Why Clay Matthews Jr. Deserves to be Among the Best of the Best at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Clay Matthews Jr. tackling Earl Campbell

It’s hard to believe that Clay Matthews Jr. is still in the modern era classification for when voters look at great players to put in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Just think about it. Matthews was a rookie in 1978 with the Cleveland Browns. That was 41 years ago. But when a player, especially a linebacker like Matthews, who played 19 years in the NFL and had such a amazing run of consistency and productivity, it’s truly astonishing.

Matthews played 278 games in the NFL throughout his career. No. 57 played with the Browns for 16 years and then finished the last three years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons.

Those 278 games are 22nd all time in the annals of the NFL. 12 of the players above him in terms of games played were either kickers or punters. George Blanda, who is fifth all time with 340 games played, played quarterback and also kicked.

Blanda is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As are position players like wide receiver Jerry Rice (303 games played), quarterback Brett Favre (302 games played), offensive lineman Bruce Matthews (296 games played), cornerback Darrell Green (295 games played) and defensive end Bruce Smith (279 games played).

You will note that Clay’s brother Bruce’s name above. Yes, Bruce has a bust in Canton and so should his brother Clay.

Clay went to four Pro Bowls and was named to be on the Pro Football Reference All-Decade Team of the 1980s.

Just look at the stats Matthews put up over 19 seasons. No. 57 had 1,561 tackles, 83.5 sacks, 16 interceptions, 27 forced fumbles, 14  fumble recoveries and 140.5 impact plays.

Let’s compare those stats to other linebackers who are currently in the Hall of Fame.

Junior Seau + Clay Matthews

Derrick Brooks + Clay Matthews

Brian Urlacher + Clay Matthews

To me, there is no question that Clay Jr. belongs among the best of the best in Canton. I felt the same way when I was part of the crusade to get Jerry Kramer his rightful place among the greats at the Hall of Fame for several years.

In 2020, because of it’s centennial year of the NFL, there will be 20 new members to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There will be five modern era players, 10 seniors, three contributors and two coaches.

Besides Matthews, I’m also promoting LeRoy Butler to be named among the five modern era players going into the Hall of Fame.

As people also know, I’m also promoting a number of senior nominees in 2020 as well, which includes Boyd Dowler, who was NFL All-Decade in the 1960s, plus was on the NFL 50th Anniversary Team, as well as Lavvie Dilweg, who was NFL All-Decade in the 1920s.

I listed three Green Bay Packers above to be part of the Class of 2020. I also believe Jack Vainisi, who was the primary scout of the Packers in the 1950s, also should go in as a contributor.

Clay Jr. has a Green Bay connection as well. I’m talking about his son Clay III, who played with the Packers for nine great seasons. Clay III is the all-time leader in sacks for the Packers with 83.5 and was also named to six Pro Bowl squads.

Clay III currently plays with the Los Angeles Rams, after leaving the Packers via free agency after the 2018 season. Matthews wanted to continue his career in Green Bay, but was never given that opportunity. He also has eight sacks so far this year for the Rams and that has happened with Matthews missing over a month of the season due to a broken jaw.

No. 52 was a big reason why the Packers won Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he helped to force a fumble by Rashard Medenhall with the Steelers driving into Green Bay territory at the start of the fourth quarter.

Pittsburgh was driving for the go-ahead score when Matthews forced that huge fumble. Eight plays later, Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown pass to Greg Jennings, as the Packers went up by 11 and never looked back.

Clay Jr and Clay III After Super Bowl XLV

The Matthews family has set a large net over the NFL over the years, starting with Clay Matthews Sr., who played with the San Francisco 49ers for four years. Clay Sr. started his career with the Niners in 1950, then served two years as a paratrooper during the Korean War for the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, and then came back and played with the 49ers from 1953 through 1955.

After that, his son’s Bruce and Clay Jr. both had terrific careers in the NFL.

Bruce was inducted into the Hall of Fame after a great career with the Houston Oilers for 14 years and then with the Tennessee Titans for five years after the team moved to Nashville.

Clay Jr. certainly deserves the same honor after 19 years with the Browns and Falcons.

Plus there are Clay Sr.’s grandsons. We talked about Clay III, who may end up in Canton himself, plus there is his brother Casey, who played with the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings. Then there are Bruce’s sons, who are Kevin, who played with the Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers and Jake, who still plays with the Atlanta Falcons.

When I was helping to promote Jerry Kramer to get his rightful place in Canton, I forged a great friendship with Jerry’s daughter Alicia, who worked very hard to get her dad the honor he richly received.

I wrote about that endeavor in the 2018 Green Bay Packers Yearbook.

In an apropos manner, I have also become friends with Jennifer Matthews, who like Alicia did, is working hard behind the scenes to help get her father the distinction he truly warrants for what he did in his NFL career.

Clay Jr. and Jennifer

Clay Jr. is also getting endorsements from players now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, just like Kramer did.

When you put up the excellent production that No. 57 put out on the field, people are bound to notice.

Especially the great players who he competed against and who eventually ended up in Canton. Take a look at two of those endorsements.

Anthony Munoz on Clay Matthews

Warren Moon on Clay Matthews

Plus there were his teammates who knew how great Clay Jr. was. The same held true for Kramer, when teammates and Hall of Famers like Paul Hornung, Willie Davis and Bart Starr heartily endorsed No. 64.

The same thing holds true with a Hall of Fame teammate of Matthews with the Browns.

Ozzie Newsome on Clay Matthews

The bottom line is that Clay Matthews Jr. deserves to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020.

In two years, Matthews will fall into the seniors category for the Hall of Fame, which has become an abyss for so many worthy players who deserve a bust in Canton.

That is why Rick Gosselin of the Seniors Committee proposed getting 10 worthy seniors in as part of the Class of 2020, which was approved by David Baker, who is the President/Executive Director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

That will definitely help, but there will still be a number of worthy seniors who will still be waiting for a place among the best players in pro football history. Players who have fallen through the cracks throughout the years and decades.

That’s why it’s important to induct a great player like Clay Matthews Jr. while he is still a modern era nominee.

That, and because of his steady and prolific play in the NFL for close to two decades, which definitely deserves a place among the best of the best in Canton.

A Scout’s Take on the Evolution of the Safety/Linebacker Hybrid in Today’s NFL

Josh Jones III

During the 2016 season, the Green Bay Packers started using safety Morgan Burnett at inside linebacker at times while the Packers were in their nickel package defensively.

Why? Because the team was looking for more speed at the position to better cover backs and tight ends in passing situations.

It’s also become a trend in the NFL as of late. Getting smaller, but faster players to play linebacker on passing downs. But those players also have to be able to play the run well too.

The Arizona Cardinals set the pace with that type of defensive alignment a couple of years ago when they started using safety Deone Bucannon at linebacker. The 6’1″, 220-pound Bucannon had the skill set to cover the backs and tight ends effectively, plus was also a good tackler in the box on running plays and could shoot the gaps to rush the quarterback as well.

