The question coming into the week of preparation for the New York Giants
was "would Brett Favre
at less than 100 percent give the Vikings a better chance of winning that Tarvaris Jackson
?" After Favre's streak came to an end at 297 straight regular-season starts, the Vikings went out and laid an egg in a 21-3 loss to the Giants that left them numb, humbled and out of playoff contention.
Sunday's loss dropped the Vikings to 5-8 and, with four teams from the NFC East and South now having nine or more wins, they have been eliminated from the postseason. Favre, whose hand appeared to be purple after trying to grip and throw a football earlier in the day, was inactive for the first time in his professional career. The pundits will surely harken back to who was president at the time (George Bush, the father), what new movies came out that week (the classic "Captain Ron") and what the No. 1 song in the country was ("End of the Road" by Boyz II Men).
It was clearly a long time ago. The decision to sit Favre was punctuated by what happened during the game. Tarvaris Jackson got his first start in almost two years and got knocked out of the game twice, being relieved by Joe Webb
. Jackson collided with Adrian Peterson
and momentarily left of both of them down. It was a comedy of errors.
In his postgame press conference, Favre expressed the feeling of relief that the streak is finally over and perhaps should have ended years earlier.
"I'd much rather be playing, and that's just my nature. I wouldn't say it was time, but it's probably been long overdue," he said. "There's probably been a lot of times that the streak should have ended. It wasn't really a flood of emotion. I just couldn't play. I didn't feel like I could function good enough … to help us win."
It was a night that seemed to have a lot of closure. What was expected to be a raucous home crowd at the Metrodome turned into an apathetic crowd that was a mix of Giants fans and Vikings fans – in the first quarter a chant of "Defense!" came up from the crowd, while the Vikings were on offense.
Favre's streak was the talk of the game and the postgame – the feeling being that it was time to shut the old veteran down and, from the sounds of things both medically and from Favre himself, it's looking much more likely that the Vikings will place Favre on injured reserve and look to sign a veteran backup quarterback if one is available that can catch on quickly to their system. It would seem that, when he took that hit last week against Buffalo, we were seeing the end of Favre's career. If it was how he went out, sliding up in the pocket to try to make a play and leaving himself open for a high-speed hit from behind, that is remembered by the Favre haters, so be it. If that was his last moment on a football field for his career, so be it.
The Streak took almost two decades and a lot of close calls to continue. On Monday, it finally ended. Perhaps a year too late for Favre's liking, but it was a fun ride that Vikings fans won't forget – the good and the bad.
"Pretty amazing that God has blessed me, no doubt, with the ability to play at a high level and endure physically," Favre said. "I may pay for it a little bit later, but I wouldn't trade it for anything."
GAME NIGHT NOTES
Favre was far from alone on the "Missing In Action" list. For the second straight week, Steve Hutchinson, Percy Harvin and Ray Edwards were all inactive.
The Giants more than doubled the Vikings' yardage output, outgaining the Vikings 395-164 despite running just five more plays (66-61).
The Giants averaged 6.0 yards per play Monday night. The Vikings averaged 2.7 yards per play.
The Giants had 21 first downs, the Vikings had just 10 first downs the entire game – five in the first half and five in the second half.
Both teams were brutal on third downs. The Vikings made good on just two of 16 third downs (12 percent) and the Giants weren't much better at 23 percent (three of 13).
New York had 213 rushing yards, blowing the Vikings out of the water, averaging 7.6 yards per carry. The Vikings had just 61 rushing yards on 22 carries – a 2.8 yard average.
Coming into Monday's game, the Vikings had allowed just one 100-yard rusher – BenJarvus Green-Ellis of the Patriots. On Monday, they allowed two – Brandon Jacobs ran 14 times for 116 yards and Ahmad Bradshaw had 11 carries for 103 yards. Coming into Monday, the Vikings had allowed just one run of 45 yards or more. Both Jacobs and Bradshaw topped that – Jacobs breaking off a 73-yard run and Bradshaw scoring a 48-yard touchdown.
