Notebook: Webb, Harvin get the crucial plays

Percy Harvin (Scott Slocum/AP)

Two of the youngest Vikings at their positions, 24-year-old Joe Webb and 22-year-old Percy Harvin, made two of the most crucial offensive plays in the passing game. Plus, who will start on Sunday, what's the latest on the Brett Favre investigation and more.

The Vikings' youngest pitch-and-catch combination was the best one Tuesday night. Joe Webb, the youngest quarterback at 24, targeted Percy Harvin, the youngest receiver at 22, eight times and was successful all but once.

Harvin finished with seven catches for 100 yards, his first 100-yard game since Nov. 7, and he had two of the biggest offensive plays of the game.

With the score tied at halftime, the Vikings came out and threw a bomb for Harvin on the first offensive play of the second half. Webb moved to his left and heaved a pass 46 yards downfield. Despite garnering a pass interference call, Harvin came down with the ball and put the Vikings in scoring position. They got as close as the 2-yard line, but a touchdown toss to Sidney Rice was overturned on a challenge and they had to settle for a Ryan Longwell field goal, but Harvin's catch was the longest play of the game by far.

"It was a big momentum (boost) for the offense to come out there after halftime and make that big play and to get in the red zone right away. That was a big step," Webb said. "Percy did a great job of going down and making that play."

In the fourth quarter, with the Vikings holding a 17-14 lead, Webb and Harvin combined for another big play. With Minnesota facing third-and-11, the Eagles called a timeout and Webb and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell discussed the play, making a change from the original play selection.

Webb stepped up in the pocket and delivered a well-thrown strike 19 yards down the middle of the field. On the next play, Adrian Peterson broke loose for a 27-yard run, and the star running back scored on the following play to give the Vikings the final score of the game and a 24-14 win.

"That was the biggest play of the game. We converted that third down and that pretty much set the tone, set up for Adrian Peterson to have that great run, get it down to the 1-yard line," Webb said. "That play right there, that was the biggest play of the game. I believe that was the turning point."

If not the turning point, the final Webb-to-Harvin connection was the final decisive pass play of the game for duo and the Vikings.

FAVRE THE STARTER IF HEALTHY

Despite Webb's solid performance and him being the only quarterback with the team all season that is still under contract in 2011, interim Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said that Brett Favre would be the starter Sunday if healthy.

"If Brett can go, Brett will be our quarterback for sure if he were able to pass the concussion test," Frazier said. "So it wouldn't be an issue for me or our team if Brett were able to go."

That could turn out to be a moot point, as Favre hasn't passed his league-mandated test following a concussion on Dec. 20. NBC reported that Favre didn't take the test at all while in Philadelphia from Saturday to Tuesday.

Despite backing Favre first, Frazier also praised Webb's performance.

"We have a lot of confidence in Joe. We've seen him do some things that you just know he has the ability to make some plays," Frazier said. "Now, how consistent will he be as a rookie playing against a very, very good football team, a very good defense? That you don't know. But (Tuesday night), you have an indication of things to come with Joe. He showed great composure.

"He shows the intangibles that you look for in that position for a guy who has tremendous athletic ability."

Webb indicated that was OK with Favre starting the season finale Sunday in Detroit.

"If he wants to play, he can play. That's Brett Favre," Webb said. "Brett did a great job with me (Tuesday night) too. He gave me tips on the sideline."

CONCUSSIONS SIDELINE FAVRE, WILLIAMS

Favre was inactive for the second time in three weeks.

Favre made a surprise start in last Monday night's game at TCF Bank Stadium after testing his sprained sternoclavicular joint in his throwing shoulder. However, when Favre was thrown to the frozen turf during a sack by Cory Wootton in the second quarter, he suffered a concussion and hasn't been able to pass the league-mandated test to return to action after suffering a concussion.

The Vikings also made safety Madieu Williams (concussion) inactive Tuesday night, giving Jamarca Sanford got the start.

Also inactive for the Vikings were WRs Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett, safety Tyrell Johnson, tackle Thomas Welch and DT Fred Evans.

FAVRE DECISION THIS WEEK?

An NFL spokesman said Tuesday night that he didn't know when an announcement would be made on a potential suspension to Favre for allegedly sending inappropriate messages and photos to Jenn Sterger, a former employee of the New York Jets, when both of them were employed by the Jets in 2008.

Last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who was in Minneapolis for the Vikings-Bears Monday night game, reiterated that the league would be making a decision on Favre before the end of the season.

"As soon as I reach a conclusion," Goodell said when asked how soon a decision would be coming. "I am not going to put a timeframe on it, other than I did say I hope that it will be by the end of the season.

Sterger's attorney, Joseph Conway, told the Sport Business Daily, that he believes Favre is receiving preferential treatment.

"(Favre) is a high-profile athlete and a star in this league. He did do it or he didn't do it. There are lots of reasons to believe he is getting preferential treatment," Conway said.

Goodell said last week that he was still hoping to learn more in the investigation.

"I still am following up on some of the information, making sure that we have been thorough. We want to be thorough and serious about it, and reach the right conclusion."

PRO BOWL PRATTLE

Peterson was the only Viking to make the initial Pro Bowl roster for the NFC, and Peterson isn't starting. Atlanta's Michael Turner is the starting running back for the NFC squad.

This is Peterson's fourth straight selection to the Pro Bowl. He leads the NFC with a 90.5-yard average per game this year and was the 2008 MVP of the Pro Bowl.

The last time the Vikings had only one Pro Bowl player was in 1985, when Joey Browner was named for special teams.

The Vikings were one of seven teams that had only one player make the Pro Bowl, joining Cleveland (T Joe Thomas), Denver (WR Brandon Lloyd), Washington (CB DeAngelo Hall), St. Louis (RB Steven Jackson), Arizona (S Adrian Wilson) and Carolina (T Jordan Gross).

Four teams – Buffalo, Cincinnati, Seattle, Tampa Bay – had no Pro Bowl players on their roster. New England led the league with six Pro Bowlers – QB Tom Brady, G Logan Mankins, LB Jerod Mayo, CB Devin McCourty, S Brandon Meriweather and DT Vince Wilfork.

In the NFC North, Chicago placed four players (LB Lance Briggs, KR Devin Hester, DE Julius Peppers, LB Brian Urlacher) on the Pro Bowl roster, Green Bay placed five (T Chad Clifton, S Nick Collins, WR Greg Jennings, OL Clay Matthews and CB Charles Woodson), and Detroit had two (WR Calvin Johnson and DT Ndamukong Suh). Johnson, Suh and Jennings are all first-time Pro Bowlers.

NOTES

  • Joe Webb became the 60th different starting QB in the NFL this season, the fourth-most in the modern era of football.

  • While Favre and Williams were held out with concussions, Sidney Rice also suffered one in the game.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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