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Close contests favor the Packers

The Packers and Vikings usually play tight games. And Green Bay usually comes out the winner.

Their past five meetings were settled by five points or fewer, and Green Bay went 4-1 in those. This season, the Packers won both of the NFC North rivals' games 34-31, both on field goals by Ryan Longwell as time expired.

One thing all those matchups have in common: Brett Favre was at quarterback for Green Bay. Seven times, Favre has beaten the Vikings with winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime.

"I don't know if there's a guy you want to give the ball to in those situations more than him," Packers coach Mike Sherman said.

So Sherman likes his chances heading into today's first-round playoff game at Lambeau Field _ the first postseason meeting between the Packers and Vikings.

Favre has 34 career winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, the most of any active NFL quarterback. He has done it four times in the past seven weeks.

But Sherman has a little secret to share:

"He doesn't like those situations," Sherman said. "He says people think he likes being in those situations, but he doesn't necessarily like it. But he does respond to them."

Isn't that like saying Michaelangelo didn't like to paint? Or Frank Sinatra didn't really care to croon?

"I've just said that in the past that I would much rather be up," Favre explained when asked about Sherman's comments. "It doesn't mean I don't relish the opportunity or thrive in those situations. I just realize you're not going to win every one of them."

Favre may look like one cool customer when leading the two-minute offense with the game on the line, but inside he has butterflies just like all the fans.

"Hey, I get nervous just like everybody," Favre said. "That surprises people sometimes but I'm human. And I have won my share of them. Won at Minnesota two weeks ago, which is as difficult as I've had."

On Nov. 14 in Green Bay, the Vikings scored a touchdown with 1:20 left to tie it at 31. That was plenty of time for Favre to lead the Packers downfield for Longwell's 33-yard winner. On Dec. 24 at the Metrodome, Favre's fourth-down TD throw to Donald Driver tied it at 31. After the Vikings punted, the Packers got the ball at their 13 with 1:35 to go. Eleven plays and 76 yards later, Longwell kicked a 29-yarder, giving the Packers their third straight NFC North crown.

"He certainly produces in those situations. He has such tremendous confidence," Sherman said. "And I think more so than him, the players around him have confidence that they'll get it done because of him.

"The one thing I've said always that you have with Brett Favre is that you have hope."

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