Historically, Favre Has Had Capers' Number

Brett Favre is 6-0 in games in which Dom Capers has been the head coach or defensive coordinator. We go through those six games to lend some perspective to Monday night's showdown at the Metrodome.

It was Sept. 27, 1992 at Lambeau Field. A 22-year-old quarterback by the name of Brett Favre was making his first NFL start. On the opposite sideline was 42-year-old Dom Capers, who was in his fourth game as an NFL defensive coordinator.

Favre emerged victorious that day with a 17-3 win over the Steelers, who entered the game 3-0 and were changing the course of NFL history with their "Blitzburgh" defense.

That was the first of six games in which Favre has faced Capers as either a defensive coordinator or head coach. All six times, Favre came out on top.

"You had to bring that up," Capers said with a laugh on Monday. "Hopefully, we can play the percentages."

In all, Favre led the Packers to at least 30 points in four of the six games. He threw 15 touchdowns against only seven interceptions, and averaged 289.2 passing yards while compiling a 97.1 quarterback rating. The Packers topped 450 total yards a whopping four consecutive times.

"It's a big challenge, because the guy can improvise and make a lot of plays," Capers said. "He's always been very good in the pocket and he certainly has the arm strength to make all the throws. Buys a lot of time for the receivers to get open."

Of course, to reduce it down to a quarterback-vs.-coordinator matchup is simplistic. The first of the games came as the Steelers and Packers were starting from scratch with new coaches — Bill Cowher for Pittsburgh and Mike Holmgren for Green Bay. Three of the six games were against Carolina, when Favre made the Packers the NFL's preeminent power. The fifth came against Houston, when the Packers were the hottest team in the NFL and the Texans were a third-year expansion team. The sixth came when Green Bay was coming off a bye and the Dolphins were in the midst of a 1-6 stretch to open the season.

Here's a quick look at the six Capers vs. Favre matchups.

Pittsburgh coordinator, 1992-94

Sept. 27, 1992: Packers 17, Steelers 3

Favre completed 14-of-19 passes for 210 yards, including touchdown passes of 76 yards to Sterling Sharpe and 8 yards to Robert Brooks. Both touchdowns came against Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, and Woodson's muffed punt set up the touchdown to Brooks. Playing with poise, Favre was sacked twice and was not intercepted.

In his first year as a defensive coordinator, Capers' defense ranked second in the NFL in points allowed, first in turnovers forced and allowed less than 10 points in five of 16 games. The year before, the Steelers ranked 21st in points allowed.

Carolina coach, 1995-98

Jan 12, 1997 NFC title game: Packers 30, Panthers 13


Brett Favre is sacked by Kevin Greene (91) and Mark Thomas in the NFC title game.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Aside from a first-quarter interception while facing one of Capers' zone blitzes, Favre was superb in leading the Packers to the Super Bowl. He completed 19-of-29 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked only once against the league's second-ranked scoring defense, which featured the NFL's No. 1 and No. 2 sackers, Kevin Greene and Lamar Lathon.

"I would have never guessed we would have come in here and got our butts handed to us like we did today," Greene, now the Packers' outside linebackers coach, said at the time. "They're a damn good team, and they deserved to win this one."

Dec. 14, 1997: Packers 31, Panthers 10

By hitting Antonio Freeman 10 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns, Favre and the Packers improved to 12-3 by rolling at Carolina. Favre wasn't precise, but he finished 18-of-34 for 256 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked three times.

With Greene in San Francisco, this Panthers defense wasn't nearly as good as the year before. Carolina finished 13th in the league in points allowed, and plunged from 60 sacks to 35.

Sept. 27, 1998: Packers 37, Panthers 30

It was the best and worst of Favre, with the reigning three-time MVP throwing for 388 yards, with five touchdown passes and three interceptions at Carolina. Favre's first pass was intercepted, and he later had an interception returned for a touchdown.

Even with Greene back in Carolina and tallying 15 sacks — including both of Carolina's against Favre — Capers' crew lost its first seven games. Capers was fired after a 4-12 season in which his once-mighty defense plunged to 27th in points allowed.

Jacksonville coordinator, 1999-2000

No meetings.

Houston coach, 2001-05

Nov. 21, 2004: Packers 16, Texans 13

Favre was inept through three quarters before rallying the Packers from a 13-3 deficit in the final 15 minutes at Houston as Green Bay improved to 6-4 after a 1-4 start. Favre's 24-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver made it 13-10, and two more scoring drives — capped by Ryan Longwell's 46-yard field goal as time expired — won the game.

Favre finished 33-of-50 for 383 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He was not sacked.

These Capers' defenses didn't have the luxury of having anyone like Greene; Kailee Wong led the team with 5.5 sacks. Houston finished 15th in scoring defense en route to a 7-9 finish, and Capers was fired after Houston plummeted to 2-14 in 2005 behind the league's worst scoring defense.

Miami coordinator, 2006-07

Oct. 22, 2006: Packers 34, Dolphins 24

With left tackle Chad Clifton ill and Daryn Colledge the emergency replacement, the Packers won at steamy Miami behind someone other than Favre. Charles Woodson's 23-yard interception return gave the Packers the lead and Ahman Green had a 70-yard touchdown run. Still, Favre threw touchdowns to Driver and David Martin. He was not intercepted, though he turned it over on a fumble when Colledge allowed Jason Taylor to get a sack.

Capers' defensive acumen was apparent upon his arrival in Miami, with the Dolphins surging from 17th to fifth in points allowed. Taylor initially bristled to moving to 3-4 outside linebacker, but he wound up with 13.5 sacks and two interceptions and was named defensive player of the year.

Green Bay coordinator, 2009

Oct. 5, 2009: Green Bay at Minnesota

Now comes what surely will be one of the most-hyped regular-season games in NFL history.

Last year with the Jets, Favre went 3-2 against pure 3-4 defenses, with nine touchdowns, six interceptions and an offense that averaged 22.0 points per game. That includes a split with New England, where Capers was an assistant. Favre threw three touchdowns and one interception and the offense averaged 22.0 points in those games.

Favre faced 3-4 defenses in two of the first three games this year. He completed 14-of-21 for a trivial 110 yards against Cleveland in Week 1. Last week, he was below 50 percent accuracy until rallying the Vikings in the last 89 seconds against San Francisco.

Favre's last-gasp touchdown strike to beat the 49ers certainly caught Capers' attention.

"There's going to be ups and downs through every game," Capers said, "but you've got to hang in there and you've got to play every play, because he's got the ability to beat you on any play, which was evident in the game (Sunday). They hang in there, they hang in there, (and) he finds a way to make that big-time throw."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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