Archive for September, 2009


The Green Bay Fog: There’s No Fool Like an Old Fool

On October 10th, Brett Favre will turn 40 years old. In the grand scheme, Favre is still a young man since 40 is the new 30 or some nonsense like that.

In football years, Favre is an old dog up to his old tricks. Just ask the 49ers, who watched the old dog snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat in week three.

The roller coaster ride that has been Brett Favre’s career the last few years makes me believe the old adage that there is no fool like an old fool. Unable to make a decision, making decisions out of spite and somehow getting what he wanted all seem to be results of the numerous blows to the head he has taken over his career.

Now Favre is about to lead his new team, the Minnesota Vikings, into a grudge match with his old team, the Green Bay Packers for a made for TV event next Monday night.

The Green Packers, with coach Mike McCarthy and QB Aaron Rodgers, have seemed to be in a fog so far this season. Four INTs by Jay Cutler helped them win their opener. The Bengals scored 31 points on them in a week two loss and a game against the Rams is good for any team lost in a fog.

The fog will lift on Monday in Minnesota. The Packers will finally play their old player who has been gunning for them ever since they had the nerve to believe that he wanted to retire. 

Both Favre and the Packers moved on. Favre went 9-7 in New York and the Packers went 6-10 thanks to a bad defense last year. Favre has been learning his role with the Vikings and gone 3-0 during that process. The Packers rode through the fog to be 2-1 for this game.

Al Harris and Charles Woodson are both looking forward to Monday Night. They are ball hawks who must be dreaming about picking off Favre. Aaron Campman is probably dreaming about a three sack game. Defensive coach Dom Capers is probably dreaming about shutting down Adrian Peterson and making Favre have to beat them.

All of Green Bay is dreaming of a W.

Brett Favre is dreaming about taking his old team to the woodshed.

The game being in Minnesota is a factor but these two teams have played each other so often that the notion of home field advantage is overrated. The first quarter will be big for both teams. You can’t win the game in the first quarter but you can sure lose it.

This should be a classic NFL Monday Night game and I am going with the Packers. They will make the Vikings one dimensional and Al Harris, Charles Woodson, and Aaron Campman will all have their dreams come true.

The old fool has what he wants and let the bitterness begin when the storybook ending eludes him the first time around.

It will get even worse the second time around when he goes to Green Bay.

Packers 26

Vikings 17

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The Metrodome Miracle: I’ll Never Forget Your Play, Brent

Minnesota has never seen a performance at the quarterback postition like the one Brett Favre gave them Sunday. They’ll likely never see another one like it after Number Four is finally retired for good, either.

I’m not talking about the stat line, even though it wasn’t bad—26-46 / 301 yards / two TDs/ 1 INT.  I’m not talking about his yardage, his QB rating, his TD/INT ratio, or even his team’s total offensive production against the San Fransisco 49ers.

I’m talking about the punishment he absorbed from the first series to the last, and the resolve he showed to win.  Brett Favre left his guts on the field last Sunday.  They were seemingly knocked clean out of his torso at times.

On the Vikings first possession on third and nine, Michael Lewis came on a delayed saftey blitz and blasted Brett to the turf, forcing an incompletion.  Second series: Manny Lawson slobber-knocked him on third and seven, although the drive kept going because of a defensive holding call. 

The game would go on like this until the final play, when he was jack-slapped a half second after he delivered the game winning pass with two seconds left in regulation.

Favre got his own revenge in the fourth, running down field and taking out the biggest, baddest mother on the field.  After completing an absolute bullet to Bernard Berrian from their own four yard line, Brett sprinted exactly 45 yards in traffic, lined a bead on Patrick Willis, and blasted him out of the play.

Time and time again, Brett Favre took shots from the Niners while trying to make a completion.

Mark Roman came untouched on a corner blitz and flattenend him late second quarter. The next series, Justin Smith was flagged for coming low on Favre. His helmet hit the side of his knee sending him immediately down to the turf.

