GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) – After connecting on a long touchdown in the Metrodome last month, Brett Favre hoisted wide receiver Donald Driver onto his shoulders and walked him up the sideline in a fireman’s carry.

A cute scene? Sure. But it was all fairly meaningless, because it seemed at the time neither team had a chance of sniffing the playoffs.

Nearly six weeks later, the New York Giants have collapsed, plunging into a general sea of mediocrity in the middle of the NFC. So despite their matching 6-8 records, both the Vikings and Packers go into their game at Lambeau Field on tonight with an outside chance at earning a wild-card berth.

“All you ever want is to have a chance to have a chance,” Vikings coach Brad Childress said. “Crazy things happen for teams that get in. We just need to keep our focus on this week and the short week. But obviously, the game will speak volumes.”

The Packers started the season 1-4, and have won only two games at Lambeau all season. The Vikings started 2-0, then lost six of their next eight – including a four-game losing streak.

Consistent, they’re not.

“I think that’s something we tried to eliminate, but unfortunately we’ve gone on that ride,” said Packers right tackle Mark Tauscher, who will return after missing five games with a groin injury. “We’re hoping we’re going to hit the peak and not drop.”

Minnesota safety Darren Sharper, a former Packer, said it’s about time luck goes the Vikings’ way.

“Someone’s looking down on us and shining bright light on us and giving us a glimmer of hope,” Sharper said. “And that’s a good thing, because we haven’t had too much good luck go our way over the last couple of weeks or the last couple of seasons. So it’s good that we still have a chance.

“I truly believe the guys in the locker room are relishing that opportunity and looking forward to going out there, winning a game, winning the next game after that, and seeing what playoff hopes are there for us.”

Vikings center Matt Birk said the team doesn’t need any extra motivation, but playing for a slim shot at the playoffs never hurts.

“We’re fortunate because we still have not played up to our abilities and still have a chance,” Birk said.

The only playoff party pooper, it seems, is Favre, who scoffed at the notion his teammates would even bring the subject up after the Packers’ 17-9 victory over Detroit.

This week, Favre said the Packers should forget about the playoffs and simply worry about playing better than in their messy victory over the Lions.

“In my career, there haven’t been many times that we were just playing a season out,” Favre said.

“(We) were always playing for something, playoffs, and last year was different. This year, we have to win out and hope that some things happen. But I think you’re always playing every game like it’s the playoffs or it’s your last.”

It actually could be Favre’s last, at least at Lambeau. Favre has yet to decide whether he will return to play next season, and the Packers finish at Chicago.

Despite the Packers’ struggles in the past two seasons, Favre said he isn’t worried about his legacy. He enters Thursday’s game needing eight touchdown passes to break Dan Marino’s career mark of 420.

“One season, I would hope, or two seasons does not define who I am, the type of player I am,” Favre said. “I’m very content with the way my career has gone. I’m not going to stick around in hopes of winning the Super Bowl, or ‘win one for Brett.’ That’s never even crossed my mind.”

The Vikings have a different kind of uncertainty at quarterback. Rookie Tarvaris Jackson, a second-round pick out of Alabama State, will start the final two games of the season in place of Brad Johnson.

Jackson, who has a strong arm and scrambling ability, threw for 177 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the Vikings’ loss to the Jets on Sunday.

Based on what he has seen from Jackson in practice, Sharper said the kid can handle the pressure.

“He gives us fits,” Sharper said. “I have remembered numerous occasions in which he’s gone 7-for-7 against us in practice. After the first three, we’re like ‘OK, he’s hot, we have to do what we can do to stop him.’ Then he’s 5-for-5 and we’re like, ‘All right man, we can’t let this happen, he’s a rookie quarterback.’ Then he ends up 7-for-7 in that period.

“It lets you know that he has something special. We hope that he helps us out and gives us a spark.”


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