Favre sharp in Vikings' 17-10 win

Brett Favre looked in control and on point, leading the Vikings to 17 first-half points and finishing with a 113.7 passer rating as Minnesota stayed undefeated in the preseason. Oh, and it helped Favre to have a strong running game and defense in his back pocket.

Brett Favre's uninspiring first outing with only 2½ days of practice needed only another 10 days of growth to turn into something much more palatable – and expected – for Vikings fans.

Favre, who signed with the Vikings on Aug. 18, was only 1-for-4 passing for 4 yards three days after inking a two-year deal. Ten days after that performance, Favre, not surprisingly, looked much more sure of himself and his receivers against the Houston Texans in a 17-10 win on Monday Night Football.

Favre played through the opening series of the third quarter, completing 13 of 18 passes for 142 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 113.7 passer rating. He spread the ball around, as Chester Taylor and Percy Harvin each caught the ball three times, and Visanthe Shiancoe and Sidney Rice twice. Additionally, Favre was the benefactor of a 117-yard rushing performance from Adrian Peterson – who started the game with a 75-yard touchdown – and a solid, albeit somewhat inconsistent, defensive effort against last year's No. 3 offense.

In other words, Favre got just about everything he was looking for when he came out of retirement to join the Vikings – a great running game, dangerous receiving weapons, a formidable defense and a win (which, incidentally, pushed the Vikings to 3-0 this preseason).

Favre ended the first half completing 9 of 13 passes for 105 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 119.1 passer rating. Despite 11 penalties for 75 yards while Favre was in the game, the Vikings still moved the ball and put up all 17 of their points.

It was easy for Favre to look good on his first drive. All he did was hand off the ball to Peterson, who got a crease between right tackle Phil Loadholt and Anthony Herrera, then a downfield block from Bobby Wade and outran everyone else for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage for a 7-0 lead only 18 seconds into the game.

The defense did its job for the entire first quarter, sending the Texans three-and-out on two of the first three drives and limiting them to only one first down on the other drive of the opening period.

Meanwhile, the offense was moving the ball, but still searching for first-quarter consistency. Favre found TE Visanthe Shiancoe for a 19 yards and a first down on Minnesota's second drive, but on his initial third down of the drive Favre hung onto the ball too long and Mario Williams sacked him to end the second series. On the third drive, it was Shiancoe once again picking up a first down, but that was all the offense could muster.

The defense continued to successfully ply its trade into the second quarter, with Ben Leber ending Houston's fourth drive with an interception at the Texans 24-yard line. The Vikings picked up one first down on a penalty on their ensuing effort, but they had to settle for a 36-yard Ryan Longwell field goal and a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.

That would start a string of four consecutive series between the two teams that ended in scoring. The Texans responded to Longwell's field goal with an 11-play drive that started with a dose of RB Steve Slaton, followed by QB Matt Schaub, who ran for one first down, hit Owens Daniels on passes of 11 and 15 yards, and ended with Slaton powering in from 4 yards out to cut the Minnesota lead to 10-7 with 3:38 left in the half.

Like Houston, the Vikings started their ensuing drive with the running game – Peterson taking the first three plays for 26 combined yards. Following that, Favre hit Sidney Rice for a 10-yard pass on third down, but back-to-back penalties put Minnesota in a first-and-25 hole. After a 9-yard pass to Chester Taylor and a 13-yarder to Percy Harvin, Favre was in a manageable third-and-3 when he unloaded a slip screen to Taylor, who found open grass in front of him, juked one defender and pranced into the end zone for a 17-7 lead with 27 seconds left in the half.

That turned out to be enough time for Schaub, who quickly put the Texans in field goal position with a 20-yard pass to David Anderson and a 16-yard completion to Daniels to the 28-yard line. One play later, Kris Brown made it 17-10 as the half expired.

For all the scoring in the first half, the second became predictably sloppy and generally unproductive.

The Texans' first drive out of the locker room got them across midfield with a 46-yard pass to Johnson, but five plays later backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky forced a pass that Marcus McCauley deflected and Madieu Williams intercepted.

In Favre's final series of the game, he looked sharp throwing the ball, but the rest of the offense made it difficult with penalties. Favre connected on the first five passes of the drive for 45 yards, but an illegal formation, two false starts, a crackback block (by Favre during the Wildcat) and an illegal substitution all made it more difficult, eventually forcing a punt from Vikings territory.

But even with the Vikings' second-team defense in the game, the Texans weren't able to pick up more than one first down in their final three drives.

The same was largely true with the Vikings' second- and third-team offenses. Tarvaris Jackson was next up for the Vikings and picked up one first down before a Jeff Zgonina sack ended Jackson's only drive.

Sage Rosenfels didn't fare much better. On his first drop back to pass, Zgonina sacked him, and only a 19-yard pass to TE Garrett Mills moved the chains to midfield before the Houston defense forced a punt. The Vikings' final drive needed only a 22-yard run by RB Antone Smith before they had the opportunity to kneel down for the 17-10 win.

The third preseason game is often the most extensive showcase of starters in the preseason, and Favre showed what he could do with more than a few days of training and some extended action. He looked sharp despite a rash of penalties that caused a schism in the offensive consistency, and he was the beneficiary of a good running game and strong defense. The regular season can't start soon enough for the Vikings if those components all remain intact.


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