Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Green Bay's Favre Leads Round 1 Quarterback Pack

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Green Bay's Favre Leads Round 1 Quarterback Pack

Article excerpt

They say defense wins championships. And sure, the running game is important in postseason play.

But never underestimate the value of good quarterback performance at playoff time. Take the National Football League playoff openers over the weekend.

The four winning quarterbacks completed 66.7 percent of their passes, threw only one interception and had a 103.1 rating. The four losing quarterbacks completed 53.8 percent of their passes, threw six interceptions and had a 69.0 rating.

Although Dan Marino outgunned Joe Montana in the Legends Shootout in Miami, and Cleveland's Vinny Testaverde logged a near-flawless performance against New England, no quarterback played better than Green Bay's Brett Favre.

Favre completed 23 of 38 passes for 262 yards in the Packers' 16-12 wild-card victory over Detroit on Saturday. Without Sterling Sharpe.

Sharpe, one of the NFL's best receivers, is out for the playoffs with a career-threatening neck injury.

"Our quarterback has been playing tremendous," Packers defensive end Reggie White said. "When you have a quarterback playing like Brett has been playing the last two months, it gives you an extra incentive. We know that when we step on the field now, Brett is going to make something happen for us."

Favre made enough happen to get the Packers past Detroit, even though starting wide receivers Robert Brooks and Anthony Morgan entered the game with 146 career catches between them - just 34 more than Sharpe logged last season.

Brooks caught seven passes Saturday. Tight end Mark Chmura, a third-year player with but 16 career catches, had five receptions for 75 yards.

The key drive of the game was the first one. The Packers marched 76 yards in 14 plays off the opening kickoff for their only touchdown. Favre completed seven of eight passes for 56 yards on the drive, which included two third-down completions to maintain possession.

"It showed the offensive team that we could score a touchdown without Sterling, and that was important," coach Mike Holmgren said.

Now in his third season in Holmgren's 49ers-style offense, Favre threw a club-record 33 TD passes during the regular season and cut down on his interceptions. He had a tendency to force things in the past, often leading to interceptions. But he threw only 14 interceptions this season, 10 fewer than in 1993.

"It's a difficult offense to learn," Favre said. "It took Joe Montana a long time to learn it. It took Steve Young a long time to learn it. You see a lot of teams going to it right now. The Jets tried to go to it this year, and you saw they struggled tremendously with it. …

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