Since Brett Favre arrived in Minnesota in mid-August, the team has gone to great lengths to monitor the amount of throws he makes, and coach Brad Childress said before the season if there were ever a chance to give the veteran quarterback a rest, he would do so.
That opportunity arrived in a big way on Sunday, as Favre was removed late in the third quarter with the Vikings holding a 28-3 lead over the Seahawks. Favre had thrown four touchdown passes by that point, and backup Tarvaris Jackson added another scoring strike as the Vikings cruised to a 35-9 victory.
Jackson had replaced Favre in four victories earlier this season, but in those cases he never played more than two series. On Sunday, he played a little more than a quarter.
“It’s rare that you have the luxury to be able to do that,” Childress said, “but I don’t think you can discount it as we go later into the season. He’s never going to fight you on it, but he wants to win and he loves to compete. He’d be the first to tell you that he’s not in it to practice every day. But he loves those Sundays. I didn’t have to arm-wrestle him or anything like that, but it was nice.”
Favre stands to tie former Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall’s record for consecutive regular-season games by a non-kicker or punter on Sunday.
So how much rest would Favre be willing to accept? For instance, if the Vikings had clinched the NFC North and the conference, would he ever sit out an entire game? It seems like an enormous long shot.
“I’m not even going to focus on that,” he said. “We have the Bears coming in here next week. I know it’s foolish to look past this game. ... Once again, we have a lot of football left to play. I think it only gets tougher from here on out, and it’s been pretty tough up to this point. So my focus is on the Bears.”
Linebacker Chad Greenway is pleased with the Vikings’ success but knows it guarantees nothing.
“It just means that you still have a chance,” Greenway said. “We are at nine wins, so the worst that you can do is 9-7, right? We just have got to keep pushing it. We are by no means in any position to lay off. We got to continue to get better, and you want to be playing your best football in December and January, and that’s what we are trying to get to. We are making strides, but we can’t have a relapse. We have to stay on course now.”
Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson was asked to compare this year’s Vikings to the 2005 Seattle team he played on that went to the Super Bowl: “I’m not good at comparisons like that. All I know is we have a team here that’s 9-1. The guys are as close as I’ve seen in the locker room — defense, offense and special teams. We get along well. There are not factions, there are no cliques. That’s what you want on a team when you are ready to try to make a run and have a good season. I think we have that chemistry.”
Wide receiver Sidney Rice on whether the Vikings’ execution can improve: “Yes, there’s always something you can get better at. We’ll get in, we’ll watch the film. The next couple of days, a lot of people are going to go in. That’s what I like about this team. A lot of people are still going to go in and watch the film and make the corrections that need to be made.”
LB Ben Leber left Sunday’s game briefly in the fourth quarter because of what appeared to be an injury to his leg. Leber, however, said afterward he thought it was just a bruise.
Rice had a cramp in his leg after making a 7-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter Sunday but said he was fine.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe had a career-high eight catches Sunday against Seattle. He now has seven receiving touchdowns, one off the Vikings’ single-season team record for a tight end that was set by Joe Senser in 1981.
CB Antoine Winfield missed a fourth consecutive game Sunday because of an injury to his right foot. He had said there was an 85 percent chance he could play against Seattle, but ended up being listed as doubtful on the injury report last Friday. Winfield will be monitored closely in practice again this week as the Vikings prepare to play the Bears.
Rookie CB Asher Allen might have played well enough during Antoine Winfield’s absence to remain active on game day when the veteran does return. Allen has helped by subbing in the nickel package, and he had an interception Sunday. He also has played on special teams.