Favre Says Confidence, Skills Remain

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The interceptions are up, the passing yards are down and the thumb on his throwing hand remains broken.

At 34-years-old he doesn't run like he used to, and with Ahman Green in the midst of a record season, he doesn't pass as much either.

But Brett Favre is doing just fine, thank you. And even if his critics have statistics at the ready to suggest that the mighty has fallen in Green Bay, the NFL's only three-time MVP feels as dangerous as ever in the midst of his 13th professional season.

"You can point to whatever you want, but I feel as confident as I stand here before you today as I have at any other time," Favre said earlier this week. "And that's with a broken thumb, whatever.

"The day my confidence is questioned by me is the day I should leave. And I hope I'm the first to see that. If my skills have diminished, I haven't seen it. Maybe I'm blind to the obvious, I don't know. Because it wasn't that long ago that they were saying, 'Hey, this guy can do anything.'"

Costly interceptions and fumbles will do a lot to generate criticism and Favre has experienced his share of all three this season.

In the Packers' last ballgame, Favre had a fumble to go with three picks against the Detroit Lions. But if injury and age get the brunt of the blame on talk radio, Favre places the fault on a combination of operator error and bad luck.

"During the course of any season you can point to either incompletions or interceptions that are your fault, or not your fault," Favre said. "That's been the case every year, regardless of how many. I've thrown my share of touchdown passes that easily could have been picked or dropped. It's just the way the season has gone to this point.

"Do I feel any differently? Has the thumb been a factor? No."

The difference this season is that Favre's miscues often have proved detrimental for the Packers, who are 6-6 and a game out of first place in the NFC North.

And it hasn't helped public opinion that two of Favre's lesser performances this season have come in front of large audiences.

The Packers' losses to Detroit and Philadelphia, in which Favre combined for four fumbles and four interceptions, were nationally televised events, both of which seemed to wipe out all memory of another nationally televised game when -- broken thumb and all -- Favre threw for three touchdowns in a crucial victory over the Minnesota Vikings (Nov. 2).

In the NFL you're as good as your last performance. And if recent struggles have outsiders doubting Favre's prowess, wide receiver Donald Driver insists that the gunslinger's passes have the same zip today as they did when Driver was a rookie five years ago. Even with the broken thumb.

"I'm sure when something's broken in your hand, your accuracy probably isn't going to be perfect," Driver said. "But most people with a broken hand wouldn't even try to throw the ball, so they just assume Brett can't.

"But I'm catching the balls and I'm telling you that he throws it just as hard and just as straight as he ever used to. If there's a throw on the field he can't make now, I haven't seen it."

Packers GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman points out that since sustaining the injury Oct. 19, Favre has made several clutch throws with pinpoint accuracy, from the 45-yard touchdown pass down the sideline to Javon Walker against Detroit to the 23-yard strike to Robert Ferguson when the Packers were facing third-and-9 at their own 3-yard line against Tampa Bay.

Compared to a running game that's leading the NFL, opposing teams may now view Favre as the lesser of two evils. But if the new theory on the block suggests that the Packers are a lesser opponent when Favre is forced to throw, Sherman is surprised.

"It's a pretty hefty statement in my mind because Brett Favre leads the league as an active quarterback with his wins," Sherman said. "I like the challenge ... I think Brett Favre finds ways to beat you."

Although Favre's 18 interceptions to this point are already above his season average with the Packers (16.9), what's often been ignored in recent weeks is that his 22 touchdown passes have him tied for the NFC lead, while his 64.7 completion percentage is on pace to be the highest of his career.

In Driver's eyes, it's not that Favre can't be the run-and-gun quarterback of old, he just isn't asked to assume that role.

"People think the passing game is in a slump because we haven't thrown the ball as much this year," Driver said. "But when you've got an offensive line like we do and great tight ends and running backs, you don't have to throw it.

"If you can run the ball down someone's throat, then run the ball down their throat all night. When we've done that, we've won games. So how can you argue?"

There aren't many NFL legends who would be as willing to share the spotlight as Favre has been this season with the emergence of Green and the running game.

But according to Favre it was a mistake for anyone to put their sole attention on him in the first place. And if the Packers are going to make a late-season charge to the playoffs, it's going to take more than a strong performance from No. 4.

"I never thought I could carry this team to begin with," said Favre, who Sunday against the Chicago Bears will establish a Packers record by playing in his 188th consecutive regular season game. "It takes 53 (players). It will always take 53.

"Yeah, I've received a lot of individual rewards and had my share of criticism. That's all part of being a quarterback ... But until they tell me I'm not the quarterback here anymore, then I will do my best and feel confident that I can do what needs to be done to win."

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