Reggie White made back-to-back sacks of John Elway late in the fourth quarter to clinch the Green Bay Packers 30-27 win over the Denver Broncos at Lambeau Field. It was White’s first big game since signing with the Pack as a free agent. His recorded three sacks in this game which was double his total from the first four games of the season. It helped overcome a three-interception game by Brett Favre. The win improved the Packers record to 2-3 while the Broncos dropped to 3-2.
The Packers Got Off a Very Fast Start
The Packers made big plays in the first half to take a commanding lead. After a Chris Jacke field goal gave them an early 3-0 lead, the Packers got one-yard touchdown runs by John Stephens and Edgar Bennett. That put the Pack up 17-0 after the first quarter.
After Elway threw a touchdown pass to Vance Johnson to get Denver on the board, Favre extended the Packers lead with a 66-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jackie Harris. Two more Jacke field goals made it 30-7 Green Bay at the half.
The Packers scores were set up by some big plays on defense and special teams. Robert Brooks had a 68-yard kick return to set up one score. Safety George Teague forced a key fumble and linebacker Wayne Simmons intercepted Elway to set up another score.
Favre had a strong first half, completing 13-of-20 passes for 182 yards and a score. He also scrambled for 17 yards to set up another touchdown. Harris had five catches for 128 yards and one touchdown catch in the game.
Sterling Sharpe had six catches in the first half and finished the game with 10 grabs for 70 yards. This was the first NFL game where Sterling and his brother Shannon opposed each other. Shannon caught seven passes for 55 yards. Their mother, Mary Sharpe-Dixon came to the game dressed in a coat that was half Packers colors and half Broncos colors.
The Broncos Rally in the Second Half to Try to Catch the Packers
The Packers dominated the first half, but the second half was a completely different story. Elway threw the ball early and often and started to get his team back in the game. He threw 59 times, completing 33 of them for 367 yards and one touchdown. Both the attempts and completions were new career highs for the future Hall of Famer.
In the third quarter, Favre threw an interception that was returned 22 yards for a touchdown by Mike Croel. Then, Rod Bernstine scored on a two-yard run and the Green Bay lead was cut to 30-21.
In the fourth quarter, the Broncos added two field goals to pull to within three points at 30-27.
Reggie White Preserves the Packers Win
The Broncos had one last chance to tie or win the game in the closing minutes. Elway got them to the Green Bay 43 and faced a third down.
But White came up big. He beat Broncos offensive tackle Russ Freeman on consecutive plays to sack Elway and get the Packers the ball back. They ran out the clock and held on for the 30-27 win.
Packers and Broncos Players Praise Reggie White
“Russell [Freeman] had been doing a great job the whole game,” Elway told reporters after the game. “Reggie just made some great plays there at the end.”
“He was just a better man than me at that point,” Freeman added. “He got to John because I couldn’t keep him off. Up until then, I thought I did a pretty good job.”
“Elway’s the best I’ve ever seen in the two-minute drill,” White said. “I knew I would have one-on-one blocking at the end. We weren’t nervous in the huddle. The guys said they were going to make the plays. Now the fans can sleep for the first time in three weeks. We just did a good job on those last two plays. That would have been a devastating loss for us.”
“When it really mattered the most for us, Reggie White stepped up to the plate,” Packers cornerback Terrell Buckley said.
“Reggie made the plays that beat us,” Broncos head coach Wade Phillips said. “He’s just a great player. But, hey, I already knew that. I talked to him after the game, and he was absolutely worn out. I told Reggie, ‘I wish you’d been a little more tired there at the end.’”
“The first half was ours, the second half theirs,” said Packers head coach Mike Holmgren. “We were kind of on our heels the second half. But we did hang in there. Anytime you beat a good team like Denver, you have to feel very good.”
The Packers finished the season 9-7 and made the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. White made a big impact on the Green Bay defense which helped them qualify for the postseason and win their first playoff game since 1982.
“I was very, very excited,” Favre said. “If you ever questioned Reggie White before tonight, I don’t think you’ll ever question him again.”
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