Don't bury the lead: bad QB sinks Vikes

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Oct 11, 2010



The pigskin "pundits" this morning seem obsessed by a handful of too-little-too-late highlights and meaningless milestones from BrettFavre Monday night.
 
Seems like they need to go back to Journalism 101, where they teach you: "don't bury the lead."
 
Here are three suggested leads from the Pulitzer of Pigskin, the Cold, Hard Football Facts:
 
The Vikings lost to the Jets, 29-20, and they are now battling the Lions to stay out of the NFC North basement, because their quarterback played poorly for most of the evening.
 
The Vikings lost because their quarterback, now a caricature of the once-great "gunslinger," couldn't resist heaving the ball deep downfield time and again with only meager results to show for it.
 
The Vikings lost on a night when their quarterback made one gaffe after another: two penalties, two lost fumbles, two sacks, just 14 of 34 completions, a failed two-point conversion pass and, naturally, a critical pick-six in a key moment of the game.
 
In other words, the entire game unfolded much like the Cold, Hard Football Facts told you it would.
 
Actually, we expected an all-around disaster. But it was more like 45 minutes of disaster, followed by 13 minutes of red-hot highlights from the gunslinger, followed by an ice-cold two minutes that cost the Vikings a final shot at victory.
 
Even worse: the Vikings lost on a night when their defense played quite well against high-flying Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (21 of 44, 47.7%, 191 yards, 4.3 YPA, 0 TD, 0 INT,. 59.9 passer rating). The Vikings lost on a night when their battered defense kept New York out of the end zone for more than 55 minutes, despite the fact that the Minnesota offense couldn't muster a point for nearly three quarters.
 
You can't make up this kind of material
Minnesota didn't wait long Monday night to prove that it had made drastic changes to its game plan in an effort to work Randy Moss into the offense.
 
On the first play from scrimmage, the Vikings ran the trusty old end-around-fake-reverse–wide-receiver-pass-to-the-troubled-sexting-maniac-41-year-old-quarterback that's been a staple of the West Coast offense since the Bill Walsh-Joe Montana days.
 
The Moss to BrettFavre pitch and catch resulted in a 9-yard gain. But, sadly, it was wiped from the history books because BrettFavre was flagged as an ineligible receiver downfield.
 
We can't make this stuff up. Hell, when BrettFavre is playing, you don't need to manufacture fiction: the caricature of the once-great "gunslinger" that now plies his comedy for Minnesota provides so many storylines every time he takes the field.
 
The Vikings, or their quarterback, in their haste to creatively work Moss into the offense, didn't even know their new play was a violation of the basic rules of the game.
 
But bully for us, the viewer: the comedy of errors was underway.
 
The Vikings were whistled for a false start on the next play, too. Suddenly, a comfy 1st and 10 at their own 40 to start the game was a 1st and 20 at the 30.
 
Second-year offensive tackle Phil Loadholt didn't want to be left off the highlight film, so he was whistled for a false start, too. His penalty came before what was supposed to be the official second play from scrimmage, but was in reality Minnesota's fourth time lining up over the ball.
 
The Vikings lined up for a fifth time and actually executed a second play: a tremendous Adrian Peterson 1-yard gain.
 
Now, on 3rd and 20, the Vikings stepped to the line of scrimmage for the sixth time in a truly eventful opening two and half minutes and mercifully gave up on the drive by handing to Peterson off tackle.
 
Sure, Peterson picked up 15 yards. But a handoff on 3rd and 20 is essentially an admission of surrender, or an admission that you don't want your quarterback making tough throws early in the game.
 
BrettFavre dropped back for his first pass attempt halfway through the first quarter, with the Vikings facing 3rd and 4 from their own 17. He was steamrolled for a 7-yard loss.
 
The tone for the evening had been set in those first two drives. And BrettFavre continued to strum along out of tune for most of the evening ... but not before sending plenty of fun-filled thrills up the legs of the pigskin "pundits." Said ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski after the game: "When (BrettFavre) got heated up it was a fun thing to watch."
 
