Packers-Vikings Press Box Notes

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TONIGHT: Brett Favre makes his 29th career start on Monday Night Football, his first against the Vikings since 2000, when Antonio Freeman hauled in a deflected pass and raced 43 yards for an overtime touchdown and an incredible 26-20 win...The Packers bid to improve their 9-4 Monday night record under Mike Sherman...With David Martin hopefully back to full-speed, the Packers will have their top three tight ends healthy for the first time since Week 2...Hoping to continue a positive trend started by Samkon Gado last week at Atlanta, two more individuals mark gameday birthdays today: defensive lineman Kenny Peterson and offensive line coach Larry Beightol.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR TONIGHT & IN COMING WEEKS -

NICK BARNETT:

-With 120 tackles in just nine games, is on pace for 213. The team record since coaches first began recording tackles in 1975 is 180 by Mike Douglass in 1981. From 1984-2004, the two highest totals for the club's leading tackler were 162 by Barnett in 2004 and 145 by Johnny Holland in 1993.

ANTONIO CHATMAN:

-Needs 11 punt-return yards to surpass No. 5 Al Carmichael (753) and 77 to surpass No. 4 Phillip Epps (819). Chatman enters with 743.

DONALD DRIVER:

-With a catch, can extend his streak of games with a reception to 58 and tie the third-longest stretch in Packers history (Hall of Famer James Lofton). Next up would be current running backs coach Edgar Bennett (60) and all-time leader Sterling Sharpe (103).

-Needs six receptions for 300 career.

-Has at least 100 yards receiving each of his last two games against the Vikings (19 catches, 276 yards, two TDs).

BRETT FAVRE:

-Needs four TD passes to extend his NFL-record streak of at least 20 TD passes to 12.

-Needs eight touchdown passes to become the second in NFL history with 400, joining Dan Marino (420). Favre enters with 392 in 218 NFL games. Marino reached the landmark in his 227th contest.

-Including playoffs, Favre has 47 career 300-yard passing games and needs three for 50.

-Needs one rushing attempt for 500 career.

BUBBA FRANKS:

-Needs 73 receiving yards for 2,000 career.

-Needs two TD receptions at Lambeau Field to tie No. 3 Robert Brooks (17) and five to tie No. 2 Sterling Sharpe (20) on the stadium's all-time list. Franks enters with 15 Lambeau Field TD receptions.

KABEER GBAJA-BIAMILA:

-On Green Bay's all-time sacks list, needs 11/2 to surpass No. 2 Tim Harris (55). Gbaja-Biamila enters with 54 career sacks, 141/2 shy of Reggie White's franchise record, 681/2.

-Has at least one sack in each of his last three Lambeau Field games against Minnesota (2002-04).

GRADY JACKSON:

-Needs five tackles for 400 career. With 36 stops through nine games this year, Jackson is on pace for 64, which would mark his highest total since his 2001 career best, 69 with Oakland.

AL HARRIS:

-Needs four passes defensed for 100 career. Harris, who owns a team-leading 11 on the year, enters with 96.

WILLIAM HENDERSON:

-Could start his 100th career game.

-Needs one reception for 300 career.

LAMBEAU SWAN SONG: Tonight also marks the 15th and final ABC Monday Night Football game at historic Lambeau Field. The venerable series, in its 36th and final season, first broadcast from Green Bay on Oct. 1, 1979. That night, Bart Starr's Packers upset the high-octane Super Bowl favorite New England Patriots, 27-14. Through the years, memorable MNF games in Green Bay have included:

-A 48-47 win over Washington in 1983 (still the highest scoring contest in the prime-time series);

-A pair of overtime victories (23-20 over San Francisco in 1996 and the incomparable 2000 clash in the rain, a 26-20 win over the Vikings);

-The 1997 season opener, Green Bay's first game after its Super Bowl XXXI triumph (38-24 over Chicago);

-Green Bay's first look at Randy Moss (five catches, 190 yards, two TDs), a 37-24 loss to Minnesota in 1998;

-Mike Holmgren's first game in Green Bay since leaving to become Seahawks head coach, a 27-7 Seattle win in 1999;

-The first Monday night game after the Sept. 11 attacks, a 37-0 win over Washington in 2001; and

-Brett Favre's 200th consecutive start, a 45-17 win over St. Louis in 2004.

