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AP Story: Farve Almost Pulls Out Win


No way Brett Favre will forget this one.

He threw five interceptions, something he'd never done in the regular season. He had a fan steal the ball from his hand during a futile last-minute drive, something he'd never seen before.

And his illegal forward pass let the Cincinnati Bengals hold on for a 21-14 victory that left the Green Bay Packers quarterback lying motionless on the field, exhausted and overwhelmed by it all.

"I said to myself, 'This is way too difficult week-in and week-out.' It's hard to make a living that way each week,"' Favre said.

This one was as tough as any during his 13-year career.

Facing the team that jump-started his career with a 1992 comeback blurred by time, Favre nearly overcame his five interceptions and an unexpected interruption that helped Cincinnati (6-2) hold on.

Backed up on their 5-yard line with 56 seconds left, the Packers got a break with a 48-yard pass interference penalty. Cincinnati's orange-shirted defense tried to catch its breath while the sideline fretted.

"I was scared to death," said Carson Palmer, who put the Bengals ahead with three touchdown passes. "I said on the sideline, 'This is scary.' Then, when they got the ball again and they get that flag, I'm saying, 'We're going into OT.'"

The Packers (1-6) came up 28 yards short.

Going without a huddle against a reeling defense, the Packers had a play blown dead from the 28 when a fan jumped out of the stands and ran onto the field. The man grabbed the ball out of Favre's hand and eluded security, which needed several minutes to tackle and arrest him.

"That did slow it down and give us a chance to huddle, and we kind of came together as a defense," linebacker Brian Simmons said. "But you don't want to see that because somebody could get hurt."

Favre was sacked on the next play, and was under heavy pressure as he threw his last pass from beyond the line of scrimmage, an illegal completion that came up short, anyway.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis acknowledged that the security delay changed the momentum.

"I'll leave that up to the league, but there needs to be security felt by the players," Packers fullback William Henderson said. "For a man to take the ball out of our quarterback's hands shows there was a gap in security somewhere."

Only once has Favre thrown more interceptions -- six in a playoff loss to St. Louis during the 2001 season. His off-day let the Bengals take control of a game that matched an up-and-coming passer against one of its standard-bearers.

Palmer's 27-yard touchdown pass to Jeremi Johnson made it 21-7 early in the fourth quarter and was set up by Favre's fifth interception.

Cincinnati wrapped up its best first half of the season since 1988, its last Super Bowl appearance.

The Bengals had five interceptions for the third time this season, the first team to do so since Kansas City in 1970. Deltha O'Neal had two of the interceptions, which padded the Bengals' total to 20.

Still, they worried it wouldn't be enough.

"They were sure moving that ball," O'Neal said. "He was doing that comeback king stuff."

Favre passed John Elway and moved into second place for career passes and yards, but couldn't overcome the mistakes that left the Packers in unfamiliar territory. They haven't had a losing record since 1991, when Favre was a backup in Atlanta. It's the longest active streak without a losing season in the NFL.

The Bengals moved one victory closer to ending one of the longest streaks of futility in league history -- no winning record since 1990. The teams headed in opposite directions after Favre came off the bench and beat them with a last-minute touchdown pass at Lambeau Field in 1992, a game that Favre vaguely remembers.

He's working with a lot of fill-ins this time around. The Packers lost tight end David Martin, who hurt his hamstring during practice last week, and Pro Bowl center Mike Flanagan left in the second half because of pain related to his hernia surgery.

That left Favre to try to do it all.

"I can't say that I was shocked that we had a chance to win that game, but with all the things that happened, we had a chance," Favre said.

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