The gunslinger misfired too many times at Lambeau Field Sunday night.
Brett Favre was looking for his third straight win against his former team, but Favre was as much to blame as anyone for the Vikings' 28-24 loss.
After leading the Vikings to a 17-14 halftime lead by being a caretaker, Favre threw back-to-back interceptions that resulted in a 14-point swing that took the Vikings from a 17-14 lead to a 28-17 deficit. He rebounded for a touchdown drive of his own after those two third-quarter, game-killing interceptions to pull the Vikings within four points, 28-24, but given one last chance to win at the end, Favre and the Vikings came up short.
Favre's three interceptions – especially the first two in the third quarter – ruined the momentum the Vikings had established in the first half, when they answered each of the Packers' first two touchdowns and then took a three-point lead on a Ryan Longwell field goal.
The Vikings established the run, with Adrian Peterson gaining 131 yards on 28 carries and getting another 65 yards on the ground in a combined effort from Percy Harvin and Toby Gerhart. Favre finished the game completing 16 of 29 passes for 212 yards and a 50.4 rating.
The Packers clearly had a different strategy in the first half, running the ball only nine times and relying on Aaron Rodgers for 21 passes and two touchdowns in the first 30 minutes. He finished the game completing 21 of 34 passes for 295 yards – 227 of those came in the first half – with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Several plays contributed to the difference. One of Favre's interceptions was returned 32 yards for a touchdown. Another resulted in a Packers touchdown after only five plays. And the Vikings had what looked to be a touchdown to Visanthe Shiancoe overturned late in the second quarter, a ruling that infuriated Vikings coach Brad Childress, who had to settle for Longwell's field goal instead of a seven-point lead.
"If the litmus is 50 drunks in a bar, those 50 drunks say it's a catch," Childress said in his post-game press conference. "And 50 writers in this room, and you may be drunk, too. Maybe. It's a catch."
Childress proceeded to call it the worst officiated game he's seen during a post-game interview on KFAN radio.
Ultimately, though, the Vikings didn't help themselves by giving up passing plays of 24, 45, 32 and 36 yards on two drives in the first half, or Favre's back-to-back interceptions in the third quarter.
The Vikings went three-and-out on their first two series, with a 47-yard Packers drive to the 12-yard line sandwiched in between. But once Green Bay reached the red zone, Jared Allen ended the drive when he jumped up and intercepted a short pass.
However, the Packers had just as much success on their second drive and this time finished it with a touchdown. Two big plays did the majority of the damage – a 24-yard pass to Greg Jennings on the opening play of the drive and, only one play later, Rodgers caught the Vikings in a blitz and unleashed a quick-hitting pass to James Jones, who found a seam and made it to the 1-yard line before Tyrell Johnson pulled him out of bounds. Brandon Jackson sealed the drive with a 1-yard dive and Green Bay had a 7-0 lead 9:53 into the game.
Percy Harvin returned the ensuing kickoff 48 yards to the Green Bay 44-yard line and Peterson did the dirty work in picking up the Vikings' initial first down of the game on runs of 9 and 3 yards. Two straight completions to Shiancoe advanced the ball to 17-yard line, where a nice misdirection play to Harvin up the gut was met with sealing blocks from Steve Hutchinson, Anthony Herrera and Jeff Dugan to break Harvin untouched into the end zone to knot the game, 7-7, with 1:11 left in the first quarter.
The Packers targeted Chris Cook on their first two passes of the next drive with great success, as James Jones caught one between Cook and Madieu Williams and Brandon Jackson bounced a short completion outside as Cook lost contain for a 36-yard gain to the 11-yard line. One play later, Andrew Quarless scored the first touchdown of his rookie season on a 9-yarder over E.J. Henderson and Tyrell Johnson in the back of the end zone for a 14-7 Packers lead.
The Vikings answered again. Toby Gerhart started moving the chains with an 11-yard run and Bernard Berrian followed with a 30-yard pass. Moss' first catch of the game, for 13 yards, put the ball on the 20-yard line. Three plays later, Harvin took a lateral 12 yards to the 1-yard line and Peterson capped the drive with a 1-yard dive behind Hutchinson to make it 14-14 with 10:16 to play in the first half.
After a 30-yard kick return, the Packers moved into Vikings territory, picking up one first down, but a fake field goal didn't work when Quarless fell and couldn't make the reception. The Vikings capitalized after getting the ball on their own 37-yard line.
Shiancoe converted the initial third down with a 12-yard reception and Harvin equaled the yardage with an end-around. After a 17-yard pass to Shiancoe was originally ruled a touchdown, Green Bay challenged and won, and the Vikings eventually had to settle for a 28-yard field goal and a 17-14 lead they took to the halftime locker room, thanks to Madieu Williams intercepting a Rodgers pass in the end zone after CB Frank Walker deflected the pass.
The Packers would quickly erase their deficit at the beginning of the second half, thanks to two Favre interceptions. A.J. Hawk got the first one and returned it to the Minnesota 41-yard line on a play that ended with Favre limping off the field. Jones picked up the initial first down with a 17-yard reception, but Greg Jennings capped the drive with a 14-yard slant for a 21-17 Packers lead with 8:44 to play in the third quarter.
Favre's first pass upon returning to the field was intercepted by Desmond Bishop, the first of his career, and returned 32 yards for a touchdown with 7:45 left in the third quarter.
Favre rebounded, if only for one drive, to lead the Vikings to a touchdown. On third-and-1, Favre playfaked to Peterson and lofted a pass down the middle to Harvin for 37 yards to the 12-yard line. On third down, Moss got a pick from Harvin and scored a 4-yard touchdown with 4:12 left in the third quarter to pull the Vikings within four, 28-24.
The Packers got across midfield again on their next drive, but a failed fourth-down run turned the ball over to the Vikings. Six plays into that drive, with the ball in the Green Bay 35-yard line, Favre threw his third interception of the game.
The defense allowed one first down, but Vikings got one last chance to win it. Taking over on their own 17-yard line, they went on a 16-play drive down to the 15-yard line before penalties and pressure started to unravel the offense. Shiancoe was called for a false, and on the next snap Phil Loadholt was called for a personal foul facemask while trying to block Clay Matthews. Facing first-and-30 from the 35-yard line, the Vikings appeared to momentarily have the game won when Harvin came down with a pass at the back of the end zone that was initially ruled a touchdown, but replay showed his right foot came down out of bounds, sending them to second down, a 15-yard completion to Peterson. But two straight incompletions on end zone passes to Moss went incomplete and the Packers defeated Favre for the first time and put a dent in the Vikings' division hopes.
The loss sends Minnesota to 2-4, with the Packers and Bears both at 4-3.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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