GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP)
The Lambeau mystique lives on.
Brett Favre threw two touchdown passes
as the Green Bay Packers stayed perfect at home in the playoffs with a
25-15 victory over San Francisco on Sunday.
The Packers (13-5), who advanced
to face the St. Louis Rams next week, improved to 13-0 at home in playoff
games. Favre improved to 31-0 in starts at Lambeau Field with the temperature
34 degrees or colder.
It was 28 degrees at kickoff Sunday,
and Favre was 22-of-29 for 269 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Favre guided Green Bay on a 93-yard
touchdown drive after Tyrone Williams' interception of a deflection by
Mike McKenzie with five minutes left and the Packers clinging to an 18-15
Ahman Green capped the TD drive with
a 9-yard run.
Corey Bradford stripped Paul Smith
of the ball and recovered on the ensuing kickoff, and the Packers ran out
the clock for their first playoff victory since the 1997 NFC championship
at San Francisco.
The 49ers, who also returned to the
playoffs after a two-year hiatus, finished 12-5.
For a time, the Niners made Packers
coach Mike Sherman pay for his questionable decision to go for a 2-point
conversion that failed with Green Bay ahead 15-7.
The Niners tied it at 15 on Tai Streets'
14-yard touchdown and his wide-open catch on the two-point conversion with
12 minutes left.
But Ryan Longwell, who had his first
extra point blocked in the first quarter, kicked a 45-yard field goal with
7:02 left for an 18-15 lead.
On their next possession, the Niners
drove from their 28 to the Green Bay 41.
Terrell Owens beat McKenzie off the
line and was wide open down the sideline, but McKenzie closed in and knocked
the ball away just as Owens was about to haul it in.
The ball caromed into Williams' hands
at the 7.
The Packers, who surrendered an average
of 170 yards rushing the last four weeks - all to nonplayoff teams - shored
up their run defense with linebacker Nate Wayne (back) and nose tackle
Gilbert Brown (foot) returning to health.
The 49ers ran for just 71 yards,
and comeback player of the year Garrison Hearst finished with just 42 yards
on 13 carries.
Favre hit fellow Pro Bowl selection
Bubba Franks with a 19-yard touchdown pass with 3:26 left in the third
quarter, one play after Bradford's 51-yard catch.
That made it 15-7, but instead of
sending out Longwell, Sherman went for 2, and it failed when Donald Driver
was tackled shy of the end zone after a reception.
That made it a one-possession game,
and the 49ers quickly made Sherman pay for his questionable call when Jeff
Garcia (22-of-32 for 233 yards) drove San Francisco 61 yards in six plays
for the tying touchdown and two-point conversion.
Longwell kicked a 26-yard field goal
for a 9-7 lead when Green Bay's opening drive of the second half stalled
at the 8.
The 49ers took a 7-6 halftime lead
when Hearst scored from the 2 with 11 seconds left in the half, capping
a 15-play, 86-yard drive.
The drive was the 49ers' longest
in the postseason since a 17-play drive against Dallas in the NFC championship
game on Jan. 23, 1994.
In his first game since undergoing
arthroscopic knee surgery after Thanksgiving, Allen Rossum returned a punt
35 yards, setting up Green Bay's 40-yard touchdown drive that Favre capped
with a 5-yard toss to Antonio Freeman.
But Dana Stubblefield beat Chad Clifton
to block Longwell's extra point.
The Packers returned the favor in
the second quarter when Cletidus Hunt blocked a 34-yard field-goal attempt
by Jose Cortez after Darren Sharper dumped Garcia for a 10-yard loss on
a third-down safety blitz.
The Niners got the ball at the Green
Bay 44 after Favre floated a pass to Tyrone Davis that was intercepted
by Amhed Plummer, Favre's first pickoff in 115 passes.
Green finished with 86 yards on 21
rushes. Freeman caught six passes for 84 yards.