Packers prevail over Jags, 28-21

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Brett Favre showed the Monday Night Football audience his intense will to win as he rallied the Packers to a 28-21 victory over the Jaguars at ALLTEL Stadium.<p> Favre scrambled six yards for the winning touchdown with 90 seconds remaining in the game.

The TD – Favre's first rushing score in three years – capped a performance which featured 326 yards, three TD passes and no interceptions. Most of his heroics came in the second half, after the Packers appeared to hit rock bottom.

The veteran QB's heart was just as important as his arm, coach Mike Sherman said.

"He's an amazing guy," coach Mike Sherman said of Favre. "Pretty good for a guy with an old man's back on that bootleg. I thought his leadership and throws he made under duress were extraordinary."

The inspiring victory keeps the Packers (8-3) one game behind the Bears, setting the stage for next week's showdown at Lambeau Field.

Favre's winning score goes into Green Bay's Monday Night lore along with Antonio Freeman's catch vs. the Vikings last season. Favre rolled around left end on a bootleg, eluding a diving Tony Brackens. Favre squeezed into the corner of the end zone for the go-ahead score. That completed the Packers' climb from 14 points down late in the third quarter.

"The last person in the world they're worried about running is me," Favre said. "I felt like if we ran a keep, the worst thing that could happen was a sack and a five-yard loss. I wasn't going to throw it unless the guy was wide open. I never thought I'd get a touchdown."

The defense had to hold off the Jaguars (3-8) one more time in the final minute. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila recorded his 12th sack to push Brunell and the Jags to the brink. Then first-round draft pick Jamal Reynolds made his rookie debut memorable as he forced a Brunell fumble on the game's final play.

"It shows hard work pays off," said an ecstatic Reynolds. "I finally got a chance to show what I can do."

What a contrast from the game's low point late in the third quarter. Brackens, who spent a good portion of the night in the Green Bay backfield, sacked Favre and forced a fumble. Ainsley Battles scooped up the loose ball and went 60 yards for a TD. Mark Brunell passed to Keenan McCardell in traffic for a 2-point conversion to make the Jacksonville lead 21-7 with 3:45 to go in the third.

"I wasn't real excited about it," Favre said of his team's only turnover. "Playing on the road is difficult enough and to give that team an inch is too much. Fortunately, we were able to respond."

Instead of burying the Pack, the Jaguars' defensive touchdown made something snap. Green Bay's offense came back onto the field fired up. About one minute later, Favre launched a 43-yard touchdown pass to receiver Bill Schroeder, who burned Fernando Bryant.

"I knew we would come back and win," Schroeder said. "Two touchdowns with Brett Favre back there is not that far behind. He showed what a warrior he is"

On the ensuing kickoff, Torrance Marshall joined the parade of rookies making a splash Monday. Marshall recovered an Elvis Joseph fumble knocked loose by Chris Gizzi at the Jacksonville 32. Favre didn't waste any time before tying the game. He hooked up with Freeman for a 29-yard gain, then found Bubba Franks for a 1-yard TD pass with 58 seconds left in the quarter.

"I was asking guys on the sideline ‘who wants it more?'" Favre said.

With the game tied at 21, the Jaguars couldn't capitalize on their opportunities. Brunell drove his team into the Packer red zone, but Tyrone Williams made up for past transgressions with an interception in the end zone. The teams traded punts, and Mike Hollis tried to grab the lead for Jacksonville. His 42-yard field goal hit the left upright. The miss couldn't have come as a surprise to the Jaguars, who blew a late-game lead for the fourth time in six games. The disheartening loss throws another distraction to a team that has leading receiver Jimmy Smith facing a positive test for cocaine and coach Tom Coughlin fielding ever-increasing rumors of a Notre Dame job offer.

Whatever the reason, the Jaguars were flagged for 111 yards in penalties Monday night, after incurring just 15 penalties over the previous 10 games. The negative yardage effectively cancelled out Smith's 116 receiving yards.

Before the third quarter, it looked like the Packers were the ones without their heads in the game.

Despite playing on a gimpy leg, Brunell cut through the Packer defense for 311 yards. He scrambled for first downs and enjoyed more than enough time to throw throughout the first half. Brunell's first touchdown pass came with 7:11 left in the first half. He threw outside to Joseph, who beat Tyrone Williams for a 29-yard score and a 10-0 lead. That touchdown was set up when Brunell spotted Smith for a 23-yard gain three plays earlier.

Trailing 13-0, Favre got the Packers back in it. He scooped a left-handed shovel pass to Ahman Green for a 13-yard score to cut the deficit to 7. Green had five catches for 74 yards, but was held to a season-low 31 yards rushing. He stands at 973 for the season and will have to wait until next week vs. the Bears to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark

Favre opened the third quarter with a 63-yard completion to Freeman, who beat Bryant on the sideline pattern to give Green Bay first-and-goal from the 10. But the Packers lost a yard on the next three plays, then Marcus Stroud blocked Ryan Longwell's 29-yard field goal attempt. Longwell also missed a 52-yarder, which was kicked into a 15-20 mph wind.

Schroeder and Freeman both topped the 100-yard mark Monday night. Schroeder caught 6 passes for 106 yards, while Freeman needed only three catches in the second half to tally 104 yards.

Defensive end John Thierry suffered a knee injury and is expected to be out 3-5 weeks. That leaves the Packers with another hole to fill before facing the Bears Sunday.

"Nothing you can do to take away the joy we have winning this football game," Sherman said. "I think we can use this game as a stepping stone. We have a big game coming up against Chicago at home, but now we're better prepared to play that game after this win.

"We have a lot of guys in that locker room who believe," Sherman said.

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