In fact, in the 2015 season, Bucannon had 112 total tackles, three sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception for a touchdown.

Last season, the Atlanta Falcons drafted Deion Jones out of LSU to fill a similar role. The 6’1″, 222-pound Jones ran a 4.59 in the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine. Unlike Bucannon, Jones played linebacker in college.

In his rookie campaign in 2016, Jones put up similar numbers to what Bucannon did in 2015. Jones had 108 total tackles, one forced fumble and three picks, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

In the 2017 NFL draft, the Packers decided to draft a player who can also be used in the safety/linebacker hybrid role. That player is Josh Jones, who played his college ball at North Carolina State.

The 6’2″, 220-pound Jones ran a blistering 4.41 in the 40 at the combine. The Packers obviously liked what they saw when the 6’1″, 209-pound Burnett was used in that role last season, and now look to use Jones in that same role, as Burnett will stay at his normal safety position.

In fact, at their recent OTAs, the Packers were indeed using Jones at linebacker in the nickel.

The NFL has always been a copy cat league and the use of a safety/linebacker hybrid seems to be a growing trend.

I wanted to see if my assessment of that situation was correct, so I wanted to check with NFL scout Chris Landry to get his take on the matter.

I was able to talk with Landry earlier this week on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show.

Landry agreed that this inclination to get smaller and faster at the linebacker position seems to be on the rise.

“Yeah, as you see more spread offenses and more speed on the field, you see more speed defensively to combat that,” Landry said. “The difference is that Deion [Jones] played linebacker in college, where [Deone] Bucannon was a safety who was converted.

Deone Bucannon

Deone Bucannon

“You are going to see more of that. You are seeing it more in college. You are seeing undersized linebackers and you are seeing undersized defensive ends to get more speed on the field. You need those type of bodies. There is no question that it’s going that way, and one of the counter acts to that offensively is to run power at a smaller unit.”

Landry then talked about the metamorphosis of the safety position.

“The safety position has changed as much as any,” Landry said. “Having a guy who can defend the run, but is athletic enough to cover is what you are looking for now. It’s a tough find. You really need to have that covered, because again, people will scout you out and run the football at your small looks, but then throw against your big looks.

“So that is really a key. Getting guys who can stay on the field for three downs, particularly in college, with all the up-temp offenses, as you can’t substitute as much. It becomes more difficult to do that, when you don’t have huddles. How do you defend that? Defend both the run and the pass? That’s the dilemma. The answer is to get those type of guys, basically safety-looking bodies playing linebacker, who can do both.”

The Packers run a 3-4 defense, but are in their nickel look (five defensive backs) about 70 percent of the time. Why? Because the NFL has become a pass-happy league.

But even with five defensive backs, the linebackers also need to be able to cover, which is why you are seeing safety/linebacker hybrids playing the position. But as Landry says, the safety/linebacker hybrid also needs to be able to be effective in the box as a run defender.

Josh Jones of the Packers definitely has the tools to do the job as a safety/linebacker hybrid. Besides having great size and speed, Jones had great production at NC State. In three years with the Wolfpack, Jones had 229 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, eight interceptions, 17 passes defended, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.

In addition to that, Jones did not allow a touchdown in coverage as a senior.

Bottom line, the Packers will be very happy if Jones comes anywhere near the effectiveness and production of both Deion Jones and Deone Bucannon at the safety/linebacker hybrid position this  upcoming season.

A Scout’s Take on the Packers vs. Falcons NFC Championship Matchup

packers-vs-falcons-nfc-title-game

When the 12-6 Green Bay Packers take on the 12-5 Atlanta Falcons Sunday afternoon in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome, many are expecting a shootout type of game.

You can put NFL scout Chris Landry into that crowd. I concur with Landry and the others who see a track meet taking place in Atlanta. It might come down to who doesn’t stub their toe heading to the finish line in terms of which team will represent the NFC in Super Bowl LI in Houston on February 5.

Sportsbook.com has the over/under number in the game set at 61 currently. That is unheard of. That being said, a number of us see the over as the probable outcome of this game.

Why is that? There are a number of reasons.

First, let’s take a look at the two quarterbacks in this game.

Both Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and Matt Ryan have put together fabulous seasons in 2016.

Rodgers threw 40 touchdowns passes (led the NFL) versus just seven interceptions for 4,428 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 104.2.

Ryan threw 38 touchdown passes versus seven picks for 4,944 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 117.1.

Those are NFL MVP type of years for both quarterbacks. Earlier this week, Ryan was given that honor by the Pro Football Writers Association (PFWA). The Associated Press honor will be announced the night before Super Bowl LI.

Not only have both quarterbacks had fantastic seasons overall, but both played outstanding down the stretch as well.

It’s been well-publicized that Rodgers thought that the Packers could run the table after a 4-6 start to the season. Rodgers put his money where he mouth was in those final six games of the year.

aaron-vs-the-falcons-in-2016-ii

In those six games, Rodgers threw 15 touchdown passes without a pick for 1,667 yards. That adds up to a cumulative passer rating of 121.0.

Not only did the Packers win all six games, but they also won the NFC North title and the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs.

Ryan also played well in those final six games of the season. Ryan threw 14 touchdown passes versus two interceptions for 1,697 yards. That adds up to a cumulative passer rating of 121.5.

The Falcons were 5-1 in those six games and ended up as the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs as they finished 11-5 and were champs of the NFC South.

Both quarterbacks have stayed on a roll in the postseason as well.

In two games, Rodgers has thrown six touchdown passes versus one pick for 717 yards. That is a cumulative passer rating of 110.9.

In one game, Ryan has thrown three touchdown passes without a pick for 338 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 125.7.

In terms of Rodgers, it’s becoming difficult to come up with the proper way to describe the play of No. 12 over the past eight weeks. Superlative is just one description that comes to mind.

Rodgers creates big plays out of the pocket better than anyone in the history of the NFL. Landry had this to say about Rodgers last week on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show  before the divisional round game against the Dallas Cowboys.

“They [the Packers] have the most talented quarterback in the league. No one, I mean no one, throws the ball outside the pocket better than Aaron Rodgers, ever, in the history of the game. Better than [Fran] Tarkenton. Better than anybody.

“It’s uncanny, and we talk about getting your feet under you and squared away [as a quarterback], this guy does things with his body in unsound ways that just puts it in spots that are unbelievable. He can extend plays as well as he can with his protection.”

Again, Landry said that before the game against the Cowboys. Boy, was Landry spot on in his analysis. Just look at the play Rodgers made with just 12 seconds to go on his own 32 in a third and 20 situation and the score tied 31-31.

Rodgers rolled to his left by design, moved up a bit before he threw, spotted tight end Jared Cook running through the zone and delivered a pass across his body on a dime for 36 yards, as Cook toe-tapped the sideline before going out of bounds.

