Slippery conditions led to a sloppy performance by the Denver Broncos.
Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw three touchdown passes in the first half as the Green Bay Packers beat the Broncos 27-12 in an exhibition game Monday night at rain-soaked Camp Randall Stadium.
Before a noisy sellout crowd on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, the Packers scored 24 first-half points against the Broncos, who struggled for the first time this year after two easy preseason wins.
A steady rain fell until moments before game time, soaking into the artificial turf. The conditions resulted in numerous slips by both teams, but Hasselbeck and the Packers moved the ball easily, scoring 17 points on their first three possessions and putting the game away early.
"Matt has been very effective moving the ball, but he's still a young quarterback," coach Ray Rhodes said. "He's going to get tested again before the preseason is over."
The Broncos' offensive first-stringers moved the ball erratically and failed to counteract Green Bay's pass rush. Meanwhile, Denver's defensive backs particularly starters Ray Crockett and Eric Brown seemed tentative on the wet turf and couldn't prevent the Packers from throwing for 160 yards in the first half.
Denver also committed eight penalties. That's a far cry from the 17 the Broncos committed in their preseason win over Arizona, but almost all of their miscues against the Packers cost them important field position.
"Tcome out here and get embarrassed like this isn't fun," Broncos defensive lineman Mike Lodish said.
Backup quarterback Brian Griese rallied the Broncos to a fourth-quarter touchdown that made the final score closer, and Nate Wayne tackled Basil Mitchell in the end zone for a safety with 47 seconds left in the game.
"We're not happy with our showing at all," running back Derek Loville said. "We stunk it up."
Brett Favre started at quarterback for the Packers but left after eight plays when he was knocked to the ground by John Mobley and landed awkwardly on his right hand. Favre stayed on the sideline for the first half, but watched the second half from the locker room.
The Packers said no X-rays were taken of Favre's hand and the injury wasn't serious. Rhodes said Favre had a mildly bruised hand from hitting Mobley's helmet.
Hasselbeck spent last year on Green Bay's practice squad, but was handed the backup job when Rick Mirer was traded to the New York Jets last Friday. For the second straight exhibition game, he looked more than ready, confidently leading Green Bay's offense to three scores.
"I'm out there just playing like I do in practice," Hasselbeck said. "I guess it's a bigger deal when you do it on Monday Night Football against the defending world champions."
Hasselbeck, who threw two touchdown passes in Green Bay's 27-16 preseason win over the Jets, was 10-of-14 for 127 yards and three TDs.
Since the teams will meet during the regular season at Mile High Stadium, neither was anxious to use its entire offensive play book in a preseason contest. Denver tried an onsides kick to start the game, but Green Bay recovered and drove for a 47-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell.
The Broncos' first drive lasted one play, as Brister's pass was intercepted by cornerback Craig Newsome. Favre left on the first play of the Packers' ensuing drive, but Hasselbeck hit Tyrone Davis for a 13-yard touchdown six minutes into the game.
"I didn't see it, but I assume he made a real nice catch," said Hasselbeck, who was flattened on the play but got up in time to run to the end zne and leap into Davis' arms.
Brister played nearly the entire first half and was 7-of-10 for 69 yards, but he couldn't get the Broncos in the end zone. Early in the second quarter, he led Denver on a 72-yard drive that ended when Derek Loville was tackled for a 1-yard loss on fourth down from the Green Bay 2.
After Jahine Arnold returned a punt 52 yards, Hasselbeck engineered one more touchdown drive late in the first half. He hit backup tight end Jeff Thomason with an 8-yard pass that made it 24-3 with 1:15 left in the first half.
Terrell Davis slipped on the soggy turf on his first touch. He played in only one series for Denver, gaining 24 yards on five carries.
"Hopefully we'll go out next week and play better football," Davis said.
The crowd of 78,184 was the largest ever to see the Packers play in Wisconsin, besting the previous record set at Camp Randall several years ago. The Packers are 9-3 in exhibition games played in Madison.
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