Chances to be hero elude Favre

Given a chance to add to his superhuman legacy, Brett Favre completed one legit pass in final 15-plus minutes, and didn't see a wide-open Ryan Grant on the fateful interception.'s Steve Lawrence breaks it down.

The Green Bay Packers lost Sunday's NFC championship game against the New York Giants.

That statement still stings, doesn't it?

Like the playoff loss at Philadelphia following the 2003 season, the sting of this one is bound to linger until training camp.

In both instances, the Packers seemed like a team of destiny. In both instances, they looked like the team to beat in the NFC. In both instances, the games essentially ended when Brett Favre threw an overtime interception.

Sunday's season-killing interception was no less shocking when I watched the game again on Tuesday. While that play will be a focal point for much of the offseason, what struck me was just how poorly Favre played in the fourth quarter.

On the first play of the final period, Favre converted a third-and-10 with a 20-yard completion to Donald Driver for the team's only third-down conversion of the night.

Amazingly, in the final 15-and-change minutes of the game — of the Packers' season — Favre didn't have one legitimate completion after that. Not one.

On the play after Driver's catch, Favre threw his scrambling interception, in which he was bailed out by the hustle of Ryan Grant and Mark Tauscher. On first-and-10, Favre threw a swing pass to Koren Robinson, which didn't gain an inch. On second-and-10, Grant broke off a 7-yard run. On third-and-3, Favre threw a screen to Grant that went into the stat sheet as a running play that lost 7 yards.

Mason Crosby kicked a field goal, and the game was tied at 20.

After the Giants missed a field goal, the Packers got the ball back at their 33 with 6:49 remaining. On first down, Greg Jennings beat his man off the line of scrimmage, but Favre's pass came up short, foiling a potential 20-yard gain. On second down, Jennings almost made a one-handed grab in double coverage. Favre, though, didn't see a wide-open Robinson breaking across the middle. On third down, Favre dumped it off to Vernand Morency for a short gain.

The Packers forced the Giants to punt and got the ball back at their 17 with 2:48 to go. A first-down screen pass was stymied by Michael Strahan's rush and fell incomplete. A false start made it second-and-15, and Favre short-hopped a pass to Donald Lee, which would have picked up 11 yards. On third down, Favre dumped it off to Lee for another modest gain.

Then, there was the fatal play of overtime. Want to get sick to your stomach? Re-run Favre's interception in slow motion, so you can follow Grant. Grant was wide open — I mean, nobody-within-15-yards-of-him open — when Favre cocked his arm to throw his deep out to Driver.

Favre's fourth quarter and overtime numbers: 4-for-11 for 31 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Remember, two of those completions were third-down dump-offs, and the other was a swing pass to Robinson.

Given three chances to drive the Packers to the go-ahead points, Favre couldn't even muster a first down.

"I didn't rise up to the occasion. I have in the past. I expect more of myself," Favre said. "I know it's part of the game, but it's disappointing."

Of course, blaming this loss on Favre is simplistic, just like the legion of fans pinning the loss on Mike McCarthy's play-calling. From the defensive penalties, to poor coverage by the kickoff team, to Brandon Jackson ruining a perfectly set up screen by running into the only defender in the ZIP code, to Jarrett Bush failing to fall on a fumble to the offensive line's horrendous run blocking, to McCarthy's sudden love affair for swing passes to the receivers, there's plenty of blame to go around.

But facts are facts. Given a chance — or chances — to be the hero, to get back to the Super Bowl, to add another chapter to this most amazing of seasons, Favre didn't get it done. The failure will sting him, the organization and the fans for years to come.

Steve Lawrence is a regular contributor to E-mail him at

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