Vikings saddle up the 40-year-old arm

Brett Favre has sung the praises of Adrian Peterson's abilities all year long, but on Sunday and several other occasions the Vikings have relied on Favre's arm more than Peterson's legs. See what Brad Childress and several players, including Favre, had to say about the passing trend.

Brett Favre came to the Vikings proclaiming the running game with Adrian Peterson, but as he's settled into the season it's become more Favre, less Peterson.

Favre's first game with the Vikings was more what he thought it would be – throwing only 21 times for 110 yards and a touchdown while Peterson rushed 25 times for 180 yards in a win against the Cleveland Browns. Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson tried to sell Favre on that sort of a ratio over the summer and Hutchinson was right … for one game at least.

"He said I`ll come in, hand off to Adrian, throw it 15-20 times a game, maybe," Favre said of his conversation with Hutchinson. "I thought that sounds good. I didn't believe it. Haven`t had any games like that. First game of the year I thought for a second it was going to be more like that watching Adrian make big runs and he still does it."

Maybe just not as often. Peterson's 25 rushes in the first game is still tied for the season high and his 180-yard effort is the best of the season. He has rushed 25 times on two other occasions and has a 143-yard effort and a 133-yard game as his other two 100-yard contests.

The only time Favre has thrown it fewer than 29 times in the last six weeks was when he had a big lead last week against the Seahawks and was pulled at the end of the third quarter. His 48 attempts Sunday were the second-most of the season and the most in a winning effort – he had 51 against the Pittsburgh in the Vikings' only loss of the season.

"We were standing on the sidelines with four minutes left," Favre said of Hutchinson. "He came over and said to me. ‘Hey, I told you that you wouldn't have to do too much.' I said, ‘Yeah, I'll never believe you again on anything.' I'm no fool. I figured we would have to throw it some. I didn't come just to hand off. I love to play."

There was a reason the Vikings were throwing it so much against the Bears. Peterson was limited to 3.4 yards per carry on 25 attempts and Favre was having success throwing the ball. He ended up completing 32 of 48 passes for 392 yards – the most in the Brad Childress era – and three touchdowns and his eighth game with a passer rating above 100.

"I just thought we were getting a lot of tight fire zones and they were kind of leaving zones open," Childress said. "I told Bev (offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell) the best way to move the ball right here is to throw it and throw it again. You can't be belligerent. You can't smash your head against the wall. Typically that helps your run game a little bit. It's just how they deploy and how they elect to take it away. We have the ability to be able to do that in the pass game."

It's a luxury the Vikings have found with Favre under center. After Childress went three years without a 300-yard passing game, Favre has now registered four of them this year.

"This is the most explosive offense I've seen in my entire life," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "Players are playing at a high level, everybody. Favre is making terrific reads. It seems like everyone is getting open. Everyone is eating a piece of this pie so we're just taking advantage of all the mismatches the defense gives us. We're just on a role right now."

By the time Favre was done dismantling the Bears in a 36-10 win, the Vikings had five receivers with five or more catches and 50 or more yards.

"Great player, Hall of Fame player that played that way today, but you have to say that we didn't meet the challenge that he and the Vikings faced today," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.

The Vikings had 431 yards of total offense last week against the Seattle Seahawks and had 537 against the Bears on Sunday.

Percy Harvin was the main beneficiary. He had his first 100-yard game as a receiver with 101 yards on six catches.

"Percy is scary. He is a triple threat. He's a great slot receiver, he's a great return man and he can be a great wildcat guy. He is a triple threat," said offensive lineman Artis Hicks. "I think defensive coordinators and special teams coordinators, they look at that and have to game plan against that. If he isn't the rookie of the year, show me another guy who is."

Said Favre: "When (Harvin) gets the ball in his hands, he is more like a running back. I think Percy is on his way to a league of his own. He's quick like Wes Welker. He is strong. He's got a long ways to go to be in the same category as Wes, but at the rate he is going he is a dominant force in a lot of ways. (He's) smart. He understands the game. … The guy is legit."

So is Favre. At 40 years old, he says his arm can handle the increased action. It's his lower body that is feeling it more.

"Legs, back, hips, knees, ankles – other than that, nothing seems to bother me," joked Favre, who insisted his offensive line is protecting well.

Favre was sacked only once by the Bears and has been sacked only four times in the last four games.

"I think everyone expected this team to be a good football team, and you have to expect good things in order to be good. But I'm a little bit more surprised about how we've had to win some of these games, or the way we've won," Favre said. "I guess when you key on Adrian the way teams have, we know our defense can make plays and has continued to make plays, but for us we've had to kind of shift gears at times and throw the ball and it's been pretty effective for us."


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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