Final

Browns 7

(6-8, 2-4 away)

Packers 30

(10-4, 6-1 home)

Coverage: CBS

4:15 PM ET, December 23, 2001

 

1 2 3 4 T
CLE 0 7 0 07
GB 13 10 0 730

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.

Brett Favre threw three TDs to help the Pack return to the playoffs.

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.

"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).

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

SECOND QUARTERCLEGB
gbTD0:57Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, 69 yds, 0:00
722
gb0:57
Drive info: 1 plays, 69 yds, 0:00
723
cleTD7:25Touchdown
Drive info: 6 plays, 74 yds, 2:18
613
FIRST QUARTERCLEGB
gbTD11:34Touchdown
Drive info: 7 plays, 66 yds, 2:39
06
gbTD5:29Touchdown
Drive info: 7 plays, 46 yds, 3:24
012
SECOND QUARTERCLEGB
cle7:25
Drive info: 6 plays, 74 yds, 2:18
713
FOURTH QUARTERCLEGB
gbTD13:02Touchdown729
FIRST QUARTERCLEGB
gb5:29
Drive info: 7 plays, 46 yds, 3:24
013
FOURTH QUARTERCLEGB
gb13:02730
SECOND QUARTERCLEGB
gbFG1:57Ryan Longwell 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 42 yds, 5:02
716