DENVER – Graybeard Brett Favre certainly isn’t running low on arm strength or signature moments.
On the first play following the kickoff in overtime, Favre connected on an 82-yard touchdown pass with Greg Jennings and the Green Bay Packers defeated the Denver Broncos 19-13 on Monday night.
“I feel like I’ve been on some better teams, but it’s hard to doubt this team,” Favre said. “That was fun. I can’t wait to watch the tape.”
Denver had tied the score at 13 on Jason Elam’s 21-yard field goal as time ran out in regulation, setting the stage for yet another Favre comeback.
Green Bay won the coin toss and on the first play, Jennings was matched up in man-to-man coverage on the left side. Favre, who threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to James Jones in the first half, hit Jennings in stride at the Denver 40. Cornerback Dre’ Bly had no shot at catching the speedy wide receiver who trotted into the end zone as Favre rushed to celebrate Green Bay’s first 6-1 start in five years.
It was the second-longest TD pass in NFL overtime history. On Nov. 10, 1985, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski and wide receiver Mike Quick combined on a 99-yard play.
“We knew if we could get by them we’d have a chance to score,” Jennings said. “That’s what happened with James… Some people say we don’t have speed but today we made it happen.”
Some people were also saying Favre didn’t have any more of those kinds of passes left in his arm.
Even Favre has suggested he’s losing some zip.
“Brett will say, ‘I don’t know if I have anything left in the tank,’ and we’re thinking, ‘What is this guy talking about?’ He’s 70 years old and overthrowing us in practice – a lot,” Jennings said.
The Monday night stage has provided some of the best moments in Favre’s career, from the incredible game in Oakland following the death of his father, to his game-winner to Antonio Freeman in overtime against Minnesota.
Add this to the list. Maybe it belongs at the top.
It was the Packers’ first win in six trips to Denver and their first overtime win on the road since Dec. 12, 1983, at Tampa Bay, in Howard Cosell’s last television broadcast.
The Broncos (3-4) sent it into overtime with a drive that began at their own 7 with 2:27 left.
Out of timeouts, the field goal unit scrambled onto the field and Elam calmly nailed the kick, just as he did two months ago when the Broncos ran the same fire drill to beat Buffalo as time expired in the opener.
“It’s tough. Come down there tie it up and have a chance to win,” Broncos’ quarterback Jay Cutler said. “First play, they win it. That’s Brett Favre. He’s a quarterback that knows how to win and has been doing it for many years. It’s still tough.”
Favre, who had only thrown 20 passes over 20 yards all season as the underneath game worked so well, had butterflies when Elam tied it up.
“I was nervous as heck,” he said. “I haven’t been in too many overtime games. We got the ball and I figured we probably had one chance. If we don’t go down and do something, this is probably it. Don’t screw it up, whatever you do.”
Denver almost had to share the spotlight with the Colorado Rockies, who were scheduled to play Game 5 of the World Series on Monday night at Coors Field before they were swept by the Boston Red Sox Sunday night.
Instead, they shared it with Favre, who was criticized for a series of underthrown passes against Washington last week.
Now he’s 6-1 for the third time in his career.
In 1996, Favre and the Packers parlayed a similar start into their Super Bowl title. The Packers also started out 6-1 in 2002, when they finished 12-4 but were done in by injuries and bounced out of the playoffs in the first round by Atlanta.
Looking nothing like his 38 years, Favre outshone Cutler, widely considered the only passer in the league whose arm strength can rival his.
Favre finished 21 of 27 for 331 yards and a 142.4 passer rating. Cutler was 21 of 34 for 264 yards. He was sacked twice by Aaron Kampman, who also sacked wide receiver Brandon Marshall on an ill-fated trick play.
Favre also drove Green Bay 98 yards for a field goal, and the Packers, last in the league in rushing, found a ground game against the NFL’s worst run defense.
Ryan Grant came in when DeShawn Wynn went down early with an injured shoulder and gained 104 yards on 22 carries. He became Green Bay’s first 100-yard rusher since Ahman Green on Dec. 3, 2006.
One thing that helped was the absence of Broncos safety John Lynch, who left early in the first half with a pinched nerve.
Favre began his night with a 79-yard TD pass to Jones, who sprinted past Champ Bailey and hauled in the pass at the 45, then cut across the field to tie it just 23 seconds after the Broncos capped an impressive drive with Cutler’s 5-yard touchdown toss to Tony Scheffler.
“It’s Monday night,” Bailey said. “We obviously know he loves to throw the ball down the field on Monday night.”