MINNEAPOLIS — Brett Favre proved to the Green Bay Packers he has plenty of fire left inside, and in his right arm.
Favre’s first game against his former team was all fun for the Minnesota Vikings and all frustration for the Packers, as the greying quarterback connected for three touchdown passes and 271 yards in a 30-23 victory.
Favre went 24-for-31, without a turnover. He did an awkward body bump with kicker Ryan Longwell, also a former Packer, and stayed poised in the pocket all night.
“Lot of fun. It was a big win for us,” Favre said. “We did what we had to do.”
The Vikings (4-0) sacked Favre’s replacement, Aaron Rodgers, eight times. Jared Allen was credited with four of them, a career high, including a safety in the fourth quarter that stretched the lead to 16. Rodgers had his first two turnovers of the season, and Favre turned both of them into vintage touchdown passes in the first half.
Favre hugged Rodgers, Donald Driver and several other Packers once the game was over. Rodgers tried to engineer the kind of drive his predecessor is famous for, but he came up short.
Favre also had plenty of time to throw throughout the game.
Rodgers had the exact opposite experience. He finished 26-for-37 for a career-high 384 yards, many of them in desperation down the stretch, and two touchdown passes.
The Vikings were relentless in their rush, particularly Allen on left tackle Darryn Colledge, who left in the third quarter with a right knee injury. Colledge moved from left guard two weeks ago when Chad Clifton got hurt.
Rodgers’s receivers let him down, too, though. On fourth-and-goal at the one-yard line in the third quarter, Rodgers found tight end Donald Lee open in the end zone. But the ball bounced off Lee’s chest and onto the turf, as Rodgers snapped his head back with his hands on the sides of his helmet.
Pink wristbands, cleats and sideline caps for breast cancer awareness gave the game a different look, but nothing altered the colour scheme as much as Favre in purple. This was his sixth game with Minnesota, counting the pre-season, but the sight of the guy who led Green Bay to a Super Bowl trophy and took only one losing record in 16 years there wearing the rival team’s jersey was still strange.
This was a highly anticipated and heavily hyped game. Everybody in the stadium stood all the way through the Vikings’ first possession, instead of sitting after the first few snaps like usual. Cameras flashed constantly.
Favre was clearly uncomfortable this week with all the attention on this reunion, trying to downplay the significance and stumbling through denials that his main motivation to unretire last year was revenge on general manager Ted Thompson for not letting him come back and compete for his old job with Rodgers.
“My statement has been what I’ve done over my career,” Favre said. “One game does not define my career good or bad. I know what I’ve done. I’m proud of what I’ve done. I know I can play. I wanted to do what it takes to win.”