That hit was the same hit put on Tom Brady and Carson Palmer in the years past.

At first look, it didn’t seem Brett would get back up on his own power. And yet when it counted the most in the final series, he was still trying harder than anyone else on the filed.

Favre went six-for-eight in forward pass attempts in just over a minute, and completed the 32-yard game-winner on a rope.

But it wasn’t as if Brett was the only player that mattered on the field sunday. The special teams units for both squads made significant contributions in scoring plays.  Darius Reynuad returned a second quarter punt that set up the Vikings’ first field goal and a ten point lead.

The 49ers, before half time, blocked the Vikings’ long field goal attempt and returned it for a touchdown, shocking the Vikings and the crowd. 

Before that play, San Fransisco had been badly outplayed in all phases of the game.  Yet after they took a one-point lead into the locker room.

After the half, Percy Harvin scored his first return TD on a kickoff—and the first return allowed in the league since the new wedge rule—that swung the momentum back to the Vikings.

But in all sense of reality, this game was all about Brett Favre and his will to win.

Brett not only battled the Niners defense, he also outlived numerous dropped and deflected balls by his own teammates.

Berrian, Shiancoe and even Percy Harvin had the ball riccochet wildy off their hands, numbers, and facemasks throughout most the game.

Brett’s only interception of the year came off Bernard Berrian’s chest. Not only did “B-Twice” muff it, but he knocked the ball up in the air creating an easy tip drill for the Forty Niners defense.

Clearly, his recievers are still getting acclimated to a 15 ounce, slick, brown, cowhide, oblong missle traveling 70 miles per hour into the center of their chests.

The play?  The “Metrodome Miracle”?  While the one you’re thinking was incredible on its own merits, the play I refer to is Brett’s play during the game in general.

Brett Favre was clearly the player trying the hardest, had the most will to win on the field, took the hardest beating, and still showed the exuberence of an 18-year-old playing for the high school state championship.

If Tarvaris Jackson has a brain, he’ll have learned more from watching Brett play this game than he could have ever learned playing in it himself.

With the Vikings bringing in Brett, it not only wins you games, but it gives your QB unit a clue on how to compete, enjoy, and win in the NFL.

Here’s to hoping “T-Jack’s” gray matter was paying attention Sunday.  If so, he’ll be a hell of a quarterback in this league from watching Number Four show him how to be a champion.

Tarvaris needs to remember what he saw this last Sunday.  Instead of sulking, he should be taking very detailed notes.

If he does, perhaps we’ll see Jackson in a few years, in purple or another color, sprint 50 yards after a completion and get some revenge on Ray Lewis.

Sadly, I doubt it.

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Jared Allen, Riding On Favre’s Coattails [Satire]

Repudiating an Tarkenton-esque existence of shameful embarrassment, Jared Allen today renounced his former bad attitude and finally acknowledged the fact that the Minnesota Vikings are, in fact, for real.

“I’m the angriest DE in the League. But I was, totally like, ‘Favre has got to show himself.’ Now I know, I have some catching-up to do,” Allen said, after nearly breaking down in tears, following a berating by Twin Cities reporters, all of whom questioned the venerable psycho’s almost complete lack of accumulated statistics, three weeks into the 2009 National Football League season.

“It’s almost…the dude got a lucky sack,” reported an unnamed third-year linebacker. “It’s like Randy Moss, all over again. What a tool,” Ben Leber did not say. Out loud.

Minnesota Vikings’ fans have cause to wonder.

Jared Allen was brought to Minnesota after Brad Childress made the now controversial decision that neither Dennis Green, the most loved coach in the history of the franchise, nor Michael Tice, perhaps the finest head coach in the NFL to get fired for not knowing anything about his job, knew anything about running a defense.

