EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – After digging them in to a hole, Brett Favre’s late-game heroics put his team back in the game and himself into the record books.
“People ask about [the milestones] all the time but the most important thing is wins,” said Favre after the game. “I have achieved a lot of things but we are 1-3 and that’s disappointing.”
A patented Favre comeback, however, was not in the cards as the New York Jets (4-1) were able to hold off a resurgent Minnesota Vikings (1-3) team in front of 77,909 drenched fans in the New Meadowlands Stadium.
After looking like a futile rookie in the first half against the swarming Rex Ryan defense, Favre’s milestone night almost was capped with another miraculous comeback before Dwight Lowery returned an interception 26 yards to put the game at its final score with 1:30 left to play.
“The pressure got there and he had to hold the ball a split second more than what he probably wanted to and the rest was history,” said Lowery who couldn’t describe the feeling of picking off a Brett Favre pass.
Jets’ kicker Nick Folk hit five field goals, providing the offensive fireworks until Favre took the show over in the second half. The 41-year-old quarterback overcame two costly first-half fumbles to throw for 264 yards on his way to the record books.
After a week filled with off-the-field headlines, including reports that while with the Jets Favre sent lewd messages to a Jets’ game hostess, he was able to perform under pressure. The three-time MVP became the first player in NFL history to throw for 70,000 passing yards and 500 touchdowns in a single career. However the two fumbles that put the Vikings in a 12-0 deficit was too much to overcome.
Favre threw for three touchdowns for the day – two to wide receiver Percy Harvin – one of which pulled the Vikings within two points with just over three minutes to play. They even had the ball with 1:43 remaining and were driving the ball down field before Favre’s costly interception to Lowery sealed the game for the Jets. The loss was the Vikings seventh consecutive loss to New York.
The game featured the re-debut of Randy Moss on the Vikings. Moss was acquired last Wednesday from the New England Patriots for a third-round pick. On the night Moss had four receptions for 81 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown grab late in the third quarter.
Trailing 12-0 and facing a third-and-17 for the Jets 37, Favre cocked, and unloaded a perfectly thrown deep ball to Moss in the back right corner of the end zone with just over two minutes to play in the third quarter. Favre sprinted down field to join in the celebration as that was his 500th TD pass.
“I was telling [Percy] Harvin all week [that] I didn’t think Revis was going to cover me,” Moss told reporters after the game. “It wasn’t anything disrespectful, I had a hamstring injury and it took me a whole month to get back and I think his was two and a half weeks. He played the whole game and I have to commend him for that. That takes a lot of guys to come out here with that type of injury.”
The defense on Moss was good, Favre’s pass was just better. While everyone had highly awaited the Revis-Moss II match-up, it was Antonio Cromartie doing the man-to-man coverage on Moss. Darrelle Revis, who returned to the field after missing two weeks with a strained hamstring, was on Percy Harvin for most of the night. Revis did not look to be in good football shape, perhaps still nursing his hamstring, as Harvin went off for five receptions, 97 yards and two late scores.
Harvin’s first touchdown, a 34-yard catch and run score, came with five minutes of Moss’s back end zone catch. That put the game at 15-13 after the Vikings failed to convert a two-point try.
The combination of LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene, lived up to their “Dash and Bash” style of play. The two combined to rush for 155 yards, the first time in 51 games that a Vikings defense allowed more than 150 yards rushing to a team LT dashed his way for 99 totals yards, most of which came in the second half. Greene did the brunt of his work in the second, wearing out a Vikings defense that was forced to chase Tomlinson around for the first 30 minutes. Greene ended the day with 57 yards and a touchdown. His 23-yard TD run gave the Jets some breathing room late in the game as the Jets lead 22-13 with just under five minutes to play in the game.
For the folks keeping track at home, that’s 27 touches for LT to Greene’s ten on the day.
Aside from the late touchdown run by Greene the Jets offense sputtered for most of the day, looking much like they did last time they played on Monday night to open the season. After three straight weeks of dispelling the critics that the Jets can be efficient on third downs and in the red zone, they gave the critics a reason to talk again. The Jets went an atrocious 5-17 (29%) on third downs while laying a goose egg in their red zone efficiency.
Mark Sanchez threw the ball 44 times for 191 yards and for the fifth straight week did not turn the ball over. He had some help this week with the return of former Super Bowl MVP, Santonio Holmes. After missing the first four games due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy Holmes looked to be in good shape, but perhaps not good football shape after being away from the field for some time. He had three receptions 41 yards on nine targets.
The Jets defense lived up to the price of admission as they held stud All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson in check for most of the day as he rushed for 88 yards on 18 carries.
The Jets travel to Denver to face off against the Broncos this Sunday at 4:05 p.m. EST.
“We’re right on schedule,” said Rex Ryan after the game. “We want to have the best record in the National Football League at the end of the season, and we’re right on pace.”
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