The Brett Favre Show? Well, Favre certainly wasn't the only man responsible for the Vikings winning their Monday night border battle. But in a much-anticipated game, he delivered against his former team. After treating a national audience of millions to an offensive showcase, Favre and the Vikings remain undefeated.
Did you know Favre is turning 40 on Saturday? You could have fooled me. The way he performed today, he might as well be turning 30 this week. The youthfulness he displayed was something to behold.
What made the difference for Favre in this one? In addition to the fact that he looked years younger, the protection he received was considerably better than in previous weeks. Favre had been taking a beating in the first few games, but he was not sacked once in this game. The importance of that cannot be overstated. Favre also leaned on his receiving corps earlier and more often than he did in the first three games of the season, as Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice both turned in huge performances. We've seen Favre manage the game -- but in this one, we saw him play aggressive football. And the results were outstanding. The old gunslinger still has plenty of life in that right arm.
But indeed, the list of reasons why the Vikings won this game doesn't start and end with Favre. The defense was huge. Yes, there were some issues both early and late in this game. At several points in the first half, Aaron Rodgers was burning this team when the blitz was on. Still, despite a few stumbles, the defense turned the corner big time as the game continued. Who sparked this turnaround? I've got two words for you: Jared Allen.
The defensive line decided that today would be hunting season, and Rodgers would be the target. While Rodgers was able to get into a rhythm early in the game, this became one of those games when Jared Allen took complete control. His 4.5 sacks don't tell the complete story -- not by a longshot. Allen was constantly harassing Rodgers, displaying his ability to single-handedly turn a game around that seemed to be going south for this defense. And Allen was hardly the only man on that defensive line who made life difficult for Rodgers. The fact that Rodgers still managed 384 passing yards ought to raise some eyebrows, but the defensive line did more than its part.
Green Bay also did the Vikings plenty of favors through turnovers and penalties. A fumble and interception by Rodgers halted two first half drives that threatened to conclude in the endzone. And while the Vikings played disciplined football from start to finish, the Packers were a penalty machine.
Adrian Peterson? Conventional wisdom states that if you shut down Peterson, you shut down the Vikings. The Packers did a solid job on Peterson, as he finished the game with an average of just 2.2 yards per carry. But ultimately, conventional wisdom proved false -- because Favre made up for Peterson's lack of production, and then some. If the Vikings can win convincingly with AD turning in a nondescript performance, that's a great sign.
And ultimately, that's the exact message we're left with after this game. One of the burning questions I had entering this season was Favre's ability to put this offense on his shoulders and put points on the board. We know he can do a dang good job of managing a game, but can he do more than that? The final drive against the 49ers provided evidence that he can indeed take control of a game, but the evidence from this week's border battle provides irrefutable proof. He has the arm, he has the weapons, and he has the protection (today, at least).
Isn't it refreshing that teams now have to gameplan for both the Vikings' passing and running games? I'm telling ya, things are coming together for this team. Favre is looking great, carrying over the momentum from last week to an emotional meeting with his former team. The pass protection was the best we've seen in a long time. Jared Allen is an absolute game-changer -- and that description doesn't do nearly enough justice to his performance in this one. Brett Favre's performance will be the headline, but Allen turned in one of his best games of his career.
Now, about that comeback orchestrated by Green Bay in the final minutes. Things got too close for comfort as time ran down, with the Packers closing a 16-point gap to just seven. Give Aaron Rodgers some credit. Under constant fire from Allen, he gave the Packers a last ditch shot at the end. But it was too little, too late.
Favre and Allen are avid hunters, but who needs deer when you have Aaron Rodgers and the Packers defense? Enjoy this one, because it's a great time to be a Vikings fan. This team has put the Packers in their proper place, set the pace in the NFC North, and established itself as one of the NFL's elite. Rodgers was able to make things a bit too interesting in the fourth quarter, but that doesn't detract too much from this game. Ultimately, life is good.