By Dick Pufall, Special to   Published Dec 17, 2007 at 5:20 AM

ST. LOUIS -- Brett Favre was one yard from matching Dan Marino's NFL record of 61,361 yards passing early in the fourth quarter Sunday. But Favre didn't know. And he didn't care. Winning, as always, was No. 1 with No. 4.

The Packers had a first and 10 on their own 38 and a comfy 13-point lead en route to a 33-14 victory against the St. Louis Rams. That's when Coach Mike McCarthy whispered the play into Favre's headset. Favre, over center, took the snap and fired a quick slant to wide receiver Donald Driver, who was lined up on the left side. Seven yards. History. And suddenly, Marino was No. 2 in another all-time passing category.

"I knew it was coming, he gave me a little look and after that I knew I was going to catch it," Driver said. "I just had to make sure to catch the ball and they told us if I caught it, that one would break the record, so I just wanted to make sure I'd go into the record books with him at least on one play."

Favre, for his part, was clueless. He wondered why the game was being stopped. But thousands in the heady, pro-Packers crowd knew it was a pause to savor the historic moment.

"Actually, when they stopped the game my first impression was, ‘What happened?' A penalty or something like that," Favre said.

Driver had missed out on assisting Favre with the Ruthian record he set on Sept. 30 in Minnesota, when second-year wide receiver Greg Jennings caught the quarterback's 421st touchdown pass to knock Marino off the top spot.

But more important than any record, the Packers (12-2) clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs with their victory, coupled with Carolina's 13-10 victory against Seattle. If the Packers can win their final two games and the Dallas Cowboys (12-2) lose one, Green Bay will have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Green Bay won the war with St. Louis, despite losing the statistical skirmish. The Rams had more yards on offense than the Packers, 364-279, but Green Bay never really needed to mount a long drive. Koren Robinson gave the Packers excellent field position on three kick returns, averaging 43.3 yards and a long of 66 on three attempts. Green Bay's longest touchdown drive was just 52 yards.

And the Packers survived a deficit in turnovers, 3-2. Oshiomogho Atogwe intercepted Favre twice and Ryan Grant lost a fumble. The Packers got two interceptions of Marc Bulger by Atari Bigby. When Green Bay's offense sputtered, Mason Crosby kicked four field goals.

Meanwhile, back at the record-setting pass by Favre ...

"Donald and I have a great history together," Favre said. "He goes down in my record books for a lot of things. I'm happy that Donald was a part of it."

McCarthy said the Packers didn't scheme to make Driver the catcher on the historic pitch from Favre. It just worked out that way.

"He is a once-in-a-lifetime player," McCarthy said of Favre. "He will go down as one of the greatest, or the greatest player in NFL history. ... He is a joy to coach. We would love to see him keep breaking records."

A snowstorm pounded the St. Louis area Saturday, increasing in force as night fell, dropping an inch of white stuff each hour.

So the Packers, Rams, their 28 cheerleaders and 66,008 fans took refuge from winter's bite inside the domed stadium Sunday, like so many hot-house flowers.

But the Rams could not escape the bitter chill brought by the Packers, nor the warmth from another Favre milestone. Favre and the Packers left St. Louis for dead at "The Ed." The Rams, who lost their first eight games of the season, are 3-11, playing only for pride and two more game checks.

Favre, ever the gracious record-setter, was careful to give Marino his props as one of the game's all-time great passers.

"I've never considered myself in the same league as Dan Marino," Favre said. "He's the greatest passer ever. The way he did it is probably the way you would coach another guy to do it. The way I've done it, I don't know if you would coach guys to do it that way. But it's worked for me and to be mentioned in the same breath with him is quite an honor."

Favre has an NFL record to match every gray hair on his head, but you wonder when, or if, they will mean something special to him.

"Time, I guess, will answer that," he said. "I'm sure they will. As you're playing you really don't think so much about individual accolades. You're more concerned about winning. I'm tickled to death that I've had a chance to break these records, but there's nothing like standing here today with this win.

"Ten years down the road, as I get beyond it and look back, there's no doubt I'll appreciate it more."

Assuming, of course, he's not still playing.