The Packers weren't ready for prime time – and Brett Favre was -- in the Vikings' 30-23 victory at the deafening Metrodome on Monday night.
If this was Favre's idea for revenge, he this was a dish served ice cold. Getting the type of exquisite protection that his counterpart, Aaron Rodgers, received only on the rarest of occasions, Favre threw three touchdown passes and converted one third down after another. Through three periods, when the Vikings had built a 28-14 lead, Favre was 20-of-24 for 242 yards and three touchdowns. Sacked nine times in the first three games, Favre didn't have a finger laid on him by the employer that traded him to the Jets after 16 Hall of Fame seasons.
Meanwhile, Rodgers had been sacked six times by early in the fourth quarter. Despite Rodgers almost never getting adequate protection, the offense did enough to keep the Packers in the game but kept shooting themselves in foot.
An impressive opening drive died at the Vikings' 24 when Rodgers tried to scramble from pressure but ran smack-dab into Jared Allen and coughed it up. On a drive spanning the first and second quarters, Rodgers drove the Packers to the Vikings' 32 before throwing an interception on a superb play by Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield. And on fourth-and-goal from the Vikings' 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Lee dropped a pass in the end zone.
Those three miscues kept the Packers from scoring at least 13 points.
Rodgers was sacked for a seventh time midway through the quarter, giving the Vikings a safety and a 30-14 lead. Had the Packers converted a two-point conversion after a Jordy Nelson touchdown catch and run capped a 96-yard drive, they might have had a puncher's chance in the final moments. Instead, Rodgers was hit, the ball fell incomplete and the Packers remained behind by 10. A field goal cut it to seven but Sidney Rice recovered an onside kick with 55 seconds remaining to end the game.
The Packers' first-half touchdowns came on a brilliant 62-yard touchdown pass to Jermichael Finley and a strip and 42-yard touchdown return by Clay Matthews III, but the Vikings led 21-14.
With a painful loss in which fill-in left tackle Daryn Colledge and kick returner Will Blackmon exited with knee injuries, the Packers hit the bye 2-2. Minnesota is 4-0 and Chicago is 3-1.
Two plays on the first possession of the second half defined the night for the Packers' defense. On second-and-10, Favre literally had all day in the pocket against a three-man rush. He surveyed the field. He pumped. He surveyed the field. Pumped the again. Surveyed the field some more and hit tight end Jeff Dugan for 25 yards. On the next play, cornerback Al Harris passed Bernard Berrian to safety Derrick Martin. Martin, however, was far too late in coverage and Berrian hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass. That made the score 28-14, and with Rodgers not getting any protection, the game was effectively over less than 5 minutes into the third quarter.
Getting the type of protection that any quarterback dreams about, Favre completed 24-of-31 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns. He was a big reason why the Vikings converted 8-of-14 third downs.
17: Rodgers was sacked eight times and hit nine other times. Jared Allen got 4.5 of those sacks.
Favre: "I was about as nervous as I've ever been before a game, going into this one. I didn't think I would be."
The other things you need to know
-- Colledge and Blackmon both sustained knee sprains and Desmond Bishop had a rib bruise. T.J. Lang replaced Colledge at left tackle and did well until allowing a late sack.
-- Rodgers, who has been sacked 20 times in four games, has given up three safeties in two trips to the Metrodome. This safety came after a replay review in which McCarthy challenged the ruling that Rodgers fumbled at the 1-yard line. So, McCarthy won the challenge but gave up points.
-- Rodgers' second-quarter interception snapped a streak of 160 consecutive passes without one.
-- With four catches, Donald Driver matched Sterling Sharpe's club record with 595.
-- Jermichael Finley had a career game with six catches for 128 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown.
-- The Packers were flagged for seven times for 57 yards. The Vikings were hit with only a pair of 5-yard penalties, both in the fourth quarter.
-- With 11 carries for 51 yards, Ryan Grant had a better game than the Vikings' Adrian Peterson (25 for 55).
-- Favre is the first quarterback in NFL history to beat all 32 teams, though there have been 32 teams for only nine years.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.