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After Favre, starts streak belongs to Manning

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By Kevin Fishbain

Brett Favre's consecutive-start streak began at Lambeau Field on Sept. 27, 1992, for the Packers' game vs. the Steelers. It ended when the Vikings made No. 4 inactive for their Dec. 13 game vs. the Giants at Detroit's Ford Field because of a sprained right shoulder.

In between, Favre brought a Lombardi Trophy home to Green Bay, thrilled (and at the same time irritated) fans with his reckless style of play, retired twice and played through physical and emotional pain, yet never missed a week of action. His streak of 297 consecutive regular-season games started surpassed the previous record holder — former Vikings DE Jim Marshall (270) — by nearly two full seasons.

With Favre's streak now done, here are the top eight current consecutive-start streaks, with start totals through Week 15.

1. Peyton Manning / 206 — The consecutive-start streak may not be the only record of Favre's that Manning ends up breaking when his career is done. All-time marks for touchdown passes, passing yards and completions are also within range for the Colts' passer, who has started every game of his career since being the No. 1 overall pick in 1998. The two passers have a lot in common, from their Southern roots to playing in Midwestern cities to putting up insane numbers over an extended period of time. One thing they share that Manning likely wants to change: Both Brett and Peyton have 1-1 records in Super Bowls.

2. Ronde Barber / 181 — One of the key members of a dominant Tampa Bay defense in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the five-time Pro Bowler will go down as one of the better cornerbacks of his generation. The only player in league history to compile at least 25 sacks and 40 interceptions in a career, Barber may have to take the streak to another location next year if he wants to continue starting. He's in the final year of his contract with the Bucs, and the team has invested early-round draft picks on corners the past few seasons.

3. London Fletcher / 165 — A member of the 1999 Super Bowl-champion Rams, Fletcher has started every game but 16 in his 12-year career. Fletcher leads the Redskins this season with 124 tackles and likely will be the 'Skins' leader in tackles for the fourth consecutive season. The Redskins are Fletcher's third career team. He has 31½ career sacks and 16 career interceptions. The iron man at linebacker was rewarded for his efforts with his first career Pro Bowl berth in 2009.

4. Jeff Backus / 158 — Since being drafted out of Michigan in 2001, Backus has started every game in which he has played. As hard as it is for an interior lineman to go through all that abuse game after game and have a starting streak like Backus, he has done it for the Lions, who haven't had a winning season during his career.

5. Casey Wiegmann / 157 — A consistent player, the center has been a Pro Bowler only once in his career — 2008. He was, however, the lead blocker for some outstanding runners. Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson and now Jamaal Charles all have had monster seasons running behind lines anchored by Wiegmann.

6. Justin Smith / 153 — The Niners' leader in sacks this season — with 5½ — has started every game since Week Six of the 2001 season. The former Bengal has 62 career sacks, with 2009 being his first Pro Bowl appearance. Smith's last game ended in an ejection after he shoved an official in the Week 15 loss to the Chargers. The defensive lineman next in line for most consecutive starts is Kevin Williams of the Vikings, with 80, showing how impressive Smith's streak is, considering his position.

7. (tie) Alan Faneca / 142 — The nine-time Pro Bowl guard has started every game since the start of the 2002 season for the Steelers, Jets and Cardinals. Faneca has a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers and paved the way for Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker in Pittsburgh. The lineman is also a postseason iron man with 14 consecutive postseason starts, including the Jets' run to the AFC championship game in 2009.

7. (tie) Todd McClure / 142 — You might remember McClure from Falcons teams quarterbacked by Chris Chandler, Michael Vick and Matt Ryan; he has been the center snapping to all three signalcallers. McClure has missed only one game since 2000 and has started every game since Week One of the '02 season.

 

PFW associate editor Eli Kaberon contributed to this article.

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