By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer
December 16, 2002
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- After slogging through steady rain and biting wind in a dismal first half, Brett Favre and Mike Sherman made a decision.
If the elements were going to get the best of the Green Bay Packers, at least Favre would go down slingin'.
As usual when Favre faces the San Francisco 49ers, he made the right decision. With an aggressive edge to his play in the second half, Favre threw for 201 yards through a nasty downpour as Green Bay won 20-14 on Sunday to keep its place atop the NFC with a gritty road victory.
``We had to take some chances,'' Favre said. ``I'm actually a little bit surprised at the way we threw it and how well we threw it. (Passing) wasn't a walk in the park today, but we had to try it.''
Then, with memories of Terrell Owens' famed 1999 game-winning playoff catch against the Packers reverberating through Candlestick Park, the Green Bay defense stopped the Niners' last drive at the Packers 11 with 22 seconds left.
``I had confidence in our defense, but man, I was also pretty confident they could score,'' said Favre, 9-1 against the Niners.
Ahman Green ran for 90 yards and a touchdown, and Donald Driver caught a TD pass as the Packers (11-3) shrugged off the miserable conditions to score 17 points in the second half, while holding San Francisco (9-5) scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Sherman and his assistants didn't change much in their play-calling in the second half, but they gave Favre the impetus to throw downfield for game-breaking plays.
``(In the first half) we only had four possessions,'' Sherman said. ``I told them, 'This game's going to be over before you know it. It's flying by. You'd better not miss out on any opportunities that come your way.'''
Green Bay won its third straight while limiting the Niners to 263 total yards and earning home-field advantage in any possible playoff meeting between the division winners.
``We didn't need to come out here and win this game to prove that we're a playoff team,'' said Jeff Garcia, who led San Francisco to a comeback win last week in Dallas. ``It's not like we got blown out of the water or anything. It came down to a few plays.''
After Ryan Longwell's 28-yard field goal with 4:41 left, Garcia drove the 49ers from their 26 to the 11 before throwing three incompletions, including a low throw under pressure to Eric Johnson on fourth down.
``We lost the game on offense,'' Owens said. ``With that short field, we should have scored.''
Both teams already clinched their divisions and playoff berths with victories in recent weeks, but both clubs have been dogged by injuries that were partially responsible for their mediocre play over the past month.
Owens caught eight passes for 75 yards and a touchdown -- which he punctuated with a pompom-waving celebration -- but the 49ers again struggled to move the ball.
Some of the worst rains in recent years pelted the San Francisco Bay area all weekend, and the field at Candlestick Park was soaked through. Flooded parking lots made tailgating difficult, and nearly all the fans in the sellout crowd wore rain gear.
Favre led a 79-yard drive from the second-half kickoff, with Green scoring on a 9-yard run.
Moments later, Garcia threw a pass as he was being tackled, and it ricocheted off the back of an offensive lineman to Vonnie Holliday, who lateraled to Na'il Diggs for a long return.
Favre struck again, hitting Driver for a 5-yard TD that put Green Bay up 17-6.
But instead of giving in, the 49ers finally woke up. Owens caught a long pass down the sideline and then discarded would-be tackler Mike McKenzie like a rain poncho on the way to the end zone, where he picked up two pompoms from the 49ers' cheerleaders and danced along for a moment.
``I think in my next life, I'm going to be cheerleader,'' Owens said. ``After I cross the end zone, I'm in my own little zone, my own littleworld.''
Driver has more than 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career. ... Green Bay NT Gilbert Brown and LT Earl Dotson were last-minute scratches with injuries, while CB Ahmed Plummer didn't play for San Francisco. ... The 49ers scored in their 400th straight game, extending their own NFLrecord.
Updated on Monday, Dec 16, 2002 2:04 am, EST
Email to a Friend | View Popular