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Remmel: Packers vs Bengals


Brett Favre replaced Majkowski at QB Sept. 20, 1992 and has been under center for the Green and Gold ever since.


The Packers are not nearly as well-acquainted with the Cincinnati Bengals as they are with, say, the Chicago Bears...or the Minnesota Vikings...or, for that matter, the New York Giants...

In fact, their engagement in Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium Sunday will find them meeting in a regular season game for only the 10th time - and for the first time since 1998.

Yet, historically, they have shared one of the most somber and meaningful moments in the Green and Gold's distinguished annals.

And, beyond that, the rivalry has been highlighted by one of the most significant developments in the Packers' storied history-the impromptu launching of quarterback Brett Favre on a Hall of Fame career.

Their very first encounter, in a preseason contest, occurred two days after the passing of the Packers' legendary former coach, Vince Lombardi, who had succumbed to cancer in Washington D. C., Sept. 3, 1970.

Lombardi was vice president, head coach and general manager of the Redskins at his death, having left Green Bay early in 1969 for Washington.

But, even though he had not been associated with the Packers at the time of his passing, Lombardi's former players in Titletown were moved to pay tribute to his memory.

Accordingly, when they stood at attention for the singing of the national anthem prior to the teams' first meeting ever-at Milwaukee County Stadium the night of Sept. 5, 1970-all of them were wearing black arm bands in Lombardi's memory.

It seemed appropriate that the also legendary Paul Brown happened to be on the sideline as head coach of the Bengals.

Back in Green Bay the following night, the Packers arranged and took a significant part in a public memorial service for the fallen coach at the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena, across from Lambeau Field.

Quarterback Bart Starr spoke on behalf of the team and then- Commissioner Pete Rozelle also flew in from New York to pay tribute to Lombardi on the program.

Under the circumstances, the game itself was somewhat secondary. For the record, it ended in a 10-10 tie in the regulation four quarters (the NFL had not yet adopted the overtime rule designed to avoid ties).

The Packers did have an opportunity to win with 1:19 remaining in the game but Dale Livingston's 45-yard field goal attempt was blocked by the Bengals' Ken Riley-the same Ken Riley who was later to serve as the Packers' defensive backfield coach in 1984-85 under Forrest Gregg.

The Bengals also had a chance to prevail with only 23 seconds remaining, but the center of Green Bay's defensive line rose up to block a 33-yard field goal attempt by Cincinnati's Horst Muhlmann, and the Packers' Bob Jeter recovered the ball at the 1-yard line as the game ended.

The Packers and the Ohioans "officially" met for the first time in regular season play the following year-although not until after they had faced off in a preseason game for a second time, this one in Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium.

The latter encounter, on Sept. 4, 1971, was essentially a "showcase" for the Bengals' Austrian-born placekicker, Horst Muhlmann. The lead-footed ex-bricklayer did not permit the Packers a single kickoff return yard in the game, launching each of his six kickoffs over the crossbar into the end zone at Green Bay's end of the field and booting field goals of 52 and 43 yards, the second of which proved to be the ultimate difference.

Muhlmann's heroics overshadowed an impressively productive rushing performance by the Packers, who amassed 279 yards in 47 attempts, a robust 5.9-yard average, Dave Hampton leading the way with 99 yards in 19 attempts. Fellow running back Donny Anderson also weighed in with 83 yards in 11 attempts, his production including a 59-yard run.

The Packers had an opportunity for a tie, with 1:19 remaining in the game, but Livingston was off-target with a 52-yard field goal attempt.

A month later (Oct. 3, 1971), the Bengals were in Lambeau Field for their first-ever regular season showdown with the Packers-and again it was a tightfisted affair, with a 10-10 tie prevailing as the combatants headed into the fourth quarter.

But not, it turned out, for long. Six seconds into that final period, quarterback Scott Hunter put the Packers up with a 19-yard scoring strike to tight end Rich McGeorge.

Six minutes later, left-footed Packers placekicker Lou Michaels gave the Green and Gold some additional breathing room with a 14-yard field goal, swelling the Packers' lead to 20-10.

The Bengals, however, declined to "fold their tent" and mounted an 8-play, 69-yard scoring drive climaxed by a 5-yard Ken Anderson pass to wide receiver Eric Crabtree with just under 4 minutes remaining.

To additionally complicate matters for the Packers, Cincinnati promptly had a glittering opportunity to pull out a victory, recovering a Dave Hampton fumble at the Green Bay 15-yard-line following the ensuing kickoff.

The Packers' defense, however, was equal to the unexpected challenge. With the Bengals in a fourth-and-2 at the 7 immediately following the 2-minute warning, defenders Wllie Wood and Kenny Ellis collaborated in stopping Anderson for no gain on a rollout to save the day.

Fast-forwarding 22 years, it appeared to be a typical game-time development when Packers starting quarterback Don Majkowski suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter of Green Bay's encounter with the Bengals in Lambeau Field on the Sunday afternoon of Sept. 20, 1992.

Yes, Brett Favre replaced Majkowski at that point-and has been under center for the Green and Gold ever since. So it was a historic changing of the guard and the birth of one of the most remarkable careers in the history of professional sports.

As No. 4 has done so many times over the 14-year interim, he pulled out a breathtaking victory with the first of his many last-minute heroics.

With the Packers trailing 23-17, and only 1 minute, 7 seconds left to play, Favre quickly moved them into Bengals territory with a 42-yard strike to Sterling Sharpe, who was felled at the Cincinnati 35.

Only 19 seconds then remained when, on the next play, he retreated with arm upraised and lofted an unerring "bomb" to wide receiver Kitrick Taylor, streaking down the right sideline into the end zone with the first of Favre's 390 touchdown passes in his arms.

Placekicker Chris Jacke then kicked the winning point, sealing a 24-23 Green Bay victory with 13 seconds left on the stadium time clock.

Continuing an association with the team that is more than 55 years old, Lee Remmel was named the first official Team Historian of the Green Bay Packers in February 2004. The former *Green Bay Press-Gazette reporter and Packers public relations director, Remmel will write regular columns for as part of his new assignment.

In addition to those articles, Remmel will answer fan questions in a monthly Q&A column. To submit a question to Remmel, click here. *

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