Brett Favre threw four touchdown passes including the game winner to tight end Jeff Thomason with just 11 seconds left in regulation to lead the Green Bay Packers to a 28-24 win over the Oakland Raiders. This was a stereotypical Favre performance. He threw for more than 300 yards, threw four touchdowns, three interceptions and overcame a mid-game injury to lead the Pack to victory.
An Exciting Packers Debut for Ray Rhodes
This was the 1999 season opener and the first game for new Packers head coach Ray Rhodes who took over for Mike Holmgren during the offseason. Rhodes would last just one season as Packers head coach, but he got his stint off to a successful and dramatic start.
“The game came down to number four, two minutes and making plays,” Rhodes said after the game. “He’s what I would say is an ultimate warrior.”
The Packers Take the Early Lead on the Raiders
The Packers opened the scoring on their second drive of the game. Favre completed all five passes he attempted on this drive and ran twice for 13 yards. He found tight end Mark Chmura on two consecutive passes for 16 and 12 yards and then finished the drive with a four-yard touchdown toss to Bill Schroeder.
The Raiders took a 10-7 lead in the second quarter which was the score at halftime. Their only first half touchdown was set up by an interception by Darrien Gordon who picked off Favre which set up a short drive.
Favre Gets Hurt but Keeps Playing
In the third quarter, Favre hurt his thumb when it hit the helmet of Raiders defensive linemen Russell Maryland and Lance Johnstone on consecutive hits. Packers safety LeRoy Butler was surprised Favre was able to stay in the game and said his thumb “looked like somebody ran it over with a car.”
Favre stayed in the game and finished the drive with a 12-yard touchdown toss to Antonio Freeman and the Packers led 14-10.
The Raiders intercepted Favre for the third time in the third quarter which gave them the ball at the Green Bay 5. On the next play, Tyrone Wheatley ran the ball into the end zone and the Raiders led 17-14.
A one-yard run by Randy Jordan early in the fourth quarter gave the Raiders a 10-point lead and made things look bleak for the Pack.
Brett Favre Leads the Packers Fourth Quarter Comeback
But Favre wasn’t done. He immediately responded and led the Packers on a nine-play, 70-yard drive to make it a one score game at 24-21. The key play was a 33-yard pass to tight end Tyrone Davis. Corey Bradford caught the touchdown pass from eight yards out.
The Raiders lead held until late in the game. The Packers took over at their own 18 with just 1:51 left on the clock and no timeouts remaining. In three plays, the Packers were in Raiders territory. First Favre found running back Dorsey Levens on a 22-yard pass play, followed by a six-yard toss to Freeman. Then Levens ran for 12 yards to the Oakland 42. Favre spiked the ball to stop the clock with 55 seconds remaining.
Favre then found Schroeder for 11 yards and then two plays later, found him again for another 11. Then after another spike, it was Bradford for 19 yards down to the Raiders one-yard line.
With 15 seconds left in the game, Favre went on a partial rollout to his right and found Thomason in the end zone for the winning score. The Packers won 28-24, beating former Packers assistant coach Jon Gruden’s team to start the new season off in dramatic fashion.
An Exhausting Win for Brett Favre and the Packers
Favre was emotionally and physically exhausted after the game. The usually talkative quarterback went to the podium to answer questions from reporters but simply whispered “Sorry, fellas,” and walked away.
Despite losing to the Packers, Raiders defensive tackle Darrell Russell wasn’t impressed with the Pack. “Green Bay as a team is not that good,” Russell said. “But that quarterback is worth every penny they gave him.”
Rhodes realized how special his quarterback was. “Those are storybook drives, the drives that the Favres, the Montanas, the Elways make,” Rhodes said. “You see yourself down and fighting for your life. This was so important for our football team.”
Favre led the Packers to two more late wins in the team’s next three games to get them off to a 3-1 start, but the team couldn’t sustain the momentum and finished the season 8-8. Rhodes was let go after just one year as coach and was replaced by Mike Sherman.
But the Packers certainly gave their fans a thrill in the season opener in 1999, mostly because Favre was being Favre.
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