Nothing went right for Brett Favre and the Vikings yesterday afternoon. The opening drive went well enough, with Favre directing a 77-yard drive capped by a Ryan Longwell field goal. But it was all downhill from there.
A sign of the impending doom was visible early on when defensive tackle Kevin Williams ran out onto the field with his name misspelled on his jersey as “Willaims.” Williams is one of the Vikings’ longest-tenured players, and a five-time Pro Bowler. It’s not as though the equipment managers don’t know who he is.
More consequential mistakes happened on the field. Favre went without a touchdown in what — for now — would seem his final appearance against his former team. On the other side of the ball, the Vikings defense allowed Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to serve up his first 4-touchdown game, and a 140.1 passer rating (anything above 90 is considered good). Three of Rodgers’ touchdown passes went to Greg Jennings, formerly one of Favre’s favorite targets.
Now at 3-7, the Vikings’ playoff hopes are all but extinguished. The Bears and Packers sit atop the NFC North with matching 7-3 records, leaving Minnesota 4 games back with only 6 to play.
As rivals for 50 years, Minnesota and Green Bay have now played each other 100 times. Whatever each team’s fortunes in a given year, they almost always play each other close. That’s one reason why yesterday’s 31-3 score was such a surprise. If this was indeed Favre’s last game against the Green Bay Packers, he went out with a whimper, not a bang.
Next week, the Vikings head to DC to play the ailing Redskins, which could give them the boost they need. A victory over Washington might also afford a longer leash for head coach Brad Childress, who had to endure the crowd chanting “Fire Childress” in the fourth quarter. Rumors are swirling that he may be fired as soon as today, which would mark the second game in a row that a Packers opponent fires its head coach after playing them. The Dallas Cowboys fired Wade Phillips after his talent-laden team lost 45-7 at Lambeau Field.
There are also rumors that Favre may retire before the end of the season. His $1 million-per-game salary makes that unlikely; that kind of money can soothe a lot of indignities.
The Packers may not have Minnesota’s internal troubles, but their road to the playoffs is only slightly easier. This week they will take on a tough Atlanta Falcons team in the Georgia Dome. Matchups against the Patriots, Giants, and Bears remain on the schedule.