Favre Gets Hurt, Cowboys Get Ahead
Friday, November 30, 2007
IRVING, Tex., Nov. 29 -- As the NFL got back to the business of playing football games in an otherwise somber week, the Dallas Cowboys established themselves as the top team in the NFC and dealt an even bigger blow to the Green Bay Packers by leaving ironman quarterback Brett Favre with two significant injuries.
The Cowboys were boosted by four touchdown passes from quarterback Tony Romo on Thursday night and beat the Packers, 37-27, at Texas Stadium in a showdown for conference supremacy that was little more than a rumor to much of the television-watching football public. The Cowboys improved their NFC-best record to 11-1 and clinched a playoff berth.
"They are the best team in the NFC," Favre said. "They proved that today."
The Packers dropped to 10-2 and had even bigger problems because Favre, the most durable quarterback in league history who has put all the retirement talk that swirled around him in recent years on hold with a magnificent season, left the game in the second quarter with an injured right elbow and a separated left shoulder suffered on a single hit. Favre, who had thrown a pair of interceptions before exiting, watched the second half from the Packers' sideline, wearing a cap and with a towel slung over his shoulder.
"I couldn't go back in the game," Favre said. "Believe me, I wanted to. We have four days before we start back up a normal week. I envision being fine."
Favre, who has made 269 straight starts including the playoffs, said he lost feeling in two fingers on his right hand after the play and still had tingling after the game. But he played a week after suffering a similar elbow injury last season, and his separated shoulder is on his non-throwing arm.
"Knowing Brett Favre," Packers Coach Mike McCarthy said, "I think there's a great chance he'll be ready."
Backup Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown pass and the Packers, after trailing 27-10 in the first half, got to 27-24 in the third quarter on tailback Ryan Grant's second rushing touchdown of the night. But the Cowboys held on, thanks to Romo's second touchdown pass of the game to wide receiver Patrick Crayton with just less than eight minutes to play. Romo threw for 309 yards, and wideout Terrell Owens had seven catches for 156 yards and a touchdown.
"This win doesn't put us in the Super Bowl," Romo said. "A loss wouldn't have eliminated us."
The highly anticipated matchup was the first NFL game since the death Tuesday of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor. Players on both teams wore decals with Taylor's No. 21 on their helmets. There was a pregame moment of silence during which Taylor's picture was shown on the stadium video screens. On both sidelines, players could be seen bowing their heads and praying, and the crowd gave a loud cheer after the moment of silence.
It also was the biggest game ever televised by the NFL Network, the league-owned channel that remains embroiled in disputes with several large cable carriers over distribution. With no resolution in sight, the channel is in only about 35 million U.S. households and this undoubtedly was one of the least-watched mammoth games in recent league history.
The Packers were shorthanded on defense, with injured cornerback Charles Woodson and pass-rushing end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on the inactive list. But Favre came out throwing. He passed the Packers down the field on their opening drive but they had to settle for a field goal. The Cowboys replied with a pair of field goals.
Favre threw his first interception when his up-for-grabs pass, released while he was being leveled in the pocket, fell into the arms of safety Ken Hamlin. The Cowboys took over at the Green Bay 41-yard line and needed only three plays to score. Owens got open for a 34-yard catch and run, and Romo zipped an on-target throw to Crayton in the back of the end zone on second down from the 3.
Grant romped through the middle of the Dallas defense on a third-and-one play for a 62-yard touchdown. But the Cowboys were picking on Woodson's replacement, Jarrett Bush, and another long completion to Owens aided another three-play touchdown drive, this time culminating in Romo's 26-yard throw to tight end Anthony Fasano.
Favre threw another interception on the play on which he got hurt by hitting his right elbow on the helmet of blitzing cornerback Nathan Jones, and having his left shoulder driven into the turf.
"Clearly that was my fault," Favre said. "There aren't too many times in my career where a guy came free and I didn't see him."
While members of the Packers' medical staff huddled around Favre on the sideline to tend to his arm, Romo threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Owens and Rodgers jogged on to the field to take over as the Packers' quarterback. His first NFL touchdown pass, an 11-yarder to wide receiver Greg Jennings, got the Packers to 27-17 in the final minute of the first half. Grant ran for a one-yard touchdown on the Packers' opening drive of the second half, and they got a major break when Owens botched a seemingly routine touchdown catch on the second play of the fourth quarter. Cornerback Al Harris grabbed the ball on the carom for an end zone interception.