After rolling into the end zone with his first NFL touchdown, Vikings rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin had to absorb an unexpected hit.
Brett Favre flattened him.
“I thought we were going to bump chests or something,” Harvin said. “He wasn’t slowing down. I took it and we fell to the ground. It was a great feeling.”
Article continues below ...
For Favre, the ageless quarterback with a boundless love for football, career touchdown pass No. 464 was as enjoyable as his first.
Favre looked pleasing in purple, throwing a 6-yard TD pass to Harvin in his debut with Minnesota, and Adrian Peterson scored three touchdowns and ran for 180 yards as the Vikings overcame a sluggish start to beat the Cleveland Browns 34-20 on Sunday.
“I had a blast,” Favre said. “It wasn’t a 400-yard passing game, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as we win, that’s what it’s all about.”
Making his 270th consecutive start after a will-he-or-won’t-he flirtation that dominated NFL headlines this summer, the 39-year-old Favre, who holds every significant passing record, showed he can still fire it with authority – and that he hasn’t lost his joy for playing.
After hooking up with the speedy Harvin, Favre sprinted into the end zone and tackled the young wideout who was just 4 years old when his QB began his storied career.
“You don’t find too many players like that who still love the game,” said Harvin, a first-round pick from Florida. “That’s what makes him special and separates him from a lot of people. For him to be that old – he’s got a daughter my age – and still has a love for the game, going to meetings and all that stuff. He’s by himself.”
So is Peterson.
The league’s leading rusher last season scored on a pair of 1-yard plunges and capped his day with an electrifying 64-yarder in the fourth quarter, breaking five tackles along the way, to make it 34-13.
Peterson was held to just 25 yards in the first half, when he needed treatment for a badly cut left arm. He felt light headed and received intravenous fluids at halftime.
“I gagged myself a couple times trying to get everything in my stomach out,” he said. “Normally it makes me feel better and it did. I came in and got an IV and felt recharged and rejuvenated and was ready to go to work.”
On his long TD run, Peterson used a devastating stiff arm to get away from would-be tacklers before finally busting free and scoring.
“It was pretty good,” Peterson said. “The only thing I did wrong was that I didn’t go untouched. I was just determined to get into the end zone, and try to stick that dagger in.”
It certainly put away the Browns.
“When you play a player of Adrian Peterson‘s caliber, it only takes once,” Mangini said. “He only needs that one time and he can exploit it.”
Favre was 14 of 21 for 110 yards and appeared to be fully recovered from offseason surgery to repair a torn biceps tendon, an injury that plagued him down the stretch last season with the Jets. Favre threw nine interceptions in New York’s final five games, a slide that cost his team a playoff spot and led to coach Eric Mangini’s firing.
Mangini is now with Cleveland, and one game into his tenure, little has changed with the Browns. They fell to 1-10 in season openers since 1999, but did score their first offensive touchdown in seven games when Brady Quinn hit tight end Robert Royal with 28 seconds left.
Quinn, picked by Mangini to start after a drawn-out battle with Derek Anderson, had a rocky opener. He went 21 of 35 for 205 yards, but most of his completions came on dumpoffs and short routes. He had one interception and the game’s most comical moment when he had the ball pop out of his hand and fall behind him following a scramble.
“I didn’t take care of the ball like I needed to,” Quinn said. “It’s going to hurt you in the end. The one ball that slipped out, I was trying to make a play. That sort of thing can really help you and maybe get you back in the game, but a lot of the time they end up hurting you if that ends up being the result.” Joshua Cribbs scored on a 67-yard punt return for Cleveland’s first TD.
Favre and Mangini greeted each other warmly on the field before the game, hugging and sharing a few laughs. Their relationship wasn’t always so buddy-buddy in New York, ending with Mangini’s ouster, which many blamed on Favre’s arm injury.
All seems to be forgiven, if not forgotten, between the pair. Favre found it strange to play in the Metrodome for the first time as a visitor last month. He said seeing Mangini on the opposite sideline wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable.
“I shouldn’t say it felt weird looking across. If you play long enough, that happens,” Favre said. “Guys come and go, coaches come and go, I’ve come and gone.”
Cribbs’ seventh career TD punt return tied Eric Metcalf for the most in club history. … Minnesota improved to 10-3 against Cleveland. … The Browns have opened every season since ’99 at home. Their only win came in 2004 against Baltimore. … The Vikings tried an onside kick to start the game that was recovered by the Browns. … Cleveland rookie running back James Davis, who was slightly injured in a one-car accident on Saturday, sustained a shoulder injury in the second half.