Like old times, Packers' Favre works his magic

OTHER VOICES

The Kickoff

October 31, 2007|By MICHAEL HUNT

DENVER -- Brett Favre couldn't throw the long ball anymore. Favre couldn't even throw a touchdown in the Mile High City, period, as if the thin air had somehow impeded his progress in one of the few places that one of his tosses had somehow eluded the end zone.

Yeah, sure. Put those in the "Favre Can't Do It" file because he will run it through the shredder every time, guaranteed.

This was pure magic Monday night by the impending Hall of Famer who had lit up the evening so many times before, not quite like the etched-in-your-mind occasion where he destroyed the Oakland Raiders just hours after his father's death, for what could ever surpass that on such a dramatic human scale?

But this was close, very close, my friend. In the city where the shadow of John Elway and his legendary comebacks were just about the only things standing between him and the possible status of Greatest Quarterback Ever, Favre reared back and let it fly, just as he could before those quibbling doubters said he could do it no more.

The first play of overtime against the Denver Broncos and, bam, 82 yards, long and far, just like the glory days, to Greg Jennings, who was barely into elementary school the last time the master was heaving them like this. And just like that, it was over, the 19-13 victory by the Packers that established them among the elite in a vulnerable conference that is there for the taking.

After all, we were assured that this was supposed to be more than your typical Monday night spectacle, maybe even into right-of-passage territory for the Packers, Version 0.7.

The question -- at least the pre-flag-fest question -- being asked of the Packers was whether they had regained privileged status within the NFC. This, mind you, was not a trick question despite the qualifier that the Detroit Lions are encroaching upon that very terrain within such a defenseless realm.

To properly respond, the Packers were required to go out of their league, so to speak, to a place they had never won and against those who had once denied them of a Super Bowl championship as a one-time upholder of AFC honor. A lot has happened in 10 years, but this never changes in tackle football:

At some point you've got to run the ball to impress.

You want your Mile High Salute? Here's you Mile High Salute:

Ryan Grant became the first Packer to rush for more than 100 yards this season, but what else was Green Bay supposed to do against the weakest run defense in the league?

Actually, the Packers needed much more. They needed Favre with the wind beneath his wings again, slinging it up top for 331 yards on 21 of 27 attempts. They needed Favre airing it out not once, but twice, the other a 79-yarder to the rookie James Jones, because they needed all that to blot out the stain of 13 penalties.

And now you are left with the very real notion of what the Packers, at 6-1, might be capable of with such momentum. Maybe the Broncos can't stop anyone on the ground, but confidence and attitude, maybe the most important parts of the run game, have to start somewhere. There is also the constant, the never-wavering defense, and it was there again to take the ball away from Denver near the goal line and stop it when it mattered.

Except once. Jay Cutler, looking very much like a young Favre and doing the Elway at Mile High II, drove the Broncos all the way down for the tying field goal as regulation expired.

But then came Favre, the old-time Favre, the one who openly defied the doubters after three of his long balls fell so short just two weeks before against Washington.

"That's Favre," Cutler said.

Is it ever.

Michael Hunt writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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