For teams to take the next step into going from okay to good football teams, sometimes you need to win a game like what the Green Bay Packers did Monday night at Invesco Field in Denver. They built a 13-7 halftime lead, but allowed the Broncos to sneak back in with two second half field goals to tie the game at 13 heading into overtime. With the Detroit Lions peeking over their shoulder for a share of first place in the NFC North, the Pack put that thought to rest right away, as QB Brett Favre hit WR Greg Jennings on the first play of overtime with an 82-yard TD to win the game 19-13 and improve to 6-1 on the season.
It was the play of the season for the Packers, and per usual, Favre was right in the middle of it. The QB, who has talked about retiring for what seems like forever, hit two long TD passes Monday night and showed that usual veteran poise that is making 2007 seem like 1997 for him all over again. Some say that Favre has lost some zing on the ball, or that he is not the player he use to be, but Monday night he did everything he could to help his team win, which is exactly why the Packers have moved into that upper area of the NFC in 2007.
“I feel like I’ve been on some better teams, but it’s hard to doubt this team,” Favre said after the win. It is hard to doubt the Packers, who since the middle of last season have lost just one game, and with the gutsy Favre seem to be the biggest challengers to the Cowboys in the NFC this season. Favre led an offense that piled up 430 total yards, and his performance was masterful, going 21-for-27 with 331 yards and two scores. The running game was the big surprise, as Ryan Grant, playing for an injured DeShawn Wynn, ran for 104 yards on 22 carries.
So while the Pack move ahead, the Broncos, a team that thought they were back in the hunt after last weeks last play win over the Steelers, come back crashing down to earth. Their offense against Pittsburgh attacked all night, making big plays on third down and QB Jay Cutler seemed in control against the Steelers 3-4 defense. Monday night he seemed to be back to being the struggling QB he was the previous three weeks. He was 21-for-34 for 264 yards with one score. The running game, without Travis Henry, was mostly held in check, as rookie Selvin Young rushed for a team high 71 yards on 18 carries.
The Broncos scored on a Cutler to tight end Tony Scheffler score at the 3:52 mark of the first quarter to go up 7-0, but then were unable to crack the end zone the rest of the night, and had to settle for two Jason Elam field goals, the second coming on the last play of regulation to tie the game at 13 and send it into overtime. Denver falls to 3-4 with road games at Detroit and KC up next on their schedule.
So for the first time in five seasons, the Packers sit at 6-1. That season they rolled to a 12-4 record only to be upset by then dazzling QB Michael Vick and the Falcons at home in the first round of the playoffs. With the way their defense is playing this season, and with Favre as solid as he has been since his MVP seasons, it’s hard to fathom such a thing happening again. At least not with the resolve they showed Monday night.