It is hard to believe that, even in the palmiest days of "Air Coryell," there could have been more resounding pyrotechnics set off over a one-quarter span than were detonated in San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium Sunday.
In, to be precise, just 11 minutes and 41 seconds, the Packers and their hosts, the Chargers, erupted for no fewer than five touchdowns in the fourth quarter of their encounter - a stunning finish to what had been a relatively routine contest to that point, with the Packers nurturing a modest 17-6 lead late in the third quarter.
But that was before Chargers linebacker Stephen Cooper intercepted a tipped Brett Favre pass and returned it 25 yards to the San Diego 47-yard line in the closing seconds of third quarter.
Chargers quarterback Drew Brees had the "Bolts" in the end zone 10 plays later, by way of a 7-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver David Boston in the right corner of the end zone just 4 seconds into the fourth period.
With San Diego now down 17-12, Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer opted to go for the 2-point conversion which could pull his team within a field goal and it worked, Breese hitting Boston just inside the left boundary of the end zone for the "conversion."
That, it turned out, ignited the closing and "collaborative" explosion.
The Packers' offense next went three-and-out, and the Chargers - obviously buoyed by being within three-point range - scored again in two plays. Brees found the multi-talented LaDanian Tomlinson in the open on a 68-yard pass-run hookup for the Chargers' second touchdown in less than 3 minutes.
With Steve Christie's conversion, the Chargers were out front for the first time in the game, 21-17.
The Packers, to their credit, didn't take long to "rectify" the situation.
Najeh Davenport launched the comeback in eye-catching fashion, returning the following kickoff 45 yards to the San Diego 42.
Ahman Green hit the middle for 2 yards and, on the next play, Favre led wide receiver Robert Ferguson perfectly, dropping a 40-yard "bomb" over Ferguson's shoulder and into his hands as he arrived in the end zone, a step ahead of the defender.
Ryan Longwell's subsequent conversion was historic, officially, breaking Don Hutson's team career scoring record as the Packers went back up, 24-21.
The Green and Gold's defense then too lent a hand, tackle Grady Jackson sacking Brees for what became a 19-yard loss to the one-yard line, where linebacker Hannibal Navies recovered.
Favre then took quick advantage, lofting a 1-yard "touch" pass into Green's hands in the right corner of the end zone for the score.
The Packers completed the point fest on their next possession, Favre guiding them 70 yards in 6 plays to their final touchdown of the day, one which came on a 16-yard Favre strike to Ferguson, his second touchdown of the afternoon.
Longwell's fifth conversion closed out the scoring as he registered the 826th point of his career.
Wide receiver Donald Driver became the first Green Bay receiver to have a 100-yard game this season. Driver, enjoying a breakout game with 8 catches for 112 yards, also made his first touchdown reception since Oct. 5 against Seattle, pulling in a 7-yard pass from Favre in the final minute of the second quarter.
THE FAVRE FILE: Although it necessarily becomes one of many for the productive Brett Favre, his Sunday performance was singular.
Breaking Cecil Isbell's club record by throwing a touchdown pass in a 23rd straight game might have been sufficient for some, but not for No. 4. He unfurled 4 TD throws before the day was over, thus performing the feat for the first time since the opening game of the 1999 season - against the Oakland Raiders in Lambeau Field (Sept. 12), a span of 74 games.
But, more to the point, Favre's Sunday production swelled his career total of passing touchdowns to 341, only one less than Fran Tarkenton, who ranks second in NFL history with 342.
With two games remaining, it appears a good bet that Favre will pass Tarkenton this season and then be pursuing only Dan Marino, the NFL's all-time leader with 420.
Sunday's "quartet" marked the 15th time in Favre's career that he has thrown four or more touchdown passes in a game, expanding his club record.
Rounding out a memorable afternoon, Favre emerged from the game with a glossy 122.2 passer rating, based on 23 completions in 33 attempts for 278 yards and the 4 touchdowns, with one interception.
In the process, he exhibited admirable impartiality, distributing the football among 9 different receivers.
THE GREEN FILE: While Ahman Green was breaking Jim Taylor's single-season rushing record Sunday, he was also closing in on his own team record for most total yards from scrimmage in a season (1,981, in 2001).
With two games left, Green now has 1,894 yards from scrimmage thus far this season (1,538 rushing and 356 receiving). He thus needs only 88 yards to surpass the record.
And also, of course, to upgrade his new club single-season rushing record (1,538).
THE LONGWELL FILE: While Ryan Longwell was breaking one record (Don Hutson's Packers career scoring record), No. 8 also was capturing a share of an NFL record. His 8 points against the Chargers padded his season total to 102, making him one of only three players in league history to score 100 or more points in each of his first seven seasons in the NFL.
Longwell thus joins Jason Elam of the Denver Broncos and Adam Vinatieri of the New England Patriots in extending the tri-cornered record.
Defensively, linebacker Nick Barnett and strong safety Marques Anderson led the Packers' charge, each posting 11 tackles, free safety Darren Sharper weighing in with 10 stops.