The result? A first down with three seconds to go. Kicker Mason Crosby took care of the rest with a game-winning 51-yard field goal which put the Pack into the NFC title game.

When looking at Rodgers and Ryan, we also need to look at how they performed earlier this year in Week 8, when the Packers and Falcons faced each other again at the Georgia Dome.

Rodgers threw four touchdown passes without a pick for 246 yards. His quarterback rating in the game was 125.5.  Plus, those numbers occurred without Randall Cobb, Jared Cook and Ty Montgomery in the lineup.

No. 12 also added 60 yards rushing.

Ryan meanwhile, threw three touchdown passes without an interception for 288 yards. That added up to a passer rating of 129.5. This occurred without running back Tevin Coleman in the lineup.

The Falcons won the game 33-32 in shootout fashion.

Historically, Rodgers likes playing against the Falcons and Ryan likes playing against the Packers.

In five regular season games versus Atlanta, Rodgers has thrown 13 touchdown passes versus just one pick for 1,626 yards. That adds up to a 118.0 passer rating.

matt-ryan-vs-the-packers-in-2016

In six regular season games against the Packers, Ryan has thrown 13 touchdown passes versus five interceptions for 1,427 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 99.7.

The only time Rodgers and Ryan met each other in the postseason was the in the NFC divisional round in 2010 also at the Georgia Dome.

Rodgers completed 31-of-36 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Rodgers had a whopping 136.8 passer rating in the game.

No. 12 also did not throw a pick, plus rushed for another touchdown.

Ryan did not have his best game that night in Georgia. No. 2 threw for 186 yards and a touchdown, but he also tossed two interceptions to Tramon Williams, one of which was returned for a pick-six by No. 38.

Ryan also lost a fumble in the game.

The result? A resounding 48-21 victory by the No. 6 seeded Packers over the No. 1 seeded Falcons.

So, what will happen Sunday afternoon when the Packers take on the Falcons in the NFC title game at the Georgia Dome?

Rodgers will be facing the 28th-ranked pass defense of the Falcons, while Ryan will be facing the 31st-ranked pass defense of the Packers.

Landry appeared Wednesday again on Duemig’s show on 620 WDAE and had this to say about the high over/under number.

“I think it’s inviting,” Landry said. “There is always a chance that getting a running game going against these defenses could keep the point total down a little, but I expect it to be in the high-30 to 40 point game (per team) and may have a three to six point (differential) game.”

Landry then discussed the overall matchup.

“I do think that Atlanta is more of a complete team,” Landry said. “I think their pass-rush is better. Not great, but better. It’s just whether you can you do a better job of getting Aaron Rodgers to release the ball quicker. That’s going to be the whole key.

“They (the Falcons) are at home. They have a better running game. They have backs that can run it and can work the short passing game. They have more ways to beat you, where as with Green Bay, it’s Aaron Rodgers…it’s all Aaron Rodgers. Which is pretty good thing to have by the way!

“Listen, I think it’s going to be a great game. I do think it’s going to come down to this. What defense can create a turnover or steal an extra possession for their offense? Guess what, that’s going to be golden if you can do that.

“Making a big play on special teams. Not giving up key points or getting a shorter field. All of those things are pivotal.”

On his website, Landry ventured a prediction regarding the game.

Both quarterbacks are playing as well as any passers have heading into the final couple games of a season, but Ryan has a healthier crew and home-field advantage.

OUR PICK: Falcons, 35-31.

I see a similar score, but I see the Packers being the winner and advancing to Super Bowl LI.

Why? Because I simply believe Rodgers will make more big plays than Ryan.

The History Between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons

rodgers-vs-the-falcons-in-the-2010-postseason

In my last story, I wrote about the inaugural game between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons which was played in 1966.

The Packers won that game 56-3 versus the expansion Falcons at Milwaukee County Stadium. I was among the 48,623 folks who attended the game that October 23.

All told, the Packers and Falcons have played each other 28 times in the regular season, with Green Bay holding a 15-13 edge over Atlanta.

In the postseason, the two teams have met three times, and all have occurred over the past 21 years. The Packers lead that series two games to one.

The fourth postseason game will occur this Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Dome, as the Packers and Falcons will meet in the 2016 NFC title game.

In the regular series history between the two teams, the Packers and Falcons played each other seven consecutive years to start, beginning in the expansion year of the Dirty Birds in 1966.

The Packers won the first five games of the series before Atlanta finally beat Green Bay 28-21 in 1971 at Fulton County Stadium.

The Packers and Falcons have had some very memorable games over the years and most of those have occurred in the last 20 years or so.

But in 1983, the offense of the Packers was truly outstanding. 1983 was the year when the Packers beat the defending Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins 48-47 at Lambeau Field on Monday night football.

Yes, the offense of the Packers was very potent in 1983, but so too was the very porous defense the team had then.

That led to another memorable game between the Packers and Falcons at Fulton County Stadium that year on November 27.

Quarterback Lynn Dickey threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Unfortunately, Dickey also threw three picks, the last of which was returned for a score in the 47-41 loss by the Pack in overtime.

Meanwhile, the Packers allowed a little-known quarterback by the name of Mike Moroski to throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns in the game.

The next really memorable regular season game between the Packers and Falcons occurred on December 18, 1994 at Milwaukee County Stadium.

The game was memorable for a number of reasons. For one, the game was the last Green Bay game ever played in Milwaukee, as the Packers decided to play all eight home games each season at Lambeau Field starting in 1995.

Up until then, the Packers had played five home games at Lambeau and three at County Stadium when there was a 16-game schedule.

In a 14-game schedule starting from 1961 through 1977, the Packers played four home games in Green Bay and three in Milwaukee.

The Packers first started playing games in Milwaukee starting in 1933 and that association lasted through this game versus the Falcons in 1994.

On this December day in Milwaukee, the Packers were fighting for their playoff lives. A victory would clinch the team a Wild Card spot, but it didn’t look good with just seconds remaining in the game and the Packers down 17-14.

bretts-td-vs-the-falcons-in-94

The Packers had no timeouts and were at the nine-yard line of the Falcons with a third down and two situation with 21 second left. Quarterback Brett Favre was told not to run in that situation by head coach Mike Holmgren during their final timeout, because time would run out if he was tackled in the field of play.

So, what did Favre do? He ran of course. No. 4 first went back to pass and then broke to the right and headed up field and dove into the end zone for the game-winning score as the Packers won 21-17 and clinched a playoff spot.

The Packers and Falcons played another very unforgettable game at Lambeau Field on opening day of the 2002 season. The Packers ended up winning 37-34 in overtime, as Favre threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Michael Vick of the Falcons threw for 209 yards and a score, plus rushed for 72 yards and another score.

Vick and the Falcons would get the last laugh at Lambeau later that postseason. More on that later.

