Favre's greatest hits

PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence remembers Brett Favre's career with 12 of his most memorable plays.

For 16 incredible seasons, Brett Favre, simply, was the Green Bay Packers. He was the face of the franchise. The heart of the franchise. He made the Packers relevant. He made them must-see TV.

With the trials and tribulations he let us be a part of, he was one of us. And he went to work. Every day. It doesn't sound like much, but it's what all of us do. For those reasons, perhaps more than the three MVPs and the last-minute heroics, that's why Favre is the most beloved athlete, certainly in Wisconsin history, but perhaps NFL history, as well.

Here are 12 on-the-field moments that will last a lifetime. Did I miss something? What is your favorite Favre moment? Let me know at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

No. 12 — Sept. 20, 1992: Favre to Taylor to legend

Who the heck is this Fav-ray character, and why on earth did Ron Wolf send a first-round pick to Atlanta to acquire this hard-living country bumpkin?

Oh, this is why.

With Don Majkowski on the bench since the first quarter with an injured ankle and with the crowd hoping Ty Detmer would get a chance to save the sputtering Packers, Favre unleashes his magic against the Cincinnati Bengals. He led the Packers to two scores in the final 8 minutes, including a breathtaking 35-yarder to Kitrick Taylor with 13 seconds remaining to lead a 24-23 victory.

"I couldn't bear to look," he said. "I just closed my eyes and waited for the crowd to let me know."

Favre started the next game, and finished his career with a record 275 consecutive starts (including playoffs).

No. 11 — First four weeks, 1999: Comeback kid

There were few highlights during the ill-fated one season under Ray Rhodes. Favre — playing with an injured right thumb sustained during the preseason — provided just about all of them during the first four weeks of the season.

In Week 1, Favre led the Packers back from a 10-point deficit in the final minutes to beat Oakland 28-24 at Lambeau. The winning pass goes to Jeff Thomason. At his postgame news conference, Favre breaks down in tears.

In Week 3, Favre led the Packers 77 yards in the final 1:51, culminated by a 23-yard laser to Corey Bradford on fourth-and-1 with 12 seconds left, to beat the Vikings 23-20 at Lambeau.

In Week 4, Favre led the Packers 73 yards in the final 40 seconds, capped by 21-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Freeman in the face of an all-out blitz, to beat Tampa Bay 26-23 at Lambeau.

"This time, I didn't hyperventilate because I just couldn't believe it. This time, I didn't cry because I'm out of tears," Favre said. "I'm tired of laughing. I'm sure most of the people in the stands and you (media), too, are going, ‘Damn. What the hell?'"

No. 10 — Nov. 15, 1992: Hello, Reggie

The Philadelphia Eagles' Reggie White plants Favre into the County Stadium sod, leaving Favre with a separated left shoulder. Instead of coming out of the game or simply handing off the ball, Favre led the Packers to a come-from-behind 27-24 win over the powerful Eagles.

Favre finished 23 of 33 for 275 yards and two touchdowns, and his 34-yard pass to Sterling Sharpe late in the fourth quarter set up the tying field goal. Herschel Walker's fumble gave the Packers the win.

More importantly, though, Favre's toughness impressed White, who was set to be a free agent at the end of the season. White signed with the Packers, and the rest is history.

No. 9 — Oct. 31, 1994: Happy Halloween

It was a cold and windy Monday night in Chicago, and a downpour was practically coming down sideways. So what? The Packers stormed past the Bears 33-6. The highlight was Favre's 36-yard touchdown run. He hurdled over one would-be tackler, and each step led a geyser of water to spring up from under Favre's feet.

No. 8 — Sept. 30, 2007: A record day

NFL records just don't have the same magic as baseball's milestones, but Favre set football's equivalent of the home-run record by throwing the 421st touchdown pass of his career against the Minnesota Vikings.

On third-and-7 and the crowd at the Metrodome roaring, Favre audibled at the line of scrimmage as the play clock was winding down. Sensing a Vikings blitz, Favre went to his favorite route — a slant — and hit Greg Jennings for a 16-yard touchdown.

Favre celebrated by hoisting Jennings atop his shoulders for a fireman's carry, then went to the stands to enjoy the moment with his wife, Deanna.

"It was everything I thought it would be," Favre said. "The most important thing is that we scored and set the tone for the rest of the game. Right away, it didn't hit me like, ‘OK, it's kind of over and done with.' I didn't look at it that way. Every touchdown I've thrown, it's been a lot of fun. It had extra meaning not only because of the record but what we've had to do here in the past and what we've overcome. For us to start that way was so important."

No. 7 — Jan. 12, 2008: Dashing through the snow

Adding to the magic of a magical season was a snowstorm that blanketed Lambeau Field for this NFC divisional playoff game.

Trailing 14-0 after two Ryan Grant fumbles were turned into Seahawks touchdowns, Favre helped rally the Packers to a joyous 42-20 victory and into the NFC championship game.

The indelible play was Favre escaping pressure, rolling to his right and tossing a stumbling, underhanded pass to tight end Donald Lee. The completion turned a third-and-8 into a first down, and the Packers punched it in for a touchdown to lead 28-17 at halftime.

"That looked bad," Favre said. "Thank God I got it off and got a completion. I'm sure it looked slow and unathletic."

No. 6 — Oct. 29, 2007: Overdrive in overtime

With one thunderbolt, the Packers stunned the Denver Broncos 19-13 in overtime on "Monday Night Football."

This victory, perhaps more than any other, propelled the Packers to a 13-3 record. They nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the final moments of regulation, and Favre and Co. had barely moved the ball an inch in the second half.