GM/HEAD COACH MIKE SHERMAN'S POST-GAME COMMENTS:
(on Najeh Davenport's 45-yard kickoff return) "I thought a key play in the game, to be honest with you, was when they went ahead 21-17 and Najeh Davenport and the kickoff return unit -- which, they were challenged this week to be better -- they responded with a great return. And then we came with that quick strike to Ferguson on that second play that put us ahead. And I thought that was the key turning point in the game for us."
(on playoff situation) "They pretty much know. We didn't even talk about Minnesota or Seattle or whatever other scenarios are out there. That's not relevant to us at this present time. What is relevant is us and how we take care of our business. We can't take care of other people. So we never even discussed that, we just know that we have to go to Oakland ... and hopefully play well."
(on performance) "I feel like we're playing at a high level of intensity, but we made a lot of mistakes today that need to be corrected on both sides of the ball. We put up some points, but we need to play better. There are some things that we have to correct ... There are some things we can work on. I don't think we're clicking on all cylinders as of today."
(on Donald Driver) "It's just opportunity. There were some opportunities there and he made the most out of them. Brett was able to get him the football. There wasn't anything that we schemed to get him the ball more than usual."
(on team's confidence) "It's a confident locker room, but we have a lot of work to do to get ready for the next two ballgames. There's a lot of football to play, obviously. But we have approached the second half of the season one game at a time and that works for us. We're just not a bright enough group to handle any more than one at a time. So we've just got to have our focus on Oakland right now and we'll go from there."
THE PLAYER PERSPECTIVE:
Quarterback Brett Favre: (on team's making Brett Favre beat them) "I don't blame them. You know, I'm old and washed up. That doesn't bother me."
(on playoff situation) "I would be a fool to sit here and tell you that we're not aware of what took place today. But a lot like our season up to this point, our guys really haven't paid much attention to what is going on. We're not good enough, I don't think, to worry about that. In my opinion, the teams and the players that worry about what everyone else is doing are the ones that are going to be watching when the playoffs start. And, hey, I know we control our own destiny, but from the first game of the year we controlled our own destiny. So we know what we have to do. I think what you'll see from this team is what you've seen all year. You'll see a team give great effort and do everything they possibly can do. If we get in, we get in, but all we can be concerned with right now is Oakland."
(on falling behind) "You know what, when they went up, honestly I knew they had taken the lead but I honestly wasn't concerned. I can point to numerous games and drives in the past where I wasn't concerned. Once as a player you start saying, 'Okay, now we've got to do it,' it's too late. Or, 'Okay, they've taken the lead, now we have to answer.' You should always answer. Why wait until all of a sudden they jump ahead? ... If we wouldn't have scored after they answered and went ahead, we had no one to blame but ourselves. I really wasn't concerned about that. I thought we would score."
Placekicker Ryan Longwell: (on breaking Packers all-time scoring record) "The Packers are one of, if not the most storied franchise in the NFL. To have a record like this, which is a pretty big deal and to be above the names that I'm above is very humbling and very satisfying at the same time."
-With Sunday's victory, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman has enhanced his head-coaching record for the month of December to an imposing 14-2, an .875 winning percentage.
-Sherman also went one up on the American Football Conference in his coaching career, Sunday's win having improved his record against the AFC to 8-7.
-With Sunday's win, assuring the Packers of at least an 8-8 record, they will have gone 12 consecutive seasons with a record of .500 or better.
-Wide receiver Robert Ferguson's two-touchdown game against the Chargers was the second such effort of his NFL career. His first came against the Minnesota Vikings Dec. 2, 2002.
-Ferguson may be a starter but he's definitely a "blue collar" football player. A volunteer on all Packers special teams, he went down on the kickoff which followed his 40-yard scoring interception in the fourth quarter Sunday and felled San Diego returner Jessie Chatman after a 23-yard return.
-Safety Marques Anderson shouldered scrambling Chargers quarterback Drew Brees out of bounds at the Green Bay 2-yard line on third down in the first quarter, saving a potential touchdown and requiring San Diego to settle for a Steve Christie field goal.
-Better late than never: Gilbert Brown's fumble recovery in the third quarter was the first of his 10-year NFL career.
-Tight end David Martin's 9-yard reception in the first quarter was his first catch since the San Francisco game Nov. 23.
-Donald Driver's 112-yard receiving game against the Chargers is the first for a Packers receiver this season - the first, actually, in 17 games, dating back to the Nov. 17, 2002, contest at Minnesota.
-Ahman Green and Javon Walker (offense), Na'il Diggs and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (defense) and Josh Bidwell (special teams) were the Packers' captains for Sunday's game against the Chargers.
-Sunday's Packers inactives included offensive tackles Marcus Spriggs and Brennan Curtin, defensive linemen Jamal Reynolds and Kenny Peterson, linebacker Marcus Wilkins, defensive backs Derek Combs and Erwin Swiney and Designated Third Quarterback Craig Nall.