A review of all the hits Brett Favre took during Sunday’s 24-21 Vikings win over the Cowboys.
Hit 1: 12:26 of the first quarter. 1st and 10 on the Minnesota 29. Vikings line up with Jeff Dugan at tight end left, Jim Kleinsasser at h-back left, Adrian Peterson in the backfield, Randy Moss split right and Percy Harvin left. Favre under center. The Cowboys rush five. Dugan and Kleinsasser both go out in the pattern. Peterson looks like he is running a route but it’s hard to tell because he trips getting through the line (it may have been a half-assed attempt at a block). Harvin runs a ten yard hitch, catches the slightly low pass from Favre and is tackled for a 9-yard gain. A good job of getting the ball out by Favre who, on the play, was blasted in the face by Jay Ratliff. Jon Cooper gets the blame for flat-out missing the block on Ratliff. Favre appears to grab his ribs for a second while he lies on the ground, then gets up and makes a somewhat disgusted face at the sideline.
Hit 2: 11:52 of the first quarter. 2nd and 1 on the Minnesota 38. Vikings come out three-wide: Harvin to the left, Moss in the right slot and Unidentified Due to Blurry Downloaded Video wide right. Kleinsasser at tight end left, Peterson in the backfield. Harvin and Unidentified both run streaks down the sidelines, Moss runs a dig. Cowboys rush 5 again. Anthony Spencer comes around the left side but is picked up by Peterson who sends him ass-over-tea kettle. Favre has enough time to loft a pass toward Harvin but the throw leads him out-of-bounds. Unfortunately, Keith Brooking comes on a delay blitz and plants Favre. Other than that, the play was well-blocked.
Hit 3: 3:34 of the first quarter. Cowboys lead 7-0 after Kevin Williams‘ tipped ball was corralled by Roy Williams for an easy score. 3rd and 5 on the Dallas 40 (Vikings aided in field position by dumb-ass Cowboys celebration penalty, kickoff out of bounds). Vikings in a tightly bunched formation, Bernard Berrian left, Kleinsasser at tight end left, Harvin and Moss right, Albert Young in to block because Peterson can’t. Favre in shotgun, Young to his left. Cowboys rush six. Vikings block everyone but safety Gerald Sensabaugh who runs through the space vacated by Young, who went into the pattern (for some reason). Sensabaugh sacks Favre who winds up on the turf, in the fetal position, thinking about the smell of fresh-cut grass. Vikings punt.
Hit 4: 9:39 of the second quarter. Game tied 7-7 after Favre’s touchdown pass to Greg Camarillo, set up by E.J. Henderson‘s first interception. 2nd and 3 on the Minnesota 44 after two Peterson runs. Vikings in 3-wide, Moss right, Harvin left slot, Berrian wide left. Visanthe Shiancoe at tight end left, Kleinsasser in the backfield. The whole left side runs deep routes. Cowboys rush five. Favre throws for Harvin who is knocked down by Michael Jenkins before the ball gets there, resulting in a 23-yard interference penalty. Kleinsasser picks off Brooking on the play, preventing another up-the-middle splat. Favre does get knocked down by minor contact from DeMarcus Ware who gets away from Steve Hutchinson just after the ball is thrown. In Hutch’s defense, he was blocking two guys at the time. No credit for a QB knockdown because of the penalty.
Hit 5: 8:05 of the second quarter. 3rd and 7 on the Dallas 30 (two short gainers after the big interference penalty). Vikings in 3-wide, Moss left, Harvin in right slot, Berrian wide right. Shiancoe tight end right, Peterson in the backfield because using Albert Young didn’t help anyway. Favre in shotgun with Peterson to his left. Cowboys rush 4. Shiancoe chips then goes into the pattern, Peterson also goes into the pattern. It’s straight 5-on-4 blocking. Cooper and Anthony Herrera handle Ratliff all right. Hutchinson is on Stephen Bowen, Phil Loadholt holds up Spencer acceptably. DeMarcus Ware sheds Bryant McKinnie after perhaps a second-and-a-half and brings down Favre who appears to have a chance to get rid of the ball before taking the sack. By now Bowen and Spencer are also there. The blocking was passable on the play, Favre needed to get rid of it.
Hit 6: :14 of the second quarter. Vikings trail 14-7 after second Cowboys burning of Lito Sheppard led to Roy Williams TD. Vikings could just take a knee here but instead elect to run a play 1st-and-10 on their own 40 after a 12-yard Peterson run. Moss is split wide left, Harvin slot left, Berrian wide right. Peterson in the backfield, Shiancoe tight end right. Favre in the shotgun, Peterson to his right. Cowboys rush 4. Peterson stays in to block this time, helping Loadholt on Spencer. Hutchinson and Cooper double-team Bowen while McKinnie handles Ware one-on-one. The blocking is initially adequate but, again, Favre holds the ball, looking left forever – trying to find Moss I assume – pumping, then getting sacked by Ratliff who was initially slowed up by Herrera. Here Favre was hurt by his desire to make a big play with time running out in the half.
Hit 7: 11:31 of the third quarter. Game tied 14-14 after Harvin’s kickoff return touchdown. 2nd and 7 on the Minnesota 44 after two good pass plays to Moss and a short Peterson run. Vikings with two wide receivers in, Moss left, Harvin right. Shiancoe at tight end left, Peterson at tailback, Kleinsasser at fullback off-set to the right. Favre under center. Shiancoe motions right. Favre drops, fading slightly to the right. Cowboys rush 5. Kleinsasser goes into the pattern, Peterson stays in to block. Moss after a little hesitation goes downfield, settling into the space behind Jenkins. Moss will catch the ball at the sideline for 18 yards thanks to Sensabaugh’s late help, perhaps caused by a Favre pump-fake (the play was sold pretty solidly to the right before Favre came back left). The blocking is good except for Hutchinson who lets Igor Olshanksy beat him. Olshanksy tackles through Favre’s midsection, knocking the wind out of him. Hutch is officially kicked out of the Four Amigos.
This would be the last hit Favre took for the rest of the game. After this the Vikings would stick to runs and short passes. They started using Percy Harvin in the backfield which was effective. They were also aided by a second Tony Romo interception setting up the game-winning field goal. Clearly, the number of shots taken by Favre through the first half plus the early part of the third quarter alarmed Brad Childress. Tellingly, Moss would catch only one more ball after the burst of action early in the third, a short play for a first down during the winning field goal drive. The Cowboys’ blitzes, the pass protection lapses and a couple of instances of Favre holding onto the ball too long led to a very conservative, but ultimately adequate, game plan through most of the second half.