Things were not looking too good for the Green Bay Packers at halftime of their Week 6 game against the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field in 1994. Mike Holmgren’s team entered the game at 2-3 and needed a win to get back to .500 but the team looked flat in the first half.
Rams quarterback Chris Miller threw two first half touchdown passes to tight end Troy Drayton. The first was set up by a Brett Favre first quarter interception and the second by a 24-yard pass to Flipper Anderson.
All the Packers could muster in the first 30 minutes of the game was a 25-yard first quarter field goal by Chris Jacke. They trailed 17-3 and it looked like the game was all but over.
The fans vented their frustrations at the home team. The boos got so bad late in the second quarter that Holmgren’s wife and daughter left their seats before the half ended. So did Irv Favre, Brett’s dad who went to the concourse and watched the second half on television.
After the game, Holmgren said he understood the loud boos that echoed through the stadium as the team headed to the locker room at halftime.
“I think it was a carry-over, and to come out and play as poorly as we did, I understand that. I really do,” Holmgren said. “I don’t like it. No one likes to hear it, but I understand that. In all sports, fans voice their displeasure.”
The players were more divided. “I’d like to send a message to the fans to give us a chance and not boo us. The young guys can’t take that,” defensive end Reggie White said.
Fellow defensive lineman Sean Jones took a different approach. “I like when fans boo,” Jones said slyly. “When you pay that kind of money to come in and watch a game, boo as much as you want to, especially when your team is not performing. I just worry about the twisted ankles jumping on and off the bandwagon, that’s all.”
In the second half, the Packers responded to some very clear messages from Holmgren and played more inspired football. After forcing a three-and-out by the Rams, Favre led the Packers on a 10-play, 62-yard drive that culminated with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe. On the drive, Favre hit wide receiver Robert Brooks for 13 yards and running back Reggie Cobb for 25. The Packers were back in the game but still trailed 17-10.
The Packers defense forced another three-and-out and then Brooks returned Sean Landeta’s punt 85 yards for the tying touchdown. The game was all even at 17-17.
Late in the third quarter, Landeta shanked a punt that traveled only 13 yards and gave the Pack the ball at the LA 40. Favre took advantage of it and started a six-play drive that included a 26-yard pass to veteran tight end Ed West. Edgar Bennett scored from one yard out and the Packers took the lead for good at 24-17.
The Green Bay defense played extremely well in the second half and kept the Rams scoreless. They held Los Angeles to zero first downs on their first five possessions after halftime and just four first downs in the entire second half.
The Rams only sustained drive of the second half ended at the Packers 17 when Lenny McGill intercepted Miller’s pass that was intended for Anderson with a little more than six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Los Angeles had one final try in the closing minutes but White sacked Miller and forced him to cough up the ball and Jones fell on it to end the threat. The Packers completed their comeback and evened their record at 3-3.
Throughout the game, White had a titanic battle with 19-year veteran offensive tackle Jackie Slater of the Rams. The two future Hall of Famers went toe-to-toe for four quarters and had a competitive game within a game going.
“He’s a physical player,” White said when asked about Slater. “They [the officials] called him for holding one time and it wasn’t a hold-he about ripped my facemask off. But Jackie has always been a great competitor. He’s trying to break Jim Marshall’s record [for most seasons with one team]. If I’m playing when I’m 36 or 38, please shoot me.” For the record, White played until he was 39.
The defense held future Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis, who entered the game as the league’s second leading rusher and had gone over 100 yards rushing in four straight games to just 65 yards on 22 carries.
“If you can hold Jerome Bettis to 65 yards rushing, that’s a great day,” Jones said. “There’s not too many days in this league where you can pat yourself on the back.”
“I always call Jerome ‘Tyson’ because he looks a little like Mike Tyson and he’s built like him,” White added. “He’s a great back. But we were determined not to let him run on us.”
“They won the battle in the trenches and that was the game,” Bettis admitted. “We thought that we could go outside, but we just couldn’t get it done.”
On offense, Favre finished 25-of-41 for 222 yards and the one touchdown. Sharpe led all receivers with seven catches for 62 yards and a score.
White finished the game with two sacks while Jones had one and the big fumble recovery.
Holmgren was impressed with his team’s comeback. “That might be as special as I’ve ever been,” he said. “Obviously, we didn’t play a good first half. We’re a better team than that, and I just touched on some of those things.”
The Packers finished with a 9-7 and made the playoffs for the second straight season. That was the first time the Pack had consecutive playoff appearances since 1966 and 1967.
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