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Favre Injury Sapps Packers' Strength

November 13, 2000|From Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — Martin Gramatica and Warren Sapp ensured there would be no fourth-quarter magic for Green Bay.

Sapp knocked Brett Favre out of the game and Gramatica, nicknamed "Automatica" in college, extended his streak of consecutive field goals to 12 with fourth-quarter kicks of 54 and 51 yards as Tampa Bay beat the Packers, 20-15, Sunday.

"We made it tough on ourselves in the third quarter when we disappeared a little bit on offense and did some crazy things on defense," Sapp said. "But we knew we had the resolve and the know-how, and we've got one hell of a kicker."

The victory was the third in a row for Tampa Bay (6-4), which has sandwiched a pair of three-game winning streaks around a four-game skid that left the team with an uphill battle to successfully defend its NFC Central title.

Favre sprained his left foot when he was sacked by Sapp midway through the third quarter and did not return. Ryan Longwell kicked field goals of 52, 42 and 45 yards for the Packers (4-6), who took a 15-14 lead when Favre's backup, Matt Hasselbeck, connected with Bubba Franks for a 27-yard touchdown on a fake field-goal play.

"That was odd, real odd," Sapp said of the injury to Favre, whose streak of 135 consecutive starts--a NFL record for quarterbacks--may be in jeopardy.

"I've always said he's a warrior. But tonight we got him out of the ballgame. It bettered our chances of winning this game, no doubt about that. I would've hated to see him in there with that ball, and that kind of field position, doing the things he can do."

Without Favre, the Packers made only two first downs after Tampa Bay took the lead for good with 10:20 to play.

Shaun King threw touchdown passes of five yards to Keyshawn Johnson and 19 yards to Reidel Anthony. Tampa Bay struggled to move the ball in the second half, but King marched the team into position to regain the lead, 17-15, on Gramatica's 54-yard kick.

The Buccaneers forced Ahman Green to fumble to set up the 51-yarder that gave the team breathing room with 6:50 left.

Favre limped off the field, carrying his left shoe, and was later taken to the locker room on a cart with his foot wrapped in ice. He completed 14 of 25 passes for 117 yards and no interceptions.

"I anticipate him to be out for at least next week and maybe longer," Packers coach Mike Sherman said. "It's too early to tell."

Tampa Bay had played so well on special teams in previous games that instead of introducing the offense or defense before the game, Coach Tony Dungy let the specialties unit run onto the field to the roar of the crowd of 65,621.

In the first half, the Buccaneers had an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown nullified by offsetting penalties.

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