Since Aaron Rodgers has become the starting quarterback of the Packers and Matt Ryan has done the same with the Falcons, the two teams have played in a number of memorable games.

In the five games that Rodgers and Ryan have faced each other in the regular season season, the Falcons have won three of those contests. But in all three wins by the Falcons during that period, the deciding margin was by three points or less each time.

Rodgers seems to love playing against Atlanta. In those five regular season games, Rodgers has thrown 13 touchdown passes versus just one pick for 1,626 yards. That adds up to a 118.0 passer rating.

Conversely, Ryan also likes to play against the Pack. In six regular season games against the Packers, Ryan has thrown 13 touchdown passes versus five interceptions for 1,427 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 99.7.

matt-flynn-vs-atlanta-in-2013

Plus, while Rodgers was out in 2013 with a broken clavicle, the Packers were led by backup quarterback Matt Flynn versus Ryan in a very memorable 22-21 win by the Packers at Lambeau Field that kept alive the NFC North title hopes for the Pack that year.

Before we talk about the postseason history of the two teams, let’s take a look at the Week 8 matchup between Rodgers and Ryan this year, when Atlanta won 33-32 at the Georgia Dome.

Both Rodgers and Ryan were simply outstanding in the game, which may be exactly what we see this Sunday in the NFC title game, also at the Georgia Dome.

Rodgers threw four touchdown passes without a pick for 246 yards. His quarterback rating in the game was 125.5.  Plus, those numbers occurred without Randall Cobb, Jared Cook and Ty Montgomery in the lineup.

No. 12 also added 60 yards rushing.

Ryan meanwhile, threw three touchdown passes without an interception for 288 yards. That added up to a passer rating of 129.5.

The very first postseason game between the Packers and Falcons occurred in the 1995 postseason at Lambeau Field on New Year’s Eve.

The Falcons started fast, as quarterback Jeff George threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Eric Metcalf. Metcalf would later have have another not so great moment in another postseason game between the two teams.

But the Packers roared back by outscoring the Falcons 28-3 through the end of the third quarter. Favre threw two touchdown passes, while rookie Antonio Freeman returned a punt 76 yards for another score during that period.

Favre threw a third touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to running back Dorsey Levens, as the Packers went on to win 37-20.

But the next time the Falcons played at Lambeau in the postseason, it wasn’t a very pleasant experience for Packer Nation.

Up until that 2002 postseason game played on January 4, 2003, the Packers had never lost a home playoff game in the state of Wisconsin, as they were a perfect 13-0.

The Packers were beat up going into the game with injuries and quickly fell behind 24-0. Special teams didn’t help as the Falcons blocked a Josh Bidwell punt for a touchdown, plus Metcalf, who by that time was a Packer, muffed an Atlanta punt which led to another touchdown.

When it was all said and done, the Packers were throttled by Vick and the Falcons 27-7 in a very ugly loss.

The next postseason game between the Packers and Falcons would pit Rodgers and Ryan against each other in a 2010 divisional playoff game at the Georgia Dome.

ryan-and-rodgers-in-2010-postseason

That very memorable game may have been the greatest game ever played by Rodgers (both in the regular season and postseason). Rodgers completed 31-of-36 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Rodgers had a whopping 136.8 passer rating in the game.

No. 12 also did not throw a pick, plus rushed for another touchdown.

Ryan did not have his best game that night in Georgia. No. 2 threw for 186 yards and a touchdown, plus tossed two interceptions to Tramon Williams, one of which was returned for a pick-six by No. 38.

Ryan also lost a fumble in the game.

The result? A resounding 48-21 victory by the No. 6 seeded Packers over the No. 1 seeded Falcons.

Time will tell what will occur this Sunday afternoon in the NFC title game, a game which will be the last game ever played in the Georgia Dome.

I will be doing a scouting report on the game later this week, but I do expect both Rodgers and Ryan to play well.

That being said, whoever plays the best in the matchup between Rodgers and Ryan will most likely be the quarterback who will lead his team to Houston for Super Bowl LI.

Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons: Their First Game in 1966

donny-anderson-vs-the-falcons

The Green Bay Packers and the Atlanta Falcons have played each other 28 times in the regular season and three times in the postseason since the two teams first met in 1966.

The Packers lead the regular season series 15-13 and also have a 2-1 edge in the postseason.

I’ll be doing a story later this week about the history between the two teams, as the Packers and Falcons will be meeting this Sunday in the NFC title game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta for the right to play in Super Bowl LI.

I’ll also be doing a scouting report piece on the big game, as well as another story comparing Aaron Rodgers versus Matt Ryan and how they have fared against each other, both in the regular season and the postseason.

But this story is about the first time the two teams met in 1966.

1966 was an expansion year in the NFL and it was the first year of existence for the Falcons.

I happened to be in attendance at Milwaukee County Stadium when the two teams first met on October 23, 1966.

The Falcons of 1966 had quite a connection to the Packers. For one thing, the head coach of the Falcons was Norb Hecker, who had been a long-time assistant under Vince Lombardi in Green Bay from 1959 through 1965.

The Falcons also had a number of former Packers on their 1966 roster, which included quarterback Dennis Claridge, running back Junior Coffey, guard Dan Grimm, wide receiver Gary Barnes and wide receiver Alex Hawkins.

All five of those players had been drafted by the Packers, but Hawkins never played a down for the Packers, while Claridge, Coffey and Barnes received very limited playing time.

Grimm started a number of games for the Packers at right guard in 1964 and 1965, while Jerry Kramer was out due to intestinal issues which needed nine medical procedures to resolve.

The Packers showed little mercy on the Falcons that sunny day in Milwaukee, as Green Bay won 56-3.

Quarterback Bart Starr only played part of the game in the blowout, but his eight completions went for 220 yards (27.5 yards per completion average), plus he also threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Carroll Dale. Starr’s passer rating for that game was a whopping 131.1.

Backup quarterback Zeke Bratkowski also threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to veteran wide receiver Max McGee.

Fullback Jim Taylor rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown in the game, but the thing I remember the most about the game was the first real appearance of the season by the two highly-paid rookie running backs of the Packers, Jim Grabowski and Donny Anderson.

Grabowski and Anderson were known as the “Gold Dust Twins” because of the rookie contracts each player signed in 1966.

Before the 1966 season, the NFL and AFL were battling each other in terms of signing college prospects, as well as attempting to sign players from other teams in each league.

That led to the merger of the two opposing leagues, as well as the creation of the Super Bowl.

But before the merger, the two leagues would bid against each other for college prospects and that led to Anderson receiving a reported $600,000 contract, while Grabowski reportedly received a $400,000 contract.

Anderson (Texas Tech) had been the No. 1 pick of the Packers in 1965 as a future pick. That aspect of the college draft was allowed in the NFL at the time, even if the prospect still had a year left in college (like Anderson did), while Grabowski (Illinois) was one of two first-round picks for the Packers in 1966, along with guard Gale Gillingham.

grabowski-and-anderson-replace-hornung-and-taylor

Those contracts led Taylor to play out his option after the 1966 season and then to sign with the expansion New Orleans Saints in 1967.

