At the end of Brett Favre's postgame news conference yesterday, a reporter jokingly asked the Green Bay Packers quarterback about his injured right hand. It was the third time Favre had been asked about it, and he raised his left hand and shook it as he walked off the podium. "I've still got one good one," he teased.
The Washington Redskins might argue both of Favre's hands are fine. Favre, the NFL's only three-time most valuable player, threw for 289 yards and one touchdown in the Packers' 28-14 win over the Redskins at FedEx Field. Favre completed three passes of 40 yards or longer in his first 13 attempts, helping Green Bay take a 20-7 lead early in the third quarter.
But after Favre hit his right thumb on defensive end Renaldo Wynn's helmet with about 12 minutes left, he was ineffective down the stretch. Favre, who came into the game with a sprained right wrist, threw two interceptions in a span of 1 minute 12 seconds during the fourth quarter. His first interception -- by Shawn Springs -- led to Mark Brunell's 12-yard touchdown pass to Rod Gardner that cut the Packers' lead to 20-14 with 4 minutes 46 seconds remaining.
Forty-four seconds later, Favre threw another interception to cornerback Fred Smoot, who hauled in a badly overthrown pass to Robert Ferguson down the middle of the field. Five plays later, the Redskins appeared to score a game-tying touchdown when Clinton Portis ran 43 yards after catching a short pass, but the score was nullified by an illegal motion penalty. Brunell threw an interception on the next play, then Favre led the Packers on a four-play, 36-yard touchdown drive, with Ahman Green scoring on an 11-yard run to seal Green Bay's third consecutive victory.
"That's just the way it goes," Favre said. "I'm not pleased with the way I played in the second half. I'm pleased with the win, but I wasn't satisfied with the way I played. You'd like to blame it on something, but I can't do that."
The Packers were just pleased to have their quarterback playing at all. In his first career start in Washington, he made his 197th consecutive start, an NFL record and 81 more than the next closest quarterback, former Philadelphia Eagles star Ron Jaworski.
Favre, 35, continued to redefine durability, as he played despite a sprained right wrist and a heavy heart. Earlier in the week, Favre disclosed that his wife, Deanna, is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. That bad news came on the heels of the death of his brother-in-law, Casey Tynes, 24, who last month was killed in an ATV accident on Favre's property in Mississippi. Last December, the quarterback's 58-year-old father, Irv, died of a heart attack.
On the field, the last three games have been mostly good times for Favre and the Packers. With Coach Mike Sherman taking over the play calling from offensive coordinator Tom Rossley, who underwent angioplasty about two weeks ago, the Packers have rallied from a dreadful 1-3 start. During its three-game winning streak, Green Bay has outscored its opponents 107-44 and outgained them 1,275 yards to 759.
Favre, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, has led the way. Against the Redskins, he completed a 41-yard pass to Donald Driver on his fourth pass attempt, leading to Ryan Longwell's 37-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead. On the Packers' next possession, he threw a 48-yard pass to Ferguson, who got behind safety Ryan Clark, and Green scored on a one-yard run to put Green Bay ahead 10-0.
With about nine minutes left in the first half, Favre faked a handoff to Green and threw to him in the flat, and the running back ran 48 yards for a first down. Favre threw a nine-yard touchdown to Javon Walker three plays later for a 17-0 lead.
The Redskins, who came into the game ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total defense, played without starting free safety Sean Taylor, who was inactive following his arrest early Thursday morning for DWI, and strong safety Matt Bowen, is out for the season with a knee injury.
"Our plan was the same as it was when Sean was in there," tight end Bubba Franks said. "We were going to attack them regardless if he was in there or not."
The Redskins tried to attack Favre, who was sacked once. He was rarely knocked down and got off a pass before injuring his thumb. Favre's thumb might be more of a concern than his wrist -- he broke his right thumb last season and played several games in severe pain.
"I expect him back," Sherman said. "I'm sure it does hurt him."
Yesterday, while sitting in the back corner of the locker room following the game, Favre struggled to put on his socks, making sure not to use his throbbing right thumb. He opened a soft drink bottle and pulled on his shoes with his left hand, instead of his right. But, as always, the 14th-year player refused to use his injuries as excuses for his poor play in the second half.
"I'd like to think it" had something to do with throwing three interceptions, "but it didn't," Favre said. "I've always felt if I'm going to play with an injury, I'm going to play and not use it as an excuse."