This was one for the record book...literally.
The Packers, functioning at near-maximum efficiency, buried the Raiders with one of the most explosive offensive performances in their 82-year NFL history.
Scoring on their first four possessions while sweeping to a 31-7 halftime lead, the Green and Gold amassed 548 yards of offense - the third-most in team annals and their highest such total since Oct. 12, 1980, when they rolled up 569 yards in dueling the Buccaneers to a 14-14 overtime tie in Tampa.
With quarterback Brett Favre an exceptionally precise marksman (he had a "perfect" passer rating of 158.3 at halftime), the Packers acquired 392 of those yards through the air...the fifth-most in team history.
In the process, the seldom-erring Favre threw for a career-high 311 yards in the first half alone, unfurling scoring strikes of 22 yards to tight end Wesley Walls, capping an 80-yard drive, 23 and 46 yards to wideout Javon Walker, finishing off 53- and 89-yard marches, and of 6 yards to tight end David Martin, closing out a 62-yard push.
Robert Ferguson also was a key factor in the overall equation, snaring 3 passes for 85 yards, including a 47-yard strike...the Packers' longest of the night - to set up Green Bay's first touchdown.
As has often been the case over the season, Ahman Green largely constituted the running game, rushing for 127 yards in 24 attempts, a 5.3-yard average, and one touchdown.
Placekicker Ryan Longwell, the team's new all-time leading scorer, also weighed in with a pair field goals off Favre drives, a 31-yarder in the second quarter 27-yarder in the third period.
The defense likewise made an appreciable contribution to the cause, holding the Raiders to 298 total yards and sacking Oakland quarterback Rick Mirer 5 times.
THE FAVRE FILE: Brett Favre has had an imposing collection of "great days" over his remarkable career, but none to surpass Monday night's virtuoso performance in Oakland's Network Associates Coliseum.
After throwing for 399 yards (his second-highest total ever) and 4 touchdowns, he emerged with:
- His seventh season of 30 or more touchdown passes, extending his own NFL record
- With 345 career TD passes, moving him past Fran Tarkenton into second place all-time in NFL annals (behind only Dan Marino, 420)
- With the 12th 3,000-yard passing season of his career, tying him with John Elway for second all-time (behind Marino, 13)
- With the 16th 4-TD pass performance of his career, third-most in NFL history (one behind second-place Johnny Unitas, 17) Marino is the all-time leader with 21
- With having thrown a touchdown pass in 24 consecutive games, extending his own Packers record
Mike Sherman, moved to superlatives by Favre's off-the-charts performance, observed, "When you leave the tunnel and take the field, you don't know that he is going to play that type of game. But the chances of it happening...unless it's Brett Favre...are probably unlikely.
"And this guy put together a career day, particularly in that first half."
Favre also extended his durability records, making his 188th consecutive start, extending his NFL record for quarters, and playing in his 190th consecutive game, extending his Packers record.
THE GREEN FILE: Ahman Green, who already had broken the Packers' single season rushing record, Monday night shattered his own club season for most total yards from scrimmage, becoming the first "2000-yard Man" in Packers history en route.
Closing out the evening with 129 yards (127 rushing and 2 receiving), he swelled his '03 total to 2,023 yards (1,665 yards rushing and 358 receiving).
The fleet and powerful ex-Cornhusker also set a new team record for most rushing attempts in a season, parlaying his season total to 335. The previous record, 329, was established by Dorsey Levens in 1997.
Additionally, Green scored his 18th touchdown of the season on a 7-yard run in the fourth quarter, tying him with Sterling Sharpe (1994), one short of the club record, 19, by Jim Taylor (1962).
THE KABEER FILE: Defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, mounting his most relentless performance of the season, further entrenched himself in the Packers' record book with his three-sack effort against the Raiders.
His "trifecta" padded his season total to 10.0 and he thus became the first player in Packers history to post three consecutive double-digit sack seasons. He launched his string with 12.5 in 2001 and followed with 12.0 last season.
Kabeer also hiked his career sacks total to 37.0, lifting him above Tony Bennett (1990-93) into fourth place on the Packers' lifetime list. Bennett had 36.5 sacks.
Gbaja-Biamila could have had four sacks, as it turned out. He had one trap of Raiders QB Rick Mirer expunged by a penalty.
