It wasn’t the Minnesota Vikings’ 35-rear SuperBowl curse that let them down last night. A half dozen fumbles certainly did not help. In the final analysis, it was the man who got the Vikings to the NFC championship game, their legendary QB Brett Favre, who both single-handedly kept the team in contention and then threw it all away—literally. Brett Favre Lets Saints March On to SuperBowl [LAtimes.com].
Favre’s supernatural athleticism as an NFL quarterback, including his ability to drop long passes with tremendous accuracy into the arms of speedy wideouts far downfield, was on display Sunday. So too was his toughness, as fans saw why Favre has set an NFL record for consecutive-game starts that will never be broken. Yet in the end, it was Favre’s basic character that let him and his team down. Instead of “playing within himself,” as he had in a season with a career-high completion percentage and TD-INT ratio, Favre took the team on his shoulders and, with one play left before a potential game-wining FG attempt and less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation, tried to win the game himself.
It was a pass that rookie Jets’ QB Mark Sanchex would never have tried, but one Favre has been burned on repeatedly for years, especially when he was younger. A throw across he field after rolling out, against a zone, with the predictable result of interception. Virtually a repeat of his last playoff appearance, featuring an overtime interception against the N.Y. Giants in the 2007 NFC championship game which sent Eli Manning to his first SuperBowl. A pass that never should have been attempted. One that Favre knew immediately was a bad idea. Also one that added to perhaps his most inglorious record of most career playoff interceptions.
In the NFC title game, possibly Favre’s last, we saw all of Favre: the good, the bad and the intercepted. Favre stood tall against what he called one of the worst poundings he’s ever received on a football field and despite an orgasm of Minnesota turnovers he had the Vikings poised to steal the game. Then, the bad Favre showed up. It was only a matter of time before the old Favre made an appearance. The old Favre … you remember him. The reckless Favre, the scary Favre, the alter-ego who for so long made Packers fans pull the hair strand by strand from their heads and the one Minnesota thought they’d never see again. Well, he came back all right, this time with a vengeance. Vikings fans: you wanted him, you got him. There he was and there he goes.
Favre Reverts to Gunslinger at Worst Possible Time. But that, after all, is Brett Favre. He’s a football player and a competitor. He’s a warrior, a larger-than-life star, but not a game manager, and hence not a champion. The 26 year old gunslinger who took the Pack back to the big game in 1996 is hardly different at all from the 40 year old gray beard who tanked in the final minute last evening. It’s his “fatal flaw,” as ESPN says.
They call the NFL the “No Fun League,” something Brett Favre (third retirement or not at this point) has never endorsed. He was a gunslinger to the end. Love him or hate him, and I’m the former, the man never changed!