Packers' Lambeau win over Vikings more than just a Favre conquest
Brad Childress pulled no punches with Brett Favre and the officials in the postgame
Minnesota had three potential touchdowns overturned by NFL instant replay
The 2-4 Vikings may have to face the 5-1 Patriots without the injured Favre
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Dispatches from Green Bay's eventful 28-24 win over reeling Minnesota Sunday night at a giddy Lambeau Field ...
1. Brett Favre's three interceptions against the Packers were pivotal to the Minnesota loss and are sure to reignite the debate about whether he and Vikings head coach Brad Childress are on the same page -- and capable of once again working through their well-known differences. After moving heaven and earth to get Favre back to Minnesota this summer, Childress pointed the finger of blame right at his 41-year-old quarterback in the wake of Sunday's loss, which dropped his team to 2-4, matching its loss total from last season.
When asked about Favre's three second-half interceptions, one of which was returned 32 yards for a touchdown by middle linebacker Desmond Bishop for the eventual winning points, Childress was blunt.
"It still goes back to taking care of the football,'' he said in his postgame session with the media. "You can't throw it to them. They have to play within the confines of our system. You can't give seven points going the other way. Not in a game like this.''
Favre's three picks came in a span of seven of his 29 passes, and led directly to 14 Packers points. Childress was asked if Favre forced those passes.
"Yeah, the one to Bishop,'' he said. "I'd have to look at that, cause I'd like to know where we're going with the football, because I believe the play was designed to go to the other side and I think Percy's (Harvin) standing there in big air. So not sure why we're looking at the left-hand side.''
Favre appeared to reinjure his surgically repaired left ankle on the play on which he threw his first interception, to Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, early in the third quarter. Green Bay linebacker Brad Jones hit Favre on the play, forcing a hurried throw that went behind receiver Bernard Berrian.
Childress admitted he considered yanking Favre from the game after his second interception, which came just four minutes after the first and gave Green Bay a 28-17 lead it would not relinquish.
"I did have a thought about it, yes,'' Childress said. "I was going to give him that next series and he took us down the field (and threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss to cut the score to 28-24).''
With the Vikings' season now in dire straits and facing the potential to get worse with next week's challenging trip to 5-1 New England, the stress points between Childress and Favre that were largely papered over last season appear to re-emerging. And this time, if the losing continues in Minnesota, the differences might become more exposed, as the team's playoff chances dwindle.
2. With the Patriots game looming, Favre's health may again be a week-long topic. After the game, Favre was limping quite noticeably on his sore left ankle, and he braced himself with both hands when climbing down off the platform after his postgame media session.
Of course, we've seen Favre struggling to walk normally plenty of times in a postgame setting, but he continues to answer the bell every game; and next week would represent his NFL record 292nd consecutive regular-season start, if he's in the lineup.
Favre indicated he would use good judgment in determining whether he could take part against New England, and there seemed to be some building speculation late Sunday night that his ankle could be serious enough to actually threaten his playing streak.
"Who knows?'' said Favre, when asked if he thought he could play next week. "I hope I do. If I can play but not be effective, then it's not worth playing. I hope I use good judgment. So we'll see. I'm no spring chicken any more. I don't heal as quickly.''
Just two weeks ago, the injury story was Favre's throwing elbow, which was suffering from a case of tendinitis. But he played through that in a loss to the Jets and a win last week against Dallas, and the elbow has seemingly settled down.
3. Favre wasn't even Childress's top target in the postgame setting. The Vikings coach wasn't thrilled with the zebras, either, taking to his team's KFAN radio wrap-up to call the loss to Green Bay the "worst game of officiating I've ever seen.''
The Vikings had three touchdowns taken off the board by replay reviews, but two were clear-cut cases of receiver Percy Harvin having stepped out of bounds -- once on a second-quarter run of 13 yards, and once on the apparent game-winning touchdown catch of 35 yards with 48 seconds left to play.
But the call that got Childress's blood boiling was a reversal of a 17-yard Visanthe Shiancoe touchdown pass with 4:51 left in the first half. The play was called a touchdown, but the Packers challenged the ruling and it was overturned when replays seemed to show the Minnesota tight end using the ground to help secure possession. At least in the estimation of referee Scott Green. The Vikings eventually got a 28-yard Ryan Longwell field goal out of the drive to lead 17-14, but in a four-point loss, the missing points proved crucial.
