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Packers dodge OT on FG miss

©Associated Press
September 30, 2002

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- No matter how many times Brett Favre's supporting cast changes, he finds a way to get the Packers a victory.

Favre found little-known Donald Driver for a 22-yard touchdown with 4:10 left Sunday, leading the Packers over Carolina, 17-14.

"It was difficult, but I wasn't really concerned about who was in and who was out. My focus never changes," Favre said. "We had a lot of new faces out there, a lot of young faces. A lot of guys stepped up."

But the Packers had to sweat it out. Carolina drove to the Green Bay 5 only to have Shayne Graham, signed Friday to bolster the kicking game, miss a 24-yard field goal with 13 seconds left.

"That's my job, to go out there and make kicks, and I didn't do that," said Graham, who made 6 of 8 field goals with Buffalo last year. "It's probably the worst split-second in your life when you pick your head up and you see it sailing wide right."

Favre was 18-of-32 for 200 yards with one interception. He has 3,414 career completions and passing Joe Montana for fifth on the all-time list.

Driver had his first two-touchdown game, the first from Bubba Franks on a trick play in the second quarter.

With less than two minutes left, Favre took the snap at the Carolina 36, dropped back and threw backward to Franks, a tight end. Franks then found Driver for a 31-yard score.

Officials initially ruled the Packers had thrown two forward passes. Sherman was so upset he threw his headset and swore, drawing a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct that was marked off on the kickoff.

But replays clearly showed Favre's pass to Franks was backward, and officials agreed after reviewing the play.

"It may have had a positive effect on the team," Favre said of Sherman's tantrum. "When he started screaming and yelling, guys got behind him. Not that they weren't before, but this was an obvious slap in the face and guys weren't going to put up with that."

Carolina's Steve Smith caught five passes for 116 yards as a fill-in for the injured Muhsin Muhammad, and Lamar Smith rushed for 66 yards and two scores.

"Two turnovers resulted in points off the board or at least opportunities to kick field goals," Panthers coach John Fox said.

The Panthers brought the league's second-ranked defense to Lambeau Field and stymied the Packers (the held a 332-298 edge in total yards) until Favre pulled off the 25th late rally of his career.

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