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From SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, October 22, 2001
ONE DAY BEFORE THE PACKERS' SHOWDOWN WITH THE SUPER Bowl—champion Ravens, quarterback Brett Favre drove 30 miles in a steady rain to a hunting preserve in northeast Wisconsin. He climbed a tree and sat in a stand with his bow and arrows, waiting for a buck. The rain never let up, and Favre sat for four hours without firing an arrow. The following morning he was still so eager to shoot that before he left for Lambeau Field, he fired three arrows at a target in his backyard. "All three were dead center in the bull's-eye," Favre said after the game. "I didn't think anything of it at the time, but I guess it was a good omen."
Favre, 32, has won three league MVPs and one Super Bowl. He has passed for more than 4,000 yards three times and thrown at least 30 touchdowns five times. Playing the Ravens, going against what he called the best defense he's ever faced, he had arguably the best game of his life.
In Green Bay's stunning 31-23 win, Favre had the most efficient passing day by a Ravens' opponent since 1997 (27 completions in 34 attempts, for 79%), accounting for 337 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. "I'm not in fear of anyone," Favre said from his home four hours after the game, while an outdoors show played on the TV. "But last week I watched six Baltimore games on tape. Good offenses, too, like Oakland's and Denver's. I saw that so many teams have chances but never capitalize. When [offensive coordinator] Tom Rossley talked to our offense about the game last week, he told us we could have 400 yards if we executed right. I'm looking around the room at our young guys, and I can see them thinking, Sure. Who's he trying to kid?"
Late in the third quarter, with Green Bay up 17-10, Favre sent Donald Driver and two other receivers down the left sideline, while Antonio Freeman did a curl on the right. He stared a hole in Freeman, trying to make the safety cheat toward that side, all the while yearning to throw deep to Driver.
"From the time I started playing quarterback in the fifth grade," Favre said, "I was always taught not to throw a pass when the safety is there to help. But I thought that I could get this ball in to Donald. Before he turned for it, I threw the ball as hard as I could, and the safety charged. The ball got to Donald at the perfect time." The 37-yard completion helped set up Green Bay's third touchdown.
Afterward the Favres—Brett, wife Deanna and daughters Brittany and Breleigh—joined a crowd of players and their families at Brett's Green Bay steak house for dinner. A fan asked the quarterback if the Ravens had talked much trash. "Not at all," Favre said. "They were the classiest guys we've played. I talked with a bunch of them after the game, and they said, 'Great job. Stay healthy. Hope we meet in the Super Bowl.' "