- The Washington Times - Monday, October 15, 2001

GREEN BAY, Wis. Brett Favre doesn't feel he has anything left to prove to anybody, and that's why he relished showing Ray Lewis he's still the best quarterback in the NFL.
Favre tore apart the Baltimore Ravens' vaunted defense for 337 yards and three touchdowns on 27of 34 passing as the Green Bay Packers beat the defending Super Bowl champs 31-23 yesterday.
During the week, Ravens coach Brian Billick challenged his defense to prove it was the best ever by shutting down the three-time MVP. But Lewis responded that Baltimore was the barometer for Favre to prove his worth.
Challenge accepted.
Favre said he was getting his ankles taped before the game when assistant trainer Kurt Fielding pointed out Lewis' quote.
"I'm trying to relax and not think about how great their defense is," Favre recounted. "And he said, 'Can you believe they said that?' I said, 'Yeah.' They won the Super Bowl last year. They have the best defense. Ray Lewis, he's one of the best I've seen. What's to keep him from saying something like that?"
But Favre wasn't about to back down.
"In the back of my mind, I'm thinking, 'I'm pretty good, too,'" Favre said. "I don't feel like I have to say that. I've played a long time in this league. I've earned a right to be respected to a certain degree.
"I didn't know how this game was going to unfold, but I gave them all the respect that they deserve and I still do. They've got a great football team," Favre said. "But today was our day."
Spreading out the defense with multiple receiver sets and empty backfields, Favre connected with nine receivers, including Antonio Freeman nine times for 138 yards and a touchdown.
"Every dog has his day," Lewis said. "We truly come out and try to have excellence every day. They made plays. We didn't. It's simple."
Especially Freeman, who complained last week about being the forgotten man in Favre's arsenal. His nine receptions matched the number he had in the first month of the season.
"Every time I turned around, it seemed like the ball was there," Freeman said.
The Packers (4-1) forced four turnovers and scored more points against the Ravens (3-2) than any team since Jacksonville in a 39-36 loss to Baltimore on Sept. 10, 2000.
Baltimore, which hadn't allowed a touchdown drive longer than 33 yards this season, surrendered TD drives of 59, 74, 80 and 82 yards to the Packers, who legitimized their status as a serious contender.
"They're very good. They're very good," Billick said. "They're going to be knee-deep in the NFC playoffs and they're going to be a team to be reckoned with."
Ahman Green, the league's leading rusher, was limited to 54 yards on 20 carries, but his 1-yard TD run made it 24-10 late in the third quarter. And Bubba Franks' second 2-yard TD catch made it 31-10 with seven minutes remaining.
"Earlier in the week, I said they had a weakness and Chicago proved that by going five [wide receivers] and spreading the field on them," Franks said. "And our plan was to spread the field and just keep going at them and going at them and it worked."
But Baltimore wasn't done.
Elvis Grbac sustained a mild concussion in the first half but didn't leave until 6:51 remained, when Randall Cunningham replaced him and led Baltimore on a 71-yard TD drive capped by Jason Brookins' 1-yard run.
The Ravens recovered the onside kick and Cunningham drove the Ravens 60 yards, and scored on an 11-yard scramble with 38 seconds left. But Billick chose to go for two and Tyrone Williams tipped away the pass to Qadry Ismail, and Freeman recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Favre was 18 of 23 in the first half for 198 yards and two touchdowns as the Packers took a 17-7 halftime lead. Freeman had six catches for 66 yards by halftime after dropping his first pass and getting booed.
Favre's top target, Bill Schroeder, sprained his right ankle eight seconds before the break when he was sandwiched by Ray Lewis and Corey Harris in the end zone and didn't return.
Packers safety Darren Sharper got the best of his older brother, Jamie, Baltimore's right outside linebacker, for the second time in their NFL careers.
"It is great to have bragging rights," Darren Shaper said. "He beat me twice in college but now I've got him twice in the NFL. He is always showing off his [Super Bowl] ring and bragging.
"Now I can tell him I have the upper hand up until the Super Bowl, when I think we may face these guys again."


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