The Vikings' dismal running stats were inflated by their quarterbacks. Jackson and Webb combined to rush five times for 24 yards. Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart combined to rush 17 times for 37 yards.
Peterson had his worst game of the season. Nobody had held him under a 3.0-yard average per rushing attempt all season. The Giants held him to a season-low 26 yards on 14 carries – an anemic 1.9-yard average.
Peterson's rush-by-rush numbers Monday? A woeful 0-0-0-0-7-2-3-(-3)-3-5-1-2-6-2.
The Vikings were led by Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian with five catches each.
The Vikings had a very wideout-heavy pass distribution. Of the Vikings' 17 completions, 13 went to wide receivers and two each went to tight ends and running backs.
In contrast, Eli Manning had 22 completions – 10 to wide receivers and six each to his running backs and tight ends.
Manning, who made his 100th straight career start Monday, had another sub-par game against the Vikings. He completed 22 of 37 passes for 187 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He had a passer rating of just 59.2 – continuing his career-long struggle against the Vikings.
Jackson completed 15 of 30 passes for just 118 yards with no touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of just 46.2. Webb was even worse, completing two of five passes for eight yards and a passer rating of 47.9.
The Giants went after Asher Allen, who had a team-high 11 tackles (eight solo) with an interception and two passes defensed.
Sunday's loss was the second time in four games that the Vikings have been held without a touchdown. On Nov. 21, they lost 31-3 to Green Bay and, the next day, Brad Childress was fired.
Jackson had problems with center John Sullivan. Two snaps from the shotgun sailed past Jackson. Considering he hadn't had that kind of problem with Favre, one has to wonder if Jackson was out of position to take the snaps.
Lorenzo Booker made his Vikings debut and just about provided the spark the Vikings would need if a late-game comeback was going to be possible. After the Giants scored to take a 21-3 lead, Booker took the ensuing kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown. Yet, the play was called back because of a block-in-the-back penalty on Jasper Brinkley after Booker had sailed past Brinkley and the Giants player he hit from behind.
Greg Camarillo had an interesting night in punt returns. He gave the Vikings a big spark in the third quarter while trailing 14-3. After the first New York drive of the second half, Camarillo weaved his way to both sidelines on a 52-yard return that gave the Vikings a first down on the Giants 36-yard line (Jackson threw an interception two plays later). Following that, however, things went downhill. On his next return try, he fielded the ball on the 3-yard line and was brought down on the 10. On his next opportunity, Camarillo benefitted from a new rule this season that allows a returner that has called a fair catch the chance to catch the ball untouched even if he bobbles it. Camarillo did and the Giants ripped the ball away from him, but were called for a penalty for interference with the fair catch.
Jared Allen recorded a sack Monday night. It wasn't so much that it was an epic moment, but it was the first sack allowed in six games by the Giants offensive line.
At halftime, Jackson had a passer rating of 90.9, having completed 10 of 13 passes for 77 yards. In the second half, he completed 5 of 17 passes for 41 yards and an interception.
In the first half of the game, Jacobs ran five times for 83 yards and a touchdown. In the second half, Bradshaw ran six times for 73 yards and a touchdown.
In the first half, Peterson rushed 10 times for 16 yards. In the second half, he rushed four times for 10 yards.
In the second quarter, the Giants outscored the Vikings 14-0, outgaining the Vikings 152-35 and holding the ball for 11:07 of the quarter.
In the first half, Manning threw two interceptions, pushing him past Favre with 19 interceptions – erasing him from the bad-news leaderboard in that category.
The Vikings got off to a strong start, leading in both time of possession and on the scoreboard in the first quarter. The Giants would control the rest of the game and score the final 21 points.
The Vikings' only scoring drive came on a 10-play, 31-yard drive in the first quarter.
While Favre's streak ended in his 20th season, Jackson made his 20th career start Monday.
The folks at Ford Field did their part to try to make the Vikings feel at home. The Norseman logo was at the 50-yard line, the Vikings name was in each end zone and, when the Vikings made a big play, the Viking horn sounded. The fans didn't seem as into it as expected.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.