In fact, Taylor announced that intention of playing out his option to a reporter in the locker room after the game against the Falcons at County Stadium.

That did not sit well with Lombardi, as he and Taylor hardly spoke the rest of the 1966 season.

Taylor’s long-time running mate, halfback Paul Hornung, didn’t play in the game against the Falcons, as he was dealing with a pinched nerve issue in his shoulder which hampered him during the 1966 season.

The 1966 season was also the last year for Hornung in Green Bay, as he was first selected by the Saints in the expansion draft in 1967, but soon retired to his shoulder injury.

Grabowski led the team in rushing against the Falcons that October day, as he rushed for 52 yards on just seven carries. Anderson rushed for a touchdown in the game, plus returned a punt for 77 yards and another score.

I also recall how stifling the defense of the Packers was that day, as it seemed like quarterback Randy Johnson was under pass-pressure all day long. In fact, Atlanta quarterbacks were sacked eight times during the game, as Claridge also played in relief of Johnson.

The Packers picked off four passes in the game, including two interceptions which were returned for touchdowns. The first was by Herb Adderley on a 68-yard return, while the second was by Doug Hart on a 40-yard return for a score.

Ironically, Hecker was the defensive backs coach for the Packers under Lombardi in Green Bay.

The Falcons did win three games in their expansion year of 1966 and finished 3-11 under Hecker.

The Packers were a dominating 12-2 that season, as their two losses were by a combined four points. Green Bay went on to win their second straight NFL title that year, as well as winning the very first Super Bowl.

A Scout’s Take on the New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers Matchup in the NFC Playoffs

aaron-vs-the-giants

There is no doubt that the marquee game of the week in the NFL on Wild Card weekend is the one which has the 11-5 New York Giants going to Lambeau Field to face the 10-6 Green Bay Packers late on Sunday afternoon.

The G-Men and the Packers are the hottest teams in the NFC right now, as Green Bay won six games in a row to close out the regular season, while New York won nine out of their last 11 games.

The NFC North champion Packers did beat the Giants by a score of 23-16 in Week 5 of the regular season at Lambeau Field, but the G-Men went on a six-game winning streak of their own after that.

Although the Giants did not win the NFC East, they did beat the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys twice in the regular season.

When it comes to meeting in the postseason, this will be the eighth time that the Packers have played each other.

The Packers defeated the Giants in the 1939, 1944, 1961 and 1962 NFL title games, while the G-Men beat the Packers in the 1938 title game and the 2007 NFC title game.

The only time the Giants and Packers played in the postseason without a championship on the line was in the 2011 playoffs, when New York defeated Green Bay at Lambeau Field in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

In both the 2007 and 2011 postseason games, it was quarterback Eli Manning who led the Giants to victory.

Overall in his career against the Packers in the regular season, Manning is 2-4. But the game on Sunday afternoon is not in the regular season. No, that’s the postseason. That’s the time of year when Manning has shined against the Packers, as he a perfect 2-0 at Lambeau Field.

Plus, after each one of those victories over the Packers, the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl and each time it was against the New England Patriots.

Rodgers is 3-1 against the Giants in the regular season, but 0-1 in the postseason. In the 2011 playoff game which matched Manning versus Rodgers, No. 10 got the best of No. 12.

Manning threw three touchdown passes versus one interception for 330 yards. That adds up to a 114.5 passer rating.

Rodgers, who was coming of a 2011 NFL MVP season, threw two touchdown passes versus one pick for 264 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 78.5. That being said, Rodgers was victimized by a number of dropped passes that day by his receivers.

Overall in the postseason, Rodgers has done quite well overall, as he is the fifth-highest ranked quarterback in NFL history with a passer rating of 98.2. In 13 starts in his career in the postseason, Rodgers has thrown 27 touchdown passes versus eight picks for 3,454 yards.

Manning is ranked 12th in that category, as he has a career passer rating of 89.3 in the postseason. In 11 games, Manning has thrown 17 touchdown passes versus eight interceptions for 2,516 yards.

at Lambeau Field on October 9, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

It goes without question that the quarterback play will be a key factor in determining who will win on Sunday afternoon. Based on the way each of the quarterbacks have performed during the 2016 regular season, the advantage has to lie with Rodgers.

Rodgers had another NFL MVP-type season, as he threw 40 touchdown passes versus just seven picks for 4,428 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 104.2.

Manning meanwhile, threw 26 touchdown passes versus 16 interceptions for 4,027 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 86.0.

Then there is the mobility and the running skills of Rodgers compared to Manning.

Rodgers is very elusive in the pocket, while Manning is almost like a statue at times, although he can step up in the pocket and has a quick release.

That being said, Rodgers was sacked 35 times, but most of those sacks came as No. 12 held the ball too long going through his progressions. That and his receivers just not getting open at times earlier in the season. Manning, on the other hand, was sacked just 21 times, but is also prone to throwing an interception when the pass pressure is heavy.

When it comes to running with the football, there is no comparison. Rodgers ran for 369 yards in 2016 and had four touchdowns toting the rock. Manning almost never takes off and runs with ball and had -9 yards rushing this season.

Comparing the two offenses, the Packers are ranked eighth (368.8 yards per game) in the NFL in total offense, while the Giants are ranked 25th (330.7 yards per game).

Both the Packers and Giants have struggled running the football this year.

The Packers have been hit hard by injuries at the running back position with Eddie Lacy being put on injured reserve in October with ankle injury. Green Bay has tried to fill the void with Ty Montgomery (457 yards, 5.9 average and three touchdowns), as the converted wide receiver has given the running game a boost.

The Packers rank 20th in the NFL in rushing, as they average 106.3 yards per game.

The G-Men are ranked only 29th in rushing in the NFL, although the ground game has gotten a bit better recently. Still, the Giants only average 88.2 yards per game on the ground.

As of late, New York has been using both Rashad Jennings (593 yards and three touchdowns) and Paul Perkins (456 yards) at running back.

In the passing game, both teams are much better in that aspect of the offense.

The Packers are ranked seventh in the NFL in passing offense. A lot of credit for that has to go to the offensive line’s ability to protect Rodgers. In fact, Pro Football Focus named three offensive linemen on the Packers as the best pass-blockers in the NFL at their various positions.

Those players are left tackle David Bakhtiari, right guard T.J. Lang and right tackle Bryan Bulaga.

Rodgers has plenty of weapons in the passing game to use at his disposal as well.

jordy-vs-the-giants-ii

Wide receiver Jordy Nelson led the way in 2016, as No. 87 had another banner year, just a year after an ACL tear, with 97 receptions for 1,257 and 14 touchdowns.

Wide receiver Davante Adams had his best year as a pro in 2016, as he had 75 catches for 997 yards and 12 scores.