But, on the first play from scrimmage in overtime, Favre uncorked a perfect long ball to Jennings, who beat Dre Bly for a dumbfounding 82-yard winning touchdown pass. Pandemonium broke out on the Packers' sideline as the team improved to 6-1.

"When I saw he was in bump," Jennings explained, "I knew if I could beat him off the line and stay vertical — I was able to get his hands off me, and when I saw the ball, I said, 'I'm not going to get to the ball.' But it was right there."

"It seemed like he threw it 90 yards," Bly said.

No. 5 — Nov. 12, 1995: Got it on tape

Favre's status was doubtful all week because of a horrible sprain that left his ankle various shades of black and blue. He participated only sparingly at practice on Friday and Saturday. Favre had struggled the past two weeks, and the Packers lost both of them to fall into a first-place tie with the Bears.

So, what does Favre do? Merely tie a team record with five touchdown passes and throw for a season-high 336 yards to beat the Bears 35-28 at Lambeau Field.

Favre's ankle was so tightly taped that he compared it to wearing a cast, and the injury required offseason surgery. Trainer Kurt Felding, who wrapped Favre's ankle, predicted Favre's five-touchdown day in writing on the tape.

"That's what champions are made of," receiver Mark Ingram said.

Favre's toughness, of course, is legend. Six weeks after this game, Favre was hit so hard by three Steelers that he was coughing up blood. No matter. On the next play, he hit Mark Chmura for a touchdown.

No. 4 — Dec. 18, 1994: Running Man

The man with the golden arm beat the Atlanta Falcons with a heart-stopping touchdown run in the final seconds to keep alive the Packers' playoff hopes.

The Packers trailed 17-14 with 21 seconds left at the Falcons' 9-yard line. Facing a third-and-1 and with no timeouts remaining, common sense dictated playing it safe, since a field goal would have sent the game to overtime.

Packers coach Mike Holmgren elected to take one shot at a winning touchdown. But with everyone covered, Favre scrambled to his right and searched for a receiver. He kept searching. And he kept scrambling.

"The whole season was carrying on my shoulders," Favre said. "Mike said, ‘Did you know if you didn't get in, we might not have enough time left?' I said I never even thought of that. I knew I was going to get in from the 5-yard line."

Favre got to the 2, then dove headlong into the end zone between a pair of defenders.

"As much control as a coach would like to have with any player, particularly a quarterback, there's something to be said for his ability to make something happen out of nothing," Holmgren said. "It's happened more than once, and I think he's special that way."

No. 3 — Jan. 8, 1994: A wild ending

It sounds absurd now, but the Detroit Lions didn't think Favre could throw it that far.

With time winding down and the Packers trailing 24-21 in an NFC wild-card game at the Silverdome — their first playoff game in 11 years — Favre rolled to his left. He stopped on a dime and uncorked a long pass across the field.

Somehow, nobody was covering Sterling Sharpe, who caught a NFL-record 112 passes that season. He cradled the ball, stepped into the end zone, and the Packers had earned a no-way-is-that-possible 28-24 victory.

"I think when Brett rolled left, the defense was reading his eyes and they drifted to their right," Sharpe said in breaking four years of silence with reporters. "Brett looked over and made a great throw."

"After Sterling caught that ball," Favre said, "I was looking for someone to kiss. I didn't want to run all the way to the end zone to kiss Sterling, though. That was too far."

It was sweet revenge for Favre, who threw four interceptions against the Lions the week before, handing Detroit the NFC Central title and forcing Green Bay into a wild-card road game.

"Last week, everyone gave up on me, except the people that counted. That's why this feels so good," Favre said.

No. 2 — Dec. 22, 2003: Father's Day

Favre was so incredible, and the scene was so touching, that even the notorious Black Hole section cheered.

In a performance a Hollywood movie company would discard because it was so farfetched, Favre played perhaps his best game in the most sad of circumstances.

Playing one day after the death of his father, Irv, Favre threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns as the Packers rolled to a 41-7 win at Oakland on "Monday Night Football."

Favre could have skipped the game. Instead, on the night before the game, he delivered a heartfelt talk to his teammates.

"I could have told you this would be the end result," center Mike Flanagan said. "I could have told you this game would be one of those everyone will remember. I've never seen a room so captivated by someone talking."

In the first half alone, he threw for 311 yards and all four touchdowns. It was as if God was truly a Packers fan that night, with seemingly up-for-grabs passes turning into big plays and touchdowns.

"We had a meeting with the receiving corps, and made a pact that whatever he put up, we were going to come down with. We rallied around our leader," said receiver Robert Ferguson.

No. 1 — Jan. 26, 1997: Hat's off to Favre

The season began with Favre admitting an addiction to painkillers and spending 45 days in a treatment center.

"I'm going to beat this thing. I'm going to win a Super Bowl," Favre said before the season. "And all I can tell people if they don't believe me is, ‘Just bet against me.'"

Win a Super Bowl he did (not to mention his second consecutive league MVP). The 35-21 victory over New England in Super Bowl XXXI started in pulsating fashion. On the Packers' second play from scrimmage, Favre audibled and lofted a perfect deep ball to Andre Rison for a 54-yard touchdown.

Favre hoisted his helmet into the air and raced off the field as if he'd just won the Super Bowl. That would have to wait three hours, but the touchdown made the result seem like a foregone conclusion, even before Desmond Howard's clinching 99-yard kickoff return

"I've done everything I possibly can," Favre said in the locker room. "I hope too many people didn't bet against me because they're broke right now."

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com

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