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AP Story: Packers Top Chargers 10-7


Brett Favre's offseason work paid off in his first action of the preseason.

Favre, who trained with a strength and conditioning coach in the offseason for the first time, completed 9 of 10 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown in the Green Bay Packers' 10-7 victory against the San Diego Chargers.

"I think it's the best start he's had since I've been here," Packers sixth-year coach Mike Sherman said. "We usually knock the kinks out a little bit. But, he did a pretty good job tonight. It's as good as I can remember."

Favre guided Green Bay on an 80-yard scoring drive in the second quarter, in which he completed 7 of 8 passes for 64 yards. He capped the series with a 23-yard strike to Donald Driver and then jumped into the arms of his center, Mike Flanagan, who missed most of last season following a knee operation.

"We accomplished one goal: we went down the field and scored," Favre said at halftime of the game that was played in a steady drizzle. "For the first preseason game, we played well and we should do well in certain areas. But we don't want to get too excited as we still have a lot of work to do."

Favre's revamped offensive line, which lost stalwarts Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle to free agency, protected him well but didn't open many holes for Ahman Green, who carried eight times for 16 yards and had two of his team's six fumbles in the rain. Three were recovered by San Diego.

The Chargers didn't fumble at all. But they did have their own weather woes as Nate Kaeding missed three field goal attempts in the fourth quarter, allowing Green Bay to win it on Ryan Longwell's 53-yarder with 33 seconds remaining.

Kaeding, who missed a 40-yard field goal attempt in overtime of the Chargers' playoff loss to the New York Jets last season, was wide left from 45 yards and then wide right from 44 and 46 in the closing minutes.

"I've kicked hundreds of balls in the rain before; there's no excuse for it," Kaeding said.

Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer stuck by his bedeviled kicker.

"I said it after the game against the Jets and I'm going to say it again: I believe in the guy," he said. "The circumstances were very difficult. And I'm going to tell you this: I'm going to keep putting him out there. I'm a stubborn German and I'm going to put him out there because I believe he'll do it.

"I know Longwell stepped up and made his, and good for him; we didn't have to go to overtime."

After Kaeding's third miss, J.T. O'Sullivan drove the Packers to the Chargers 35, and Longwell's kick barely cleared the crossbar.

Favre had to play into the second quarter because Green's second fumble was recovered by linebacker Matt Wilhelm, ending the Packers' second series after only two plays.

"It was slick," said Green, who recovered his own fumble on his first carry. "It was like a fish out of water that first carry. I had no control over it, even when I had it. We had a torrential downpour. If I had played the whole game, I would have been fine because I adjusted to it."

Philip Rivers' 34-yard touchdown pass to Willie Quinnie early in the third quarter tied it at 7. Rivers completed 12 of 19 passes for 97 yards and no interceptions after replacing starter Drew Brees (2-for-5, 27 yards, one interception) to start the second quarter.

Green Bay's B.J. Sander averaged 46 yards on seven punts, a far cry from his disastrous preseason a year ago that included a 5-yard punt.

He also held perfectly on Longwell's winner.

"I was proud of B.J. He had a lot of pressure from what happened last year, and he handled it really well," Longwell said. "And for a first hold for a field goal, you're not going to get a worse situation than that. Fifty-three yards to win the game, pouring down rain with a slick, wet ball.

"From that distance, the hold has to be perfect, and he got it down perfect."

Kaeding said he knew his misadventure would weigh heavily on him and his team.

"Granted it's preseason or what have you, but I can't remember giving that performance going back to Pee Wee League or Little League, whatever you want to call it," Kaeding said. "I can't recall playing that poorly in that short amount of time in any sort of game. I've set a difficult course for myself the next couple weeks, but I'm not one to back down from it."

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