Packers Beat Browns, Head to Playoffs

Monday, December 24th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) _ Brett Favre doesn't believe it matters what the Chicago Bears do.

Sure, he would love for them to lose again so Green Bay could overtake them for the NFC Central title and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

But after handing control of the division back to the Bears last week, Favre wasn't in the mood to watch them on TV before the Packers beat Cleveland 30-7 Sunday.

``I was watching the hunting show when I was home,'' Favre said. ``That's one of the advantages of a 3:15 game.''

Favre, whose three touchdown passes gave him 30 for the sixth time in his career, extending his NFL record, said he just wants to play in the playoffs.

``I couldn't really tell you where we'll be seeded,'' Favre said. ``I don't really care.''

Favre wasn't the only one who waited until after the game to see that the Bears had won at Washington.

``I didn't want to know what they did,'' Packers coach Mike Sherman said. ``I learned as I walked off the field. I told people not to tell me. I said I'd fire them if they did.''

The Packers (10-4) ended a two-year playoff drought with their rout of the Browns (6-8) on a cold, snowy day at Lambeau Field that reminded them just how much fun it is to play in the NFL's coldest outpost.

``Some guys have domes, some guys have warm weather, we've got the frozen tundra,'' split end Antonio Freeman said.

But unless the Packers pick up a game on Chicago in the final two weeks, the Bears will be home for the playoffs instead of the Packers.

``It would be real big to get a team up here in the second or third week of January, with possibly weather like this,'' said Ahman Green, who rushed for 150 yards on 21 carries after being held to 11 yards rushing the week before. ``It's hard for a team to adjust and get mentally ready for a game here this time of year.''

Freeman said the Packers can win on the road if it comes to that.

``We can enjoy it. We're in the hunt now,'' he said. ``And once you get into the playoffs, it's like the field of 64 in college basketball, it's anybody's game. We're in the tournament.''

Favre, who completed 18 of 28 passes for 139 yards and no interceptions, cut the tip of the ring finger on his throwing hand in the third quarter, but he got it taped and stayed in the game.

``That's one of the advantages of playing in the cold weather: You get numb,'' said Favre, who improved to 19-2 at home in December and 29-0 at home with temperatures 34 or below.

It was 24 degrees at kickoff Sunday, with a wind chill of 11.

The Browns (6-8), who lost their fourth straight, had season-high totals in total yards (337 yards) and rushing (168 yards), led by second-year running back Jamel White's career-high 131 yards rushing on 21 carries.

``As crazy as it sounds in light of the fact we did lose the ballgame, this was probably the most productive and best success our offense has had in over five or six weeks,'' Browns coach Butch Davis said.

The Browns had four turnovers, leading to 21 Green Bay points.

Tyrone Williams intercepted two of Tim Couch's passes, returning the first for a 69-yard touchdown that made it 23-7 at halftime. His second led to Dorsey Levens' diving, 16-yard TD catch that made it 30-7.

Levens' score was his first since Oct. 29, 2000.

``It felt good to get back in the end zone,'' said Levens, who gained 72 yards on nine carries.

With Green having another good year _ he's rushed for a career-high 1,255 yards, 220 shy of Jim Taylor's club record set in 1962_ Levens admitted he didn't know if he'd get a chance for a performance like this.

``I think a little bit of doubt creeps in. I think it's always good to prove to yourself that you can do it and move around like you once did,'' Levens said.

Green was on the sideline at the time after an asthma attack.

``Seeing Dorsey catch the touchdown pass, I was up for that, jumping up and cheering for him,'' Green said. ``I forgot about myself, to catch my breath.''