Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw three touchdown passes in the first half as the Green Bay Packers beat the Broncos, 27-12, in a preseason game last night at rain-soaked Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.
Before a noisy sellout crowd on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, the Packers scored 24 first-half points against the Broncos, who struggled for the first time this year after two easy preseason wins.
A steady rain fell until moments before game time, soaking the artificial turf. The conditions resulted in numerous slips by both teams, but Hasselbeck and the Packers moved the ball easily, scoring 17 points on their first three possessions and putting the game away early.
The Broncos' first-team offense moved the ball erratically and couldn't get into the end zone. "We're not happy with our showing at all," Broncos running back Derek Loville said. "We stunk it up."
Meanwhile, Denver's defensive backs -- particularly starters Ray Crockett and Eric Brown -- seemed tentative on the wet turf and couldn't prevent the Packers from throwing for 160 yards in the first half.
Brett Favre started at quarterback for the Packers but left after eight plays when he was knocked to the ground by John Mobley and landed awkwardly on his right hand. Favre stayed on the sideline for the first half but watched the second half from the locker room.
The Packers said no X-rays were taken of Favre's hand and that the injury wasn't serious.
Hasselbeck spent last year on Green Bay's practice squad but was handed the backup job when Rick Mirer was traded to the New York Jets last Friday. Hasselbeck, who threw two touchdown passes in Green Bay's 27-16 preseason win over the Jets, was 10 of 14 for 127 yards and three touchdowns.
"Matt has been very effective moving the ball, but he's still a young quarterback," Packers Coach Ray Rhodes said. "He's going to get tested again before the preseason is over."
The crowd of 78,184 was the largest to see the Packers play in Wisconsin, besting the previous record set at Camp Randall several years ago.
CARDINALS: Arizona offensive lineman Ernest Dye underwent seven hours of surgery to repair nerves in his right arm, which was crushed in a car crash on Aug. 16. Doctors on Sunday removed strands of nerves from Dye's lower legs and grafted them on to his median and ulnar nerves, which provide movement for his hand and forearm.
Dye, whose arm was nearly severed in the accident, already had undergone a nine-hour surgery immediately after the crash to repair a bone in his arm and restore blood flow.
"We currently are monitoring his arm for possible infection and repairs we have made," physician Stephen Lex said in a statement released by the Cardinals. "In a couple of weeks, Mr. Dye should be able to begin physical therapy to keep his joints limber while we wait for the nerves to regenerate."
Lex said nerves grow so slowly that it could be three years before doctors know the extent of Dye's recovery.
Dye was among three players traveling to Flagstaff, Ariz., for the resumption of training camp when his car veered off Interstate 17 during a rainstorm and overturned.
Linebacker Carl Simpson injured his hip and is back with the team, but is not practicing. Guard Lester Holmes, the driver, severely cut his forehead and has yet to rejoin the team. He is recuperating at his Phoenix home.
RAVENS: Baltimore cut its roster to 72 by releasing eight players including Wally Richardson, the team's number three quarterback the last two seasons. Offensive lineman Brandon Dyson, defensive tackle Cory Francis, punter Paul McCord, tackle Cleve Roberts, wide receiver Phil Savoy, fullback Thomas Sieh and linebacker Anton Wright were also let go.
BENGALS: Akili Smith agreed to a seven-year contract, ending an impasse that caused him to miss most of training camp and two preseason games. Smith, chosen third overall behind quarterbacks Tim Couch and Donovan McNabb, was the last unsigned member of the celebrated quarterback class of '99. The deal includes a $10.8 million signing bonus and will pay Smith as much as $56 million if he reaches various performance goals.
DOLPHINS: Rookie defensive end Dimitrius Underwood, wavering between his faith and an NFL career, planned to meet today with Coach Jimmy Johnson to discuss his future. It's unlikely Underwood will play this season, said his agent, Craig Domann. Also, wide receiver Robert Baker will miss the season after undergoing surgery on both knees. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn lateral meniscus cartilage in his right knee in Saturday's preseason game.