Favre riddles Raiders with four TDs after losing father
Posted: Tuesday December 23, 2003 2:09AM; Updated: Tuesday December 23, 2003 2:16AM
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- On the night his father died, Brett Favre addressed the Green Bay Packers in an emotional team meeting. He said he had no intention of leaving his football family, even at one of the lowest points in his life.
The next day, Favre played his heavy heart out, inspiring his teammates to do great things.
Favre passed for 399 yards and four touchdowns a day after his father's death, moving into second place in NFL history for career TD passes while leading the Packers to a 41-7 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Monday night.
"I knew that my dad would have wanted me to play," Favre said. "I love him so much, and I love this game. It's meant a great deal to me, to my dad, to my family, and I didn't expect this kind of performance. But I know he was watching tonight."
With a series of spectacular long passes that somehow found his energized teammates, Favre decimated the Raiders' patchwork defense with one of the greatest performances in his 13-year career. He finished just 3 yards shy of his career high while sending the Raiders to their worst loss in eight years.
Favre threw for a personal-best 311 yards and four TDs in the first half, quickly turning a crucial game for the Packers' playoff hopes into a blowout victory.
Favre, who went 22-of-30, smiled and hugged his teammates throughout the game. On the sideline in the fourth quarter, he embraced wife Deanna before they headed home to Mississippi.
"What he had to deal with today was unmeasurable," receiver Antonio Freeman said. "You can't put a price on what he did tonight. I don't know how he did it, but he did it in fine fashion."
Irvin Favre died of a heart attack Sunday night while driving near his son's hometown of Kiln, Miss. Brett decided to stay with the Packers (9-6) long enough to lead a victory that kept them in a tie with Minnesota atop the NFC North.
"I do not wish this on anyone," Favre said. "My dad has been to every game from fifth grade, and he coached me in high school. You never expect it to happen like that. I'm going to miss him. He was so instrumental not only in football, but in life."
Though the formula is complicated, Green Bay can all but clinch a playoff berth with a victory over Denver on Sunday -- and if the Vikings lose to Arizona, the Packers will win their second straight division title. The Packers also will be in the playoffs if Seattle loses to San Francisco on Saturday.
With the first of two first-half scoring passes to Javon Walker, Favre passed Fran Tarkenton on the NFL's career list with his 343rd career TD throw. The three-time MVP finished with 345, trailing only Dan Marino's 420.
Favre got a respectful ovation from the normally vicious Raider Nation when he was announced as a starter in his 205th consecutive game, an NFL record for quarterbacks. He might have been drowning in emotion, but his performance was almost amazingly poised -- and his receiving corps was just as impressive against the befuddled Raiders (4-11).
On the Packers' fourth play from scrimmage, Favre threw a breathtaking 47-yard completion to Robert Ferguson -- a high-arching ball that traveled at least 55 yards in the air, the kind of throw that only a handful of quarterbacks have ever mastered.
One play later, tight end Wesley Walls leaped for a 22-yard score in the back of the end zone. Favre jumped into Walls' arms for a lengthy hug.
"I just said, 'I love you,"' said Walls, who scored his first TD with the Packers. "He played an amazing game for us, and we all felt we had to do the same for him. Sometimes in special circumstances, you make special plays. I think it's fair to say we were inspired by Irv."
Favre completed his first nine passes, including a perfect 23-yard TD pass down the Packers' sideline to Walker, before throwing an intentional incompletion out of the end zone. He then completed his next three, hitting Walker again when the receiver outmuscled two defenders for a 43-yard TD catch.
Many of Favre's throws were into coverage, but the Raiders' secondary allowed repeated catches -- seven of at least 20 yards. Favre capped the half with a 46-yard pass to Walker and a 6-yard TD to David Martin with a minute left.
Charlie Garner made a spinning 25-yard TD run in the first quarter, but Oakland's offense had no chance to keep up with Favre and his receivers. The Raiders will finish their hugely disappointing campaign Sunday in San Diego, where they lost the Super Bowl last season.
"It's like it's almost a nightmare," said Jerry Rice, who had 10 catches for 159 yards. "It's been a long season this year. You try to keep the faith, you try to work yourself out of the funk. Things are just not happening. This one is hard to swallow."
Notes: Green Bay defensive lineman Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila had three sacks, giving him 10 for the season to become the first player in franchise history with at least 10 in three straight seasons. Gbaja-Biamila's brother, Akbar, plays for the Raiders, and two more of their brothers were in attendance at the Coliseum. ... After the game, Oakland tackle Lincoln Kennedy said he plans to retire.