'STRANGERS' COMPETITIVELY, PACKERS AND JAGUARS HAVE MET ONLY TWICE; BRETT FAVRE MADE HISTORY IN FIRST ENCOUNTER
The Packers and the Jacksonville Jaguars, who Sunday come together in Lambeau Field for the first time on Titletown turf, are virtual strangers - competitively speaking.
Officially, they have met only twice since the Jaguars became members of the National Football League's AFC Central Division (now AFC South) in 1995. For the record, there also was a preseason Packers visit to Jacksonville's ALLTEL Stadium earlier this year (Aug. 27), won by the Jaguars, 9-7.
Yet, both regular-season games set themselves apart from the average NFL contest, historically speaking - aside from the fact that the Green and Gold were successful on each occasion, posting a 24-14 win in their first meeting ('95) and a 28-21 victory in a 2001 encounter, both in the ALLTEL venue.
In the former (on Sept. 24, 1995) for prime example, Favre threw two touchdown passes for the 12th straight game, joining Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino and Don Meredith in pro football's record book in this exclusive category.
The recipients of those historic throws were wideouts Robert Brooks and Anthony Morgan, Brooks scoring on a 6-yard toss in the second quarter and Morgan on a 29-yard strike in the fourth quarter, the latter putting the Packers up 24-7 with 5:52 remaining in the game.
(Said record, incidentally, was eclipsed only last weekend when Peyton Manning extended his streak of having thrown two or more touchdowns in a game to 13 contests).
Favre also punctuated his performance by reeling off a 40-yard run in the third quarter, an excursion that remains the longest run from scrimmage in his remarkable, 14-year career.
The '95 matchup, which found the Packers pitching a 17-0 shutout at the end of three quarters, was noteworthy for another reason. Punter Craig Hentrich had to pinch-hit as the Packers' placekicker on that occasion, one which saw incumbent Chris Jacke forced to sit out for only the second time in his career - because of a strained left hamstring.
Hentrich responded effectively. After being wide left on a 47-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter, he provided the first points of the evening in the second period, drilling home a 49-yarder.
Hentrich also was successful in all three of his conversion attempts and averaged an imposing 49.0 yards for four punts, with a long of 55 yards.
Additionally, he kicked a 22-yard field goal in the third quarter but the Jaguars' Harry Colon was penalized for roughing Hentrich and the penalty gave the Packers the football at the Jacksonville 2-yard line, from where running back Dorsey Levens scored on the next play.
In the overall process, a tightfisted Green Bay defense moved into the NFC lead by limiting the Jaguars to 201 net yards of offense, including just 76 yards rushing, linebacker Wayne Simmons spearheading the effort with eight solo tackles. He also was credited with two quarterback sacks for 14 yards in losses.
In a sidelight to the evening's proceedings, Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, a devout Packerphile, was on the ALLTEL Stadium scene on this occasion, lobbying Jaguars officials to keep their training camp at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where they had held their initial camp in what was then their first NFL season.
The teams' second and most recent regular-season meeting was a prime time matchup - on "Monday Night Football" Dec. 3, 2001 - and it was marked by a substantially different scenario.
With former Packers quarterback Mark Brunell under center for the Jaguars, Jacksonville was out front 13-7 at halftime, the result of a 29-yard Brunell touchdown pass to wide receiver Elvis Joseph and a pair of field goals by Mike Hollis.
The Packers, meanwhile, avoided a halftime shutout by scoring with 25 seconds remaining in the second quarter on a 13-yard Favre pass to running back Ahman Green.
Jacksonville, however, expanded its lead early in the third quarter when Favre was sacked by the Jaguars' Tony Brackens and safety Ainsley Battles, pouncing upon the loose football, returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. Brunell then worked a 2-point conversion with wide receiver Keenan McCardell, padding the Jaguars' lead to 21-7.
Favre promptly set about turning things around following the succeeding kickoff, which William Henderson returned 14 yards to the Green Bay 45, providing the Packers with prime field position.
Three plays later they had scored, Favre firing a 43-yard touchdown pass to wideout Bill Schroeder and Ryan Longwell adding the conversion.
One minute and 40 seconds later, the Packers again were in the end zone - and tied with the Jaguars. Joseph fielded Longwell's kickoff and fumbled when hit by linebacker Chris Gizzi, who recovered at the Jacksonville 32.
Favre set up the next score with a 29-yard bullseye to flanker Antonio Freeman, tackled at the Jacksonville 3-yard line by cornerback Fernando Bryant. Two plays later, Favre hit tight end Bubba Franks with a 1-yard touchdown pass and Longwell provided the extra point to forge a 21-21 tie with 58 seconds left in the third quarter.
The deadlock remained in force for most of the fourth quarter, which saw no fewer than four changes of possession until the Packers made a decisive breakthrough in the last two minutes.
Taking over at his own 44, Favre launched the winning drive with a 10-yard toss to Donald Driver, then hit running back Ahman Green in the flat at the Jacksonville 46, whereupon Green streaked 42 yards to the Jaguars' 4 before being run out of bounds by cornerback Jason Craft.
Green was thrown for a 2-yard loss on a first-down thrust up the middle but Favre then proceeded to settle the issue, bootlegging into the left corner of the end zone from 6 yards out. Longwell's conversion then sealed a 28-21 victory.
Held to a mere 37 yards rushing by a miserly, run-oriented Jacksonville defense, the Packers made their passing game pay decisive dividends, Favre completing 24 of 42 passes for 352 net yards and 3 touchdowns while closing out the night with a glossy 109.4 passer rating.
Schroeder and Freeman, his prime targets, both emerged with 100-yard games, Schroeder making 6 catches for 106 yards and Freeman 3 for 104 yards. Green also was a major contributor to the passing game, making 5 catches for 74 yards.
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 Packers.com 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. *