Brett Favre torches Arizona for career-high 446 yards in Vikings win
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings have waited all season for Brett Favre to play like this.
The 41-year-old quarterback looked like he was in his prime again on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, completing 36 of 47 passes for 446 yards -- the most of his illustrious 20-year NFL career -- and two touchdowns in the Vikings' 27-24 win.
More important, Favre was at his best when the Vikings needed him most, completing his last seven throws for 141 yards and a score while leading the way to 17 unanswered points in the final 3 minutes, 38 seconds of regulation plus overtime.
"This week, I've seen in Brett what I haven't seen since last year, when it comes to the aura and energy that comes across from him," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "It definitely showed (on Sunday)."
The comeback capped a tumultuous week in which the Vikings cut Pro Bowl receiver Randy Moss, practiced most of the week without receiver Percy Harvin and dealt with rumors about the future of coach Brad Childress, with whom Favre has sparred plenty during 1½ seasons with the Vikings.
But with the game -- and perhaps Childress' job -- on the line down the stretch, Favre was superb.
"I counted us out myself," Favre said, quickly adding, "I am sort of joking there. (But) up until 4, 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter -- by that time, what had we done to prove otherwise?"
Over the final three drives, two of them executed mostly without a huddle:
• He found Berrian on another cross for 15, Peterson on a screen for 33 and Shiancoe on an in for 15 before going to Shiancoe on a post for a 25-yard touchdown, knotting the score at 24 with 27 seconds left.
• And after Peterson broke loose on a 30-yard run to get the Vikings into Arizona territory on their first play of overtime, Favre threw a backside option slant to Berrian for a 22-yard gain on a designed run play that put Ryan Longwell within range for what ended up being the winning 35-yard field goal.
Asked if he felt he was playing for Childress' job, Favre said, "I felt like I was playing for mine. I am just being honest. I have played for 20 years. I have always wanted to be the best. I had to ask myself, 'Are you wiling to do what it takes?'
"Do I always get along with my head coach, quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator? No. Do I always agree with the plays that were called? No. Why should that factor into me wanting to be the best player I can be? Whether Brad is the head coach or not, that should never change the way you approach it.
"Those younger guys in there, they want new contracts, they want to be in the Pro Bowl and be the best player at their position. They can't look at it from, 'Who's my coach?' It's still football. You have to run routes, you have to block, you have to tackle, you have to make the right reads -- you have to overcome adversity."
Favre continues to face his share, between the heel bone in his left foot that remains fractured to the ongoing NFL investigation into allegations of sexually charged misconduct from his time with the New York Jets in 2008.
On Sunday, he officially took nine hits, including three sacks, but never appeared in jeopardy of getting knocked out of the game for a second straight week. His 101.9 passer rating would have been even higher if not for two interceptions that were more the product of getting hit on his release than anything -- once by Darnell Dockett on a long stunt and once when left tackle Bryant McKinnie got whipped by an inside move.
"He was locked in," Childress said of Favre, whose previous career high for passing yards was 402 against Chicago on Dec. 5, 1993.
"He was just waiting for an opportunity."
Perhaps most striking was how Favre spread around the ball five days after the Vikings let Moss go. Six different players -- Harvin (nine), Berrian (nine), Greg Camarillo (four), Shiancoe (four), Peterson (four) and Greg Lewis -- had at least four catches.
It was indicative of an offense that seemed capable of striking from every angle, at least down the stretch, after watching defenses take away Moss' side of the field the past month. For the first time all season, Favre wasn't trying to connect with at least one receiver who'd arrived within the previous month either.
"No one would have guessed that the game would have unfolded the way it did," Favre said "There was a point in the game that everyone in the building thought that we didn't stand a chance.
"I said this during the week -- I know our guys Greg Lewis, Greg Camarillo, Hank Baskett were going to get opportunities and they were excited about it. Can they stretch the field like Randy Moss? No one can. But I knew we were going to get great effort from those guys, and that was the ultimate deciding factor."