ST. LOUIS (AP)—A simple slant pattern to his favorite receiver gave Brett Favre yet another record in a milestone season.
It’s been a pretty big year for his team, too. The Green Bay Packers secured a first-round playoff bye for the first time since 1997.
“I say every time this happens that I’m honored,” Favre said. “I would much rather win. I’m tickled to death that I’ve had a chance to break these records and be a part of all these wonderful things.”
Favre threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns, eclipsing Dan Marino to become the NFL career leader in yards passing, in a 33-14 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Greg Jennings and Donald Lee caught scoring passes and kicker Mason Crosby was 4-for-4 from 44, 50, 25 and 46 yards for Green Bay, which needed only to win for the first-round bye after the Seahawks lost 13-10 to the Panthers.
Green Bay (12-2) also kept pace with the Cowboys for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and is one victory off the franchise record.
The Packers are 6-1 on the road, losing only at Dallas, and prevailed in a sold-out Edward Jones Dome that appeared to be half-filled with Cheeseheads who filled the downtown streets in the hours before kickoff. When Favre set the record on a 7-yard toss to Donald Driver on the Packers’ first drive of the fourth quarter, he had thousands of fans rooting for him, with flashbulbs popping from every corner of the stadium.
The guys on the Rams sideline were impressed, too.
“He’s going to give you all that he has,” St. Louis defensive tackle La’Roi Glover said. “He’s the real deal and everybody knows it.”
The Favre-Driver combination has produced 36 touchdown passes, third in franchise history. The record-setting play was supposed to be a run, but Favre has the option of throwing.
“I knew it was coming,” Driver said. “He gave me the little look and after that I knew I was going to catch it.”
Favre was 19-for-30, throwing his 25th and 26th touchdown passes, with two interceptions—both by O.J. Atogwe. He entered the day needing 184 yards to pass Marino.
Steven Jackson had 143 yards on 23 carries for the Rams (3-11), who are 1-6 at home. The Rams fizzled after tying it at 14 on Jackson’s 46-yard run early in the second quarter.
Atari Bigby had a pair of interceptions on deflected passes and Nick Barnett had two of the Packers’ four sacks of Marc Bulger, back after missing two games with a concussion. Bigby has four interceptions, three coming the last two weeks.
Mistakes kept the Rams scoreless after the break. Second-half problems have been a consistent theme.
“If we leave with anything positive, nobody’s giving up,” running back Steven Jackson said. “First half, our fans are seeing we can play with the best teams in the NFL. The second half, we can’t get that monkey off our back.”
The 38-year-old Favre, a three-time NFL MVP, pulled 1 yard behind Marino with a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jennings when he caught the Rams in a blitz. That put the Green Bay Packers ahead 27-14 in the third quarter.
He passed Marino on the first play of the Packers’ next series with 23 seconds gone in the fourth quarter. The game was halted as Driver hugged Favre and other teammates patted him on the shoulder pads. Public address announcer Jim Holder acknowledged the record, prompting a huge ovation, and Favre shook hands with referee Ron Winter.
Favre was reminded on the sideline that the next completion would mean the record, “which is good and bad.”
“I expected this to happen, but I wanted to win the ballgame and be focused on that and not be distracted or have the team be distracted by something I did,” Favre said. “Actually, when they stopped the game my first reaction was ‘What happened?’ A penalty or something like that.”
Marino passed for 61,361 yards in 17 seasons. Favre, who now has 61,405 yards, also is in his 17th season while enjoying a year comparable to his peak production, although he made sure Marino got his just due.
“I’ve said this all along: I’ve never considered myself to be in the same league as Dan Marino,” Favre said. “What a great passer, maybe the greatest passer ever.
“The way he did it is maybe the way you’d coach another guy to do it.”
Favre also hit Donald Lee on a 4-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter. He had 440 touchdown passes after breaking another mark that belonged to Marino with his 421st at Minnesota on Sept. 30.
He topped John Elway’s career record for victories by a starting quarterback with his 149th at New York on Sept. 16.
Favre entered the game on pace to surpass his personal best of 4,413 yards in 1995 and challenge Lynn Dickey’s franchise record of 4,458 yards set in 1983.
“My arm is in good shape,” Favre said. “It’s probably not as good as it was 12 years ago, eight years ago. But I still think I fling it pretty good.”
Favre was flawless early, completing his first nine passes to eight receivers for 95 yards. The early run ended when Ron Bartell broke up a pass intended for Lee with 5:47 left in the first half.
He needs four touchdown passes in the last two games to add to his own NFL record by throwing 30 or more in nine seasons. Sunday was Favre’s 251th consecutive regular-season start, or 271st counting the playoffs—both records for a quarterback.
Only former Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Jim Marshall has started more regular-season games (270) in a row.
Jackson, who had 90 or more yards rushing each of the last four games, had 103 yards on 13 carries at halftime for his first 100-yard effort since Week 3.
The Rams tied it twice in the first half, on Torry Holt’s 4-yard catch and when Jackson capitalized on a blitz and split the safeties on a 46-yard run.,
Atogwe has seven interceptions, tied for the NFC lead with the Seahawks’ Marcus Trufant and the most for the Rams since Dexter McCleon had eight in 2000. … Isaac Bruce caught four passes for 72 yards, passing the injured Marvin Harrison for fourth on the career yards receiving list at 13,983. … Packers FB Korey Hall injured his left leg in the second quarter and did not return. … Koren Robinson provided an early spark for the Packers with kickoff returns of 43 and 56 yards.