Favre, Vikes take it on the chin

The gimpy quarterback was forced to leave with a bloody chin that required eight stitches to fix.

The star wide receiver gave his new team a black eye while praising the opposition.

A once formidable defense was battered in the second half.

The only thing left for the Minnesota Vikings is to get officially knocked out of playoff contention.

A preseason Super Bowl favorite moved one step closer to hitting the mat Sunday with a 28-18 loss to New England. The Vikings aren’t just 2-5. They are a sinking ship that springs new leaks each time one gets plugged.

After last Sunday’s 28-24 loss to Green Bay, the drama centered around Brett Favre’s shredded left ankle and the postgame criticism he received from head coach Brad Childress for throwing three interceptions. Favre managed to start his 292nd consecutive regular-season game Sunday but he didn’t finish it because of an under-the-helmet hit by defensive lineman Myron Prior midway through the fourth quarter. A woozy Favre was helped off the field by two trainers and laid on a medical table as backup Tarvaris Jackson threw the touchdown and two-point conversion passes that cut New England’s lead to 21-18.

While being driven to the locker room on a cart with his eyes closed and towel covering his mouth, the 41-year-old Favre admits the thought, “What in the world am I doing?” crossed his mind. Vikings defenders must have been thinking the same thing. On the ensuing drive, New England running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis gouged Minnesota for 64 yards and the game-clinching two-yard touchdown to cap a 108-yard second half. The second-half pass defense wasn’t much better. Midway through the third quarter, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hit wideout Brandon Tate for a season-long 65-yard touchdown pass to give New England the lead for good.

If all this didn’t provide enough suffering for the Vikings, Randy Moss rubbed salt in the wound afterward. In a five-minute diatribe — he wouldn’t accept media questions — Moss heavily lauded New England even though the franchise traded him to Minnesota earlier this month amid growing speculation that he was growing increasingly unhappy with the Patriots and lack of a new contract. He even delivered a military-style salute at the interview podium for the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick while saying, “I love you guys. I miss you.”

Absence — as well as leaving a winning program like New England (6-1) for a team in freefall — really does seem to make the heart grow fonder.

If that wasn’t enough of a spectacle, Moss pulled a page from the Childress playbook and threw his new head coach and teammates under the bus. Moss questioned Childress for calling an unsuccessful fourth-down run by Adrian Peterson from the Patriots one-yard line rather than kicking the chip-shot field goal that would have given Minnesota a 10-7 halftime lead.

“I wish we could have had that three,” said Moss, who wasn’t even on the field for the play despite drawing constant double-teams.

Moss didn’t end there. Held to one measly catch for eight yards, Moss said he tried to “prepare and talk to the (Vikings) players and coaches about how this game was going to be played — a couple tendencies here, a couple tendencies there.”

“The bad part about it,” he continued, “You have six days to prepare for a team knowing the seventh day… I guess they come over to me and say, ‘Dang, Moss, you was right about a couple plays, a couple schemes they were going to run.’ It hurts as a player that you put a lot of hard work in all week and toward the end of the week, Sunday when you get on the field, that’s when they acknowledge (it). That’s actually a disappointment.”

So was the manner in which Minnesota self-destructed. What should have been an interception by free safety Madieu Williams became a 32-yard Tate reception, keeping alive a Patriots drive that ended with their lone first-half touchdown. Childress then erred by calling for an instant replay challenge when it was clear Tate had a clean reception. New England rookie cornerback Devin McCourty intercepted a Favre pass that was mishandled by Percy Harvin at the Patriots 26. Vikings cornerback Frank Walker couldn’t recover a punt return that was fumbled and then recovered by New England’s Wes Welker.

Vikings defensive end Jared Allen nailed it last Sunday when he proclaimed Minnesota a team of “almosts.” Fittingly, Allen’s season of almosts continued Sunday with his sixth consecutive sack-free game. No other Vikings got to Tom Brady either as he completed 16 of 27 passes for 240 yards with one score and no interceptions.

“This season, it’s a play or two here or there,” Favre said. “You can point to all different phases, different parts of the game. The bottom line is we’ve had a chance to win every one of our games. We haven’t.”

The only good news to emerge from Sunday’s loss is Favre proclaiming he will start next Sunday’s home game against Arizona. With blood on the stubble near the nasty gash under his right chin, Favre said he didn’t think he had suffered a concussion on Pryor’s hit and his ankle should be sound enough to get through another week.

“It’s been so long since I haven’t played that I expect to play,” said Favre, whose 22-for-32, 259-yard outing was his best of the season. “I don’t expect stitches in my chin. That’s the first time. I don’t expect to get hurt. When I do, I expect to bounce back.”

Unfortunately for Favre, his team shows no signs of doing the same.