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Favre throws 337 yards, three TDs vs. Baltimore

10/15/2001

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Brett Favre doesn't feel he has anything
left to prove to anybody, and that's why he relished showing Ray Lewis he's still the best quarterback in the NFL.

Favre tore apart the Baltimore Ravens' vaunted defense for 337
yards and three touchdowns on 27-of-34 passing as the Green Bay
Packers beat the defending Super Bowl champs 31-23 on Sunday.

During the week, Ravens coach Brian Billick challenged his
defense to prove it was the best ever by shutting down the
three-time MVP. But Lewis responded that Baltimore was the
barometer for Favre to prove his worth.

Challenge accepted.

Favre said he was getting his ankles taped before the game when
assistant trainer Kurt Fielding pointed out Lewis' quote.

"I'm trying to relax and not think about how great their
defense is," Favre recounted. "And he said, 'Can you believe they
said that?' I said, `Yeah.' They won the Super Bowl last year. They
have the best defense. Ray Lewis, he's one of the best I've seen.
What's to keep him from saying something like that?"

But Favre wasn't about to back down.

What happened to the Ravens defense?
Two words: Brett Favre. Favre played like the MVP he's been in the past. He
was making phenomenal throws and his receivers were making great catches.

The Packers played with much more intensity than the Ravens. When you can
match Ray Lewis and Co. in intensity, that's impressive. When you outdo the
Ravens in intensity, that's really saying something.

Favre and the Packers offense had the Ravens on their heels defensively.
Green Bay was the aggressor -- and for a change, Baltimore's D wasn't up to
the task.

ESPN.com NFL analyst Vinny Cerrato has served as director of player
personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.


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"In the back of my mind, I'm thinking, 'I'm pretty good,
too,"' Favre said. "I don't feel like I have to say that. I've
played a long time in this league. I've earned a right to be
respected to a certain degree.

"I didn't know how this game was going to unfold, but I gave
them all the respect that they deserve and I still do. They've got
a great football team," Favre said. "But today was our day."

Spreading out the defense with multiple receiver sets and empty
backfields, Favre connected with nine receivers, including Antonio Freeman nine times for 138 yards and a touchdown.

"Every dog has his day," Lewis said. "We truly come out and
try to have excellence every day. They made plays. We didn't. It's
simple."

Especially Freeman, who complained last week about being the
forgotten man in Favre's arsenal. His nine receptions Sunday
matched the number he had in the first month of the season.

"Every time I turned around, it seemed like the ball was
there," Freeman said.

The Packers (4-1) forced four turnovers and scored more points
against the Ravens (3-2) than any team since Jacksonville in a
39-36 loss to Baltimore on Sept. 10, 2000.

Baltimore, which hadn't allowed a touchdown drive longer than 33
yards this season, surrendered TD drives of 59, 74, 80 and 82 yards
to the Packers, who legitimized their status as a serious
contender.

"They're very good. They're very good," Billick said.
"They're going to be knee-deep in the NFC playoffs and they're
going to be a team to be reckoned with."

Ahman Green, the league's leading rusher, was limited to 54
yards on 20 carries, but his 1-yard TD run made it 24-10 late in
the third quarter. And Bubba Franks' second 2-yard TD catch made it
31-10 with seven minutes remaining.

"Earlier in the week, I said they had a weakness and Chicago
proved that by going five (wide receivers) and spreading the field
on them," Franks said. "And our plan was to spread the field and
just keep going at them and going at them and it worked."

But Baltimore wasn't done.

Elvis Grbac sustained a mild concussion in the first half but
didn't leave until 6:51 remained, when Randall Cunningham replaced
him and led Baltimore on a 71-yard TD drive capped by Jason
Brookins' 1-yard run.

The Ravens recovered the onside kick and Cunningham drove the
Ravens 60 yards, and scored on an 11-yard scramble with 38 seconds
left. But Billick chose to go for two and Tyrone Williams tipped
away the pass to Qadry Ismail, and Freeman recovered the ensuing
onside kick.

Favre was 18-of-23 in the first half for 198 yards and two
touchdowns as the Packers took a 17-7 halftime lead. Freeman had
six catches for 66 yards by halftime after dropping his first pass
and getting booed.

Favre's top target, Bill Schroeder, sprained his right ankle
eight seconds before the break when he was sandwiched by Ray Lewis
and Corey Harris in the end zone and didn't return.

Packers safety Darren Sharper got the best of his older brother,
Jamie, Baltimore's right outside linebacker, for the second time in
their NFL careers.

"It is great to have bragging rights," Darren Shaper said.
"He beat me twice in college but now I've got him twice in the
NFL. He is always showing off his (Super Bowl) ring and bragging.

"Now I can tell him I have the upper hand -- up until the Super
Bowl, when I think we may face these guys again."

Game notes
Jermaine Lewis' 47-yard punt return set up Matt Stover's
28-yard field goal in the third that made it 17-10. It was the 31st
straight game Stover has kicked a field goal, tying Fred Cox's NFL
mark set in 1968-70 for Minnesota. ... Favre improved to 62-11 at
home (.849), the best mark in NFL history, surpassing Terry
Bradshaw's 67-12 (.848) mark with Pittsburgh. ... Ravens DE Rob Burnett broke a hand.