Thus, the Jared Allen Era had begun. And now that Brett Favre is in the fold? It would seem that this one-time, obvious, future Hall-of-Famer has decided that, with so many offensive weapons at Minnesota’s disposal, Captain Sack-Happy can chill and let the Bob Schnelker Effect take control.

“Third and 15? Draw play up the middle, right?” Said Allen, shortly after having several drinks with former Vikings’ receiver, Chris Carter, well known for not being a clown.

So, a guy gets tripple-teamed and that’s his excuse? No way, Mr. Allen. You have clearly copped-out. That’s what this reporter has to say. Where’s Duane Clemons when you need him?

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Brett Favre Proves He Still Has the Fourth Quarter Magic

As I sat in the Edward Jones Dome Sunday afternoon and watched the Green Bay Packers beat the hapless St. Louis Rams, I couldn’t stop a wandering eye from glancing up at the far side of the building.

There on the ring of honor, beside Rams greats like Marshall Faulk and Merlin Olsen, and other St. Louis football icons like Dan Dierdorf, were digital displays providing scores and stats from around the league.

Packers fans delighted in seeing the Minnesota Vikings trailing San Francisco late at home. Former Packers quarterback Brett Favre was having a yeoman’s day, completing 50 percent of his passes for a pedestrian 221 yards.

At the same time inside the Edward Jones Dome, new Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was hitting big plays to Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, and leading the Packers to a 36-17 win.

Rodgers had a sparkling passer rating of 126.9 by virtue of his 13-for-23 day with 269 passing yards and touchdown tosses to Driver and fullback John Kuhn. Rodgers also ran for a score and picked up another 38 yards with his legs.

What the thousands of Packers fans in St. Louis were unable to see was the switch in Favre’s head they had grown so accustomed to seeing for 16 seasons get flipped.

 

Favre had engineered 39 fourth-quarter comebacks for the Packers, displaying the intangible ability to take over a game when it was on the line. Sure he lost a few along the way, but his talent for dominating a game, and the exuberance in which he did so, is what made him a sure-fire Hall of Famer. It’s also the reason he grew to become arguably the most beloved player in Packers history.

Now donning the purple of the hated Vikings, Favre reminded Packers fans of his greatness, and proved to the rest of the league that he still has it.

Taking over at their own 20 with 1:29 remaining and trailing by four, the Vikings were without a timeout. Favre, who had been 18-of-36 for 221 yards with a touchdown and interception, engineered a 10-play, 80-yard drive to lead the Vikings to an improbable win.

Two weeks before his 40th birthday, Favre led his 40th career fourth-quarter comeback. He was 6-of-10 on the drive, with two incompletions as a result of having to spike the ball to stop the block. The drive ended with a remarkable 32-yard fastball to Greg Lewis in the back of the end zone with just two seconds remaining.
Favre had done it.

He pumped left, rolled right, avoided a sack by skipping backwards, then rifled a pass with pin-point accuracy between two defenders. Lewis did his part, too, laying out for the ball, and getting both feet in bounds.

Following a review, the touchdown was upheld, and the Vikings knew now why their coach had pursued Favre so heavily.

Brad Childress was often chastised for dissing the two quarterbacks he had in camp, incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, a player they traded for to push Jackson for the starting job. But, at the end, there was Jackson right next to Favre giving him a congratulatory hug.

Even Jackson realized that neither he nor Rosenfels would have led the Vikings to a victory that day.

Brett Favre is Brett Favre for a reason. He’s a bona fide Hall of Famer for a reason.

As well as Rodgers has played for the Packers, they are still a team that has won just eight of 19 games since Favre led them to 13 wins in 2007. People are still second-guessing the decision of general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy not to welcome Favre back after he changed his mind about retirement in June of 2008.

On Sunday, the old, grey-haired quarterback gave those naysayers another reason to say, “I told you so.”

**********

* – Brett Favre photo credit: City Pages

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What We Learned: NFL Week Three

By Ryan of The Sportmeisters

Week Three had some major upsets, and a few tricks thrown in as well. Let’s take a look back at some of the big stories.

