GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Who knew the Jacksonville Jaguars were a
Byron Leftwich threw two touchdown passes, Fred Taylor rushed
for 165 yards and a touchdown and Rashean Mathis picked off Brett
Favre twice, helping the Jaguars (8-6) stay in the thick of the AFC
playoff race with a 28-25 victory over the Green Bay Packers on
Temperatures were in the single digits and the wind chill was
well below zero.
"A team that plays in Florida in the 80s and 70s, you just
can't condition your body for the temperatures you are going to
feel," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "But you can condition
your mind and I felt we were ready from that standpoint."
Said Packers coach Mike Sherman: "They have the talent to play
in any conditions."
Jaguars safety Donovin Darius was ejected for a
helmet-stripping, clothesline hit that sent wide receiver Robert
Ferguson to the hospital with 4:41 remaining. Ferguson temporarily
lost feeling in his legs, but regained feeling in an ambulance.
He was diagnosed with a sprained neck, and team trainer Pepper
Burruss said Ferguson had movement and sensation in his arms and
legs Sunday night. Ferguson was admitted to Bellin Hospital for
For once, it was the Packers who played as if they couldn't wait
to get inside.
Favre turned over the ball four times and fell to 31-4 at home
after Dec. 1, losing for just the second time in 40 cold-weather
games at home.
Nevertheless, the Packers (8-6) became the ninth team in NFL
history to reach the playoffs after a 1-4 start. They clinched
before kickoff because Chicago, Dallas, Carolina and New York all
lost in the run-of-the-mill NFC.
"We're in the playoffs?" Packers lineman Mark Tauscher
responded incredulously. "I'll take your word for it."
The Packers fell into a tie with Minnesota atop the NFC North
after the Vikings edged Detroit 28-27 Sunday. They travel to
Minneapolis for a Christmas Eve matinee that will decide the
"Our goal is to win the division and that is still out there,"
Favre hit Antonio Chatman with a 6-yard touchdown throw and
found Donald Driver for the 2-point conversion to pull Green Bay to
28-25 with 1:08 left. But Jacksonville safety Nick Sorensen
recovered the onside kick and the Jaguars handed Green Bay its
fourth loss at Lambeau Field this season.
Leftwich was battered all afternoon, bruising his left wrist in
the second quarter on a hit by Cullen Jenkins, but he hung in to
guide the Jaguars to a season-high points total. Favre also was
hurt in the second quarter and played with tape on his left wrist
and thumb after jamming it into the ground.
The drive ended when safety Deon Grant stripped the ball away
from Driver in the end zone.
Driver's 32-yard catch gave Green Bay a 17-14 lead in the third
quarter, but Taylor put the Jaguars ahead for good 90 seconds later
with a 32-yard run.
Then Mathis intercepted in the end zone on first-and-goal from
the 3, "the easiest pick I ever had," Mathis said.
"I hope I never do that again," Favre said.
Then, Del Rio went on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and rookie Greg
Jones rewarded the risk with a touchdown that gave Jacksonville a
28-17 lead with 10 minutes left.
"We were ready for the cold mentally," Del Rio said. "And we
did not let the elements dictate how we played."
The Packers sure did.
It was typical Green Bay winter weather: 12 degrees at kickoff
with a wind chill of minus-3. As Leftwich said, "This was beyond
But it was the Packers who looked completely out of their
Green Bay committed 12 penalties for 101 yards, Ryan Longwell's
streak of 45 straight field goals inside 40 yards ended and Ahman
Green fumbled at the Jaguars 10, one of four Packers turnovers
inside the Jacksonville 23.
"They beat us in supposedly our elements," Tauscher said.
"The AFC is just a better conference this year."
About the only thing that went right for the Packers was safety
Darren Sharper's heads-up touchdown.
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila pummeled Leftwich and the ball squirted
loose for what appeared to be an incompletion. While linebackers
Hannibal Navies and Nick Barnett walked away from the ball,
Jacksonville guard Vince Manuwai nonchalantly picked it up. Sharper
came rushing in, poked it away, scooped it up and scampered 15
yards into the end zone.
Green posted his fifth straight 1,000-yard season, tying
Jim Taylor's franchise record. ... Longwell became one of three
players to reach 100 points in each of his first eight NFL seasons.
... Sharper has scored six TDs in his career, one shy of Herb
Adderley's team record. ... The Packers hadn't lost a home finale
since Favre's arrival in 1992. ... Jacksonville was the last team
to make a regular season visit to Green Bay.
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