"It's hard when they take touchdowns off the board,'' Childress said. "I must not understand a catch in the end zone for them to take Shiancoe's off the board. That's not the way it's taught, that's not the way we're told. That's wrong. That's wrong. They said he didn't control it and he controlled it. If the litmus test is 50 drunks in a bar, those 50 drunks say that's a catch.''
Who knows exactly what constitutes a legal catch in the NFL anymore, but Childress's rant is likely to earn him some kind of fine from the league office. The coach went on to tell KFAN that Green "came over and apologized to me for not calling a hold on the scramble by (Packers quarterback Aaron) Rodgers. And I'll tell you what, that's his job. Protect the quarterback and look at the left tackle. Look at the left tackle hold his tail off.''
4. Don't let anyone kid you, Sunday night's outcome was huge for the Packers, and even bigger for Aaron Rodgers. Fairly or not, Rodgers was going to be judged harshly if he didn't own at least one head-to-head win over the Favre-led Vikings. Not that you're going to get Rodgers to ever admit beating No. 4 was on his bucket list.
"It wasn't important just because it's Minnesota,'' Packers left guard Daryn Colledge told me. "I know it's big for the fans, it's big for Lambeau, and this is big for [No.] 12. We know he wanted this win. This was big for him. I'll keep what Aaron said personal and between us, but he's extremely excited.''
Rodgers and the Packers lost both of their meetings with Favre and the Vikings last season, with his predecessor in Green Bay having a pair of stellar games in the revenge-laden settings. With this likely Favre's last game in Lambeau (I know, bold words), it was important for both the Packers' season and Rodgers' peace of mind to take care of business Sunday night.
"As a team, we needed this win more than anything, because we need to take a step forward and get the season turned around,'' Colledge said. "We can use this tonight and build upon it and get back to being the team we can be. As for Aaron, his career won't be defined by No. 4 and it won't be defined by the victories he has against him. He's a extremely talented player and he's going to take this team to great places. But [replacing Favre] is always going to be a challenge and that's why tonight was a big win for him.''
Rodgers wasn't perfect, but he outplayed Favre. Rodgers completed 21 of 34 passes for 295 yards (a career-high 166 in the first quarter), with two touchdowns and two interceptions and an 84.8 passer rating. Favre was 16 of 29 for 212 yards, with one touchdown, three interceptions and a 50.4 rating.
"He's a humble guy, but he wanted this,'' Packers safety Nick Collins said of Rodgers. "Everybody wanted this, not just him. He might have had a little edge over everybody else, but everybody wanted it. This was the first time we were able to get a win over the old No. 4.''
For his part, Rodgers wouldn't give much ground in terms of his competition with Favre. It will remain largely unspoken, but his teammates realize their starting quarterback cleared an important hurdle Sunday night in distancing himself from Favre's legacy in Green Bay.
"It really wasn't on my mind so much,'' Rodgers said. "It's obviously something the media has talked about a lot and brought to my attention, so I guess maybe we can stop with some of that a little bit.''
5. If Green Bay goes on to live up to its Super Bowl expectations, the win over Minnesota could be viewed in retrospect as a key turning point. Getting to 4-3 with the win, the Packers not only tied the slumping Bears for first place in the NFC North, but also pulled 1½ games ahead of Minnesota (2-4). With the Vikings and Bears losing on Sunday, and Detroit having its bye, Green Bay gained ground on the entire division.
"When you're 3-3, you're at a crossroads as a team and for the season,'' Packers second-year linebacker Brad Jones said. "But you get the win and get over .500, and it pushes the team in the right direction. Kind of like last year, when we were 4-4 and then we won seven of our last eight. That's what we want to see again.''
I'm not sure Green Bay is about to go on that kind of run, because next week brings a trip to the Jets, who are 5-1 and will be coming off their Week 7 bye rested and primed for a home game against one of the NFC's better teams. But the Packers have a Week 9 Sunday night home game against struggling Dallas, and then a Week 10 bye; so if they can steal one against New York, a winning streak could build.
"This team's always played well when its back is against the wall, and we did that again tonight,'' Colledge said. "We took some punches and we found a way to win in the end, and that's important. I don't want them all to be that close every week. I don't need that, and my heart doesn't need that. But we need wins, and we need to use this as a springboard to be the playoff team we know we can be.''
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