Game Review: Stirring Comeback Puts Packers 3-0

"Three-and-Oh!" That’s where the Packers stand after a frantic fourth quarter lifted the Packers to a 31-24 victory over San Diego on Sunday. Two TDs sandwiched around an interception in a span of 64 seconds helped the Packers turn around a late 21-17 deficit and beat one of the AFC’s top teams. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Chargers Game Center


WR Donald Driver and QB Brett Favre celebrate after the Packers take the lead in the fourth quarter.

As they walked off the field and into the locker room following Sunday's exhilarating 31-24 victory over the San Diego Chargers, several players hollered a simple declaration that was far more matter-of-fact to this businesslike bunch than anything boastful.


That's where the Packers stand after a frantic fourth quarter that kept the 70,733 fans at Lambeau Field in a frenzy much of that final stanza. Two touchdowns sandwiched around an interception in a span of 64 seconds helped the Packers turn around a late 21-17 deficit and beat one of the AFC's top teams.

And for all the talk the Packers are sure to hear about how they proved themselves, passed a big test, made a statement to the rest of the league, and won't fly under the radar anymore after Sunday, this team isn't going to get caught up in all that. It plans simply to forge ahead and do its best to capitalize on this dynamite start.

"There's no secret to what we're doing," cornerback Al Harris said. "All you have to do is look at the tape. It is what it is. We're a confident team, a hard-working team, and we're a humble team, and we want to keep it like that and keep grinding."

Grinding is what it took on Sunday, especially after getting stopped inside the 1-yard line with less than six minutes left. Trailing 21-17, the Packers drove 69 yards to a first-and-goal inside the 1, looking to retake the lead.

A false start on Junius Coston and a sack of Brett Favre, followed by a 6-yard completion to James Jones, put the ball back inside the 1 for fourth down, and Favre's pass fell incomplete.

"That was definitely frustrating," receiver Greg Jennings said. "With the game on the line, obviously, and not come away with anything, you kind of hold your head down for a split second. But the defense, as soon as we came off the field, the defense was like, 'We've got it,' and they definitely got it."

San Diego got out of the shadow of their own goal post but was stopped after just one first down, and the Packers got the ball back. On second down, Favre then hit Jennings on a simple slant pass that the second-year receiver turned into a 57-yard touchdown with a brilliant sprint across and all the way down the field to put the Packers up 24-21 with 2:03 to go.

The touchdown pass was Favre's third of the day, following 5-yarders to Donald Driver and Bubba Franks that had given the Packers a 17-7 lead in the second quarter, and it tied him with Dan Marino for the all-time record at 420. Favre finished his day 28-of-45 for 369 yards and no interceptions for a 110.3 quarterback rating.

But there were still two minutes left, and it was up to the defense to get one more stop.

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers had been on target early, completing 20 of his first 23 passes and doing a lot of damage with tight end Antonio Gates (11 catches, 113 yards). Rivers drove the Chargers to three touchdowns on passes of 27 yards to Vincent Jackson, 9 yards to Buster Davis and 21 yards to LaDainian Tomlinson, turning a 10-point deficit into a four-point lead by the middle of the third quarter.

But the Chargers recorded just one first down on each of their next three drives, and with the Packers defense finally back on the field with the lead, they weren't about to give it up.

"It felt so good to go into the defensive huddle, and look around, and guys are like, 'All right, somebody's got to make a play,'" Harris said. "I looked at (Charles) Wood(son), he looked at me, we looked at (safeties) Nick (Collins) and Atari (Bigby). It's going to be one of us."

{sportsad300}It turned out to be middle linebacker Nick Barnett, who stepped in front of a short pass to Tomlinson for an interception, returning it 38 yards to the San Diego 2-yard line. It was the only turnover of the game, tarnishing an otherwise impressive day by Rivers (27-of-36, 306 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 116.2 rating), but it was the third time in three weeks the Packers have forced a crucial fourth-quarter turnover.

"It was huge," cornerback Jarrett Bush said. "We were all exhausted. Someone had to make a play, and we got off the field and got the win."

Brandon Jackson needed two runs to punch it in for a 31-21 lead, and San Diego came back with a field goal with 20 seconds left to get back within one score. But Driver recovered Mike Scifres' onside kick, giving the Packers a shot at their first 4-0 start since 1998.

That was a veteran team coming off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, quite the different mix from this young 2007 bunch. But even the veterans will say that youth is working to their advantage.

"I think it's the hunger we have in this locker room," Barnett said. "We've got a lot of young guys and we're just hungry. We all want to win games, we all want to go to the playoffs. Everybody wants the best for themselves and for this team. If you have 11 guys that play hungry, running around flying to the ball, you can't stop that, and you can't knock it because that's what it's all about.

"We've still got a lot of room to grow, and I'm looking forward to seeing where we're going to be at the end of the season."

So is everyone else. Upon hearing one of his teammates holler that "Three-and-Oh!" in the locker room after the game, linebacker Brady Poppinga added, "And counting!"

"We're excited, we're building confidence, and the great thing is we definitely don't feel like we've reached the peak," offensive tackle Mark Tauscher said. "We think we're just kind of at the tip of the iceberg."

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