Critical errors: the other side of the Favre legacy
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 25, 2010
Brett Favre added another chapter to his legacy Sunday – the legacy of colossal mistakes in critical moments of huge games.
Brad Childress and the Vikings should have considered this legacy when they put all their eggs in the Brett Favre basket back in August. Most fans and observers would have been a little gun shy. But the Vikings and their long-suffering fans, desperate for their first Super Bowl champion, sold their souls to their former enemy. They apparently felt that the aging gunslinger and all-time ironman was the only thing that stood between their team and a title.
It didn't work out so well, as we saw Sunday in the final seconds of the fourth quarter of Minnesota's 31-28 overtime loss to the Saints in the NFC title game.
For the seventh time in nine seasons, the hopes of Brett Favre fans in Green Bay, New York and now Minnesota ended when he threw a crushing pick or picks in critical moments of the biggest games of the year. Here are the lowlights from the past decade, the other side of the legacy of the future Hall of Famer.
Jan. 20, 2002
The storyline: The 12-4 Packers have a shot to reach the conference championship game for first time since the 1997 season if they beat 14-2 Rams in the divisional round.
The result: Favre throws 6 picks – tying the single-game NFL record for postseason picks last matched by Norm Van Brocklin ... back in 1955.
Jan. 4, 2003
The storyline: The 12-4 Packers were one of the best teams in football, playing at home against the tepid 9-6-1 Falcons in the wildcard round.
The result: Favre sinks like a lead weight, reserving one of his worst performances of the year for when it matters most in a 27-7 loss (20 of 42, 47.6%, 247 yards, 5.9 YPA, 1 TD, 2 INT, 54.4 rating). It was Green Bay's lowest offensive output of the season and the first home playoff loss in franchise history.
Favre not only threw two picks, he committed turnovers on three straight drives in the fourth quarter (one INT, two fumbles). Another fourth-quarter INT was overturned by a defensive penalty.
Jan. 11, 2004
The storyline: The Packers need to produce just one drive in overtime to beat the Eagles and then battle the Panthers for a chance to go to Super Bowl XXXVIII.
The result: The Eagles win the overtime toss but are forced to go three and out by the Packers defense. On Green Bay's very first offensive play of overtime, Favre tossed a bad pass into the hands of Eagles defender Brian Dawkins. Philly quarterback Donovan McNabb quickly moved his offense into easy field goal range for the 20-17 victory. Favre passed for 180 yards on the day, one of his lowest outputs of the year.
Jan. 9, 2005
The storyline: The 10-6 Packers draw a gimme, landing the 8-8 Vikings at home in the wildcard round of the NFC playoffs.
The result: Favre turns out a gruesomely disfiguring playoff performance (22 of 33, 66.7%, 216 yards, 6.5 YPA, 1 TD, 4 INT, 55.4 rating), as Packers suffer a humiliating 31-17 loss to one of the worst teams ever to reach the playoffs. Had the Seahawks not lost to the Rams just one day earlier, Favre would have been the first quarterback in history to lose a playoff game to a .500 team.
It was Favre's first four-pick game in two years.
Jan. 20, 2008
The storyline: Favre's 13-3 Packers were favored at home against the 10-6 Giants on one of the coldest nights in Lambeau Field history.
The result: Favre, and the Packers offense, suffered one of the most colossal collapses in history. In the fourth quarter and overtime, Favre completed 4 of 10 passes for 32 yards with 2 INTs. Green Bay's final four drives, with a Super Bowl appearance easily within their grasp, went for 0, 7, 0 and 2 yards.
Favre's second pick, on the second play of overtime, set up New York's final field goal in a 23-20 victory, and a trip to the Super Bowl.
The 2008 season
The storyline: BrettFavre moves to a new team and leads the Jets to an AFC East-best 8-3 record through 11 games.
The result: Favre was dreadful during the team's stretch-run collapse, throwing 2 TDs against 9 picks. INTs lead directly to losses, and the Jets went 1-4 over the final five games and missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record despite their hot 8-3 start.
Jan. 24, 2010
The storyline: Favre's Vikings totally outplay the favored Saints in New Orleans for four quarters in the NFC title game.
The result: The Vikings are locked in a 28-28 tie with 19 seconds to play and face a 3rd and 15 at the Saints 38. They need a mere five yards to get a legit shot at a game-winning field goal to send Minnesota to the Super Bowl for the first time in 33 years; even a failure to gain a single yard would give kicker Ryan Longwell a chance to match his career best with a 55-yard field goal.
The only thing that would kill Minnesota's chances is an interception.
Of course ... Favre throws the ball across his body and into the heart of the New Orleans defense, right into the hands of cornerback Tracy Porter. The Saints get the ball in overtime and proceed to go down the field and kick the game-winning field goal.
Favre is one of the great ironmen and most prolific passers the game has ever seen. But his legacy also includes perhaps the longest list of critical mistakes compiled by any quarterback in the history of the game.
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