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THE NFL / 1996

Packers Are Home for Holidays, Playoffs

NFC: Green Bay defeats Minnesota, 38-10, securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Vikings play at Dallas on Saturday.

December 23, 1996|From Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. — If it's cold, Brett Favre wins. And as Green Bay rolls into the playoffs, the Packers have the chance to use their frigid home field to propel themselves into the Super Bowl.

Favre's three touchdown passes broke his NFC record and sparked the Packers to a 38-10 rout of the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

While NFC Central champion Green Bay has a first-round bye, the wild-card Vikings (9-7) open the playoffs Saturday at Dallas.

The Packers (13-3), who have watched their season end at Dallas three consecutive years, will get all their playoff games at Lambeau, where they've won 26 of 27 games.

"It's great. We earned it," Favre said. "We know how tough it is to go on the road. We know as well as anyone, going to San Francisco and Dallas. We'll probably end up playing both of them here, if my guesses are correct.

"And I like those chances better than I like going out there to play them."

But Coach Mike Holmgren was sounding the alarms after the Packers finished 8-0 at home for the first time since 1931.

"The only thing home field guarantees is that you have your people yelling for you," Holmgren said.

In Green Bay another given is the cold, and that's when Favre is at his best.

The game-time temperature Sunday was 30 degrees, but the wind chill was in the single digits and snow swirled around the stadium in the second half when the Packers got hot.

Improving to 17-0 in cold-weather games, Favre gave Green Bay its 16th consecutive victory at Lambeau Field, where the Packers have never lost a playoff game.

Favre's three scoring passes gave him 39, one more than he threw last year when he won the MVP award. He broke a 10-10 halftime tie with a 13-yard screen pass to Dorsey Levens, then added a 22-yard scoring pass to Andre Rison and a 23-yard pass to Keith Jackson.

In winning its fifth consecutive game, Green Bay set several team and league standards. The Packers tied the 1962 club for most victories in a regular season and became the first team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to lead the NFL in total points (456) and fewest points given up (210).

The Packers also surrendered only 19 touchdowns in 1996. No team had ever given up fewer than 20 since the 16-game schedule was instituted in 1978.

Cris Carter caught Brad Johnson's pass for a 43-yard touchdown in the first quarter for Minnesota's only touchdown.

Favre said the best thing about earning the home field was getting three days off this week.

"We're going home for Christmas and that's a great feeling," he said. "I don't care who we play."

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