In addition to that, wide receiver Randall Cobb had 60 catches for 610 yards and four touchdowns, while Montgomery chipped in with 44 catches for 348 yards.

Both Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers each had 30 catches at the tight end position and combined for three scores.

Aaron Rodgers has gone out of his way to say that the reason for the success of the passing game for the Packers over the past seven games is the presence of Cook and his seam-stretching ability down the field.

The Giants are ranked 17th in passing offense in the NFL.

The offensive line has issues on the outside with the pass-blocking, as both left tackle Ereck Flowers and right tackle Marshall Newhouse are prone to allowing pass-pressure.

In terms of weapons for Manning in the passing game, he has one of the very best receivers in the game with Odell Beckham Jr. No. 13 had 101 receptions for 1.367 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2016.

Rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard had a nice first year in the NFL, as he had 65 catches for 683 yards and eight touchdowns.

The salsa dancer, Victor Cruz, chipped in at wide receiver with 39 catches for 586 yards and one score, while tight end Will Tye had 48 receptions for 395 yards and one touchdown.

Jennings and Perkins combined for 50 catches for 363 yards and one score.

While the Packers have the advantage over the Giants on offense, the G-men definitely have the advantage over the Pack on defense.

New York is ranked 10th in total defense in the NFL, while the Packers are ranked 22nd.

Both teams are solid against the run, as the Giants are ranked third in rushing defense, while the Packers are ranked eighth.

It’s in the passing game where both defenses can be exploited, but more so with the Packers.

Green Bay was ranked 31st in passing defense, as they allowed 32 touchdown passes and opposing quarterbacks to have a 95.9 passer rating.

New York was ranked 23rd in passing defense, as they allowed 15 touchdown passes and opposing quarterbacks a passer rating of 75.8.

Both teams had 17 interceptions in 2016.

The Packers strength in the secondary is at the safety position, led by Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (a combined 173 tackles and seven picks). Injuries have taken their toll on the Packers at the cornerback position and this is where most of the damage is being done.

morgan-burnett-vs-the-giants

Losing Sam Shields (concussion) after the first game of the season has had a devastating affect on the position. Both Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins have played  through groin injuries in 2016 and their play has suffered because of it.

Rollins doesn’t look like he’ll play versus the Giants due to a concussion he suffered against the Lions in Week 17. Randall was in and out of the game because of shoulder and knee issues, but he looks like he’ll be able to play against the Giants.

The Packers desperately need an effective pass-rush to help the secondary out. Not so much to sack Manning, but to get him off his spot and force bad throws or interceptions.

The Packers were tied for sixth in the NFL in sacks with 40. Nick Perry led the way with 11, while Julius Peppers had 7.5 and Clay Matthews had five.

The Giants started out very slow in rushing the passer in terms of sacks this season, but ended up tied for 14th in the NFL with 35.

Olivier Vernon led the way with 8.5 sacks, while Jason Pierre-Paul had seven. Pierre-Paul recently had hernia surgery and it doesn’t appear that he will play versus the Packers.

The secondary of the Giants is very strong, led by Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (nine combined interceptions) at the cornerback position.

Safety Landon Collins led the Giants with 125 tackles, plus had four sacks and five picks.

In terms of special teams, both teams have very solid placekickers. Mason Crosby continues to be one of the best in NFL, as No. 2 had 122 points and converted 26 out of 30 field goals, including six of eight from 40 yards or more out.

For the Giants, Robbie Gould took over for Josh Brown as placekicker after five games and has been perfect in field goal attempts, as he was 10 for 10 in 2016. As a team, the Giants were 21 out of 22 in field goals this past season.

The Giants have a clear advantage over the Packers in the punting game, as they were ranked third in the NFL in punting overall in 2016, while the Packers were ranked 30th.

Punter Brad Wing of the Giants has a big leg and has averaged 46.2 yards a punt, plus has a 40.9 net average. Wing also placed 30 punts inside the 20.

Meanwhile, punter Jacob Schrum of the Packers is hot and cold. Sometimes he hits some beauties and at other times, he hits some real ugly ducklings, like he did with his last punt in the Detroit game last Sunday night.

Schrum had a an average of 43.1 per punt and a net average of 39.1. Schrum also placed 19 punts inside the 20.

The good news for the Packers in the punting game is that they were ranked fourth in the NFL in covering punts over the 2016 season, while the G-Men were ranked were ranked 23rd.

In terms of covering kickoffs, the Packers were dead-last in that category in the NFL in 2016, as they gave up an average of 26.1 yards per return and allowed one score.

The Giants weren’t much better, as they were ranked 25th in that category in the regular season, as they allowed 22.8 yards per return.

The Packers have used a number of players for both the punt returns and kickoff returns this past season. As of late, the Packers have used both Christine Michael and Jeff Janis on kick returns, and Micah Hyde on punt returns.

The Packers were ranked 24th in kick returns and 20th in punt returns in 2016.

The Giants utilize Dwayne Harris for the most part in both punt and kickoff returns. The G-Men were tied for seventh in the NFL in kick returns and were 11th in punts returns this past season.

With NFL Wild Card weekend right around the corner, specifically the game between the Giants and Packers, I wanted to get some insight from one of the best in the business, NFL scout Chris Landry.

I try and talk with Landry each week on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show, but I didn’t have the opportunity earlier this week. Still, Landry and Duemig did talk about all the Wild Card games this weekend, which included the Giants-Packers matchup.

Landry also talked about how he thinks things will unfold in the NFC playoffs.

aaron-vs-the-giants-ii

“These are two teams [Giants and Packers] going in who are playing well,” Landry said. “The whole key to this game and the whole key to playing the Packers, is you have to keep Aaron Rodgers contained.

“He is the best I have ever seen outside the pocket. Better than Tarkenton. Because he throws the football so accurately. He’s throwing receivers open outside the pocket, that he paralyzes your ability if you have a good pass rush, because he can extend it and the pass rush can’t get to him and the coverage can’t hold long enough, that he just beats you with enough big plays.

“If you can do that [containing Rodgers], you have a much better chance of beating them. The Giants are confident and have done it before. Eli has done it before at Lambeau. This Giants defense is really good. It can cause problems for you and this is where the matchup is most intriguing.

“I like Green Bay. I think Green Bay and Atlanta will end up in the NFC Championship Game, more than Dallas. We’ve got time to address that because we have another week before we get there. I like Green Bay at home here, but they [NFL] certainly have these matchups lined up correctly, because I think this is the best matchup of the four. And certainly the most intriguing with two hot teams.

“I can see both of these teams causing a lot of damage and going deep into the playoffs. Outside of Pittsburgh, those are the only three teams playing this week, Pittsburgh, the Giants and the Packers, who can do some damage going further past this weekend.”

Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons: All Things Must Pass

matt-ryan-and-aaron-rodgers

One of my favorite all-time albums was recorded by George Harrison when he put out All Things Must Pass in 1970.

