GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Brett Favre griped at halftime about the
way his talent was being wasted. Then he went back out and did
something about it.
The Green Bay Packers heeded their quarterback's call to open up
the passing game, and they scored 19 points in the second half of a
25-15 victory over San Francisco in the wild-card playoffs Sunday.
Question on the Packers: What do the Packers need to do to compete with the Rams?
The Packers need to find a way to stop Marshall Faulk, and they need to get pressure on Kurt Warner with their front four. The secondary will need to play extremely well and they'll have to tackle well. If the Packers can take the run away from the Rams, that should help their pass rush.
Green Bay also must try to create turnovers. If the Packers don't get turnovers, there's no way they can win (the Rams had 14 turnovers in their two losses this season). But I don't think the Packers' D has the speed to match up with the Rams' offense.
Question on the 49ers: What do the 49ers need to do in the offseason to take the next step?
The 49ers could have won this game if Jeff Garcia's pass to Terrell Owens was about a foot higher. Looking ahead to next year, they need another and bigger cornerback to play opposite Ahmed Plummer. They could also start to develop some younger offensive linemen.
Basically, the Niners need to build on the success and confidence they've established this season. They're on the right track. Steve Mariucci has done a tremendous job putting all the pieces together.
ESPN.com's Vinny Cerrato was director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.
Favre, who improved to 31-0 at home when the temperature is 34
degrees or colder, completed 16 of 21 passes for 226 yards in the
second half after the Packers trailed 7-6 at halftime.
"It's do or die in the playoffs and I don't ever want to look
back and say we left something on the field," Favre said.
As coach Mike Sherman and offensive coordinator Tom Rossley
huddled at halftime, Favre piped up.
"Tom and Mike and the quarterbacks were kind of talking about
what we could do and I said, 'Let's go get 'em. Let's lay it on the
field,"' Favre said.
He had five completions of 15 or more yards after halftime,
including a 51-yarder to Corey Bradford and a 19-yard touchdown to tight end Bubba Franks.
"You take away the interception, I don't think a quarterback
could have a better game than that," Sherman said. "He took total
control of that football game. He made something out of nothing on
numerous occasions. He just played a Brett Favre-type game."
The Packers held the ball for 39 plays in the second half after
they ran 19 in the first.
"When you come off the field," Favre said, "you don't ever
look back and say we should have done this or should have done
"I don't feel I was involved enough in the offense," Owens
He caught four passes for 40 yards and no scores after leading
the NFL with 16 touchdown catches in the regular season.
"I want to be the go-to guy on this team, but for some reason,
the play calling doesn't go to me enough."
It did on a crucial call that helped the seal the Packers'
Owens beat cornerback Mike McKenzie and was wide open down the
sideline for a possible touchdown with five minutes left and the
Packers clinging to a 18-15 lead.
"That play didn't decide the game," Owens said. "But it was a
big play. The pass hung up a little bit and their guy just got his
hand on the ball."
McKenzie, a third-year pro who signed a five-year, $17.l million
contract extension Friday night, said he was beaten so badly off
the line that Garcia must have been taken aback.
"He was so wide-open, so I believe Garcia said, 'This is easy
pickings.' He didn't want to overthrow him," McKenzie said.
Favre then drove the Packers 93 yards in eight plays, with the
payoff coming on Ahman Green's 9-yard touchdown run.
Bradford stripped Paul Smith of the ball and recovered on the
ensuing kickoff, and the Packers ran out the clock for their first
playoff victory since the 1997 NFC championship at San Francisco.
"I wanted to do it in the first half. Put it on my shoulders.
I'm not saying I'm going to win it every time. But I'm going to
give it my best effort every week," Favre said.
The Packers (13-4) improved to 13-0 at home in the NFL playoffs.
Their last postseason appearance was a wild-card loss at San
Francisco in 1998.
The 49ers, who also returned to the playoffs for the first time
since '98, finished 12-5.
For a time, the Niners made Sherman pay for his questionable
decision to go for a 2-point conversion that failed with Green Bay
"I felt very confident in our two-point play," Sherman
explained. "I was thinking about going ahead by 10 points."
The Niners tied it at 15 on Tai Streets' 14-yard touchdown and
his wide-open catch on the two-point conversion with 12 minutes
Ryan Longwell, who had his first extra point blocked in the
first quarter, kicked a 45-yard field goal with 7:02 left for an
The Niners reached the Green Bay 28 on their next drive before
The Packers, who surrendered an average of 170 yards rushing the
last four weeks -- all to non-playoff teams -- shored up their run
defense with linebacker Nate Wayne (back) and nose tackle Gilbert
Brown (foot) returning to health.
The 49ers ran for just 71 yards, and comeback player of the year
Garrison Hearst finished with just 42 yards on 13 carries.
After Ryan's 26-yarder gave Green Bay a 9-7 lead, Favre hit
fellow Pro Bowl selection Bubba Franks with a 19-yard touchdown
pass with 3:26 left in the third quarter, one play after Bradford's
That made it 15-7, but instead of sending out Longwell, Sherman
went for 2, and it failed when Donald Driver was tackled shy of the
end zone after a reception.
That made it a one-possession game, and the 49ers quickly made
Sherman pay when Garcia (22-of-32 for 233 yards) drove San
Francisco 61 yards in six plays for the tying touchdown and
The 49ers took a 7-6 halftime lead when Hearst scored from the 2
with 11 seconds left in the half, capping a 15-play, 86-yard drive.
The drive was the 49ers' longest in the postseason since a
17-play drive against Dallas in the NFC championship game on Jan.
In his first game since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery
after Thanksgiving, Allen Rossum returned a punt 35 yards, setting
up Green Bay's 40-yard touchdown drive that Favre capped with a
5-yard toss to Antonio Freeman.
Favre threw his first interception in 115 passes. ... Green
finished with 86 yards on 21 rushes, Freeman (six receptions for 84
yards) extended his team record with his fourth straight playoff
game with a TD and Dorsey Levens set a Packers record with a catch
in his 12th straight playoff game. ... It was 28 degrees at