(Yes, we know, it's like they're helpless in the face of BrettFavre.)
 
By the end of the game, BrettFavre had completed 14 of 34 passes (41.2%) for 264 yards, 7.8 YPA. 3 TD, 1 INT and an 85.9 passer rating.
 
The final numbers are actually pretty good. But they do not tell the whole story. And the whole story is one of a volatile inconsistency, the kind that has defiined BrettFavre's career, especially in recent years. He was ice cold for most of the night, hit on a couple big plays that bolstered his numbers and thrilled the "pundits," and then froze up again with the game on the line.
 
But you wouldn't know BrettFavre played poorly today if watch the highlight films or read the postgame reports about the game. They pigskin "pundits" seem obsessed by the highlights and by meaningless milestones: BrettFavre Monday night became the first quarterback to top 500 TD passes and 70,000 passing yards. He also broke the all time fumble record (his total now stands at 162).
 
They seem to utterly ignore just how ugly the Minnesota offense was for most of the night.
 
Hell, in some cases, you wouldn't even know that the Vikings lost the game, or that they lost it because BrettFavre was essentially incompetent for the first 40 minutes and then again for the final two.
 
Until Minnesota scored its first points of the game with 2:17 left in the third quarter (a 37-yard pass from BrettFavre to Moss), this was BrettFavre's evening:
  • 7 for 15, 88 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT (66.5 rating)
  • 2 penalties (ineligible receiver down field, delay of game)
  • 1 sack (-7 yards)
  • 1 run for 2 yards
  • 2 lost fumbles
The highlights came fast and furious. BrettFavre suddenly unloaded three touchdown passes in the space of 15 minutes from the end of the third quarter through the fourth: an arching 37-yarder to Moss; a 34-yarder to Percy Harvin; and then another to Harvin for 11 yards.
 
The highlight spigot quickly runs dry
The Vikings were suddenly trailing just 22-20 and within a field goal of victory. It was no small feat, and an accomplishment largely due to the fact that the Minnesota defense forced the Jets to settle for five field goals over the first three quarters. 
 
But with victory within reach, BrettFavre's highlight spigot shut tight. In the final two minutes, BrettFavre completed 2 of 10 for 41 yards and a 4.6 passer rating. He suffered 1 sack, 1 fumble and threw a pick-six to Dwight Lowery that sealed the game.
 
That's quite a final two minutes.
 
It was the BrettFavre we know and loathe. And it was the BrettFavre we expected to see Monday night. He might have disappointed Vikings fans. But he certainly didn't disappoint the Cold, Hard Football Facts.
 
BrettFavre play-by-play in all its naked glory
We were pulling together some BrettFavre to Randy Moss numbers from the postgame playbook for a seperate story (you'll see it soon).
 
But along the way we started to chronicle BrettFavre's evening. You wouldn't know it from the ESPN highlights today. But there were a whole lot of lowlights.
 
Here's how BrettFavre's game unfolded in all its, ahem, naked glory.
 
First quarter
1 and 10 at MIN 40 (15:00) – BrettFavre hands to Harvin, who hands to Moss; pass to BrettFavre. 9 yards. BrettFavre flagged for ineligible receiver downfield. No play.
3 and 4 at MIN 17 (8:58) – BrettFavre sacked. -7 yards
1 and 10 at MIN 31 (4:49) – Pass to Percy Harvin. 19 yards
1 and 10 (4:13) – Pass deep left to Moss. Incomplete.
2 and 10 (4:07) – Favre scramble. 2 yards
3 and 8 (3:33) – Pass deep right to Moss. Incomplete.
 
