going out there and settling to be competitive and be in the game," said Jennings. "We're going out there to set the stage and set the tone and win the game whenever we get the opportunity."


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