<
>

Favre, Packers hand Panthers their first loss

9/30/2002

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- No matter how many times Brett Favre's
supporting cast changes, he finds a way to get the Green Bay Packers a victory.

Question on the Panthers: What's up with their kicking game?
When teams are evenly matched, it comes down to the kicking game, special teams and turnovers. All killed the Panthers today. They have a solid coaching crew, and it was disappointing to see them give the game away because of turnovers and lack of discipline in the kicking game.

Question on the Packers: Does Favre have enough talent at receiver if Glenn and Walker continue to be sidelined?
The Packers are a bizarre bunch. Favre, to me, is the best QB in the NFL, and he makes his teammates better. But I'm not convinced the talent surrounding him is good enough to win. Still, you never can count out Brett Favre. He's such an amazing player that he might be able to raise the performance of his teammates to the point where the Packers are the equal of any team in the NFC.

Eric Allen played 14 seasons in the NFL for the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

With William Henderson out and Terry Glenn in the locker room
with a migraine, Favre found little-known Donald Driver for a
22-yard touchdown with 4:10 left Sunday, leading the Packers to a
17-14 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

"It was difficult, but I wasn't really concerned about who was
in and who was out. My focus never changes,'' Favre said. "We had
a lot of new faces out there, a lot of young faces. A lot of guys
stepped up.''

But the Packers still had to sweat it out. Carolina drove to the
Green Bay 5, only to have Shayne Graham -- signed two days ago to
bolster their kicking game -- miss a 24-yard field goal with 13
seconds left.

"That's my job, to go out there and make kicks, and I didn't do
that,'' said Graham, who made 6 of 8 field goals with Buffalo last
year. "It's probably the worst split-second in your life when you
pick your head up and you see it sailing wide right.''

Favre, who became Green Bay's starting quarterback 10 years ago
this week, was 18-of-32 for 200 yards with one interception. He now
has 3,414 career completions, passing Joe Montana for fifth place
on the all-time list.

Driver had the first two-touchdown game of his career -- though
he caught the first one from Bubba Franks on a trick play in the
second quarter.

Steve Smith filled in nicely for Panthers leading receiver
Muhsin Muhammad, catching five passes for 116 yards, and Lamar
Smith rushed for 66 yards and two scores. But it wasn't enough for
the Panthers (3-1).

"Two turnovers resulted in points off the board or at least
opportunities to kick field goals,'' Panthers coach John Fox said.
"You don't make mistakes like that against good teams and expect
to win.''

The Panthers brought the NFL's second-toughest defense to
Lambeau Field, and they frustrated the Packers all afternoon. Add
in the patchwork lineup, and Green Bay's offense struggled to get
into a rhythm.

But Favre is a master of late rallies, and he pulled off the
25th of his career.

Getting the ball at his 35 with 6:29 left, he was sacked for a
9-yard loss on the first play. Two plays later, he was picked off
by Carolina linebacker Mark Fields as he tried to find Driver deep.

But cornerback Emmanuel McDaniel was called for pass
interference, giving the Packers the ball at the Carolina 29.

After a 7-yard run by Najeh Davenport, Favre looked to Driver
again. Driver beat McDaniel and scored on a 22-yard completion. As
Driver leaped into the stands, Favre ran toward the end zone,
jumping up and down and waving his fists in celebration like a
little kid.

"I'd rather be up, sipping Gatorade on the sidelines,'' Favre
said. "But I think I handle the situation very well. My team
trusts I'll get the job done. I don't always do it, but I like the
ball in my hands in that situation.''

The Panthers had one last chance, but Graham's 24-yard chip shot
sailed wide right.

"Of course I expect him to make it,'' said Fox, who brought in
Graham after Jon Hilbert missed two field goals in last weekend's
victory over Minnesota. "But that wasn't what lost us the game. We
had opportunities to make plays, to put the game on ice, but
weren't able to do it.''

The victory didn't come without a little trickery. With less
than two minutes left in the second quarter, Favre took the snap at
the Carolina 36, dropped back and threw the ball backward to
Franks, a Pro Bowl tight end. Franks then found Driver for a
31-yard touchdown pass.

"That's something we've been practicing since training camp,''
Franks said. "We've run it about 10 times, and we're about
10-for-10.''

Officials initially ruled the Packers had thrown two forward
passes, drawing a loud chorus of boos from the Lambeau Field
faithful. Sherman was so upset he threw his headset and swore,
drawing a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct that was marked off
on the kickoff.

But replays clearly showed Favre's pass to Franks was backward,
and officials agreed after reviewing the play.

"Looking back, it may have had a positive effect on the team,''
Favre said of Sherman's tantrum. "When he started screaming and
yelling, guys got behind him. Not that they weren't before, but
this was an obvious slap in the face and guys weren't going to put
up with that.''

Game notes
Glenn, who didn't practice this week, caught a 17-yard pass
in the first quarter before leaving at halftime. ... Carolina
tackle Kris Jenkins had two sacks. ... Steve Smith had 70 yards on
returns. ... Franks' pass was the first of his NFL career.