Favre keys Green Bay victory in Jacksonville

Pack packs Jags' bags

Posted: Tuesday, December 04, 2001

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Facing a tie game with two minutes left Monday night, the Green Bay Packers weren't worried.

Not with Brett Favre on their side. And not with the Jacksonville Jaguars on the other.

Favre threw three touchdown passes, and ran 6 yards for the game-winner with 1:30 left, to rally the Packers from 14 points down for a 28-21 victory over the Jaguars -- the masters of the late-game collapse.

Favre rolled around left end on a bootleg, then just squeezed into the corner of the end zone for the go-ahead score. It was his first rushing touchdown since Oct. 25, 1998, and ended the longest such drought of his career.

''I wasn't going to throw the ball unless someone was absolutely wide open,'' Favre said. ''I figured I was the last guy the Jaguars would figure to run with the ball.''

Mark Brunell led the Jaguars (3-8) to midfield on their late desperation drive, but he was sacked on second-and-short, and two plays later lost a fumble to end yet another close loss.

Favre threw for 362 yards to help the Packers (8-3) stay one game behind Chicago for the NFC Central lead with the teams set to meet next Sunday. The three-time NFL Most Valuable Player improved to 7-0 lifetime as a starter when the game is tied after three quarters.

''It was one of the better wins I've been associated with,'' Favre said.

The Jaguars blew a late lead for the fourth time in six games, and threw yet another distraction onto a pile that includes Jimmy Smith's recent positive test for cocaine and Tom Coughlin's potential candidacy for the Notre Dame job.

They looked bad doing it, committing 111 yards in penalties, more than enough to nullify Smith's 116-yard receiving night.

''It's unfortunate, when you're in a battle for your life, and you've got to get a win, then you put yourself in a position where the penalties are forthcoming,'' Coughlin said.

The Jaguars also had four turnovers.

With the game tied at 21, Mike Hollis had a chance to give the Jaguars the lead, but his 42-yard field goal hit the left upright -- somehow fitting for Jacksonville's star-crossed season.

Before that, Favre rallied the Packers from a 21-7 deficit.

Most of the damage came at the expense of cornerback Fernando Bryant, who has made himself one of Jacksonville's numerous distractions this season, as the most outspoken critic of the soft-zone defenses the Jaguars have used to blow all those leads.

Given the chance to play in the man-to-man he likes, Bryant surrendered a 45-yard touchdown to Bill Schroeder to make the score 21-14. The Jaguars lost a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and Favre looked Bryant's way again, hooking up with Antonio Freeman for a 29-yard gain to set up the tying touchdown.

The Jaguars went up 21-7 early in the third quarter when defensive end Tony Brackens sacked Favre and forced a fumble that Ainsley Battles scooped up for a 60-yard touchdown return.

Green Bay improved to a league-best 26-6 in December since 1994, even though this was a 60-degree night in Florida, hardly Packer weather.

Trailing 13-0, Favre scooped a left-handed shovel pass to Ahman Green for a 13-yard score to cut the deficit to seven.

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.

Playing on a gimpy leg, Brunell threw for 311 yards.

His first touchdown pass came with 7:11 left in the first half for a 10-0 lead. He threw to the outside shoulder of rookie running back Elvis Joseph, who beat Tyrone Williams for a 29-yard score. That touchdown was set up when Brunell spotted Smith for a 23-yard gain three plays previous.

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