The movie was unfolding perfectly. Everyone was following the script. The Ol’ Gunslinger Brett Favre had guided the Vikings to a 12-4 record, the NFC North crown and one game away from the Super Bowl. And he was playing in the stadium where he won his only Super Bowl — the Superdome!
And the naysayers, including Fran Tarkenton, were warming up that crow and sprinkling some Tabasco sauce on it. All was right with the world.
Favre had the ball in his hand with the game tied late in the fourth quarter, although it should not be that close given the stats. The “Aints” were about to live up to their historic reputation of failures.
Two minutes to go; 3rd down and 8 at the Vikings’ own 23. Favre makes a pass to Berrian, who breaks a tackle and gets the first down. Next play, Number 4 hits Number 19 [Sidney Rice] in stride for 20 yards. Then an excellent run by Chester Taylor puts Minnesota within field goal range for the reliable Ryan Longwell.
The Vikings then begin setting up for that game-winner. The fairy tale is going to continue! Two runs to the right for zero yards leads to third down at the Saints’ 33. Then, a penalty — breaking the huddle with 12 men — 5 yard penalty. Now a 50-yarder becomes a 55-yarder; still makeable for Longwell, but not comfortable.
That is when someone forgot their lines. On a rollout, where an obviously hurting Favre could have run for at least a couple of yards [Minnesota had a timeout], the Gunslinger fires across his body…and Saints CB Tracy Porter forgets his role and intercepts the pass!!!
Porter ruined the story! Favre never touched the ball again as the Saints won the overtime coin toss. After a solid return by Pierre Thomas, gutsy fourth-down call, and a questionable pass interference call, Garrett Hartley breaks the curse of the playoff kickers (and redeems himself for that awful miss against the awful Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and nails the 40-yard game winner.
And we are left with the soap opera of “will Favre retire for real?” and all the garbage that entails.
And the image of Brett Favre is of him throwing an interception.
But that play exemplifies Favre and his career. He has always been known as a risk taker and an improviser. Had that pass connected, Favre would have been the hero and celebrated for his play. But, just like fake punt calls, he misses or god forbid it is intercepted then Favre is a goat.
The latter happened and Favre is a goat. But the interception fits as well because he is the record-holder for career interceptions. In fact, he has a tendency to do this at the end of the season.
On 20 January 2008 in the NFC Conference Finals, Brett Favre had the ball for the Packers in overtime. On his first OT pass, second play from scrimmage, Favre’s pass was picked off by Corey Webster. That interception set up Lawrence Tynes’ game-winner that sent the New York Giants to the Super Bowl. It was sweet for Tynes as he had already missed two field goals in the fourth quarter, including a last-second kick that would have won the game.
Jump forward to 28 December 2008 and the Meadowlands. Favre is now with the New York Jets and taking on the Miami Dolphins. Down seven with 9:20 to go, Favre begins to drive the Jets down field. From his own 13 looking at a 2nd and 22, Favre hits Chansi Stuckey for 26 yards and a first down. A couple of more passes to Stuckey, then a deep pass to Laveranues Coles gets the Jets down to the Dolphins’ 29 yard line.
And then, Brett Favre does what Brett Favre does…looking for Stuckey once again, Favre passes to Andre Goodman. Problem is, Goodman is a cornerback for Miami. Yet, another interception. While he would get the ball back one last time (with 17 seconds left), nothing could be done and his last pass was part of a series of laterals.
Three seasons in a row ending on an interception (or, at least next to last pass of his season). Has Favre ended his tenure with another team with a pick? Well, I am not getting into the retirement discussion for Favre as I do not really care.
”]What is sad in all of this is that Favre is the story here, not that the Saints made it to the Super Bowl after decades of being inept. Maybe they will overcome that history just as the Buccaneers did in Super Bowl XXXVII. But on this day, it is not about New Orleans but Number 4.
Some will say that the story is unfinished; that it did not end the way it was scripted. That Porter screwed it up. Or maybe it was Vikings’ head coach Brad Childress who messed up (the huddle penalty).
But given Favre’s penchant for throwing interceptions, maybe the story did end as it was scripted. Perhaps we should have seen it coming. Apparently Tracy Porter saw it coming. So maybe Porter did not forget his role. He played it to perfection. After all, it was only appropriate that Favre’s season ended on an interception.