Maybe Brett Favre just wanted it too much. Or maybe his ankle and elbow are too sore for him to make the throws anymore. Or maybe last night was simply the Packers’ time to finally defeat him. The only thing I know for sure is, Favre was the main culprit behind the Vikings’ 28-24 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field. His 3 interceptions in the second half more-or-less gave the game to the Packers, who seemed unwilling or unable to take charge of the contest on their own. The big killer was his pick into the arms of Desmond Bishop who returned it 32 yards for a score, giving the Packers an 11-point lead with 7:45 left in the fourth.
Favre’s defenders might point out that, even despite Brett’s struggles, he nearly led the Vikings to a comeback win. And yes, it’s true, the Vikings did miss winning the game by a few centimeters of Percy Harvin‘s foot in spite of everything. And it’s also true that the referees made some questionable calls, including reversing a Visanthe Shiancoe touchdown that could easily have been ruled a good catch. And it’s true that Brad Childress deserves some heat for pulling back the reins at the end of the first half when the Vikes had a chance to perhaps tack on a few more points. And there was that hanky-panky with the stadium reply on the Andrew Quarless touchdown that Childress might have challenged but didn’t get a chance to see. All of that factors in: but, the fact remains that Favre’s bad throws in the second half hurt the Vikings far more than anything else that went wrong. Those throws resulted from a combination of factors, some mental, some physical, some preparation-related. And they all point the way to the same all-too-obvious truth: Brett Favre is now hurting the Vikings more than he’s helping them.
Brad Childress had plenty to say on the subject of Brett’s struggles after the game – maybe too much. “It still goes back to taking care of the football,” Childress said during his post-game presser. “You can’t throw it to them. You’ve got to play within the confines of our system. Sometimes it’s OK to punt the football and you can’t give seven points going the other way. Not in a game like this. Not with a high-powered team.” Childress also admitted that he considered pulling Favre after Bishop’s pick-six but elected to give Brett one more series. After a short kickoff by the Packers, Favre was able to lead the Vikings quickly down the field for a score to cut the deficit to 28-24. Favre would later throw another interception to Nick Collins on a play where Percy Harvin may not have run the crispest route in the world. All along the Packers had chances to put the game away, but Aaron Rodgers, who gashed the Vikings’ defense early, found himself getting wildly out-of-sync with his receivers at times. Despite his occasional troubles, including 2 interceptions in the first half, Rodgers clearly outplayed his former teammate Favre. The Packer QB, who faced almost no pass rush much of the night, finished with 295 yards and 2 TDs.
Next to Favre, the officiating was the biggest subject of discussion in the wake of last night’s defeat, which sent the Vikings to 2-4 on the season. Coaches are normally circumspect about discussing the refereeing, but Brad Childress was simply not in the mood for prudence last evening. “That’s the worst officiated game I’ve seen,” Childress said. “That referee came over and apologized to me for not calling a hold on the scramble by Rodgers [Jared Allen appeared to be the victim of a hold on the play in question]. And I’ll tell you what, that’s his job. Protect the quarterback and look at the left tackle. Look at the left tackle hold his tail off.” Childress was also irate about a last-drive facemask call on Phil Loadholt resulting in a crushing 15-yard penalty. “The umpire standing on that side, they called a penalty, the guy hadn’t called a penalty all night long and then I don’t know if he got religion or what happened but Bruce whatever his name didn’t make a [expletive] call all night long. Now we’re going to get a facemask. I mean c’mon now. C’mon.” But the big one on Childress and everyone’s mind this morning is the Visanthe Shiancoe touchdown that got reversed on a challenge. Shiancoe appeared to have control of the ball falling to the ground, even though the nose of the ball was pointed down and hit the turf as Shiancoe landed. By rule, if the receiver has control, it’s not supposed to matter if the ball touches the ground. “You control the ball and it doesn’t make any difference if you control it with your hand or forearm. Period,” Childress said. “That’s not the way it’s taught at our owner’s symposium and that’s wrong. That’s wrong. … They said he didn’t control it and he controlled it. The litmus is 50 drunks in a bar, those 50 drunks say that’s a catch and 50 writers in this room, you may be drunk too, but it’s a catch.”
Brett Favre, for his part, was more depressed than angry. Reports say he sat by himself in the locker room and cried after the failed comeback attempt. He expressed his frustration in his post-game presser, saying, “To me it’s devastating. Devastating. I don’t know how else to put it…You feel like you let everybody down.” When asked about his status for next week considering everything, Favre could not guarantee he would be able to play. “Who knows?” he said when asked if he would be physically ready to go. “Really, who knows? I hope I do. The reality is, if I can play but not be effective, then it’s not worth playing. I hope I use good judgment. We’ll see. I’m no spring chicken anymore. I don’t heal as quickly. I know the heart’s in the right place though. I know I left it on the field. It’s just disappointing it didn’t work our way.”
Certainly, the last thing Favre wants to do is go out with a loss to his former team in front of his former fans, especially when he played so poorly, but this time the choice might not be his. His health and Brad Childress’ patience-level will be the two determining factors in deciding whether he takes the field next week vs. the Patriots, or moves aside for Tarvaris Jackson.