Pack-Broncos: Super step back Favre, Elway drop back into bowl, eye repeat, redemption

'John great friend of mine'

Packers big favorite to push NFC run to 14

January 12, 1998|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

SAN FRANCISCO -- Quarterback John Elway, a three-time Super Bowl loser, likely will have public sentiment on his side when the Denver Broncos meet the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII.

And Brett Favre doesn't mind one bit.

"I'm just happy we're there," the Packers quarterback said after advancing to San Diego with a 23-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game yesterday.

"John's had some chances to win it, and now he has another. People go down certain roads."

The road Elway traveled to get to San Diego was labeled "wild card," and featured payback wins over Jacksonville, Kansas City and Pittsburgh. The 15-year veteran completed a huge third-down pass to Shannon Sharpe in the final two minutes yesterday to allow the Broncos to escape Pittsburgh with a 24-21 win in the AFC championship game.

Once a No. 1 draft pick of the Baltimore Colts, he has a 4-1 record in AFC title games, but is 0-3 in the Super Bowl. The last, after the 1989 season, turned into a disastrous 55-10 loss to the 49ers.

"John is a great friend of mine," Favre said. "He's been a guy who I pattern my play after. I spend a lot of time with John. I know he wants to win the Super Bowl bad, but I want to win my second. It's a great matchup."

Great if you're a Packers fan, perhaps. The Packers are early 13 1/2 -point favorites in a game dominated by the NFC for more than a decade. The NFC has a 13-year winning streak over the AFC.

The lopsided series has reached the point that most observers ** figure the NFC championship is, in fact, the real Super Bowl.

"If the Super Bowl was today, then why do we have to do this again in two weeks?" said Packers safety Eugene Robinson. "And where's my ring now?"

Asked about that domination earlier in the playoffs, Elway expressed disbelief more than anger.

"I'm not sure it bothers me," he said. "It's more of an amazement that an AFC team hasn't won. Just realizing there's a lot of good teams in this conference, for us not to have the cream of the crop since 1984 is more surprising than anything else.

"Hopefully, that will get turned around pretty quick. Hopefully, this year."

The matchup promises a lot of offense. The Broncos had the NFL's No. 1-ranked offense, and the Packers, at No. 4, weren't far behind. Besides the Elway-Favre matchup, there's also the battle of running backs: Denver's Terrell Davis against Green Bay's Dorsey Levens.

If the Broncos want to keep the revenge motif, they have the option. Denver traveled to Green Bay for a regular-season game on Dec. 8, 1996, and took a 41-6 pounding. Having already clinched their division, the Broncos rested a gimpy Elway in that game.

PTC The championship games yesterday produced one oddity, at least, in that both road teams won. The last time that happened was 1992, when Dallas knocked off San Francisco in the NFC and Buffalo pounded Miami.

Super Bowl XXXII

Denver Broncos (15-4) vs. Gree Bay Packers (15-3)

Site: San Diego

Time: Jan. 25, 6 p.m.

TV: Chs.11,4

Line: Packers by 113 1/2

Pub Date: 1/12/98

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