As Darren Sharper's interception sealed Green Bay's 26-22 comeback victory over the Vikings on Sunday night, both teams scuffled on the field and Chris Hovan and Brett Favre got into another shouting match.
|Brett Favre improves to 34-0 when the temperature is below 34 degrees.(AP)|
"This thing just got bigger," Hovan fumed of his budding feud with the three-time MVP.
Favre shrugged it off.
"I think he wanted to see our locker room," Favre said. "He may have wanted a piece of me. But he's too big for me."
Favre said he didn't say anything disparaging to Hovan, with whom he jawed three weeks ago in Minneapolis. Hovan disagreed.
"Yes, he did disrespect me," Hovan said. "I can't wait for next year. I walk off the field, the guy gets in my face. The coaches are all around him. Real tough guy with four guys all around him. ... You're a real big man when you run away."
The Packers looked ripe for the upset until rookie Tony Fisher, making his first career start in place of injured Ahman Green (knee), scored on a 14-yard run with 1:06 left to erase a 22-20 deficit.
The victory enabled the Packers (10-3) to keep pace with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. For the second straight season, the Vikings (3-10) have double-digit losses.
By 30 days, this was the latest in the year that the league had ever scheduled a night game in Green Bay. The temperature at kickoff was 11 degrees and dipped into the single digits shortly thereafter.
As Favre and Hovan exchanged words, their teammates fought in front in front of the Vikings' bench.
Sharper picked off Daunte Culpepper's desperation pass on the Green Bay 18 as time expired but instead of going down, he zigzagged across the field and finally went down on the Vikings' 16.
The Vikings, who lost their 17th straight road game despite leading for all but the final 1:06, didn't appreciate it.
Minnesota tight end Jim Kleinsasser shoved Packers safety Marques Anderson, igniting the fracas. Packers receiver Javon Walker, who was deep on defense on the final play, was clipped from behind and then stomped on.
"Darren Sharper, as always, is jazzing up the end of the game," Packers defensive end Vonnie Holliday said. "And a couple guys threw some key blocks. Marques Anderson threw a block and I guess they didn't like it."
Then, both benches joined in.
"When you get that many guys with that type of adrenaline and intensity and testosterone running around out there, it's going to get out of hand," Holliday said.
Culpepper said he couldn't blame Sharper for trying to score, but that there's some inherent risk in rubbing it in.
"He was just trying to score, and that's OK. But if I would have gotten close to him, I would have hit him hard," Culpepper said.
Sharper made no apologies.
"I think they have a lack of class to do something like that. The game was still going on," Sharper said. "When I got up off the ground, I saw the whole pack of people over there. I said, 'That doesn't look like guys shaking hands.'
"Then, I saw Chris Hovan thinking he was somebody from the (WWE) throwing the bird to our fans."
Walker said he was clipped and then felt several cleats stomping into his legs and back while he was face-down on the bottom of the pile.
"Everybody was stepping on me," he said. "But I'm fine."
Kleinsasser demurred when asked why he shoved Anderson in the chest: "There's nothing really good I can say."
Maybe the Vikings were just flustered.
"We thought we had the game won and it was a helpless feeling at the end," Michael Bennett said.
Trailing 22-20, Green Bay got the ball at its 15 with 4:32 left. An interception by Jack Brewer with 2:12 left was negated by Corey Chavous' pass interference on Donald Driver, giving Green Bay the ball at the Minnesota 25.
After Favre picked up a first down with an 8-yard scramble on third-and-7, Fisher scored on the next play. He finished with a career-high 96 yards on 25 carries.
Robert Ferguson also set career highs with six receptions for 105 yards and the first two-touchdown game of his career.
His 40-yard score pulled Green Bay to 22-20 with 10:48 left.
Bennett ran 19 times for 120 yards for the Vikings, who jumped out to a 13-0 lead and later had leads of 19-6 and 22-13.
- Green Bay remained the league's only unbeaten team at home (7-0), and Favre improved to 34-0 in home games when the temperature at kickoff was 34 or lower.
- Favre has 26 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career.
- Favre surpassed 3,000 yards passing for the 11th straight year, extending his NFL record.
- Randy Moss, who caught a 3-yard TD pass in the first half, is the only receiver in league history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first five seasons.
The Associated Press News Service
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