Whether we’re going to find about it or not – or at least to what extent we will other than obvious visual evidence –the condition of Brett Favre’s throwing elbow is very much up in the air.
In the second half of the Vikings comeback against the Jets, Favre was seen grabbing his throwing elbow. On a touchdown pass to Percy Harvin, he didn’t run down to congratulate his receiver, which is his M.O. Instead, he jogged to the sideline with his right arm hanging limply against his chest.
When asked about the injury following the game, Favre said that he made some big plays during the same span in which he was clearly in pain and refused to say that his inflamed elbow, which became an issue during the last week of practice, was a problem.
“This is probably the worst it’s felt in four games,” Favre said. “I missed some throws the last drive that I think I make in my sleep – the last two drives. I’m not here to make excuses. I missed them. I felt like I should have made them. I have a little bit of tendinitis in it, but I also made some pretty good throws tonight too. I can’t sit here and say tendinitis caused me to miss however many throws. It doesn’t feel as good as it did after Detroit.”
He didn’t say it at his post-game press conference, but he may have to when the team goes over game film. On the drive after cutting the deficit to 15-13, Favre threw a 60-yard bomb to Moss that was broken up. On the next two plays, Harvin got open for what could have been significant gains. On the first pass, Favre put the ball too far away from Harvin with a ton of zing that hit his fingertips. On the next play, with Harvin working his way wide open against Darrelle Revis, Favre one-hopped the throw.
On the play before the Jets took control of the game with Dwight Lowery’s interception return for a touchdown, Favre had Harvin wide open with Moss clearing out the defenders behind him. Harvin had a minimum of 20 to 30 yards he would have gained on the play and, given his speed and open-field ability, it could have just as easily gone for a touchdown. Yet the pass sailed on Favre, which has historically been a problem when he has an injury. Most quarterbacks when they have a shoulder or elbow problem lose velocity and passes tend to die on them. When you are a hard-thrower like Favre, John Elway or Dan Marino, when there is something wrong, passes sail. His passes to Harvin all had their normal velocity, just not their normal accuracy.
It can only be imagined that Favre will downplay the extent of his injuries. The problem is that, from the only look most of us are going to get between now and next Sunday, it looks as though the problems with Favre’s elbow are considerably more serious than it appears. Favre lives for the types of moments he had in the final 21 minutes of Monday’s game. His misses to Harvin are all plays, as he admits, he could “complete in my sleep.” He didn’t.
As hard as it may be for the Vikings coaches and players to swallow, they had better start getting Tarvaris Jackson prepared to be ready if his number gets called. It looks like the warranty on Favre’s ailing ankle is up and his throwing elbow now looks to be the next hurdle in keeping his consecutive-games streak alive.
GAME NIGHT NOTES
Favre reached three milestones Monday – all in the third quarter. A bad milestone was reached in the first three minutes of the quarter. He suffered his second fumble of the game to pass Warren Moon with and NFL-record 162 career fumbles. With four minutes to play in the quarter, he completed a 22-yard pass to Harvin that made him the first QB to ever throw for 70,000 yards. Three plays later, he became the first player to throw 500 touchdowns on a bomb to Moss.
The Vikings may have suffered another significant loss of Cedric Griffin. Griffin made a couple of impressive breakups, including one in the end zone on Braylon Edwards, before suffering a right knee injury in the third quarter. Griffin threw off his helmet – eerily similar to what happened when he tore up his left knee against New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game in January. His immediate status is unknown, but it didn’t look good from what was observed on the field and the sidelines.
DE Brian Robison appeared to suffer an ankle injury in the first half. In the moments after going down, Robison attempted to take off his own shoe before the trainers came out and got him off the field. His status was unknown immediately after the game.
When asked following the game about his emotional speech to his teammates Monday morning during team meetings, Favre hinted he wasn’t too pleased about Ryan Longwell letting a reporter know that Favre had tears in his eyes as he spoke to them. When asked to elaborate on what he said, Favre said, “That’s between me and my teammates – apparently not all of them” – a non-veiled shot at Longwell’s comments to the media.
After looking hideous for almost three quarters, the Vikings outgained the Jets 336-328.
The Vikings allowed 155 rushing yards to the Jets, the first time in 53 games that the Vikings have allowed more than 150 yards rushing – snapping the second-longest streak in modern NFL history.
The Vikings were 0-of-5 on third-down conversion attempts in the first half. They were 7-of-10 in the second half. The Jets were 4-of-10 on third downs in the first half and just 1-of-7 in the second half.
In the first half, the Jets outgained the Vikings 206-51. In the second half, the Vikings outgained the Jets 285-122.
Favre completed just 14 of 34 passes – the first time in 44 games he completed less than 50 percent of his passes. The last time was Nov. 29, 2007, when he completed 5 of 14 passes against Dallas and was injured – giving Aaron Rodgers his first significant playing time.
Say what you want about the Randy Moss factor in the Vikings offense. In the first three games, Favre averaged 9.95 yards per completion. On Monday night, he averaged 18.9 yards per completion.