That album title might also describe how the Sunday afternoon game between the 4-2 Green Bay Packers and the 4-3 Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome will be played.

I know I expect to see the football in the air quite often. Las Vegas sees the same thing. Sportsbook.com has the over/under at 53, which is tops in the NFL this week. I’m definitely leaning towards the over.

There are many reasons why.

For one thing, the Falcons have the No. 1 offense in the NFL, as they have averaged just over 433 yards per game. A lot of that yardage has come through the air, as Atlanta is second in the league in passing offense, as the Dirty Birds, led by Matt Ryan, have thrown for 319 yards per game.

Ryan is having a NFL MVP season individually, as he has thrown 16 touchdown passes versus four interceptions for a NFL-leading 2,348 yards. That adds up to a 113.6 passer rating.

The biggest recipient of Ryan’s throws is wide receiver Julio Jones. No. 11 is having a monster year in 2016. Jones leads the NFL with 830 receiving yards, which averages out to a whopping 20.8 yards per reception.

Jones has 40 catches and four touchdowns, plus has five receptions of over 40 yards already this season.

This does not bode well for a Green Bay secondary which will be without their top three cornerbacks on Sunday. Somehow, defensive coordinator Dom Capers will have to figure out a way to try and keep Jones from having a big game.

That’s easier said than done. The last time the Falcons and Packers met was in 2014 at Lambeau Field, when Green Bay won 43-37. Jones had 11 receptions for 259 yards and a touchdown in that game.

I expect the Packers to double-up on Jones on just about every play. That still might not work, as that strategy is used by every defense in the NFL when they go up against the Falcons with very little success.

Also, Ryan generally plays well when he matches up against the Packers. In five regular season games when he was 2-3 versus the Pack, No. 2 has thrown 10 touchdown passes versus five picks for 1,139 yards. That adds up to a 92. 7 passer rating.

Ryan did not fare as well in a 2010 NFC Divisional Playoff game versus the Packers at the Georgia Dome, when the Packers prevailed 48-21. Matty Ice threw for only 186 yards in that game and threw one touchdown pass versus two interceptions (including a pick-six). That added up to a passer rating of 69.0.

On the other side of the ball, after struggling most of the year in the overall passing game, the aerial offense of the Packers seems to be back on track. Unlike the quick strike capability of the Falcons however, the Packers have been utilizing a dink and dunk type of passing game.

It’s almost an old school west coast offense approach in the passing game, plus the strategy eats up a lot of clock when it’s efficient.

Before the Packers played the Chicago Bears a week ago Thursday night, many skeptics were questioning the play of quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Packers.

But in that game, due to the fact that both Eddie Lacy (ankle-IR) and James Starks (knee) would not be able to play at running back, the Packers leaned heavily on their passing game.

Rodgers attempted 56 passes and completed 39 for 326 yards. No. 12 also threw three touchdown passes without throwing a pick. The passer rating for Rodgers in that game was 102.2.

For the season, Rodgers has similar statistics to Ryan, except for a big difference in yards passing. No. 12 has thrown 13 touchdown passes versus four interceptions for 1,496 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 91. 7.

Rodgers always plays well against the Falcons. In four regular season games against Atlanta, where he is 2-2, Rodgers has thrown nine touchdown passes versus only one pick for 1,380 yards. That adds up to a 116.0 passer rating.

rodgers-vs-the-falcons

Plus in that 2010 NFC Divisional Playoff game at the Georgia Dome, Rodgers had probably the best game of his career against the Falcons. Rodgers completed 31-of-36 passes for 366 yards. No. 12 threw three touchdown passes without a pick, plus scored a rushing touchdown as well.

No. 12’s passer rating in that game was a whopping 136.8.

Against da Bears, Rodgers had three receivers (Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery) catch at least 10 passes in that game. It was shocking to many that Jordy Nelson was not part of that group.

No. 87 historically plays well against Atlanta, as he has 21 receptions and three touchdowns in five regular season games. In the postseason game against the Dirty Birds, Nelson had eight catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.

In this upcoming game this Sunday afternoon, although the Packers are really banged up at the cornerback position, the team is still ranked 15th in passing defense, which isn’t bad considering Sam Shields (concussion-IR), Damarious Randall (groin) and Quinten Rollins (groin) have been absent from the field more often than not lately.

The Packers secondary has given up 10 touchdown passes, but have also picked off five passes. The opposing quarterbacks have a 91.4 passer rating against the Pack.

The Falcons are ranked 31st in passing defense, so that is where I expect Rodgers to do some damage. No. 12 really doesn’t have a choice, as Lacy won’t be available until Week 15, if at all, while Starks will be out at least another week.

That means that Montgomery will get some carries as a running back, plus Knile Davis might also get some touches this week after getting another week of practice with the Packers after coming to the team via a trade a couple weeks back.

Atlanta has given up 15 touchdown passes this season already, while also picking off six passes. The opposing quarterbacks have had a 96.9 passer rating against the Dirty Birds.

Bottom line, expect to see the ball in the air quite often on Sunday afternoon in Atlanta in what should be a very entertaining game. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan and Rodgers throw the football a combined 80 to 100 times in this contest.

Brett Favre: The Road to Canton

Brett in Super Bowl XXXI

On August 6, Brett Favre will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not too many people thought that this honor would ever be bestowed on Favre, as he started his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons in 1991 very inauspiciously.

After being drafted in the second round out of Southern Mississippi, Favre’s rookie season with the Dirty Birds was sort of a disaster.

Favre hardly ever played. Part of the reason was because Favre was a party animal who stayed out late and also occasionally dozed off in meetings. Add to that, Favre also missed the team photo after a late night out.

When he did get to play, Favre attempted only four passes, without a completion. Actually, Favre did complete two passes, but both were to the opposition.

During the 1991 NFL draft, Ron Wolf was personnel director for the New York Jets. Wolf was intrigued by the strong-armed Favre in college, as he led the Golden Eagles to 29 wins as a starter, which included two bowl victories. Southern Miss also upset staunch opponents like Florida State and Alabama with Favre under center.

While Wolf was scouting Favre, No. 4 helped himself by being the MVP of the East-West Shrine game. Wolf was set to take Favre in the 1991 draft for the Jets with the 34th selection in the second round, when the Atlanta Falcons took him instead with the 33rd pick.

But when Wolf became the general manager of the Packers late in the 1991 season, he kept his eye on Favre. Then in February of 1992, Wolf shocked a number of people in the NFL, when he traded a first-round pick to the Falcons for Favre. Before he made that trade, he asked one of the people on his scouting staff to evaluate Favre on film.

That person was Ted Thompson and the future general manager of the Packers endorsed making the trade.

Wolf had also just recently hired Mike Holmgren as head coach. Holmgren had done an exceptional job as quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, working with both Joe Montana and Steve Young. Wolf saw similar possibilities with Holmgren working with Favre.

