A couple of minutes after nearly giving the game away, Brett Favre gave himself quite a birthday present.
Favre, who turned 30 today, led Green Bay on a last-minute, game-winning drive for the third time this season, hitting Antonio Freeman with a 21-yard touchdown pass with 1 minute 5 seconds left as the Packers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 26-23.
"We didn't think we'd have to do it again," said Favre, who re-injured his right thumb during the game. "Three times out of three, though--that's not too bad."
The winning pass capped a six-play, 73-yard drive Favre directed in 40 seconds against the Buccaneers' top-ranked defense. The Packers racked up 452 yards of total offense against Tampa Bay but looked to be in trouble when Mike Alstott's 22-yard touchdown run with 1:45 to play put the Bucs up 23-19.
The Packers got the ball at their 27 with 1:40 to play, and Favre hit Bill Schroeder with a 42-yard pass. Favre got up holding his right arm, but it didn't slow him down.
After a 10-yard draw by Dorsey Levens and a couple of incompletions, Favre threw a 21-yard bullet to Freeman, who caught the ball in the end zone while Ronde Barber tackled him. It was the 13th come-from-behind win for Favre and the 16th time he led a game-winning drive.
Favre was 22 of 40 for 390 yards and two touchdowns. He hit Corey Bradford with a 23-yard scoring pass with 12 seconds to play in a 23-20 win over Minnesota two weeks ago, and he won the season opener against Oakland, 28-24, by hitting Jeff Thomason with a one-yard scoring pass with 11 seconds left.
The Buccaneers (2-3), who haven't won at Lambeau Field since 1989, were hurt by four turnovers. Trent Dilfer threw three interceptions, including one to Darren Sharper with 13 seconds to play that sealed Green Bay's win.
Favre's heroics erased an embarrassing miscue. With 4:48 to play, Packers defensive end Keith McKenzie sacked Dilfer, forced a fumble and recovered it at the Tampa Bay 19.
But after the Packers drove to the 4, Favre was chased out of the pocket and then was called for intentional grounding when he wildly flung the ball away to avoid a sack. After the 22-yard penalty, Longwell missed a field goal from 45 yards with 2:28 left.
The Bucs then drove 65 yards to Alstott's touchdown, but they left Favre too much time.