There was no shortage of hoopla surrounding yesterday’s much anticipated New England Patriots-Minnesota Vikings game at Gillette Stadium. It was supposed to be focused on Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss coming back to the team he was traded from just a few weeks ago. Instead, it was all about the notorious Brett Favre.
Given the 40-year-old’s mounting injuries, will he play against the Patriots on Sunday? Will the NFL suspend Favre for sexual harassment stemming from the alleged lewd photos, voicemails and text messages sent to former Jets reporter Jenn Sterger that the headline of this article (humorously) refers to?
The latter situation hasn’t been resolved yet, but by kickoff yesterday afternoon at around 4:15 pm ET, everyone inside and outside the stadium knew Favre was going to start at quarterback that day, for an NFL-record 292nd straight time. What they didn’t know was how long he would last out there or how effective he would be.
In the first half, both Pats quarterback Tom Brady and Favre didn’t take many chances deep. The result was a 7-7 tie at the half, with Danny Woodhead doing his best Kevin Faulk impression with his second quarter three-yard TD run and later 45 yards receiving on five catches.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson got his team’s only score by barely getting the nose of the football to the goal line at the start of the second (after, ironically, he appeared to have run it into the end zone at the end of the first quarter but was considered just short of it by the refs).
In the second half, play opened up for the Pats, as youngster wide-out Brandon Tate caught the longest pass by Brady of the season for a 65-yard TD to put the Pats ahead for good at 14-10 nearly midway through the third quarter.
Favre, meanwhile, had a pass thrown to Percy Harvin go off his hands into young Pats cornerback Devin McCourty’s, who ran it back to the Vikings 37. So the all-time NFL leader in interceptions can’t be entirely blamed for that one. BenJarvis Green-Ellis then quickly ran it into the end zone during the ensuing Pats drive, and after the extra point, the score was 21-10.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Pats defense, which had early on not been able to stop Adrian Peterson, pretty much shut down Randy Moss for much of the game to this point, as Bill Belichick had safety Brandon Meriweather shadowing him for much of the game when not screwing with him by showing cover 2 on one side of the field, and man-to-man on the other. He only had one catch for eight yards.
But one Myron Pryor hit knocked Favre out of the game midway through the fourth quarter, and in came Tavaris Jackson to throw a TD pass and execute a two-point conversion to get the Vikings within three at 21-18.
As the game approached the two-minute mark, the Pats offense was so in control of its destiny that Brady, as he told a Boston sports radio station this morning, purposely bled the clock with two quarterback sneaks, which set up another Green-Ellis TD run at 1:56 to seal the game, 28-18.
In all, Brady had one TD and 240 yards passing, Tate had one TD and 101 yards receiving, while Green-Ellis ran for two TDs and 112 yards rushing. McCourty keeps making plays, and on Halloween afternoon, he had three pass deflections, five tackles and one INT.
The Vikings pretty much took a less than 100 percent Deion Branch out of the game, but couldn’t stop the aforementioned young guns and Brady from scoring four TDs and leading his team to its fifth win in a row.
Another stat worth noting: The Pats are 4-0 now when wearing throwback uniforms, as they wore bright red 1980s-era shirts yesterday afternoon.
With the Pittsburgh Steelers now 5-2 after losing to New Orleans, the Patriots, at 6-1 have the best record in not just the AFC but all of the NFL. After beating the likes of Miami, Baltimore, and San Diego among others, they are without question the best team in the AFC right now, if not all of the NFL.
Next week Belichick takes on his former underling Eric Mangini and the Cleveland Browns, who at 2-5 has the same mediocre record as the Vikings and other teams. It might be a snoozer in terms of hype to this game, but if the Pats are serious about being an elite team, they won’t sleep through this road game.
And as far as (old man) Favre is concerned, he had a very good game by his standards, only making (his game average) one boneheaded play (intentional grounding) and throwing one INT. His status is up in the air for next week, even if he says he’ll be able to play.
But as you’ve probably heard by now, no Vikings quarterback will have Randy Moss to throw to ever again, as Vikings head coach Brad Childress announced today that he has been placed on waivers. That means teams from worst to first now have a chance to pick him and about $3.4 million in salary up for the rest of this season.
Why did this happen? Maybe because Moss publicly criticized his team’s strategy and professed his love for the Pats and New England after his Vikings lost. He even shed a tear as the fans at Gillette Stadium cheered him after the game was over and said Belichick was the best NFL coach of all time, which probably didn’t make Childress happy.
The man just can’t keep his mouth shut, even after he says he will do so. And that motor mouth has likely contributed to him getting driven off of two teams in less than a month now.
Does this mean Moss will be back with Brady and Belichick? Fat chance. If I were in the Pats front office and had the opportunity again, I’d welcome him back if he’d just learn to shut up and do his job. He’s not willing to do that, it seems, so forget it. Brandon Tate did his best Moss impression yesterday with his 65-yard TD, anyway. And these days, that’s good enough for the Patriots, who seem to be getting more impressive by the week.