Second quarter
3 and 4 at MIN 12 (11:12) – Favre pass short middle to Harvin. Incomplete.
3 and 7 at MIN 30 (8:14) – Favre pass short right to Harvin. Incomplete.
1 and 10 at MIN 25 (5:23) – Favre sacked. -9. Play negated by NYJ penalty
1 and 10 at MIN 31 (5:02) – Favre pass short middle to Kleinsasser. 5 yards
2 and 5 at MIN 36 (4:34) – Favre pass short left to Moss. 7 yards
1 and 10 at MIN 43 (4:04) – Favre fumbles. Recovered by NYJ (Bart Scott)
1 and 10 at MIN 42 (0:08) – Favre kneels. -1 yard
 
Third quarter
1 and 10 at NYJ 49 (12:58) – Favre fumbles. Recovered by NYJ (Darrelle Revis)
3 and 3 at MIN 25 (7:22) – Favre pass short right to Shiancoe. Incomplete.
1 and 10 at MIN 28 (6:11) – Favre pass short middle to Harvin. 11 yards
2 and 10 at MIN 39 (5:18) – Favre pass deep left to Moss. Incomplete.
3 and 10 at MIN 39 (5:10) – Favre penalty. Delay of game.
3 and 15 at MIN 34 (5:10) – Favre pass short right to Moss. 16 yards
1 and 10 at 50 (4:32) – Favre pass short left to Shiancoe. 8 yards
2 and 12 at MIN 48 (3:43) – pass short left to Moss. Incomplete.
3 and 12 at MIN 48 (3:37) – Pass short left to Harvin. 22 yards
1 and 10 at NYJ 30 (3:17) – Pass short left to Peterson. Incomplete.
3 and 17 at NYJ 37 (2:17) – Pass deep right to Moss. 37 yards. Touchdown.
 
Fourth quarter
2 and 8 at NYJ 23 (13:41) – Pass deep left to Moss. Offensive pass interference on Moss.
3 and 19 at NYJ 34 (12:55) – Pass deep left to Harvin. 34 yards. Touchdown
0 and 0 at NYJ 2 (two-point conversion attempt) – Pass to Shiancoe. Incomplete
1 and 10 at MIN 22 (7:31) – Pass deep left to Moss. Incomplete
2 and 10 at MIN 22 (7:22) – Pass short right to Harvin. Incomplete
3 and 10 at MIN 22 (7:19) – Pass deep middle to Harvin. Incomplete
1 and 10 at MIN 46 (4:20) – Favre sacked. -5 yards
2 and 15 at MIN 41 (3:55) – Pass short middle to Peterson. 20 yards
1 and 10 at NYJ 39 (3:29) – Pass short middle to Shiancoe. Incomplete
2 and 10 at NYJ 39 (3:24) – Pass deep right to Lewis. 33 yards
1 and 11 at NYJ 11 (3:16 ) – Pass short left to Harvin. 11 yards. Touchdown
1 and 10 at MIN 16 (1:48) – Pass deep right to Moss. Incomplete
2 and 10 at MIN 16 (1:43) – Pass short right to Harvin. Incomplete
3 and 5 at MIN 21 (1:30) – Pass short right to Shiancoe. Intercepted by Lowery. NYJ touchdown
1 and 10 at MIN 23 (1:24) – Pass deep middle to Shiancoe. Incomplete
2 and 10 at MIN 23 (1:19) – Pass short right to Lewis. Incomplete
3 and 10 at MIN 23 (1:13) – Pass deep right to Moss. 21 yards. First down.
1 and 10 at MIN 44 (1:06) – Pass short middle to Gerhart. Incomplete
2 and 10 at MIN 44 (1:01) – Favre sacked and fumbles. MIN recovers. -3 yards
3 and  10 at MIN 41 (0:32) – Favre pass deep middle to Shiancoe. 20 yards
1 and 10 at NYJ 39 (0:08) – Favre pass short left to Peterson. Incomplete
2 and 10 at NYJ 39 (0:02) – Favre pass deep right to Shiancoe. Incomplete

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