 

That Old Favre Magic

Two weeks into the NFL season, and Brett Favre has done little more than manage a game, a task either of his backups could do, and still make them 2-0. They do have one of the top NFL running backs in Adrian Peterson. However, Favre was finally called on in the fourth quarter against San Francisco, and boy, did he deliver. With 89 seconds to go, the Vikings were down 24-20, starting on their own 20 yard line. Favre drove them, completing all five of his passes, leading them to the 32 yard line of San Francisco’s with 12 seconds left. On the next play, Favre found little-used WR Greg Lewis in the back of the end zone to complete his 40th career game-winning drive. This one play just summed up why Minnesota took such a chance to get Favre back one last time.

 

An Unimpressive Beginning

It’s been two years and three games since Michael Vick played in an NFL game. Finally, on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009, Vick came back and did…absolutely nothing. Well, that’s not all true. Vick, who has only practiced with the Philadelphia Eagles for a short amount of time, played his responsibility as a decoy well. Overall, Vick was on the field for 11 snaps, and had a total of seven yards on one rush. Ironically, it was the other Eagle backups, QB Kevin Kolb and RB LeSean McCoy who had a big day for the Iggles, who won 34-14 over Kansas City. As the season progresses, look for Vick to get some more action while he adjusts to his new team.

 

The First One Is Always The Sweetest

Dec. 23, 2007 was the last positive day for Lions fans. That day has since been replaced with Sept. 27, 2009 as the Detroit Lions won their first game in their last 20, beating the Washington Redskins 19-14. Coach Jim Schwartz and rookie QB Matt Stafford also celebrated their first career victories. While their 19-game losing streak will go down in history as the second longest in NFL history, for the Lions and their fans, all they’re concerned with is a new streak. This one has a more winning attitude to it.

Kudos must also go to Schwartz, who sent his team back out to celebrate the victory with the 40,000 plus fans who have been supporting the Lions through thick and thin.

 

All-Star Injury Squad

The NFL talks of adding an extra game or two, but at the rate of the injuries occurring, they’re won’t be anyone left to play that extra game. In fact, an all-pro team could be designed with the injured players. Key injuries include RBs LaDanian Tomlinson, Frank Gore, Jamal Lewis, Marion Barber, LB Brian Urlacher, DE Dwight Freeney, QBs Donovan McNabb and Chad Pennington, WR Wes Welker, CB Aaron Ross, S Troy Polamalu, and others. It’s a long season, and for some teams, a key injury to a franchise guy can really affect the team’s psyche and performance.

 

Way Too Early MVP Predictions

1. Peyton Manning: 983 yards and seven touchdowns in just three games, he is the reason the Colts have once again taken first place in the AFC South, and the team shows no signs of turnover issues with a new coaching staff in place.

2. Adrian Peterson: Even after his non-breakout game against San Francisco, the Minnesota Vikings RB is still a huge reason for their 3-0 start, with 357 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in 2009.

3. Drew Brees: The Greatest Show In The Air is led by Brees, with his 841 yards and 9 touchdowns already. He had a non-descript game against Buffalo, but still has the talent and the tools to put points up and lead New Orleans to victory in the coming weeks.

 

Contenders and Pretenders

It’s early in the season, but who’s getting off on the right foot?

Are the Jets for real? Raise your hand if you saw them 3-0 after games against New England and Tennessee. Well, it’s true, behind rookie QB Mark Sanchez and the suffocating defense, the Jets are 3-0 heading into a showdown against New Orleans this weekend.

The New York Giants recommitted themselves to the rushing game this past week, and it showed as that and a combined defense effort led them in shutting out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-0. It was the first road shutout for the G-Men since 1983. The Giants are 3-0 for the second straight season.

The Baltimore Ravens are using their offense to put points on the board, and it has given them a 3-0 start in coach John Harbaugh’s sophomore season.

