Add another chapter to the legend of Brett Favre. This one has a surprise ending.
Favre marched into his least favorite venue Sunday night, toting a broken thumb and 3-4 team reeling from back-to-back losses. He turned that recipe for failure into a crucial 30-27 win over the Vikings in the Metrodome.
With the season hanging in the balance, this victory alone is enough for a happy ending, but Favre's individual results are also an impressive addition to the tale. Redeeming himself from the teams' disastrous first meeting, Favre went 18-for -28 for 194 yards, three touchdowns and an early interception.
While the stats say a lot about Favre's thumb, the intangibles exhibited Sunday night say even more about his heart. From the beginning, Favre showed complete confidence when his team had little reason to believe.
First, the game showed flashes of "vintage" Favre. His third touchdown pass, which put the Packers ahead to stay, was a 12-yard laser beam that bored straight through coverage and embedded itself into Javon Walker. Favre worked in tandem with a punishing ground game, leaving the Vikings wondering which weapon Green Bay would use next – just like in the not-so-distant good old days.
This game, which it's seemingly insurmountable challenges, required an extraordinary effort, and Favre knew it. That's why he did everything but put on a different jersey and join the defense in their effort to stop the juggernaut Vikes. Favre found a way to make himself that 12th man on defense by engineering long, time-consuming drives to spell the injury-riddled defensive line and keep the secondary fresh. He even took on the persona of a tackler when he provided a monster block of Denard Walker to spring Ahman Green for a 15-yard gain on Green Bay's final touchdown drive.
"I told him ‘Your injured thumb will take your mind off dome and you'll play you're best game,' and I think it might have," coach Mike Sherman said.
Although the over-hyped and one-sided Chris Hovan-Favre "feud" is meaningful only west of the Wisconsin-Minnesota border, Hovan's accusation that the Packers lacked toughness may have struck a chord with the NFL's ultimate iron man. Then again, it wasn't the trash talk of one Viking that set Favre in motion. It was more likely something Favre hates much more than the Metrodome – losing.
Favre proved that he hates to lose, and still has the ability to make his team into a winner. The jubilant post-game congratulations, the TD celebrations, the fist-pumping from the sidelines in support of his teammates all show how far love of the game can take a player and, in turn, a whole team.
Sherman summed it up with a well-worn cliché that happens to still fit:
"Tough times don't last. Tough people do."