GM/HEAD COACH MIKE SHERMAN'S COMMENTS:
(on Brett Favre) "As well as he did, you couldn't draw up a script better than what was drawn up today. You hope when you leave the tunnel and you take the field that he's going to play that type of game, but the chances that happen, unless it's Brett Favre, are probably unlikely. This guy put together a career day, particularly in that first half."
(on team) "I'm very proud of the football team. We had to come out here and win this football game. I was very concerned about Oakland. They'd done a great job last week against Baltimore, and we had a lot of concerns about winning this football game. I was proud of how this team responded. Certainly we needed this win to stay in the playoff hunt and we also needed this win for Brett Favre, and I thought his teammates responded very well when he needed it as a teammate."
(on Brett Favre) "Adversity strikes all of us. It's not the adversity that affects you, it's how you handle it. And he handles adversity extremely well. His focus and concentration on this football game this evening was extraordinary. When he puts his mind to anything, even off the field, he can accomplish anything he wants to accomplish."
(on Javon Walker and Robert Ferguson) "It's the Javon Walker that I think we've seen this season. I think he's coming into his own. I thought Ferguson made some key plays for us. This (Raiders) defense is rated 12th in the National Football League in third-down conversion, winning third down. And we were very concerned coming in on third down and Fergy made some key third-down catches. Javon obviously made some big catches as well, but Walker is very capable of making big plays. When we drafted him we drafted an athlete who has the ability to torque his body and jump and leap and make plays, and he was able to do that today."
THE PLAYER PERSPECTIVE:
Quarterback Brett Favre: (on playing after his father's death) "I knew that my dad would have wanted me to play. I love him so much, and I love this game. It's meant a great deal to me, to my dad, to my family, and I didn't expect this kind of performance. But I know he was watching tonight."
(on what his father meant to him) I do not wish this on anyone. My dad has been to every game from fifth grade, and he coached me in high school. You never expect it to happen like that. I'm going to miss him. He was so instrumental not only in football, but in life."
(on the performance) "I've never seen a first half like that. I think that everyone who watched the game saw what took place. I'd like to take credit for a lot of it, but when you make catches like those guys did and block the way our guys did, I don't know if I've ever seen an effort quite like that before."
Wide Receiver Donald Driver: (on Brett Favre) "For him to come out and play this game, he's a better man than most of us on this team. We knew that we had to go out and get him everything that he wanted. He wanted this game as bad as we did, and we did it for his dad."
Wide Receiver Javon Walker: (on making tough catches) "Any time you've got a pass coming from Brett Favre, you're liable to make history with that pass because he's always breaking records and you just want to be on the other end of it...If it's a ball that's in the air that we can catch, we'll try to go get it. That's why we're here. We're here to make plays for Brett Favre."
-Monday night's win was the Packers' 22nd on "Monday Night Football," compared to 19 losses and one tie.
-It was a "historic" encounter, one which found the Packers and Raiders meeting for the first time on the venerable prime time series, launched in 1970.
-The 41 points the Packers scored against the Raiders are the most they have registered in a game during Mike Sherman's four-year tenure as head coach. And also the most they have scored in any game since Jan. 3, 2000, when they rang up 49 in a 49-24 triumph over the Arizona Cardinals in Lambeau Field.
-With Monday night's win over the Raiders, Mike Sherman now owns a 9-6 career record against the AFC.
-Running back Najeh Davenport, continuing to display explosive talent as a kickoff returner, returned the second half kickoff 60 yards - the team's longest runback of the season - to the Oakland 30-yard line, triggering a Ryan Longwell field goal.
-Michael Hawthorne, making his first start as a Packer (for the injured Mike McKenzie) made it a profitable one by making his first interception of the season in the third quarter, waylaying a Rick Mirer pass in the Green Bay end zone. He later added a second in the fourth quarter.
-Ahman Green made a "statement" on the Packers' very first offensive play of the evening, bolting up the middle for 10 yards and a first down. Five plays later, the Packers were in the Oakland end zone.
-Packers captains for the Monday night contest included center Mike Flanagan and wide receiver Javon Walker (offense), tackle Grady Jackson and linebacker Nick Barnett (defense) and placekicker Ryan Longwell (special teams).
-Packers inactives against the Raiders included offensive tackles Brennan Curtin and Marcus Spriggs, defensive linemen Jamal Reynolds and Kenny Peterson, linebacker Marcus Wilkins, defensive backs Mike McKenzie and Derek Combs and Designated Third Quarterback Craig Nall (who later played in a relief role).