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Favre Happy To Keep It On The Ground


If familiarity with a quarterback is the key to stopping him, the Seattle Seahawks have to like their chances against Brett Favre this weekend.

Seattle head coach Mike Holmgren and defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes are two of only 13 men to serve as head coach of the Green Bay Packers, and between them they share eight season's as Favre's head coach.

But if the NFL's only three-time MVP has been the cornerstone of the Packers' success more often than not over his 12-year term, that hasn't been so much the case this season.

Held back by a rocky season opener, through four games the Packers' passing attack has provided as many interceptions as touchdowns (7). And when asked this week to ponder all the ways Holmgren and Rhodes might conspire to stop him, Favre suggested that it would be a mistake to try.

"I think in attacking our offense right now, you better stop the running game first," Favre said. "If you go in and stop me, then we'll just run the ball down your throat."

So far in 2003, the Packers' offense has found success when it's done just that.

In the team's two wins, running back Ahman Green combined for 336 yards and three touchdowns. In two losses, the running game as a whole generated only 128 yards total.

The correlation between a 100-yard rusher and a win in the NFL is often overstated -- teams with leads are likely to run the ball to kill the clock, thus generating 'extra' rushing yards late in the game -- but the statistics are worth mentioning nonetheless.

Favre is 40-0 when the Packers have more rushing plays than passing plays. He's 33-5 lifetime when he has a 100-yard rusher, and he's 16-0 in such situations since Mike Sherman became head coach in 2000.

With Green running strong and the offensive line as healthy as it's been in years, the Packers will undoubtedly look to pound the ball into the teeth of Seattle's defense.

In the Packers' last meeting with Holmgren's 'Hawks in 1999, Favre struggled to one of the worst home performances of his career, throwing four interceptions compared to one touchdown in a 27-7 loss.

Looking back, Favre insists that he wasn't trying to prove anything in his first game opposite his former head coach, but he admits playing right into Seattle's conservative trap.

"It wasn't so much scheme what they did, it was more or less, 'Let's let Brett make a mistake,'" Favre said.

"I don't know how many games I've played, but I've been shut down on numerous occasions, most of those because of me. I can't think of too many times where I was just stopped, there was nothing in front of me.

"And it's like when we played Seattle the last time, they played extremely well, but there could have been no one across from us and I don't think we would have played very well."

As he does each week, Favre said he'll remain prepared for the unexpected Sunday, but he wouldn't be surprised to see the Seahawks use the same conservative attack as four seasons ago.

Regardless of what Holmgren and Rhodes elect to throw Favre's way, Sherman -- who was Seattle's offensive coordinator in that 1999 meeting -- expects Seattle will encounter an entirely different quarterback this time around.

"I think Brett is a lot older and wiser now than in the '99 season," Sherman said. "He's matured in many ways -- on the football field, off the football field -- so he knows what we have to do in this football game in order to win."

If the running game is working like it was against Detroit and Chicago, that would mean feeding Green.

Which is just fine by Favre, who has never concerned himself with any statistical categories save two: wins and losses.

"Too many times you out-guess yourself with what they're going to do and end up putting your guys in bad situations," Favre said. "So we're going to run what we run, and if it's good enough, it's good enough. And if it's not, it's not."

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