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Favre, Packers come back for win

Brett Favre pulled out a far-from-perfect victory in what might have been his last game at Lambeau Field, rallying the Packers to a late field goal for a 9-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night.

Packers kicker Dave Rayner, who had missed two field goals earlier in the game, hit a 44-yarder with 1:34 remaining. It was the 36th game-winning comeback of Favre's career, and it came after Favre nearly threw the game away.

The Packers (7-8) kept their faint playoff hopes alive.

"I'm hoping that he comes back, but you never know," Packers wide receiver Donald Driver said of Favre. "We're all going to sit back and wait."

Cornerback Fred Smoot returned a Favre pass 47 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter, seemingly bailing out the Vikings' struggling offense and giving Minnesota (6-9) a 7-6 lead.

After throwing the interception to Smoot, Favre threw another pick to former teammate Darren Sharper on the Packers' next offensive play.

"When Smoot took his TD back to score, I thought we had the game right there," Sharper said.

Favre then rallied the Packers for a potential go-ahead drive early in the fourth, but tight end Bubba Franks fumbled near the goal line -- the third time in the game the Packers drove deep into Vikings territory but came away empty-handed.

Favre then drove the Packers back into Vikings territory in the final three minutes with a 36-yard pass to wide receiver Ruvell Martin. The drive stalled on Packers penalties on back-to-back plays before Rayner delivered the winning kick.

"I just think it shows [Rayner's] resiliency," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I had full confidence he would make that kick."

Said Rayner: "It was probably the most nervous I had ever been in my entire life, but it worked out."


Vick looks good to go

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick took snaps with the first-team offense in practice Thursday, increasing the likelihood his groin strain won't keep him from starting against Carolina.

Falcons coach Jim Mora listed Vick as probable.

Vick has a 6-2 career record against the Panthers, who visit the Georgia Dome on Sunday. He is attempting to start 16 games for the first time in his six-year career.

In 2002, '04 and '05, Vick started 15 games. A broken ankle kept him off the field for 11 games in 2003. The No. 1 overall draft choice in 2001, Vick started two games as a rookie.

This season marked the first time as a full-time starter that Vick didn't earn a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl squad. With 15 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions, Vick has a 77.7 passer rating that ranks 18th in the NFL.

Vick seeks to avoid the first four-game home losing streak in his career when Atlanta (7-7) hosts Carolina (6-8). The Panthers have dropped four straight games.

Meanwhile, Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme missed practice again Thursday with his sprained right thumb, making it likely he'll miss his third straight game. Chris Weinke started in his place in losses to the New York Giants and Pittsburgh.


Around the league

*Ronald Fields didn't even realize he had broken his arm during the San Francisco 49ers' practice until a day later, when his season ended because of the injury. The 49ers put their starting defensive tackle on injured reserve.

*Giants defensive end Michael Strahan practiced for the second straight day and it's looking more likely the seven-time Pro Bowler will play against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

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