LaDainian Tomlinson won the battle of the running backs, rushing 20 times for 94 yards, while Adrian Peterson rushed 18 times for 88 yards.
Harvin came within 3 yards of his second career 100-yard game, catching five passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
The Vikings defense has yet to allow a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher or a 100-yard receiver this year.
In his Vikings debut (for the second time), Moss caught four passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.
In his first three games combined, Favre had thrown just two touchdowns. In Monday’s furious second half rally, he threw three touchdowns.
The Vikings once again lost the turnover battle, coughing up the ball three times. Those three turnovers resulted in 13 Jets points.
Jets QB Mark Sanchez didn’t have a great game, completing 21 of 44 passes for 191 yards – his passer rating of 59.9 was dwarfed by Favre’s 85.9 – but he has yet to have an interception in five games this year, spanning of 147 passes.
Prior to Monday’s game, opposing kickers had made just one of four field goal attempts against the Vikings. Former Cowboy Nick Folk made five of five attempts Monday, including a 53-yarder with room to spare.
The start time of the game was delayed 45 minutes due to rain, hail and lightning and, late in the first, a deluge opened up that made visibility limited inside the stadium.
The Jets nearly handed the Vikings a chance to win the game. Ahead 22-20, the Vikings called their last timeout with 2:47 to play. If the Jets had run a stretch play on the next snap, there is little to no chance that the play ends within the seven-second window. Instead, they ran up the middle on first down and the play was cut down immediately. The 40-second clock began ticking at 2:43 and, instead of letting the play clock run out, Sanchez snapped the ball and had his pass fall incomplete with 2:03 to play. Had the clock been managed properly, the Jets could have and should have milked the clock down to about 30 seconds when the Vikings got the ball for a last-gasp drive. Instead, they had 1:48 to get into position for a game-winning field goal.
In the first nine drives of the game, the Vikings had 58 yards of offense. In the next two drives, they had 162 yards and two touchdowns.
In the first 44:30 of the game, Peterson had 11 carries for 33 yards. In his next two carries – the last play of the third quarter and the first play of the fourth – he would gain 40 yards.
Chad Greenway had 10 tackles (nine solo) to lead both teams and was a force on the field much of the night.
Moss showed a little veteran savvy on a bomb in the fourth quarter. He was called for offensive pass interference, but the pass was off-line for Moss and the only person who could catch it was Antonio Cromartie – who drew single coverage with Moss instead of injured Darrelle Revis. He grabbed Cromartie by the jersey and pulled him down. Had he not, Cromartie may well have intercepted the pass, which would have been more devastating than a 10-yard penalty.
Prior to their touchdown drive in the third quarter, in the first 39 minutes, the Vikings had just three first downs and drive lengths of the following number of plays: 3-3-4-3-3-4-1-1-3.
The Vikings were called for eight penalties Monday, three of them on tight end Jim Kleinsasser. He was flagged for two false starts and a holding penalty.
Visanthe Shiancoe didn’t have his first catch until 4:30 remained in the third quarter.
In the first half, the Vikings ran 28 offensive plays. The Jets ran 28 plays in Vikings territory.
The Jets got into the red zone four times, but came away with 12 points on four field goals.
The Vikings crossed midfield for just one play in the first half, where Favre threw an incompletion and the Vikings had to punt. On the next two occasions the Vikings got into Jets territory, it was as if they were allergic to being on that half of the field. After a big punt return by Greg Camarillo allowed the Vikings to open on the Jets 49-yard line, Favre fumbled the next snap for a quick turnover. The next time the Vikings crossed midfield, Kleinsasser’s holding pushed them back again.
In the first half, the Vikings had the ball seven times and never had more than four plays on any of them – two drives with four plays, four with three plays and a kneeldown at the end. The Jets had the ball six times and have drives of 4, 7, 12, 4, 7 and 14 plays.
The Jets dominated the first half, outgaining the Vikings 206-51 and holding the ball for 18 minutes, 30 seconds.
It was the tale of two halves for both quarterbacks. In the first half, Favre completed just three of seven passes for 31 yards and no touchdowns. In the second half, he completed 11 of 27 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns. Sanchez completed 13 of 29 passes for 139 yards in the first half and completed eight of 15 passes in the second half for just 52 yards.
The tale of two halves was also reflected in the running backs. Peterson ran eight times for 34 yards in the first half. He then ran 10 times for 54 yards in the second half. Tomlinson ran 10 times for 61 yards in the first half and 10 times for 33 yards in the second half.
Even before Griffin went out with his knee injury, Asher Allen was getting a lot of playing time with the Vikings defense. At one point, it appeared as though the Jets were targeting Allen for pass plays.
The Jets ran their version of the Wildcat just four times and ran from it each time for modest gains.
Favre didn’t have an official pass attempt until the Vikings’ third drive.
As expected, center John Sullivan was sidelined again, despite raising some hopes when he made the trip to New York. Ryan Cook took his place and had a couple of mishandles with Favre. In the second half, Jon Cooper replaced Cook.
The Vikings have started 1-3 three of the last four years and, the last time they did, they finished 10-6 and won the NFC North – food for thought on an otherwise dismal night.