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MINNESOTA 30 GREEN BAY 23

Brett Favre conquers nerves, then former team

Vikings quarterback throws for three touchdowns against Packers and says he had felt such emotion going into a game only once before.

October 06, 2009|David Haugh

MINNEAPOLIS — Everything about Brett Favre after the Minnesota Vikings' 30-23 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Monday looked familiar except the uniform and his expression in victory.

Wearing his purple No. 4 jersey and an awkward smile, Favre hugged one Vikings teammate after another before he turned to face his beaten foe. For the first time on the same field with the Packers, Favre was glad they lost.

"I wasn't out to prove anything," Favre said. "I knew I could play."

Favre didn't know how he would respond to the pressure he couldn't ignore. He said that only once before he had taken the field feeling so emotional. That was a Monday night game in 2003 against the Oakland Raiders, one day after his father died. When Favre attended a team chapel service at 3 p.m., he surprised himself with the frequency of his prayers.

"I thought, man, I am losing it," he said. "I was about as nervous as I've ever been going into a game."

Did those emotions give way to any tears of joy after the win, he was asked?

"No," he said. "I'm too tired."

Imagine how the Packers felt. If Favre felt a little weird leading his new team over the one he defined for 16 years, it was only fitting for the oddest of occasions.

Favre completing 24 of 31 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns and a passer rating of 135.3 only will make Cheeseheads long for the quarterback more than they want to forget him.

"I hope Packers fans know how I feel about them," Favre said in a postgame news conference.

Ambivalence was in the air. A woman wearing a foam block of cheddar held up a cardboard sign "4-Ever A Traitor." A mob of green jerseys spontaneously broke into a derogatory chorus about Favre while waiting in the beer line. A silent auction opened bids for a Favre-autographed yellow Green Bay helmet at $750.

In becoming the first NFL quarterback to beat all 32 teams, Favre picked apart the Packers secondary with signature velocity and daring. With Adrian Peterson stymied (55 yards in 25 carries), he needed to be good.

Favre's second touchdown pass, a 14-yard throw to Sidney Rice, came after he froze the safety with his trademark pump-fake.

On a 31-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian, he showed the touch that always has complemented his fastball.

He outplayed counterpart Aaron Rodgers despite Rodgers' numbers -- 26 for 37 for a career-high 384 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Favre sought Rodgers after the game to congratulate his successor for "the way he battled."

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dhaugh@tribune.com

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