The Green Bay Packers had been playing some home games in Milwaukee since the 1930s but the team announced that that would come to a close after the 1994 season and they would play all of their home games at Lambeau Field for financial reasons. The final home game in Milwaukee ended in dramatic fashion as Brett Favre led the Packers to a last-minute 21-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
The win improved the Packers record to 8-7 and kept their hopes alive to make the playoffs for the second straight season something they hadn’t accomplished since Vince Lombardi was their head coach in 1966 and 1967.
The winning touchdown came with just 14 seconds left in the game and the Packers trailing 17-14. Favre ran the ball into the end zone, beating Falcons defensive end Chuck Smith and diving across the goal line for the winning score.
Favre said the end zone looked “further and further away” the closer he got to it. “I knew it was either get in or we may lose it,” he said. If Favre didn’t make it to the end zone, the Packers may not have had time to line up for a tying field goal as they had no timeouts left.
“It’s vintage Brett Favre,” Packers kicker Chris Jacke said after the game. “Dumb and brilliant at the same time. If he doesn’t make the first down or get out of bounds, we’d have been in trouble.”
Favre finished the game by completing 29 of 44 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns in addition to the running for the game winning score. Edgar Bennett ran for just 46 yards on 13 carries but also caught eight passes for 101 yards including a 40-yard gain. Robert Brooks also caught eight passes for 74 yards.
The Packers took the lead on a pair of first quarter touchdown passes by Favre, the first to Sterling Sharpe from eight yards out and then the second a 15-yard toss to Anthony Morgan. The Falcons scored on a 20-yard field goal by Norm Johnson and a two-yard run by Craig “Ironhead” Heyward. The Falcons missed the two point conversion and the Packers led 14-9 at the half.
Sharpe was forced to leave the game in the second quarter with a spinal injury that prefaced his eventual retirement after just one more game.
The Packers offense struggled in the second half with Jacke missing two field goals and Favre throwing an interception in the end zone after being pressured by defensive tackle Jumpy Geathers.
“I was surprised our offense didn’t do more today,” Packers tackle Ken Ruettgers said. “Hopefully, it’s just a fluke.”
The Falcons took the lead for the first time midway through the fourth quarter. Bobby Hebert capped an 11-play, 76-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Terance Mathis with a little less than six minutes left in the game. The Falcons converted the two-point conversion when Hebert hit Andre Rison in the end zone to give Atlanta a 17-14 advantage.
The Packers went three-and-out on the ensuing drive but got the ball back at their own 33 with 1:58 left on the clock and one timeout left. Favre found tight end Mark Chmura for 25 yards to get the Pack into Falcons territory. Two passes to Brooks got the Pack another first down at the Atlanta 29. The second one gained 10 yards and was a bullet from the gunslinger.
“I threw it as hard as I’ve thrown one all day and Robert made a great catch and stepped out [of bounds],” Favre said.
Completions to Morgan, Brooks and Chmura got the Packers to the Atlanta nine when Favre called his final timeout.
Favre was pressured right off the snap and rolled to his right to avoid the pressure. He got to the edge and then lunged for the end zone, barely beating a defender across the goal line for the winning score. Jacke booted the extra point and the Packers won 21-17.
“I yelled to Brett to get out of bounds,” Jacke said. “But I guess you just have to live and die with the kid.”
On this day, the team lived with him and kept their playoff hopes alive.
“I’ll never forget this,” head coach Mike Holmgren said. “It was a very special moment. Just a wonderful game.”
For the fans in Milwaukee, it was a great win but a bittersweet end of an era. “We wanted to come out for the game and give the fans of Milwaukee a little present,” Chmura said. “I’m just glad we were able to do it.”
Holmgren added that the win was “very special to me. To go over and look up in the stands and see the loyalty in those faces was very emotional to me.”
The season ticket holders in Milwaukee still have a ticket package to some home games each year, but now they’re in Lambeau Field where the Packers play all their home contests. But Favre and the Packers certainly gave the fans in Milwaukee a great going away present.
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