So much investment, so little initial return.
Brett Favre came into his first preseason game as a Minnesota Viking with low expectations – saying he just didn’t want to fumble the ball or make any huge mistakes. Turns out, he fulfilled his goals but wasn’t able to kindle a big fire in his right arm after only 2½ days in the Vikings offense in a 17-13 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
“With all the attention, it’s kind of hard not to feel like you have to live up to all this hype - not that I don't want to do that - but the most important thing sis to lead this team to victory somehow, someway,” Favre said.
While he accomplished his goals of just getting back into the flow of the game, his performance was far from inspiring, although that might have been expected with the short time he had to mesh with his receivers. He was only 1-for-4 for 4 yards and a 39.6 rating.
Instead, it was the defense and enough of Tarvaris Jackson that propelled the preseason win. Jackson entered the game after Favre’s first two series looked the part of the experience veteran. He was 12-for-15 for 202 yards, two touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 rating.
"It was a long week, but it just shows good things can happen if you maintain focus," Jackson said.
With neither running game produced a lot of success – the Vikings’ 3.4-yard average was better than the Chiefs’ 3.2 average – it was the passing games that worked best for both teams. The Chiefs did it mainly with starter Matt Cassel, who was 9-for-14 for 99 yards while Jackson and Booty, who was 6-for-8 for 61 yards, had more success than Favre.
The defensive line opened the game by missing a couple of tackle-for-loss opportunities, including a potential sack that resulted in an 11-yard scramble by Cassel for the game’s initial first down. One play later, Cassel escaped again and fired a 12-yard completion for a first down. While the passing game was working, Larry Johnson couldn’t get anything going, rushing three times for minus-2 yards before coughing up a fumble that E.J. Henderson recovered.
Favre’s debut wasn’t a glorious one. His first snap was a handoff, his second an incompletion and his third was a completion to Percy Harvin short of the sticks. When the Vikings went for the first down just past midfield, Adrian Peterson was stopped short.
The Chiefs took advantage of the field position with Cassel continuing to hit his receivers. He found Devard Darling for 11 yards and converted third down with a 13-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe. When he found TE Sean Ryan for a 9-yard completion, the Chiefs were in scoring range and Ryan Succop hit a 32-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 5:56 left to play in the opening period.
Favre’s second drive was no more exciting, as Peterson’s 6-yard run was the only positive, with a false start and two incompletions following that.
Minnesota’s pass defense gave up one more big play, a 20-yard reception to Jamaal Charles, but the pass rush finally started to get to Cassel. Fred Evans registered the first sack, a 5-yarder, and one play later Benny Sapp took down Cassel for an 11-yard loss and a forced fumble that offensive tackle Barry Richardson recovered to at least allow a punt.
With Tarvaris Jackson taking over after two series, he didn’t start out any better than Favre, costing the team yardage with an illegal forward pass that he threw after he was about 3 yards past the line of scrimmage.
Three big plays were all Kansas City needed to back in scoring position. Johnson broke off an 18-yard run against the second-team defense, Dwayne Bowe caught a 20-yard pass, and Quinten Lawrence took an end-around for 16 yards. That was about all Kansas City needed, and from there Bowe caught a 4-yard touchdown pass.
Trailing 10-0, Jackson responded. Peterson started the drive with three runs for 17 yards before Jackson hit Sidney Rice for 6 yards and another first down. Peterson took three more carries for 14 yards and Jackson found Rice again for 5 more. He followed that up with a 15-yard completion to Wade and, four plays later, a 16-yard pass play to Chester Taylor. Three plays later, Jackson scramble away from trouble and found Shiancoe for a 13-yard touchdown to make it 10-7, a score that held up until halftime.
The Vikings went three-and-out to start the second half, but the Chiefs, with Brodie Croyle running their show, put together a long drive assisted by defensive penalties to start. On second-and-14, Karl Paymah was flagged for illegal contact. On third-and-9, Letroy Guion was guilty of a helmet-to-helmet roughing-the-passer. A couple of Jackie Battle runs picked up another first down and the Chiefs were at midfield. A 16-yard pass to Amani Toomer moved them close to the red zone, but they wouldn’t get much more before settling for a 37-yard Succop field goal and a 13-7 lead.
Once again, Jackson responded to a Chiefs score with a touchdown pass of his own, and this time it didn’t take long. He advanced the ball to near midfield with connections of 14 yards to TE Jake Nordin and 7 yards to Nick Moore before hitting the play of the game. Standing in the face of a rush, Jackson held steady in the pocket and launched a deep pass that hit Darius Reynaud in stride. He was quickly on his way to a 64-yard touchdown to give the Vikings their first lead of the game, 14-13, with 4:03 to play in the third quarter.
While Croyle remained in the game for the Chiefs, their next two drives went nowhere, ending on a fumble that DE Martail Burnett recovered and a three-and-out followed by a punt. In between those drives, Taylor Mehlhaff couldn’t capitalize on the fumble recovery when he missed a 40-yard field goal attempt wide left.
Mehlhaff would get another chance at the end of John David Booty’s second drive. Booty moved the chains with a 5-yard completion to RB Albert Young, but he connected with Reynaud for big yardage again, this time a 24-yard pass play. A couple of completions to Ian Johnson gained a combined 24 yards, putting the Vikings inside the red zone, where Mehlhaff found the middle of the uprights from 29 yards out for a 17-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
It was a lead the defense would be able to hold – just barely. The Chiefs had two drives left in the fourth quarter. The first one ended at their own 45-yard line with a punt, but they came as close as you can without getting rewarded. With Matt Gutierrez in at quarterback, he converted a third down with a 7-yard completion to Lawrence. After two incompletions, he did it against with an 11-yard pass to Taurus Johnson, then moved the chains once more with a 15-yard pass to Rodney Wright and continued the momentum with a 10-yarder to Javarris Williams. When CB Derrick Roberson ran into Ashley Lelie in the back of the end zone, the Chiefs set up shop on the 1-yard line with 55 seconds remaining.
As has happened so many times in recent Vikings history, the defense made the goal-line stand. First it was Burnett stuffing a running play for no gain. Next Jamarca Sanford forced FB Jed Collins out of bounds after a completion for no gain. And finally Burnett and Jimmy Kennedy combined to stop Battle at the line of scrimmage. On the game’s final play, Gutierrez went to the back of the end zone for Lelie again, but he was forced out of bounds to preserve of a 17-13 win that started with a whole lot of Favre but was won on defense and Jackson.