Four games into the season some observers were saying the same thing about the Packers, whose Week 2 loss to the Saints came amidst narrow victories over the Atlanta Falcons, the Lions and the Panthers. A players-only meeting after the loss energized the defense, which has forced at least two turnovers in every game during the winning streak. "We talked about how we needed to stop buying into our hype and questioning the coaches' calls, and just play to our level," recalls free safety Darren Sharper, the team's defensive leader. "From then on we started smacking people in practice, just full-out tackling guys."
There were obvious exceptions, of course. "You hit number 4," Sharper says, "and you get a box lunch and a road map out of town." This became especially true after the Packers saw their season flash before their eyes during a 30-9 victory over the Washington Redskins on Oct. 20, when Favre sprained the lateral collateral ligament in his left knee on a third-quarter hit by linebacker LaVar Arrington. Favre feared his career was over—I never thought it would end like this, he thought when he heard the pop in his knee—but after Green Bay's bye week he returned for a Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins to extend his record streak of consecutive starts by a quarterback (166 and counting) and said on Sunday that he's "close to 100 percent."
As long as Favre stays healthy, his teammates believe they can withstand any hardship, such as when Lions linebacker Chris Claiborne knocked Pro Bowl halfback Ahman Green (mild concussion) out of the game with a resounding hit midway through the second quarter. The Green Bay offense kept on rolling, because Favre has plenty of other playmakers in his arsenal, including a most unlikely star—fourth-year wideout Donald Driver. In his first three seasons Driver caught a total of 37 passes, including 13 for 167 yards last year while playing behind Antonio Freeman, Bill Schroeder and Corey Bradford, all of whom have since departed. On Sunday, Driver had 11 receptions for 130 yards. "I don't want to say I knew he was that good," Favre says, "but I knew he'd give effort that was beyond belief. I wish there were 52 other guys on this team just like him."
Driver's effort was apparent on the play of the day: that pass from Favre to Glenn on a quick slant from the Detroit 47 with 31 seconds left in the first half and Green Bay up 23-7 Glenn—whose erratic behavior led the New England Patriots to trade him to Green Bay last March—beat bump-and-run coverage from Chris Cash, made the catch and raced to the left sideline; Driver sprung him loose by sealing off Davis at the 25.
Long after the game, as he sat in a room in Lambeau flipping a half-full water bottle into the air, Favre remained giddy about Glenn's big play, which set up Najeh Davenport's one-yard touchdown run. "I've always been confident," Favre said, "but this is the most confident I've ever been, and the reason is the way the guys around me are playing. Donald made a great block, and Glenn made the guy covering him look silly."
Take that last point as gospel. Favre happens to be an expert on the subject.