As always, there are teams struggling to live up to the hype early on this season as well.

Three losses last year, three losses this year. It’s the same old for the Tennessee Titans, except they’ve lost all three games in a row this season. Who would have thought Albert Haynesworth made that much of a difference.

An inept win over St. Louis and a pathetic loss to Detroit makes the Washington Redskins a huge pretender. Combine that with the NFC East division, and coach Jim Zorn might not make it out of Week Two.

The Miami Dolphins are stuck with one of the hardest schedules this season, and it is clearly affecting last year’s AFC East champs, as they are 0-3 already this season.

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Minnesota’s Miracle at the Metrodome Can’t Mask Vikings’ Flaws

Brett Favre, you magnificent graybeard, you’ve done it again.

You completed barely 50 percent of your passes. You threw ducks that should’ve been intercepted; you threw an interception. You missed receivers, you settled for field goals, and you looked like the aging fighter most people pegged you as.

And absolutely nobody cares about that now, because you won.

With 1:29 on the clock and no timeouts, Favre led the Vikings 80 yards for a game-winning touchdown the whole world has seen by now. Journeyman Greg Lewis—who was signed for special teams purposes and was only playing because Percy Harvin was exhausted—made the catch of his career by dropping his feet between a defender and the end line.

None of it should have happened.

Favre and the Vikings were supposed to fall on their faces. They deserved to lose to a 49ers team that could gain only 246 total yards after losing Frank Gore during the first series of the game. The Vikings were going to hand a win to a team that went 0-for-11 on third downs.

Phil Loadholt had already packed his suitcases and ordered a ticket for the midnight train, where he would leave town in the middle of the night with his tail between his legs and his head hanging low.

Loadholt and Anthony Herrera couldn’t hold the right side of the line. Outside of a 35-yard run—which Adrian Peterson created when he ran away from a broken play—the running game was nonexistent, totaling 26 carries for 59 yards.

John Sullivan was driven backwards 90 percent of the time, collapsing the pocket throughout the game. Effigies of him were going to be ablaze during the multiple rallies and protests in the streets of Bloomington today, presided over by deacons, and we would all yell “Burn!”

The most die-hard of Vikings fans would be thinking of ways to slip steroids into his morning coffee and/or afternoon tea—and everyone would be saying they miss Matty Birk.

The line did nothing to help for the first 58:40 of the game, but the worst of the bile would be directed at Tarvaris Favre himself if he had not pulled that throw out of his bag of tricks.

Favre was playing like every detractor had hoped he’d play like. Sloppy throws, inaccurate throws, lazy reads, etc., etc., he did it—against a team that does not have nearly the talent the Vikings have.

However, the 49ers should be considered the favorite to win the NFC West right now if Gore can return quickly and stay healthy. That is the truth and would be more obvious today if 3-0 was sitting next to their name.

Unfairly, their record is 2-1 today. Or maybe it is fair. While the Niners deserved to win, and most certainly did not “choke” away the game, they also did not win the game.

That is all that matters today.

While the Vikings did win the game, they have problems to rectify in the coming weeks if they want to be considered a serious threat to win the Super Bowl.

The offensive line is problem one. Special teams has given up a couple of big returns and allowed that miserable blocked field goal on Sunday (thankfully, Percy Harvin’s kick return touchdown canceled that out). The pass defense allowed Shaun Hill to lead a 49ers comeback, something that seemed impossible prior to the game. 

Adrian Peterson also needs to get more than 21 touches. That’s just science.

But for now, they are 3-0, riding high, and we still have no clue how good this team can be.

The Vikings have had three good halves in their three games this season; the second halves against Detroit and Cleveland, and they got a good half of football in somewhere during their weird game Sunday.

If they ever put together four straight quarters of their brand of football, there’s no reason to think they won’t be in the hunt for the NFC Championship.

But even though they’re 3-0, and everyone is understandably giddy about the Miracle at the Metrodome, the Vikings still don’t look like the Super Bowl contenders they claim to be, because a Super Bowl team would not have been in that situation.