RARE SUB-PAR OPENINGS: When these clubs met Oct. 23, it marked their first game since Nov. 17, 1991 - 14 years ago this week - in which neither team had at least a .500 record. Back in '91, Minnesota came in 5-6 and Green Bay occupied last place in the NFC Central at 2-8. That day at Lambeau Field, Green Bay couldn't hold a 21-14 halftime lead, despite a 75-yard touchdown pass from Mike Tomczak to Charles Wilson. Minnesota scored three unanswered TDs in the second half and won, 35-21. The Packers had the last laugh, however, giving Lindy Infante a 27-7 win at the Metrodome in the season finale. Less than two months later, Green Bay had hired Mike Holmgren and traded for Brett Favre.

21 points: That's the combined difference in these teams' last six regular-season games. Five points or less has separated each contest, a streak that began here on a cold Sunday night, Dec. 8, 2002. In fact, only a field goal has provided the winning margin in the last four games - a walk-off field goal in the last three. Only one other series in NFL history has experienced such a sustained stretch of close games. Most consecutive regular-season games decided by five points or less:

8: Philadelphia-Washington, 1991-95

6: Green Bay-Minnesota, 2002-05 (current)

Buffalo-N.Y. Jets, 1975-78

Cleveland-N.Y. Jets, 1978-84

Denver-L.A. Raiders, 1983-86

Denver-L.A. Raiders, 1989-92

NICE TO BE IN NOVEMBER: The Packers, notoriously a better second-half team under Mike Sherman, appear to have put September and October behind them. And with good reason, because only two other teams - last year's Super Bowl finalists - have a better record Nov. 1 and later since Sherman became head coach in 2000. The list, including yesterday (courtesy Elias Sports Bureau):

Club: W-L-T, Pct

New England Patriots:35-11-0, .761

Philadelphia Eagles: 35-12-0, .745

Green Bay Packers: 34-12-0, .739

Pittsburgh Steelers: 33-14-1, .698

Baltimore Ravens: 29-17-0, .630

HIS FAVORITE TEAM: Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila's most-frequent sack victim, Daunte Culpepper (6), is out for the season. However, Brad Johnson (5) is tied for No. 2 on that list with Charlie Batch.

NOT UP FOR THE CHALLENGE: Opponent head coaches in 2005 are 0-for-4 on instant-replay challenges, and 0-for-their-last-5 dating to last year. Jack Del Rio was the last coach to successfully challenge a call, taking an interception and touchdown away from Darren Sharper, Dec. 19, 2004, vs. Jacksonville. Over a longer stretch, opponents are 1-for-their-last-7.

ROOKIE RUSHING RECORDS: Dre Barnes and Eugene Goodman. Those were the two running backs at Liberty University ahead of Samkon Gado on the depth chart last season. One year later, Gado needs just one rushing touchdown to total the most by a Packers rookie since running back John Brockington and quarterback Scott Hunter posted five in 1971. Gado also is within reach of several other single-season rookie rushing marks:

LONGWELL IN THE FINAL STANZA: Ryan Longwell in the fourth quarter has hit 12 of his last 13 field goals. His only fourth-quarter miss during the stretch, which includes playoffs dating to the 2003 postseason, came last month at Minnesota.

PLENTY OF KINETIC ENERGY: Breaking down the Packers' 53-man roster entering tonight:

-17 players were never drafted, including six potential starters tonight - Samkon Gado (RB), Antonio Chatman (WR), Vonta Leach (FB), Roy Manning (LB), Paris Lenon (LB) and Cullen Jenkins (DT) - and kicker Ryan Longwell.

