Brett Favre's $12 Million Buys a Storybook Ending and Nightmares for NFC North

M. EccherCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 27: Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings passes the ball against the San Francisco 49ers at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 27, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the 49ers 27-24. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Eighty-nine seconds to play, eighty yards to go, no timeouts, and down by four.

Does Sage Rosenfels get the job done in that situation? I don’t know.

Does Tarvaris Jackson dance away from the pass rush and throw a perfect strike to Greg Lewis in the back of the end zone? I have my doubts.

But Brett Favre sure does.

If you were wondering why the Vikings are paying Favre $12 million to hand off to Adrian Peterson, you got your answer Sunday.

The 49ers had Peterson under control, limiting Minnesota to a whopping two first downs on the ground. They had Favre on the run, sacking him twice for a loss of 18 yards and knocking him down on a number of other occasions (including the moment after he delivered his final pass).

San Francisco had already slammed the door on one comeback drive minutes earlier, capitalizing on an illegal forward pass penalty to force a turnover on downs at midfield.

The Niners just needed a first down to put the game on ice. But they didn’t get one. Instead, they put Favre in position to hold on and engineer a miracle comeback: Throw it, move the chains, spike it, rinse and repeat.

Favre got off seven plays and two spikes in the game’s final 1:09. He completed six passes to five different receivers, and eluded a spirited pass rush twice.

The Associated Press write-up will tell you that, “Until the end, Favre was being outplayed by Shaun Hill.”

Don’t believe everything you read.

Favre kept the Vikings in this game from wire to wire. He threw for 14 of the team’s 19 first downs. His third-quarter interception—the first he’s thrown all year—ricocheted out of Bernard Berrian’s hands.

And while the climactic throw to Lewis will go in the books as a 32-yard pass, Favre launched that bad boy from the 38-yard line to a target waiting 10 yards deep in the end zone.

A 48-yard frozen rope to win the game with two seconds left on the clock—how many quarterbacks can make that play happen?

I don’t know. But I know Brett Favre can.

In other news…

Who do we have to stop to catch a break in this town, anyway?

Lost in the hysteria surrounding Minnesota’s breathtaking comeback- is the curious question of how the Vikings found themselves down in the first place- after a defensive performance that should have stopped the Niners cold.

The Vikes held San Francisco to 246 yards of total offense. They forced nine punts. They didn’t allow the Niners to convert a single third down in 11 tries.

So where the heck did those 24 points come from?

A blocked field goal that Nate Clements ran back for a touchdown was one of the culprits. Penalties were another: San Francisco’s two TD drives involved a grand total of four first downs gained via actual plays.

San Francisco also took advantage of strong field position more than once, driving for a touchdown from its own 43 and a field goal from its own 39.

We’ve been beating this drum for a while for the Vikings, but we’ll say it again: It’s tough to keep points off the board when the other team only needs to go 30 yards to get in range for a kick.

A perfect day to be a Midwesterner

All four members of the NFC North got to hoist the “W” flag yesterday. How long has it been since we saw that happen? Four years.

On Nov. 13, 2005, the Vikings edged the Giants, the Packers beat Michael Vick and the Falcons, the Bears beat the Niners, and the Lions topped the Cardinals. Until yesterday, the quartet hadn’t posted an undefeated week since then.

We don’t want to point fingers for the drought, but a certain franchise—we’ll call it “Detroit”—didn’t exactly help matters by winning a total of 15 games in those four seasons.

Still, the Lions held up their end of the bargain for the first time in 20 games, and the rest of the North followed suit in impressive fashion.

Maybe that whole “powerhouse” label has some legs after all.

Lovie Smith, Jedi Master?

Speaking of good fortune for the NFC North, it seems the Bears have mastered a new defensive wrinkle: The art of getting your opponent to miss field goals.

Two weeks ago, Chicago took advantage of two Jeff Reed misfires to steal a win from the Steelers. Yesterday, the Bears got two more clunkers off the foot of Olindo Mare—who started the game 2-of-2—en route to a 25-19 win in Seattle.

Maybe Lovie Smith has a Voodoo doll hidden behind that clipboard. Maybe he’s using the force to nudge the ball off course. Maybe Chicago’s special-teams unit has come up with some truly distracting one-liners regarding opposing kickers’ sister's.

Or maybe it’s just better to be lucky than good.

Whatever the case, I don’t think the Bears are complaining.

Am I thrilled to see Percy Harvin take a kickoff return to the house…

....or annoyed that my fantasy league’s scoring system didn’t give him (by which I mean me) any points for his trouble?

Life’s full of little trade-offs.


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