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|An unidentified fan runs with the football after taking it from Packers QB Brett Favre in Cincinnati on Sunday.|
The Packers, trailing 21-14, reached the Bengals' 28 with 23 seconds left. Brett Favre took the ensuing snap, but whistles quickly blew after the fan came onto the field. The unidentified man took the football out of Favre's hand and ran about 50 yards before being tackled by security guards and removed from the field.
Favre was sacked on the next play, and on the final snap, he completed an illegal pass beyond the line of scrimmage that came up short.
Neither Favre nor Packers coach Mike Sherman blamed Green Bay's loss on the fan.
"I thought we had some momentum going, but there could have been an injury on the field that could have slowed things down," Sherman said. "We had our chances and didn't take advantage of them."
Favre said he didn't see the fan until the man had taken the ball from him. The veteran quarterback said he didn't think the fan helped the Packers, "but I'm definitely not going to sit here and make excuses."
Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis and linebacker Brian Simmons said the fan's actions allowed the Bengals valuable time to collect their thoughts at a critical stage of the game.
"They were in a hurry-up, and that did slow it down and give us a chance to huddle, and we kind of came together as a defense," Simmons said. "But you don't want to see that because somebody could get hurt."
Bengals spokesman Jack Brennan said team security officials determined that the fan jumped out of the stands onto a cart parked next to a nine-foot-high wall behind the Packers' bench.
"The feeling has been that the height of the walls is sufficient to discourage fans from jumping out of the stands all the way onto the field," Brennan said. "Our security has video of the incident. It will be fully reviewed, and a determination will be made on whether changes are needed in our policies and procedures in this area."
Green Bay fullback William Henderson said something needs to be done.
"There needs to be security felt by the players," Henderson said. "For a man to take the ball out of our [quarterback's] hands shows there was a gap in security somewhere.
"I was concerned for Brett. I didn't know what the guy was going to do. We were still trying to drive the ball and score. I'm just glad nothing else happened. The reality is, you still have to play football, but the league is going to have to address the issue," he said.
In October, the NFL began requiring its 32 teams to conduct pat-downs of fans entering stadiums as an added security measure. After a dispute between Hamilton County officials and the Bengals over who would pay for the pat-downs was resolved, the team began conducting the pat-downs on Oct. 23, when the Bengals hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But in Tampa, a judge issued a temporary injunction stopping the
searches at Bucs home games until a lawsuit filed by the American
Civil Liberties Union of Florida is resolved. The suit, on behalf
of Bucs season ticket-holder Gordon Johnston, says the searches
violate his constitutional rights because they were "invasive