-Two starters - Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (DE) and Scott Wells (G) - were "Day 2" draft picks waived at the end of their rookie preseasons who cleared waivers and re-signed to the Packers' practice squad before their promotions to the active roster.

-Three other seventh-round draft choices - Mark Tauscher (T), William Whitticker (G) and Donald Driver (WR) - will play important starting roles on the Packers' offense tonight.

-So, of the Packers' 22 starters tonight, as many as half were either undrafted, taken in the seventh round, or didn't make the opening day roster their rookie year.

-13 players are rookies, including potential starters Samkon Gado (RB), William Whitticker (G), Nick Collins (S) and Roy Manning (LB). Nearly half of the 53-man roster (25 players) has two years or less of NFL experience.

VIKINGS ANOMALIES: On Oct. 23 at Minnesota, the Packers lost a contest in which they did not commit a turnover. The last time that happened was Dec. 1, 1997, also a loss at Minnesota. Green Bay had won 22 straight zero-turnover contests, including all 16 under Mike Sherman.

-Also on Oct. 23, the Packers lost a game in which they won the turnover margin, snapping a 26-game winning streak in those tilts. Counting its win last week at Atlanta, Green Bay is now 37-2 in such games under Sherman (39-2 including playoffs). Their last loss when winning the turnover margin? It also was at Minnesota, Oct. 21, 2001.

-The Packers have lost only five games under Sherman when leading at halftime, including Oct. 23 at Minnesota. They're 41-5 overall under the coach, including 18-3 in road games.

WITH A 100-YARD RUSHER: The Packers are 27-3 since 2000 with a 100-yard rusher, 16-3 at home and 11-0 on the road. Samkon Gado last week at Atlanta became the first Green Bay rookie to top 100 yards rushing since De'Mond Parker, Dec. 5, 1999, at Chicago (113 yards on 19 carries). Prior to Parker, the last rookie to do it was Gado's position coach, Edgar Bennett (in 1992).

-However, Gado is the team's first nondrafted rookie to reach the mark since Kevin Wilhite (16-100), Oct. 18, 1987, vs. Philadelphia.

-The last Packers rookie with multiple 100-yard games was John Brockington, who had four such efforts in 1971. Brockington is the Packers' only rookie ever with more than one 100-yard game.

-In Packers history, 42 players now have rushed for 100 yards. The franchise has 159 such individual efforts.

PRIME PROTECTION: Despite losing both starting guards to free agency before the season, and playing without Pro Bowl center Mike Flanagan (sports hernia) on multiple occasions this year, the Packers are among league leaders in fewest sacks allowed (11). Green Bay has given up just three sacks over its last 377 offensive snaps. The streak includes 225 passing attempts, dating to the Packers' second series at Carolina Oct. 3 in their last Monday Night Football appearance.

JOIN THE CLUB: Brett Favre has thrown touchdowns to 39 players over his career, including Samkon Gado and Donald Lee this season. The 40th player could be Andrae Thurman, Vonta Leach, ReShard Lee or Chad Lucas.

-Counting overall receptions, last week at Atlanta Thurman became the 17th player to catch a pass from Favre this season. Never before has Favre completed passes to more teammates. And, Chad Lucas with his first NFL reception from Favre would be No. 18. Prior to 2005, Favre's single-season high was 16 in 1998.

PREGAME/HALFTIME: Country recording artist Steve Azar will perform our Star Spangled Banner...The Oneida Nation Dancers, including Challenger the Bald Eagle, will provide halftime entertainment.

POOL REPORTERS: Appointed by the Professional Football Writers of America, Cliff Christl (primary) of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Mike Vandermause (alternate) of the Green Bay Press-Gazette are today's pool reporters.

NEXT WEEK: Green Bay bids for its first win at Philadelphia since 1962, a 3:15 p.m. CST kickoff Sunday...Earlier that day, Minnesota draws the Cleveland Browns at the Metrodome.

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