- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2002

A football rests on Washington Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot's shelf, a reminder of picking off fellow Mississippian Brett Favre last year.

"It needs a twin," Smoot said. "I'm trying to get it a twin this weekend."

Although Green Bay running back Ahman Green is the NFC's second leading rusher and receivers Donald Driver and Terry Glenn the conference's No.2 tandem, Washington's defense is clearly focusing on Favre for Sunday's meeting at Lambeau Field.

Favre seems the front-runner for a record fourth NFL Most Valuable Player Award. With an NFL-leading 102.5 pass rating, the quarterback is still capable of beating teams by using his mobility and arm. Favre threw for only 147 yards in Sunday's 28-10 victory over New England after passing for more than 270 in four others but had three touchdowns nonetheless.

Never mind the down or distance, Favre is back to his form of 1996, when he won Super Bowl XXXI as its Most Valuable Player. He has 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions this season and has elevated an offense whose primary receivers were a third-stringer and a holdout last season.

"I'm not afraid to make any throw or make any decision because I feel like I'm able to do it," Favre said. "It gets me in trouble time to time, but not only am I able to live with it, everyone else is too."

His seeming recklessness is seldom self-defeating, and the Redskins will try to compensate for the Packers' deep routes. Washington will start struggling safeties Sam Shade and David Terrell, and safety Ifeanyi Ohalete will play more after scoring on an 87-yard interception in the 43-27 loss to New Orleans.

"Favre's got that mentality that he can get the ball there," Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said. "He's able to go through his progressions. If the first guy is covered and the second guy is covered, he throws to the third guy for a touchdown."

Said Redskins coach Steve Spurrier: "Brett gives them hope every time they play, because they believe in him."

The Redskins certainly remember Favre's capabilities from a 37-0 drubbing last season. Emotions were high as the first Monday night game after September 11 had the Green Bay crowd chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A." Favre completed 20 of 36 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns in his first game against Washington since throwing five incompletions for Atlanta in 1991.

Smoot remembered intercepting an end zone pass for Antonio Freeman shortly before halftime that kept the Redskins within 10-0. Smoot broke off from his receiver when he saw the ball go inside toward Darrell Green and made a far-reaching grab. Smoot believes he is better prepared for the second meeting, but he knows Favre must be feared.

"Brett's going to throw perfect passes, so I have to be in the perfect spot," Smoot said.

Cornerback Champ Bailey hopes Favre isn't perfect. The Redskins' 10th-rated pass defense will be trying to recover from a three-touchdown effort by New Orleans quarterback Aaron Brooks, and Bailey knows Favre will challenge him.

"I hope he throws a lot of risky passes my way I'll try to get some of them," Bailey said. "I never alter my game for whoever we play, but I'm aware of what he's capable of."

While focusing on Favre, the Redskins haven't overlooked Green. Washington has been troubled by balanced schemes and Green Bay's fifth-ranked offense is fourth in passing and ninth in rushing. Green's 552 yards rushing is the NFL's fifth best total. For defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson, Green may be more troublesome than Favre.

"We have to stop the run first. We can't let any team be two-dimensional," Wilkinson said. "We have to stop the run and then go after Favre."

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