Mackey: Devastated Favre, Vikings finding out that 2010 is not '09
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Along with the distressing loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game last year came the notion that if Brett Favre decided to return for a 20th season, he'd essentially be wiping the slate clean on his dominance of the Green Bay Packers in 2009.
Dominance, as in 515 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions in two victories over the franchise he brought back to relevance 15 years ago.
In 2009, Brett Favre left Lambeau Field to a chorus of boos, but he left a winner. And he left while laughing last.
One year later, the vibe couldn't have been any different.
Just minutes after sailing a fourth-down pass over Randy Moss' head and through the back of the end zone to seal a 28-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, the beleaguered Minnesota Vikings quarterback sat at his locker -- eyes red and watery, body and emotions battered and beaten.
When Favre finally mustered up the spirit to make his way to the post-game press conference room, he did so with a pronounced limp, favoring the tender ankle he re-injured on the first of his three interceptions.
"It's devastating," said Favre, who hinted that he's not sure about his playing status for next week.. "I don't know how else to put it. I take a lot of pride and ownership in all phases of the game, and you got the ball in your hand, you hope to win those. You just feel like you let everybody down."
There were flashes of excellence. After stalling out, like usual, on the game's first two drives -- the Vikings are now 0-for-12 on their opening two drives of games this season -- Favre helped lead the offense to three consecutive scores and a 17-14 halftime lead.
Favre completed just 6-of-11 passes for 70 yards in the game's first 30 minutes, but he avoided any glaring miscues.
But he also forgot to knock on wood.
Favre opened the third quarter by throwing a third-down interception to linebacker A.J. Hawk. This eventually led to an Aaron Rodgers touchdown pass, giving Green Bay a 21-17 lead.
Minutes later, Favre double-pumped while attempting to find Bernard Berrian on a short pass to the left side, but he didn't see linebacker Desmond Bishop standing in the way. Bishop picked off the pass and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown, putting the Packers up 28-17.
Favre temporarily redeemed himself on the next drive, finding Randy Moss from four yards out for a touchdown that capped a six-play, 58-yard drive, but he flushed away momentum once again shortly after when a missile deep in Packers territory intended for Percy Harvin wound up in the arms of safety Nick Collins.
"It goes back to taking care of the football," said head coach Brad Childress -- clearly peeved at the turnovers. "You can't throw it to them. You have to play within the confines of our system. Sometimes it is OK to punt the football. You can't have seven points going the other way, not in a game like this with a high-powered team."
Childress also criticized Favre's decision-making on the Bishop interception, saying, "The play was designed to go to the other side and I think Percy's standing there in big air. So, not sure why we were looking at the left-hand side."
When asked for his response to Childress' comments, Favre just shrugged.
"I would say so too, after the fact. When I looked at the picture on the sideline, Percy was wide open. So I can't disagree with him."
Still, despite the bevy of miscues, Favre and the Vikings had a chance to steal a victory in the final minutes, trailing by only four.
The offense drove down to the edge of the red zone with just under two minutes remaining, only to be pushed back by friendly fire -- a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Phil Loadholt for grabbing a facemask.
One play later, Favre appeared to hit Harvin in the back of the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown, rekindling memories of Greg Lewis against San Francisco, but replays showed Harvin failed to get both feet down inbounds, thus forcing officials to reverse the call.
After a 15-yard dump-off to Adrian Peterson, Favre threw incomplete to force 4th-and-15 from the 20-yardline with 28 seconds left.
The final play was a designed roll-out to the left. Favre slipped, fell to the ground, got back up, and fired toward the back of the end zone. Moss leaped over two defenders, but the pass was too high.
Favre, who completed 16-of-29 passes for 212 yards, one touchdown and the three aforementioned interceptions, lingered on the field for a moment in an apparent daze while his teammates sauntered to the sidelines.
Favre said later that his heart "is in the right place," but he clearly didn't plan on this scenario when he came back in August -- 10 interceptions through six games, a 2-4 team record, lingering problems with his elbow and ankle, and off-the-field issues that have led to an NFL investigation.
"Obviously there's a lot more things going on than just him coming back (to Lambeau), and I think he has things in great perspective," Ryan Longwell said. "As much as I would say that we wanted to win and needed a win, I think he's just in a different place this year -- win, lose or draw. And you just root for the guy and feel for the guy when things don't go his way and go our way."
Read into that what you want.
But at 2-4, it's clear that for the Vikings, and specifically for Favre, 2010 is not 2009.