Brett Favre began Sunday’s game by living up to his reputation for occasionally throwing ill-advised passes. He ended it by showing why he has been the NFL’s most valuable player the last three years.
Overcoming a first half in which his two interceptions helped Carolina take a 10-point lead, Favre threw for 388 yards and five touchdowns to rally the Green Bay Packers to a 37-30 victory.
“I knew we would be OK,” Favre said. “I didn’t want to be down 10-0, and I don’t think anybody expected to be down 10-0. But we felt like we would come back.”
It was the third time in his NFL career that Favre has thrown for five touchdowns.
The Packers (4-0) also played well enough defensively to come from behind twice and lead by as many as 14 points, limiting Carolina (0-3) to five first downs in the first 52 minutes.
The 4-0 start is the Packers’ first since 1966, the season they won the inaugural Super Bowl.
“We’re 4-0 and there’s room for improvement. That’s the good thing,” Favre said. “If we were playing our best and we were barely escaping, then there’s a sense of urgency to get better. Not that there isn’t, but we’ve found ways to win, and we’re not playing our best.”
Said Green Bay Coach Mike Holmgren: “For us to win, he [Favre] has to play well. We try to help him a little bit with the running game, but he made some great plays.”
Favre had three interceptions that Carolina turned into 17 points, but completed 27 of 45 passes--including three for touchdowns to Derrick Mayes, a third-year wide receiver from Notre Dame who is becoming more prominent in the Packer offense. Tight ends Tyrone Davis and Mark Chmura also had touchdown catches.
Carolina linebacker Jeff Brady picked off Favre twice. His second interception, late in the third quarter, set up one of the Panthers’ few second-half highlights, a career-best 56-yard field goal by John Kasay.
“I’m sure we’ll see some good things when we watch the film,” said Carolina cornerback Eric Davis, who returned an interception 16 yards for a touchdown. “But right now, we lost the game and that’s all we really care about.”
The Panthers, going against a defense ranked first in the NFL against the rush and second overall, didn’t get a first down on seven consecutive possessions from late in the second quarter until midway through the fourth.
Despite it all, Carolina had a chance to tie the game. The Panthers had the ball at the Packer 5 with two seconds left, but Kerry Collins’ pass into the end zone was batted by several players and fell to the ground.
“It’s a bittersweet loss,” linebacker Micheal Barrow said, “because I’m encouraged that we could play. We took on a great team and we came up just short.”
The Panthers, already hit by the biggest rash of injuries in the three-plus years of the franchise, had had more problems on that front:
* Left guard Matt Campbell suffered a sprained left knee in the second quarter and is expected to be sidelined five to six weeks.
* Running back Fred Lane suffered a cracked rib, but kept playing.
* Pro Bowl kick returner Michael Bates sat out the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
* Cornerback Doug Evans’ left thumb was dislocated and safety Tony Veland’s nose was broken in the first quarter, but both returned.