Favre leads Packers into NFC title game

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Favre spotted his favorite target all alone and let fly.

He hit Donald Driver, all right -- with a snowball.

Favre frolicked in the flurries the entire afternoon, throwing three touchdown passes as the Green Bay Packers beat the Seattle Seahawks 42-20 Saturday to reach the NFC championship game.

"I've been hoping for that for 17 years," Favre said. "I was watching the weather all day and it's a shame, I'm like, 'Just give us one of those big snow games."'

"I wanted to play where you couldn't see the field, and the snowplow comes out. It keeps getting worse and worse," he said.

With Lambeau Field looking like a snow globe, the Packers posted their biggest point total in postseason history.

This was exactly the scene Favre imagined when he decided to postpone retirement and try for another Super Bowl ring.

"It does make you appreciate it," the 38-year-old three-time NFL MVP said. "We could be 3-13 next year. Who knows? So enjoy it and try to get the most out of it."

In the months ahead, Wisconsin might again become a winter wonder-land -- will Favre come back again? -- but for now, Cheeseheads are guaranteed at least one more game.

The Packers (14-3) will take on the winner of Sunday's matchup between the New York Giants and Dallas. If the Cowboys win, they'll host Green Bay; if the Giants win, they'll visit Lambeau.

Green Bay beat the Giants this season and lost to the Cowboys. Favre would certainly prefer to stay home -- he's 0-9 lifetime at Dallas.

"We haven't had a whole lot of success in Dallas and I'm well aware of that," Favre said.

The Packers were happy to advance at all after a rough start.

Ryan Grant recovered from two fumbles that put the Packers down 14-0 after only four minutes. He set a team postseason record by running for 201 yards, and scored three times. After its early slips, Green Bay scored touchdowns on six straight possessions.

"I appreciate everyone sticking with it, staying with me," Grant said.

The Packers reached the NFC title game for the first time since the 1997 season, and the largest crowd ever at Lambeau partied. Favre and Driver started the celebration early, tossing snowballs at each other near the sideline in the closing minutes.

"When I kind of packed it up and threw it, it got kind of hard, like a golf ball. So I kind of threw it at his back or his butt or something. I'm thinking, 'You don't want to puncture an eye or something,"' Favre said.

"He turns around, packs one and hits me in the face. Good thing it hit my face mask, it might have hit my tooth or something," he said.

Favre tied his personal best for TD strikes in a postseason game. He also extended his own record by throwing a touchdown pass in his 17th straight postseason game, twice hitting Greg Jennings for scores.

But Favre's most memorable effort was a crazy toss to Donald Lee right before halftime.

On third-and-8, Favre somehow spun free from the Seahawks' clutches and stumbled ahead in the snow. Ever the gambler, he flipped a wobbly, underhanded pass that he had no business trying, let alone completing.

"That's right!" Favre shouted.

On the next play, Grant followed with a 3-yard burst and it 28-17 a scant 26 seconds before the break.

"Just gave him the old, usual, underhand toss. We practice that play all the time," Favre cracked. "Boy, what a backbreaker."

Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks (11-7) hoped to reverse what happened the last time they were in town for the playoffs. In January 2004, the teams went to overtime and, after winning the coin toss, Hasselbeck boldly proclaimed: "We want the ball and we're going to score!"

It didn't quite work out that way as Al Harris soon intercepted Hasselbeck's pass and returned it for a 52-yard TD. In fact, a picture of the play is posted right outside the Packers' locker room.

Coming off their 35-14 win over Washington last week in the wild-card round, the Seahawks seemed primed for an upset.

"Great start," Hasselbeck said. "But that's just the start of the game. You've got to finish it."

On Green Bay's first play, Grant caught a pass and fumbled. Then on Seattle's first play, Shaun Alexander plunged in from the 1.

Grant didn't do any better a minute later, when another fumble set up Hasselbeck's 11-yard TD strike to Bobby Engram.

"I thought, 'Oh boy, this ain't too good,"' Favre said. "This is the exact game I didn't want to be in."

At that point, it seemed as if only a Lambeau leap of faith would bring back Green Bay. But when the snow started to pile up, so did the points for the Packers.

Favre joined Joe Montana as the lone players to pass for more than 5,000 yards in the postseason. Earlier this week, Favre admitted he was disappointed that he hadn't performed better in some playoff games -- in fact, he had lost four of his previous five, throwing 13 interceptions in that span.

Coach Mike McCarthy won in his first postseason game, leading the NFL's youngest team to the next round.

The Seahawks fell to 0-8 in postseason road games since their only win, in 1983 when they beat Dan Marino and Miami in the AFC playoffs. The losing streak includes a loss in the Super Bowl two years ago.

It remains to be seen whether Seattle coach Mike Holmgren will return. At 59, the man who once guided Favre and the Packers to the Super Bowl title has recently dropped hints he might retire.

If he does, his final game will have come just a block or two from Holmgren Way, the street the city named in his honor.

Green Bay played its first postseason game in three seasons and it was classicly Lambeau.

During a coach's challenge in the first quarter, sweepers ran out to clear the yardlines. That eventually became futile, and a snowplow tried to do the job.

"That's kind of what you grow up doing. There's a snowstorm, there's no school, you're out there in the front yard playing with your best friends," Hasselbeck said.


Sherman 4201 Texoma Pkwy (903) 892 -8123 Ardmore 2624 S. Commerce (580) 223-0946
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 13741312