A Super Bowl team would have dug their cleats in the throats of a team that lost its best player; they would have given the ball to the best running back in the NFL and let him go to town behind a supposedly good offensive line; and they would not have needed a 39-year-old quarterback to throw the ball 46 times.

Luckily it’s only week three, the Vikings are undefeated, and they have room to improve.

Now all they have to do is improve.

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Favre Experiment Already a Success? Still Too Early To Judge

After Brett Favre orchestrated the ‘Drive of the Decade’ to cap off one of the most dramatic comebacks in recent Minnesota Vikings history, many former critics are now calling Brad Childress’ Favre experiment a success. 

I say that it’s ludicrous to judge the success or failure of Favre’s tenure with the Vikings after Week Three. 

First, I will point out that I never was a critic of the Vikings picking up Favre.  I thought it was a big gamble, but I never thought it was a bad move.

With the seemingly perfect mix of talent and experience, the Vikings window of opportunity to get to the Super Bowl is closing quickly. Too quickly to be experimenting with mediocre quarterbacks. 

I always felt that Favre was the missing piece to this puzzle, but his addition also carried some risk. 

Furthermore, with the plethora of talent on 2009 Vikings, I am convinced that Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels would be capable of leading this team to a playoff appearance if called upon. 

Unfortunately, that is not the end goal. 

The end goal for this team is Super Bowl XLIV, February 7, 2010 in Miami. 

The only reason Brett Favre was paid $12 million to un-retire (for the 3rd time) and join the 2009 Minnesota Vikings was to lead this team to the Super Bowl and hopefully win it. 

In the end, while I celebrated this unbelieveable win by jumping up and down and yelling at my TV like many fellow Vikings fans, I can’t help that morning after feeling I experienced today when reality set in.  

The reality of the situation is that the Vikings regular season goal is to stay healthy and make the playoffs.  This game was merely the third successful step in the 16 step road to the playoffs.  

The final goal is a Super Bowl Championship. 

Until that goal is reached, I suggest we refrain from making any judgements as to whether Favre’s tenure with the Vikings was a success or failure, regardless of how many regular season wins he pulls out of a hat. 

The only thing that is certain after the Vikings’ first taste of Favre magic in purple… the locker room is officially ‘schism’ free.  Winning has a way of fixing those things. 

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Comeback Kid: Brett Favre’s Ten Best Moments

Brett Favre is back, for good or ill.

Once again, Favre’s late game heroics have propelled him to the forefront of the NFL – maybe not as a fantasy option, maybe not as a statistics darling – but as the gutsy, gritty game-winner we’ve known him as for the past 17 years (and counting).

On the heels of another fourth quarter comeback, let’s take a look at ten of the best moments in Brett Favre’s career.

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Brett Favre’s $12 Million Buys a Storybook Ending and Nightmares for NFC North

Eighty-nine seconds to play, eighty yards to go, no timeouts, and down by four.

Does Sage Rosenfels get the job done in that situation? I don’t know.

Does Tarvaris Jackson dance away from the pass rush and throw a perfect strike to Greg Lewis in the back of the end zone? I have my doubts.

But Brett Favre sure does.

If you were wondering why the Vikings are paying Favre $12 million to hand off to Adrian Peterson, you got your answer Sunday.

The 49ers had Peterson under control, limiting Minnesota to a whopping two first downs on the ground. They had Favre on the run, sacking him twice for a loss of 18 yards and knocking him down on a number of other occasions (including the moment after he delivered his final pass).

San Francisco had already slammed the door on one comeback drive minutes earlier, capitalizing on an illegal forward pass penalty to force a turnover on downs at midfield.

The Niners just needed a first down to put the game on ice. But they didn’t get one. Instead, they put Favre in position to hold on and engineer a miracle comeback: Throw it, move the chains, spike it, rinse and repeat.

