Favre throws three INTs, Pack's home streak ends

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- On an unseasonably warm day at Lambeau
Field, the Green Bay Packers lost their cool.

Backup safety Chris Akins was benched by coach Mike Sherman for
a sideline blowup Sunday after committing a costly penalty that led
to the decisive touchdown. And Brett Favre was intercepted three
times in a 23-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Ashley Ambrose cradled Favre's final pass at the Atlanta 2 with
just over a minute left.

"Brett's so good. When he makes mistakes, he always comes back.
That's the type of player I am," said Ambrose, who was burned for
a deep pass that set up a first-half touchdown. "That's the way I
feel when I step on the field."

Needing only about 10 yards to get in field-goal range, Favre
instead went deep, but overthrew Bill Schroeder.

Are the Falcons a legitimate playoff contender?
The Falcons are 5-4 now, but they're still behind St. Louis (8-1) and San Francisco (7-2) in the NFC West -- and they're tied with New Orleans (5-4). Making the playoffs will be tough for Atlanta. The two overtime losses to the 49ers have hurt the Falcons big-time.

But today the Falcons went into an extremely difficult road environment and performed well on both offense and defense. And this time they held onto a fourth-quarter lead (rather than giving up a game-tying score and going into OT and losing the game, as they have twice to the Niners).

ESPN.com's Vinny Cerrato was director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.


"I don't second-guess anything I've ever done. I feel like I'm
the best in the business -- I still do," Favre said. "Even though
we're behind, you've got to feel like that defense is sweating. And
I'm sure they were today. They may say different, but I guarantee
you they were worried."

Falcons coach Dan Reeves can attest to that.

"That's what quarterbacks like Favre and John Elway thrive
on," Reeves said. "Therefore, when you're on the other side, it
gets worrisome."

To detractors who argue all the Packers needed was a field goal,
Favre retorted: "Suit up. Come take my spot."

Ambrose also picked off Favre's first pass on a day in which the
temperature at kickoff was a 59 degrees -- about twice as high as
usual for mid-November.

The Falcons (5-4) were double-digit underdogs to the Packers
(6-3), who had won nine straight at Lambeau Field.

"You can't overlook anybody," Reeves said. "I know they were
thinking they were facing a 4-4 team, but you just can't do that.
Anybody can beat anybody right now."

Favre, who lost for just the 12th time in 75 home games, also
fumbled twice, losing one of them.

The Packers also lost safety LeRoy Butler, who was making his
128th consecutive start, to a broken shoulder blade in the first
half. He's out indefinitely and his season might be over.

His replacement, Akins, was benched after his 15-yard personal
foul kept alive the Falcons' final TD drive. Akins was replaced by
rookie Bhawoh Jue.

"We had people acting stupid and not knowing how to control
their emotions," Darren Sharper said.

Akins was whistled for shoving tackle Ephraim Salaam, who had
taken exception to Tod McBride's jumping over the line to smother
Chandler on a play in which he jumped offside.

"I wanted Chris out of the game immediately," Sherman said.

But he couldn't get Akins' attention in the huddle, and after
another play in which Akins was part of a gang-tackle on the
Packers' sideline, Sherman yanked him from the game.

"He ripped his helmet off his head. When I approached him, I
did touch his arm. There was no physical confrontation between me
and him, as far as I'm concerned," Sherman said.

Akins was contrite after the game.

"I won't make those mistakes again, because I see how bad they
hurt the team," he said. "We kept that drive alive. They end up
scoring on it and it turned the whole outcome of this game
completely around."

After Akins' personal foul, with the Falcons facing third-and-12
from their 20 and clinging to a 16-13 lead, Chris Chandler drove
the Falcons downfield for a 12-yard touchdown toss to Brian
Finneran with 8:49 left.

The Packers responded with a 39-yard TD pass from Favre to
Antonio Freeman that capped a four-play, 75-yard drive and made it

Green Bay got the ball back after a punt with 1:52 left and
moved to the Falcons 45 after consecutive 18-yard completions to
Schroeder. But on second-and-10, Favre went for it all, and was

Favre lost a fumble and had two interceptions in the Packers'
first six possessions. He also fumbled a pitch near the goal line
that teammate Marco Rivera recovered.

Atlanta led 16-10 at halftime and reached the Packers 12 on the
opening drive of the second half. But Nate Wayne's interception led
to Ryan Longwell's 45-yard field goal that made it 16-13.

Game notes
In his first game back from bruised ribs, Chandler
completed a season-high 29 passes in 50 attempts for 352 yards. ...
The Falcons won their third straight on the road. ... Christian had
five catches for 62 yards and four runs for 40 more. ... Favre
passed Joe Montana for sixth with 274 touchdown passes.

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