Turning point: Drive of the decade

Brett Favre is no stranger to fourth-quarter comebacks. His career has been marked by late-game heroics, but his 10-play, 80-yard drive with no timeouts to defeat San Francisco 27-24 was his first as a Viking and made for a memorable turning point of the game. Players were just as impressed afterward.

The detractors might be silenced now. When the Vikings signed Brett Favre after training camp had concluded in Mankato, the defenders of the move were quick to point out that when Favre leads the Vikings on a game-winning drive in the final seconds, the detractors will change their tune. That moment came Sunday and created one of the more incredible turning points in Vikings history.

"I've never been a part of something like this," linebacker Ben Leber said. "It was an incredible, incredible finish. I still have goose bumps from the energy out there. That kind of drive was the mark of a great team. That was a team win through and through. The offense came back when we needed them. The defense got the stops we needed late, and the special teams stepped up. But that finish? Incredible."

It was a daunting task the Vikings faced. Down 24-20 with 1:29 to play, no timeouts and 80 yards to go while needing a touchdown, a younger quarterback might have panicked. Not Favre. He was willing to take what the 49ers were willing to give him, moving the ball up the field in measured tones.

He got things started with a 12-yard pass to Visanthe Shiancoe, but, with the clock running, he didn't spike the ball. Instead, he threw a short dump pass to Sidney Rice, who got out of bounds after a 9-yard gain. Faced with a third-and-1 a play later, Favre zipped a 5-yard pass to Percy Harvin for a first down at the Vikings 46-yard line.

Favre quickly spiked the ball to stop the clock with 40 seconds to play. Faced with another crucial third down, Favre completed another pass to Harvin – this one for 15 yards – to the 49ers 39-yard line. Despite the deafening volume in the Metrodome, neither Favre nor his teammates got too antsy about the situation. It was something they practice all the time in hopes of having it pay dividends at crunch time.

"(We got him) for those types of tough situations," running back Adrian Peterson said. "The other 10 (players) believed we were going to get into the end zone. We rehearse it and practice it each and every week. We really take it serious and, as you could see, it worked out."

When Favre again spiked the ball on first down to stop the clock, 16 seconds remained. Instead of going for the bundle on first down, Favre flipped a sidelined pass to Bernard Berrian, who got out of bounds on the 32-yard line after a 7-yard gain. It left 12 seconds – or potentially two plays to the end zone – remaining.

"The play right before (the touchdown), I threw one to Bernard in the left flat – just trying to inch up so I could drill one (to the end zone)," Favre said. "I kept telling the guys, like I was telling myself, ‘You're still in this so keep fighting.'"

What followed was the making of Vikings lore. Flushed from the pocket and right before he was drilled, Favre launched a pass to the back of the end zone that wide receiver Greg Lewis, who had been inactive the first two games of the season after being claimed off waivers from the Patriots, made a leaping catch and dragged his feet for the game-winning touchdown.

For Favre, it was just another in an incredibly long list of miracle finishes and improbable comebacks. Even so, he said Sunday's win has a place high on his list of comeback victories.

"It ranks up there," Favre said. "It was pretty special. Any time you win a game period, it's pretty special. But to win one like that? I don't know what to say."

The celebration that followed was just as amazing. Players jumped into each other's arms and screamed with joy. It was the kind of wins the Vikings have had that often in recent years, but one that many of them will remember for a lifetime.

"I was on the sideline pretty much in disbelief," Jared Allen said. "Then you see they're going to review it and we're going, ‘Just let it stand.' It gives you chills to hear the crowd. It brings you back to Pop Warner days and the way you felt playing back then. It was cool. The whole stadium erupted. It was awesome."

In a game that had several turning points, it was the final 89 seconds that made the difference, kept the Vikings undefeated and produced one of the more memorable turning points in recent memory.


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