As Hall of Fame awaits, Brett Favre's biggest games vs. Bucs
Former Packers quarterback Brett Favre will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend, and it's a chance to revisit the prolific career of a passer who was a division rival to the Bucs for 10 years from 1992-2001.
Including one playoff game, Favre faced the Bucs 24 times in his NFL career -- all with the Packers -- and went 16-8 in those games with 37 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions and a career passer rating of 84.3. It's not a great rating -- for comparison's sake, Jameis Winston's QB rating as a rookie last season was 84.2 -- and it's worth noting that of the seven NFL teams Favre faced 10 times or more, the Bucs held him to his second-lowest career QB rating against them, with only the Eagles lower.
To chart Favre's career against the Bucs is to recognize that Favre's dropoff from a dominant young quarterback coincided with the Bucs' emergence as a dominating defense on the way to their Super Bowl win in the 2002 season.
Early on, Favre owned the Bucs -- in his first 12 starts, he went 11-1 against Tampa Bay, and in his first 14 starts, he had 30 touchdown passes with only five interceptions against the Bucs. But in his last eight games against Tampa Bay, from the middle of 1999 on, he went just 3-5, with seven touchdown passes against 17 interceptions.
With that in mind, here are five games, good and bad -- OK, we did six -- that showed the highs and lows of his career against the Bucs.
1. Sept. 13, 1992: After spending his rookie year with the Falcons, Favre made his Packers debut off the bench in a 31-3 loss to the Bucs in Tampa. Modest numbers -- 8-for-14 for 73 yards with an interception by Darrell Fullington. The teams would go two different ways in '92 -- the Bucs would open 3-1, then lose 10 of 12, while the Packers would open 3-6, then win six of seven, ushering in the Favre era in Green Bay. You'd see that in the second meeting in '92, as Favre would throw a touchdown in the fourth quarter for a 19-14 win over the Bucs, in Milwaukee, no less.
2. Sept. 1, 1996: It was fellow 2016 Hall of Famer Tony Dungy's first game as Bucs head coach, and Favre had perhaps his best game against Tampa Bay in a 34-3 win in Tampa. Coming off an offseason with headlines about his addiction to painkillers, he went 20-for-27 with four touchdowns (three to TE Keith Jackson) and zero interceptions. Bucs would open 1-8 (with another loss to Favre) but would finish 6-10, setting up a big step forward in 1997. Four or more TD passes and zero interceptions? It's happened against the Bucs 11 times, but just once by Favre, same as Wade Wilson (!) and Jake Delhomme (!!). Only QB to do it twice? Drew Brees.
3. Jan. 4, 1998: Favre only faced the Bucs in the playoffs once -- in the second round after the 1997 season, after the Bucs had beaten the Lions. Warren Sapp had three sacks in the game, and Favre was fairly ordinary: 190 yards and two interceptions, both by Donnie Abraham, in a 21-7 win, with temperatures at 29 degrees at kickoff. The Packers would go on to lose to John Elway in the Super Bowl. Rough day for Trent Dilfer, who went 11-for-36 with two interceptions.
4. Oct. 10, 1999: For all Favre's touchdown throws, it's hard to find many games where he came up big late to beat the Bucs. This game is definitely one -- Bucs take the lead on a Mike Alstott touchdown with 1:45 left, then Favre gets the ball, throws a 42-yard pass to Bill Schroeder, then a touchdown to Antonio Freeman with 1:05 left for a 26-23 win. He threw for 390 yards, easily his most against the Bucs -- in 24 career games against Tampa, it's his only game throwing for more than 306 yards.
5. Nov. 24, 2002: Favre's worst game against the Bucs? Arguably here on Tampa Bay's march to the Super Bowl -- the Bucs won 21-7 in a battle of 8-2 teams, thanks to four second-half interceptions against Favre. Brian Kelly had two and Ronde Barber and Dexter Jackson had one each -- it's impressive, until you remember the Bucs had four or more takeaways eight times in that Super Bowl season. Favre had an early TD for a 7-0 lead, then that Bucs defense clamped down with five straight punts, then the four picks in the second half.
6. Sept. 25, 2005: Favre's last game with the Bucs, as part of a 4-12 season in which Favre threw 29 interceptions. the Bucs pulled out a 17-16 win, as Favre would throw three interceptions -- two by Will Allen in the fourth quarter alone. The Bucs got to an early lead and leaned hard on rookie Cadillac Williams, who rushed 37 times for 158 yards as part of a great first month to his NFL career. Tampa Bay, staked to a one-point lead, was able to run out the final 5:03, largely on Williams' running. Quietly lurking on the Green Bay bench was another rookie named Aaron Rodgers. ...