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Teammates Stick Up For Silent Favre


One could argue that the Green Bay Packers might still be alive in the playoffs if not for Brett Favre's off-target pass to Javon Walker that was intercepted by Brian Dawkins in overtime of the Philadelphia Eagles' come-from-behind 20-17 win Sunday.

But there's another way of looking at it, too. Without Favre, the Packers might not have made it to the NFC divisional playoffs in the first place.

"Everyone is making so much of that one (interception)," center Mike Flanagan said Monday. "You know what? This guy played with a broken thumb the majority of the year. (He's) hands down the team leader. He is the Green Bay Packers and we are him."

That's why there are no hard feelings about Favre's errant pass, which set up the Eagles' final scoring drive and David Akers' game-winning 31-yard field goal.

After all, the game could have very well ended in regulation had the Packers been able to capitalize on any of a number of opportunities, including fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line for the offense and fourth-and-26 for the defense.

"It's a tough one to take," backup quarterback Doug Pederson said of the loss. "I'm sure (Favre) feels in some aspects like he let the guys down a little bit on that last play. But it's a team sport ... In my mind it wasn't that one play that lost the game."

What stuck out about Favre's interception wasn't just that it stood as the deciding turnover, but that his pass was so far off the mark.

Trying to unload the ball quickly in the face of blitz pressure, Favre apparently didn't see Dawkins lurking in the secondary and thought Walker had one-on-one coverage.

But a hoped-for jump-ball scenario led to an easy pick for Dawkins, and Favre's only turnover of the playoffs ended up being the one mistake the Packers couldn't overcome.

"He played great," tight end Wesley Walls said of Favre's 180-yard, two-touchdown day. "We had one mistake there and it cost us, but it could have gone our way, too."

That it didn't has been difficult for Favre to bear.

"He's hurting as much as anybody," said Flanagan, who rode next to Favre on the team bus after the game. "He realizes he doesn't have a lot of opportunities left."

Exactly how long Favre will continue to play football is anyone's guess.

Favre's 2002 season was mired in media speculation about his possible retirement, but the 34-year-old quarterback gave no indication in 2003 that there wouldn't be a 2004.

And even though Favre didn't address the media Sunday following the game or Monday when players returned to Lambeau Field for a team meeting, his teammates expect to have him back.

"Brett's not going to limp out of this league," Flanagan said. "He's going to go out on top."

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