Favre got off seven plays and two spikes in the game’s final 1:09. He completed six passes to five different receivers, and eluded a spirited pass rush twice.

The Associated Press write-up will tell you that, “Until the end, Favre was being outplayed by Shaun Hill.”

Don’t believe everything you read.

Favre kept the Vikings in this game from wire to wire. He threw for 14 of the team’s 19 first downs. His third-quarter interception—the first he’s thrown all year—ricocheted out of Bernard Berrian’s hands.

And while the climactic throw to Lewis will go in the books as a 32-yard pass, Favre launched that bad boy from the 38-yard line to a target waiting 10 yards deep in the end zone.

A 48-yard frozen rope to win the game with two seconds left on the clock—how many quarterbacks can make that play happen?

I don’t know. But I know Brett Favre can.

In other news…

Who do we have to stop to catch a break in this town, anyway?

Lost in the hysteria surrounding Minnesota’s breathtaking comeback- is the curious question of how the Vikings found themselves down in the first place- after a defensive performance that should have stopped the Niners cold.

The Vikes held San Francisco to 246 yards of total offense. They forced nine punts. They didn’t allow the Niners to convert a single third down in 11 tries.

So where the heck did those 24 points come from?

A blocked field goal that Nate Clements ran back for a touchdown was one of the culprits. Penalties were another: San Francisco’s two TD drives involved a grand total of four first downs gained via actual plays.

San Francisco also took advantage of strong field position more than once, driving for a touchdown from its own 43 and a field goal from its own 39.

We’ve been beating this drum for a while for the Vikings, but we’ll say it again: It’s tough to keep points off the board when the other team only needs to go 30 yards to get in range for a kick.

A perfect day to be a Midwesterner

All four members of the NFC North got to hoist the “W” flag yesterday. How long has it been since we saw that happen? Four years.

On Nov. 13, 2005, the Vikings edged the Giants, the Packers beat Michael Vick and the Falcons, the Bears beat the Niners, and the Lions topped the Cardinals. Until yesterday, the quartet hadn’t posted an undefeated week since then.

We don’t want to point fingers for the drought, but a certain franchise—we’ll call it “Detroit”—didn’t exactly help matters by winning a total of 15 games in those four seasons.

Still, the Lions held up their end of the bargain for the first time in 20 games, and the rest of the North followed suit in impressive fashion.

Maybe that whole “powerhouse” label has some legs after all.

Lovie Smith, Jedi Master?

Speaking of good fortune for the NFC North, it seems the Bears have mastered a new defensive wrinkle: The art of getting your opponent to miss field goals.

Two weeks ago, Chicago took advantage of two Jeff Reed misfires to steal a win from the Steelers. Yesterday, the Bears got two more clunkers off the foot of Olindo Mare—who started the game 2-of-2—en route to a 25-19 win in Seattle.

Maybe Lovie Smith has a Voodoo doll hidden behind that clipboard. Maybe he’s using the force to nudge the ball off course. Maybe Chicago’s special-teams unit has come up with some truly distracting one-liners regarding opposing kickers’ sister’s.

Or maybe it’s just better to be lucky than good.

Whatever the case, I don’t think the Bears are complaining.

Am I thrilled to see Percy Harvin take a kickoff return to the house…

….or annoyed that my fantasy league’s scoring system didn’t give him (by which I mean me) any points for his trouble?

Life’s full of little trade-offs.

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The Tainted Legacy: Brett Favre’s No Longer a Threat

Retirement is supposed to be a great time in a athlete’s life. Sure it’s hard to give up playing a game they played and loved for years. Their teams, coaches, opponents, and fans all get to reflect upon and show appreciation for a long career. I never was a fan of players who came out of retirement.

Jordan. Magic. Roger Clemens and Alonzo Mourning to name a few who came back. Jordan sort of cheapened his legacy when he went to the Wizards approaching 40 years old. However at that point it was the ultimate challenge of going to a team like that to compete. At that point he had nothing left to prove and had accomplished everything. He was the only one that gets a pass…sort of.

