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Fourth Quarter Comeback Leaves The Packers A Bit Short


You can put to rest any reports that Brett Favre has lost something as the 15-year veteran responded with his best game of the season and led a furious second-half rally.

Despite connecting on back-to-back fourth quarter touchdown passes, Favre's performance was not enough as the Packers fell 32-29 to the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football.

The loss drops the Packers to 0-4 and in sole possession of last place in the NFC North. The Packers can take some solace that everyone in the division has an under-.500 record.

Their mounting injuries could be of greater concern than their standing within the division. The Packers already entered Monday's game without valuable receiving options Javon Walker (knee) and Bubba Franks (knee).

On Monday night the injury bug struck the offensive line. In the first quarter center Mike Flanagan strained an abdominal muscle and left tackle Chad Clifton injured his ankle when running back Ahman Green rolled into the back of his leg. The Packers re-shuffled their offensive line with Scott Wells replacing Flanagan, left guard Adrian Klemm sliding to left tackle and Grey Ruegamer filling Klemm's spot at left guard.

In addition, Pro Bowl running back Ahman Green hurt his knee, and Terrence Murphy suffered a scary-looking injury.

Panthers rookie Thomas Davis crashed his helmet into Murphy's on a kick return during the second quarter. Murphy lay on the field for a long time before trainers took him to the locker room to undergo X-rays on his neck. He experienced weakness, numbness and tingling but had movement in his extremities. He was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation

That injury left the Packers with only three receivers and a makeshift offensive line. All of that adversity makes Favre's comeback even more impressive. He completed passes to 10 different receivers and seemed to shrug off an ankle injury, nearly leading the Packers back from a 30-13 deficit.

As Panthers defensive tackle Brentson Buckner hit him in the helmet illegally, Favre found tight end Donald Lee for a 10-yard touchdown and tight end David Martin for the two-point conversion, cutting the lead to 32-21 with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter.

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila set up that touchdown. He interjected a frustrated team with energy when he sacked and stripped Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme. Suddenly shoulders no longer slumped and players jumped in excitement. It also gave the Packers the ball on the Panthers-13 yard line.

With the score remaining 32-21, the Packers defense held strong, and the Packers offense received the ball with 7:18 left.

Favre completed eight passes on the 13-play, 90-yard drive, which culminated in an Antonio Chatman 4-yard touchdown reception.

On the ensuing drive, the Packers defense again held, forcing a three-and-out with 2:08 on the clock. The Packers' offensive drive would end, though, on a fourth-and-three incomplete pass intended for wide receiver Donald Diver at the Panthers' 41-yard-line.

Favre's 28-47, 304-yard, four-touchdown performance was not the only bright spot. The run defense continued their solid play, holding a hard-nosed Panthers running attack with Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster to 90 yards on 33 carries.

Despite the injuries that struck the offensive line and a 19-point-defecit, which forced the Packers to throw 47 times, the offensive line only surrendered one sack.

Two major plays, however, hurt them. The Packers dug themselves an early hole on the first possession when Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker beat Clifton to sack Favre and force a fumble.

The Panthers would recover at Green Bay's eight-yard line and score on a Delhomme-to-Kris Mangum touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.

The Packers would regain some momentum. Trailing 16-7 with 3:54 left in the quarter, they mounted a drive to the Panthers' 29-yard line when Panthers cornerback Ken Lucas took the ball out of wide receiver Robert Ferguson's hands.

The interception, Favre's only one on the day, set up a 2-play, 32-yard-drive, which ended in Davis rushing for a touchdown and a 23-7 Panthers halftime lead.

The ball was thrown in a narrow window, and it looked like Ferguson could nab it before Lucas reached in his breadbasket to steal it away.

That play was a close as the contest's final margin. And both could have gone either way.

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