1996 Chargers game exposed Packers' 'Super' qualities
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GREEN BAY - 16 years ago, a Green Bay-San Diego at Lambeau Field showcased touchdown scoring capabilities in all three phases of the Packers' game, and it proved to be a harbinger of championship success that eventually culminated with the Lombardi Trophy returning to Green Bay.
The Packers were already 2-0 when they hosted the San Diego Chargers in week three of the 1996 campaign
They had outscored their first two opponents 73-16.
The domination continued against the Bolts.
It started as William Henderson blew a hole open for Edgar Bennett to dive into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown to open the scoring in the first quarter.
During the play, Newsradio 620 WTMJ Packers Radio Analyst Larry McCarren uttered, "a great lead block by the Human Battering Ram, William Henderson."
After longtime NFL kicker John Carney booted a 43 yard field goal, the 7-3 Packers lead was augmented by the human flame-thrower, MVP quarterback Brett Favre.
He found a wide-open Antonio Freeman, who took what McCarren's cohort, play-by-play voice Jim Irwin, called "a perfect pass" and did a Lambeau Leap after a 19-yard scoring throw.
The aforementioned human battering ram also caught a scoring pass from the human flame-thrower in the second quarter.
Favre faked a reverse and had both Henderson and tight end Mark Chmura in the flat. Favre chose to reward Henderson for his blocking prowess with an 8-yard pass from Favre to extend the lead to 21-3 at halftime.
"The Packers do that so beautifully, put a lot of folks in an area. Who do you cover? The Packers go to the one that's uncovered," said McCarren.
The Packers weren't through with destroying the Chargers.
Favre delivered his third touchdown pass, this one a seven-yarder to Keith Jackson, to explode the lead to 28-3.
But the Chargers started a late comeback bid. Stan Humphries chucked a nine-yard touchdown to Tony Martin to make the lead 28-10.
"They got a little momentum. We had a couple fumbles. Our defense is pretty aggressive. We had to go back on the field, and we make up for those guys," said LeRoy Butler after the game.
With the Chargers about 20 yards from making it a two-score game, the originator of the Lambeau Leap ran about 100-plus yards of grass, and 90 official yards, to a leap that clinched the game.
Humphries was aiming for former Badgers running back Terrell Fletcher.
"He's a little small guy, quick guy. On that particular play, he ran what we call a Texas route. I stayed inside. I looked at the ball and I said I can run."
He ran the interception 90 yards to produce a 35-10 lead.
The offense scored. The defense scored. Only the return game was left.
Desmond Howard, a former Heisman Trophy winner who floundered in his earlier NFL career, came alive.
He added his own 65 yard punt return, the first of five he would produce during the regular and post seasons, to finish off a 42-10 demolition.
The combined 115-26 tally in the first three Packers wins of 1996 was the greatest three-game stretch of domination since the 1966 champions coached by Vince Lombardi.
It also reflected the dominance that would eventually lead to Holmgren's Heroes taking home their own Lombardi Trophy.