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The usual: Favre TDs, snow and Pack back in playoffs

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The Green Bay Packers don't know whether
to pat each other on the back or kick themselves.

They ended a two-year playoff drought Sunday with a 30-7 rout of
the Cleveland Browns behind Brett Favre's three-touchdown
performance on a cold, snowy day at Lambeau Field that reminded
them just how much fun it is to play in the NFL's coldest outpost.

"Some guys have domes, some guys have warm weather, we've got
the frozen tundra," split end Antonio Freeman said.

But unless the Packers (10-4) pick up a game on Chicago in the
final two weeks, the Bears will win the NFC Central Division
and get the first-round bye and second-round home game that goes with
it.

And the Packers will hit the road as a wild card team.

Did the Packers' running attack have something to prove Sunday?
I think so. Ahman Green had just nine rushes last week after having such a good game against Chicago, so I think the Packers were determined to get back to the running game this week.

On defense, though, the Packers should be somewhat concerned about allowing a running back 100-plus yards for the second straight week. So they need to shore up their run defense.

Green Bay is playing well on offense, but you don't want to go into the playoffs giving up 100-yard games to opposing running backs.

ESPN.com's Vinny Cerrato was director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.


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"If we get a 2 seed," safety Darren Sharper said, "I don't
want to guarantee anything, but I can say that we will be in the
championship game."

And that's why Sunday's celebration was tinged with regret.

"It would be real big to get a team up here in mid-January,
especially in these conditions," said Ahman Green, who rushed for
150 yards on 21 carries after being held to 11 yards rushing the
week before.

The Packers have handed Chicago two of its three losses, but
they've given control of the division back to the Bears with
letdowns the following week.

Favre, whose three touchdown passes gave him 30 for the sixth
time in his career, extending his NFL record, said he just wants to
play in the playoffs.

"I couldn't really tell you where we'll be seeded," Favre
said. "I don't really care."

He's just glad he won't be home in Mississippi for the
postseason again.

Coach Mike Sherman took his first playoff berth in stride.

"If you coach the Packers, you're supposed to get into the
playoffs. So I can't be jumping up and down yet," Sherman said.
"Maybe in a couple weeks."

Favre, who completed 18 of 28 passes for 139 yards and no
interceptions, extended his NFL record with his sixth 30-touchdown
season. He had a slight scare in the third quarter when he hurt his
throwing hand while avoiding a sack and diving for a 1-yard gain.

"Some meat came off it," Favre said. "I either caught it
between two helmets or got stepped on."

But Favre returned on the next series.

"That's one of the advantages of playing in the cold weather:
You get numb," Favre said.

Just add that to the long list of reasons Green Bay wants so
dearly to catch Chicago.

The Packers have never lost a playoff game at home, and Favre
has never lost a home game in which the temperature was 34 or
below.

He improved to 29-0 in such games Sunday, when it was 24 degrees
at kickoff, with a wind chill of 11.

Tyrone Williams intercepted Tim Couch twice, returning the first
for a 69-yard touchdown that made it 23-7 at halftime. His second
led to Dorsey Levens' diving, 16-yard TD catch that made it 30-7.

Jamel White gained 131 yards on 21 carries and added 85 yards on
nine receptions for Cleveland (6-8), which lost its fourth
straight.

White rushed for 108 yards in the first half. His 51-yard
scamper to the Green Bay 8 set up his own 3-yard TD catch on a
shovel pass from Couch that pulled the Browns to 13-7.

"This sounds crazy, but this was probably the most productive
and the most successful that our offense has been in six or seven
weeks," Browns coach Butch Davis said.

The Browns had 357 yards of offense, just four shy of Green
Bay's total, until they lost 20 yards on sacks on their last two
snaps.

Couch also was intercepted by rookie Bhawoh Jue on the Browns'
first series, which was sandwiched by tight end Bubba Franks' TD
catches of 1 and 4 yards from Favre.

Chris Akins, cut by the Packers for insubordination three weeks
ago, was jeered every time he made a tackle. He scuffled with
Williams, but also was the last Cleveland player off the field
after chatting with several of his former teammates.

Akins said he was glad for the fresh start in Cleveland.

"It's great to be out of Green Bay," said Akins, who must
secretly wish the Packers some playoff success -- he stands to earn
a share of their playoff money.

And the Packers wouldn't mind loading up his wallet in the
least.

Game notes
Packers DE John Thierry aggravated his sprained right knee
that had sidelined him the last two weeks. ... Recent addition Rob
Holmberg forced a fumble by Cleveland's Andre King in the first
half and Bernardo Harris recovered for the Packers at the Green Bay
13. Holmberg was starting for Nate Wayne (back).

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