Vikings Line Keeping Rejuvenated Favre Upright

image AP

Brett Favre dropped back to pass in the third quarter of a tight game against his old team from Green Bay. The Minnesota Vikings quarterback pumped to his right. Nobody open. Then he looked left. Still covered. Then he pumped to his right again. The ball remained in his right hand.

Finally, he looked all the way back to the left one more time and threw a laser to Jeff Dugan for a 25-yard gain.

From the time Favre took the snap to the time he released the throw, a full 8 seconds elapsed from the time clock _ an eternity in the split-second life of an NFL play.

The Packers were only rushing three linemen, but even with eight players in coverage they couldn't wait for that long. And the big gain setup Favre's 31-yard touchdown pass Bernard Berrian in Minnesota's 30-23 victory on Monday night.

For the Vikings offensive line, the game was a statement. Favre had been sacked nine times and hit numerous others in the first three games, an ominous sign for a 39-year-old quarterback with achy knees, ankles and shoulders.

"We knew how intense the game would be," left tackle Bryant McKinnie said. "They're one of our rivals and he used to play for them, so we knew they had extra motivation to get after the quarterback and it was our job to keep them off him."

Favre was hardly touched on Monday night, finishing with 271 yards and three touchdowns to earn NFC offensive player of the week honors.

"It was pretty clean," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "They did a good job. They blocked some stunts very well and ran some people by the pocket. Guys will pick you apart if they can stand back there and have time."

That's exactly what Favre did. He completed 20 of his first 24 passes as the Vikings built a cushy lead through the first three quarters and held on for an important and emotional division win.

"We've seen during the past few games that he was taking a lot of hits," McKinnie said. "You just don't want to have him keep getting hit and getting hit. So it was our job to step up, and not just the offensive line. The running backs and tight ends as well had to step up the protection."

Favre made it clear Wednesday that the five guys up front from tackle to tackle weren't the only ones to blame for the beating he took in the first three weeks of the season. He arrived in Minnesota less than two months ago, and the unfamiliarity, Favre said, has contributed to a few blown blocking schemes. There have also been several occasions where he simply held the ball for too long.

Running back Chester Taylor had a key blitz pickup on Favre's touchdown a 14-yard TD to Sidney Rice.

"Monday night, they blitzed, we picked it up," Favre said. "We picked up the right guys. But physically speaking, our guys blocked extremely well.

"I really feel like, even though I've been sacked a pretty good bit this year, some of it is me holding the ball. Others were just protection issues as far as who we're going to and things like that. Our linemen continue to get better."

Favre singled out rookie right tackle Phil Loadholt, who didn't let Packers speed rusher Aaron Kampman get a whiff of his quarterback all night long.

"I told him at the end of the game I was extremely proud of him because I know how good Aaron Kampman is," Favre said. "To hold your own against him is pretty impressive. I could say that about all our guys this year."

New center John Sullivan also played the best game of his young career, and it was no coincidence that Favre was so effective.

So why the difference this time around?

"Sometimes you can't put your finger on it. We just went out there and executed well," Sullivan said. "The whole offense was in sync. Guys were getting open, the ball was getting out and we were holding up on the offensive line. All the credit has to be spread across to everybody."

  • CBSNews

Comments