The Packers already had a starting quarterback in Don Majkowski, who had been to the Pro Bowl just a couple years earlier.

The career of Favre with the Packers got off to an ominous start, when he came into the game in relief of Majkowski after the “Magic Man” severely sprained an ankle in the third game of the 1992 season versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

Favre was anything but impressive when he entered the game, as he tried to lead the Packers to their first win of the season after a 0-2 start. No. 4 was having all sorts of problems initially, as he fumbled four times. But as the game wore on, Favre got better.

The Packers were down 20-7 in the fourth quarter when Favre started to heat up. With 1:07 left in the game and the Packers down 23-17, Favre had to take his team 92 yards for a game-winning touchdown.

Brett vs. Bengals

Favre did that in five plays, as he hit Kitrick Taylor with a 35-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left in the game, as the Packers won 24-23. For the game, Favre threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns.

Favre started the next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers leading the Pack to another win. The Packers finished 9-7 in 1992 with Favre under center, but narrowly missed the playoffs.

The Packers finished 9-7 again in 1993, but this time the team made the postseason as a Wild Card team. The Packers shocked the Detroit Lions at the Silverdome in the last minute of the game, as Favre threw a bomb across the field to Sterling Sharpe for a 40-yard touchdown pass to win the game 28-24.

Still, Favre was too inconsistent with his play in both 1992 and 1993. In those two seasons combined, Favre threw 37 touchdown passes, but also threw 37 interceptions.

During the 1994 season, there was some talk among the offensive coaching staff of the Packers to bench Favre and to give backup Mark Brunell an opportunity as a starter.

But between the steady coaching of quarterbacks coach Steve Mariucci and also Holmgren’s belief in Favre, the light suddenly turned on for No. 4 that season. Favre ended up throwing 33 touchdown passes that year, compared to just 14 picks for 3,882 yards. The Packers also made the postseason again as a Wild Card team.

Then from 1995 through 1997, Favre won three straight NFL MVP awards. Combined over those three seasons, Favre threw 112 touchdown passes versus just 42 interceptions for 12,179 yards. The Packers won three straight NFC Central titles during that time, were in three straight NFC Championship Games (winning two of them) and two Super Bowls (winning Super Bowl XXXI).

In the postseason during those three years, Favre threw 18 touchdown passes versus six interceptions for 2,090 yards. That adds up to a 99.2 passer rating.

The biggest attribute Favre had was his durability. Favre ended up starting 253 straight regular season games and 22 more in the postseason in his career with the Packers. No. 4 also had 160 wins over 16 seasons. 96 of those wins occurred at Lambeau Field (.762 winning percentage).

Favre also threw 442 touchdown passes for 61,655 yards while he was a member of the Packers.

Before Favre became the starting quarterback for Green Bay in 1992, the team had won just one division title since 1967 and had only won a single playoff game. That all changed when Favre came to town. Brett led the Packers to seven divisional titles, 11 playoff appearances and 12 postseason wins.

When Holmgren was head coach of the Packers, Favre was 9-5 as a starter in the postseason. After Holmgren was gone however, Favre did not have the same success, as he was just 3-5.

Overall in his postseason career with the Packers, Favre threw 39 touchdown passes versus 28 picks for 5,311 yards.

Favre also didn’t have the same type of production in the regular season the rest of his Green Bay career once Holmgren exited the team to head to Seattle.

Perhaps Favre’s greatest game as a Packer came on Dec. 22, 2003. That was the day after Favre’s dad Irv passed away after suffering a heart attack. Favre still decided to play that Monday night in Oakland versus the Raiders. What Favre did that night was simply incredible and heart warming. Despite playing with a heavy heart, Favre threw for 399 yards and four touchdown passes in a 41-7 Green Bay victory.

Brett vs. Raiders

In 2005, Favre had the worst season of his career in Green Bay, as he threw 20 touchdown passes, compared to 29 interceptions.

Also in 2005, Thompson had become the general manager of the Packers and his first ever draft choice ended up being quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Add to that, Thompson fired head coach Mike Sherman, as the Packers finished 4-12 that season.

Thompson then hired Mike McCarthy as head coach and Favre had a much better season in 2006, as the team finished 8-8. In 2007, Favre had the best season since his MVP days, as he threw 28 touchdown passes versus 15 picks, as he led the Packers to a 13-3 mark and a spot in the NFC Championship Game versus the New York Giants at Lambeau Field.

Favre ended up throwing a costly interception in overtime though, as the G-Men beat the Pack 23-20.

A couple of months later Favre retired. After giving his career in the NFL a second thought later that summer, Favre wanted to return. But by then the Packers were committed to Rodgers as a starter. The team and Favre had a messy divorce, as No. 4 was traded to the New York Jets for a third-round pick.

Favre played for the Jets in 2008 and led the team to a 9-7 record, but missed the playoffs. Favre threw 22 touchdown passes, but also threw 22 picks. Favre then retired for a second time after the season.

In 2009, Favre did the unthinkable as far as Packer Nation was concerned. He joined the Minnesota Vikings. Not only did he join the Vikings, but he led the Vikings to a 12-4 record and the NFC North crown. Two of those 12 wins came against the Packers.

Favre also had the best year of his career, as he threw 33 touchdown passes versus just seven interceptions. He also had the best passer rating of his career with a 107.2 mark.

By like he did in 2007, Favre threw a costly pick in overtime, as the Vikings were defeated by the New Orleans Saints in the NFC title game.

The 2010 season was the exact opposite of the success Favre had in 2009, as he was just 5-8 as a starter and saw his consecutive starting streak end at 297 games. Favre also had the worst season of his entire NFL career, as he threw just 11 touchdown passes versus 19 picks for 2,509 yards.

Still, when one looks at the entirety of Favre’s career in the NFL, No. 4 put up some incredible numbers.

Numbers like 508 career touchdown passes versus 336 interceptions. Or 297 consecutive regular season starts. Three consecutive MVP awards as well.

Favre also had 45 game-winning drives. No. 4 was also named to 11 Pro Bowl teams and was first team All-Pro three times.

In July of 2015, Favre was even welcomed back to Green Bay for his inclusion into the Packers Hall of Fame and for having his jersey No. 4 retired, as he received several loud ovations from the crowd of over 67,000 strong at Lambeau Field.

“It was like I never left,” Favre said. “It was a great feeling.”

Brett and Bart

Favre became just the sixth Packer to have his jersey number retired, joining Don Hutson (No. 14), Tony Canadeo (No. 3), Bart Starr (No. 15), Ray Nitschke (No.66) and Reggie White (No. 92).

Favre officially had his No. 4 unveiled on the facade of Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night, with Starr on hand in a very emotional setting.

In less than a month, Favre will get the ultimate honor in the NFL when he is officially enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, becoming the 24th individual of the Packers to receive that honor.