Larry Bird. Barry Sanders. Patrick Ewing. Michael Strahan. Players who retired on their terms, and will be remembered for going out with class and grace. If you’re not one hundred percent sure, then why hold a press conference crying like a girl. They know when their time is up. Most of them anyway.

Brett Favre to me is the worst case of flip-floppers. My opinion of him has plummeted since he left Green Bay, and I’m not alone in that sentiment. For years Brett Favre was synonymous with the Green Bay Packers. Known for being loyal to his organization and teammates. Known for durability. The Cal Ripken of football. Still is.

For years and years the question he had with himself and fans had of him was will he retire at the end of the season. He would wait and wait, then would say he’d play the following season, and think it over, again. He retired the season before last, and was a virtual god in Green Bay, and the country.

Retiring after an unbelievably competitive season where no one expected anything. He was the prototypical football player and athlete. A consummate professional. There is no chance hell come back he told us. There’s a good laugh.

Midway through his so called retirement, he starts to hint that he is contemplating coming back. Brett could never just say he’s coming back. He has to try to build suspense and drama. That’s what he lives for. Its all a game to him. The public knows if Brett is even thinking of coming back, he is coming back.

The Packers couldn’t go through it another year and had to think of their  best interest. They decided to stick with Aaron Rodgers since he was already in the mindset to start. Rightly so. He weaseled his way out of his contract and came to the New York Jets. The Packers got tired of wondering how they replace Favre, and actually did it.

Now to make room for him, they traded away their reliable and accurate quarterback, Chad Pennington. So the Jets were all in. It was hit or miss, win now or go home. The guy winds up having the worst season for a quarterback since I started watching the Jets in 1987. He throws 22 interceptions.

Chad hadn’t thrown that many in the previous two seasons. the funny thing was Pennington had a MVP-caliber season, taking a team with one win the year before to the playoffs.

After last season, he runs the same line again. There’s absolutely no chance that he’ll come back. Also, it conveniently comes out that he was playing with a bad shoulder. Sounds like an excuse to me. Since when does Favre complain about injuries? Is that supposed to exonerate him for his terribly abysmal season last year. There’s still no chance he’ll come back.

A few months into this off-season, here we go again. Reports that Favre is “thinking” of coming back to play for the Vikings. I guess with Aaron Rodgers filling in greatly, along with Favre flopping in New York would warrant him going to the Packers’ arch rival. That’s a slap in the face. For what at this point.

Sure the guy holds a ton of records, and still hasnt missed a start in how many years. Brett has to be dead to miss a game. But he’s left two franchises scrambling to replace him. Granted, Rodgers and Mark Sanchez have filled in greatly, perhaps playing better than the legend.

But his constant wavering negatively effects everyone from teammates to fans. If hes not sure, he should say he’s not sure. Not make announcements and renege on them. It screws up the team chemistry along with a lot of other things.

In the end, he winds up coming back, as both the Jets and Packers watch a guy play that told them that he was done. He reminds me of a guy who dates a girl who is married. She leaves her husband, and then a few years later, she leaves the guy. What does he expect. Its happened before.

The guy is definitely a Hall of Famer. No one doubts his passion or love for the game. At a time he could have went out on top.

Instead, I’ll remember him for bouncing from team to team in his later years. I’ll remember him for retiring and un-retiring constantly. I’ll remember the Jets going it for it all, building a team around him and failing. I’ll remember him blaming his shoulder injury, retire, and then come back and play for another team. What happened to the loyalty?

Then again, if he did that to the Packers after all those successful years, I shouldn’t be too surprised.

Hopefully, when he makes his speech at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony, he could explain his late age football junkie mentality. He tried to give it up, but couldn’t and just bounced around, team to team, looking for that same high he had with the Packers in the ’90s.

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