EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Packers proved last week they don't need quarterback Brett Favre to recapture his MVP form in order to win.
But it sure helps the cause when he does.
Favre and the offense played a nearly flawless second half at Giants Stadium on Sunday, scoring four touchdowns in five possessions to pull away for a 35-13 victory over New York to give the Packers their first 2-0 record since 2001.
"I can't remember the last time we were 2-0. It's been a long time," said veteran offensive lineman Mark Tauscher, who was in his second season in 2001. "It's very encouraging."
So was the performance of the offense, just one week after failing to score a touchdown and relying almost entirely on the defense and special teams to beat the Eagles.
This week the offense found its rhythm in the second half, erasing a 10-7 halftime deficit with Favre's pinpoint passing and up-tempo approach. Getting the offense in and out of the huddle and up to the line quickly, Favre opened the second half with 14 straight completions on touchdown drives of 51 and 80 yards, hitting Bubba Franks and Donald Lee on short TD passes.
He added a third TD pass to Donald Driver on an improvised play after the Packers recovered a fumble on a kickoff, stunning the 78,701 in attendance with a 28-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.
"He played great today," Franks said of Favre. "He was making the right checks, right calls. He was putting us in the right situation, and I think his change of pace threw the defense off. They were having trouble getting lined up with the snap count. He played pretty good today."
Favre ended up 18-of-21 for 147 yards and three TDs in the second half alone, and one of the incompletions was an intentional throwaway. Favre adeptly substituted the short passing game for a struggling ground game until it finally broke a big play, rookie DeShawn Wynn's 38-yard touchdown run to end the scoring with a little more than four minutes left.
"We were all on one page," said rookie receiver James Jones, who had the biggest catch of the day, a 46-yarder to set up the team's lone touchdown of the first half. "People were reading the coverages right, Brett was getting the ball out on time and things like that. It was a good day. We just need to build on that day."
Favre finished the game 29-of-38 for 286 yards with the three TDs and just one interception for a passer rating of 112.4.
As for the record books, Favre became the all-time winningest quarterback, with his 149th victory, breaking a tie with John Elway for the top spot. He also climbed within three TD passes of Dan Marino's career record of 420.
But Favre was more pleased with just the way the offense clicked after a sluggish season opener. He also liked seeing eight different players catch passes, as Driver led the way with eight catches for 73 yards and Jones added four grabs for 75 yards.
"I thought today was a good example of what can be done if everyone just makes plays when you get a chance," Favre said. "If it's not DeShawn Wynn, it's Donald Lee. If it's not Donald Lee, it's Donald Driver. James Jones. If we can get Greg Jennings back ... Everyone contributed today, and that's what it's going to take for us, in order for us to continue to play like this."
Favre also was sacked just once, for a loss of only 1 yard, and took only two quarterback hits after taking four sacks and 11 hits from the Eagles' ultra-aggressive defense last week. With Junius Coston starting at right guard for Jason Spitz (calf), the line juggled some injuries that came up during the game to Chad Clifton (ankle) and Tony Palmer (stinger), who was used as an extra lineman in a jumbo formation and was replaced by Spitz. Clifton missed only one series, with left guard Daryn Colledge moving over to left tackle in his place.
"Our protection, I don't want to say it's been shaky, (but) considering the circumstances has played well," Favre said. "Would I love for them to go out stone them every time and have plenty of room to throw? Absolutely. But I'll take our guys in a brawl any day of the week. And once again we're 2-0. It's about overcoming adversity and getting better, and I think our guys did that today."
The defense did its part in the second half, too, holding the Giants to a field goal just after the Packers had taken a 14-10 lead in the third quarter. The defense also got a three-and-out, an interception by Corey Williams and a fourth-and-goal stop in the final two minutes.
After the first half, a blowout didn't appear in the offing. The game began as a monkey-see-monkey-do type, with both teams driving into field-goal range on their opening possessions, only to miss attempts wide left.
The Giants got in position thanks in part to a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Brady Poppinga for a late hit on Plaxico Burress, when Poppinga took exception to Burress' late block on A.J. Hawk. But Lawrence Tynes pulled the 34-yard field goal attempt.
The Packers then drove 50 yards to get in range, but Wynn was stopped on third-and-1 at the 25 and Mason Crosby missed for the first time in his brief NFL career, wide left from 42 yards.
Green Bay finally got on the board first midway through the second quarter. Jones beat Corey Webster down the sideline for a 46-yard pass, and then former Giant Ryan Grant took a screen pass, spun out of a tackle attempt by Webster and gained 21 yards for a first-and-goal. Wynn then scored from 6 yards out on a draw play from the shotgun.
It took the Giants just 62 seconds to answer, though. Charles Woodson fell down in pass coverage and then was stiff-armed by Amani Toomer, who picked up 40 yards on the play. On the next snap, Eli Manning hit Burress for a 26-yard touchdown, as Burress outjumped Atari Bigby in the end zone to tie the score at 7.
The Giants took the lead late in the half on a 48-yard field goal by Tynes, and the Packers looked like they might answer right away when Tramon Williams returned the ensuing kickoff out beyond the 40. But Colin Cole was called for holding on the return, negating the good field position.
The Packers also had missed a potential scoring opportunity early in the second quarter when a roughing-the-punter penalty on Gibril Wilson gave Green Bay the ball on the New York 30. But on the next snap, Favre's pass deep over the middle to Driver was tipped by Aaron Ross, bounced off Driver's shoulder and picked off by Wilson.
The turnover didn't deter the Packers from continuing to attack through the air, though, and Favre was nothing but on target in the second half.
"I said, 'Keep calling them. Let's keep firing at them,'" Favre said. "That's the approach we have to take, and I think we did that. The play was there, I just didn't make it. That's no reason to stop firing."
Not at all.
"We came in at halftime and said we've got them on their heels, and we just had to finish," Colledge said. "We felt like they were ready to buckle, and that we can do some things we really wanted to do. We came out committed to that in the second half and got it done."