Favre's 420th TD pass puts Packers ahead for good
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Brett Favre goes out of his way to say he cares about winning, not going after records.
He managed to do both at the same time on Sunday.
Future Hall of Famer Brett Favre is closing in on some impressive, and not-so-impressive, NFL records. On Sunday, he tied Dan Marino's record for touchdown passes. (Stats through Week 3)
|Wins as starter||150||Favre|
|Passing yards||58,361||Dan Marino, 61,361|
|Interceptions||275||George Blanda, 277|
|TD passes||420||Marino, Favre tie|
|Pass attempts||8,349||Marino, 8,358|
Favre found Greg Jennings on a slant pattern for the record-tying 420th touchdown pass of his career. The 57-yard completion, erased a four-point deficit to the San Diego Chargers with just over two minutes left and rallied the undefeated Packers to a 31-24 win. Favre is now tied with Dan Marino for the most touchdown passes in NFL history.
"I could care less about the record," Favre said, who was 28-of-35 for 369 yards and three touchdowns. "Everybody's congratulating me, but I told them it doesn't mean anything if we don't win the game."
Favre's 38th career fourth-quarter comeback came one series after the Chargers defense stopped Favre and the Packers cold on fourth-and-goal.
However, the Chargers (1-2) gave up the record-tying touchdown minutes later, continuing their early slide under new coach Norv Turner. San Diego has now lost as many regular season games as it did all of last season.
Reigning MVP LaDainian Tomlinson swallowed hard as he stepped to the interview podium after the game, at a loss for words to describe the disappointing start.
"It's still a long season," said Tomlinson, who carried 22 times for 62 yards. "But I mean, right now we just -- I don't know. I'm lost."
Suddenly facing heightened expectations in Green Bay, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he expects more from Favre in the weeks to come.
"Every time he takes the field, he's adding another log on the fire of such a brilliant career that will continue to burn, hopefully, for a while," McCarthy said.
Favre's fireworks also spoiled a breakout game for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who started 15-for-15 to tie Dan Fouts' franchise record for consecutive completions and drove the Chargers to the lead in the third quarter.
Rivers was 27-of-36 for 306 yards, with three touchdowns and a late interception. He and Tomlinson had a heated exchange on the sidelines in the third quarter.
"It appears to be like we're arguing, but it wasn't really arguing, it was competitive talk," Tomlinson said.
San Diego took a 21-17 lead early in the third quarter on a swing pass from Rivers that Tomlinson ran 21 yards to the end zone.
The Packers challenged Philip Rivers to beat them and although the Chargers QB did not come through, he made great strides on the road. Rivers struggled mightily in the first two weeks of the season, but he showed accuracy, poise and pocket presence today. When he was off a bit on his throws, his receivers contorted to haul in the tough grab. Of course, having Antonio Gates to throw to doesn't hurt. Gates exploited the weakness of Green Bay's impressive defense -- its safeties. The Chargers used Gates in a variety of ways and regardless of where he lined up, the star tight end ran routes as well as an upper-echelon wide receiver. Combining that with his size and strength, he was a tough matchup for the Packers linebackers and safeties.
-- Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.
Favre and the Packers threatened with a drive with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter, but San Diego's defense stopped wide receiver James Jones short on fourth-and-goal. In hindsight, McCarthy said he should have had it reviewed.
On the next possession, after an incompletion on first down, Favre zipped a pass to Jennings who was running a slant pattern from the left side. Jennings streaked into the end zone to give the Packers the lead, and give Favre yet another piece of history.
"He has many more records he has to go get, so we're going to try to get him all those," Jennings said.
Packers linebacker Nick Barnett intercepted Rivers on the Chargers' next possession, and ran 38 yards to the San Diego 2. Brandon Jackson went in for a touchdown from the 1, putting the Packers ahead 31-21.
The Chargers drove for a 44-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding to cut the lead to 7 with 20 seconds left, but Donald Driver covered the onside kick attempt to preserve the victory.
Driver, Favre's favorite target, had a big day despite getting his helmet knocked off on a hard hit by defensive back Marlon McCree early in the first quarter. Driver caught six passes for 126 yards, including a touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Now Driver wants to catch the record-breaker.
"I'm just hoping that I can get in the record books as being the one that surpassed it," Driver said. "That's my goal right now."
Just a week ago, Favre led the Packers to a road victory over the New York Giants for his 149th win as a starter, passing John Elway's all-time record. Favre started his quarterback-record 240th consecutive game on Sunday, tying him for second on the all-time list with former Minnesota center Mick Tingelhoff.
Favre closed in on Marino by throwing two touchdown passes to power the Packers to a 17-14 halftime lead.
The first went to Driver and the second went to tight end Bubba Franks, following another classic -- but not-so-glamorous -- Favre moment. Facing first-and-goal at the Chargers' 5, Favre began to scramble and tried to pump fake, only to watch the ball pop out of his hands for an apparent fumble that was recovered by the Chargers.
A replay determined his arm was in motion when the ball popped out, and the play was ruled an incomplete pass.
It was another bad break in what is starting to look like a disappointing season for the Chargers.
"My expectations, the expectations of our players was to come in and win, we didn't get that done," Turner said.
Green Bay, on the other hand, is an unexpected 3-0 for the first time since 2001. Now the question is: Are the Packers for real?
"It's hard to luck into three straight wins like we have," Favre said.
With a 16-yard catch in the second quarter, Driver passed Antonio Freeman for the most receptions in Lambeau Field history with 214. ... Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo left the game with a foot injury in the second quarter. ... Chargers tight end Antonio Gates caught 11 passes for 113 yards.
- Jeff Triplette