the day after the nfc championship it was all about the interception brett favre threw on third down at questionable field goal range. The interception gave most people flashbacks to the 2007 NFC Championship Game when Favre was still with Green Bay playing the New York Giants.
Many people place most of the blame for the loss on the feet of favre. what’s surprising is why favre’s work leaves the lasting impression that the loss was entirely his fault.
favre’s pass didn’t cost the vikings a win over the new orleans saints. Minnesota fans and the media should see the game this way. I don’t want to take anything away from New Orleans, but here are five reasons Favre’s interception didn’t lose this game.
six fumbles total and three fumbles lost by Vikings skill players
Even before the fourth quarter, with the game tied at 14-14, the Vikings were able to find the first turnover of the game. reggie bush fumbled on a punt return at his own 10-yard line, which was recovered by kenny onatolu.
With just over a minute left in the half, Minnesota seemed all but guaranteed of at least three points. On the first down, the Vikings passed Adrian Peterson, who ran to the four-yard line.
On the second down, it looked like Minnesota just had to hit the ball into the end zone to gain a seven-point halftime lead, when the Vikings fumble started. Despite the fumble being credited as a favre, it appeared that Peterson began to close his arms before they wrapped the ball up; He was recovered by Scott Fajita Saints.
instead of minnesota gaining a three or seven point lead before halftime, new orleans recovered the fumble and escaped, tied 14-14. The second half would be no better for Minnesota and Peterson in particular.
no way peterson dropped the ball. This time, he fumbled at the New Orleans 45-yard line. However, Vikings fullback Naufahu Tahi had Peterson’s back and recovered the fumble.
peterson was turning the ball over again, but this time he was able to make up for his own mistake, catching the ball at the minnesota 32-yard line. Even though the Viking running back would rush for 122 yards, he should be remembered for his ability not to hang on to the ball.
for those keeping score, that’s four fumbles in less than a quarter for peterson. But the clumsy disease wasn’t just limited to Peterson.
vikings percy harvin got into action early in the fourth quarter. he fumbled at the minnesota 12-yard line; remi ayodele of new orleans returned the ball to the seven-yard line.
Three plays later, the Saints would cash in on Harvin’s fumble for a touchdown and a seven-point lead at 28-21. this was the second time new orleans had led the game, but more on that later.
The fumble in the transfers was not the only problem for the Minnesota players. On a second and eight at the Saints 18-yard line, Favre threw a complete pass to Bernard Berrian.
That’s when Berrian decided to fumble the ball and the possibility of what looked like another touchdown. Jonathan Vilma de los Santos recovered the fumble at the New Orleans five-yard line, driving the Vikings back once again.
The Saints also had their own fumble problems. Drew Brees fumbled twice: once on a snap that he recovered and the second on a sack that right guard Jahri Evans recovered.
Not counting the Minnesota fumbles they recovered themselves and the two Saints fumbles they recovered, there were three fumbles that affected the outcome of the game.
Of those three fumbles, one can argue they resulted in a 21-point swing. that is, if the Vikings could have cashed in seven points for Bush’s error before the half.
the next seven points could have been avoided had the saints not been able to take advantage of harvin’s fumble. Finally, if Minnesota hadn’t had Berrian’s fumble, they would have scored on that possession by another seven points.
Minnesota special teams helped set up 10 points for the Saints
When it wasn’t the Vikings’ offense that was shooting the team in the foot, it was the defense. Twice in this game, Minnesota’s kickoff coverage put the Saints in good field position.
The first time was at the beginning of the second half with the game tied 14-14. Ryan Longwell’s kickoff was executed by Courtney Roby from the New Orleans 2-yard line to the Minnesota 37-yard line.
saints qb draw brees just needed to lead his team in a four-play drive for the saints to take their first lead of the game, 21-14.
minnesota special teams had one more breakdown, at the most inopportune time. the vikings allowed pierre thomas de los santos to kick off overtime to the los santos 39-yard line.
favre’s interception and this kickoff once again got the home crowd pumped up in the superdome. The kickoff in overtime didn’t lose the game, but it was a big part of the equation.
Vikings coaching staff before Favre’s interception
with 1:06 to play, the vikings had a 1st and 10 from the new orleans 33-yard line. Even if Minnesota didn’t pick up another yard, it would have been a 50-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Longwell.
minnesota used the first down to execute chester taylor without winning anything. then on the second try the vikings would run peterson without winning anything.
While the Vikings’ offense entered a safe mode, time began to slip away on the first and second downs. Minnesota would get a timeout before the third down.
When the Vikings returned to the field for the third down play, there was an attempted second timeout, which would have been a penalty. instead, they received a penalty for 12 men in the group.
Minnesota coaches are to blame for the need for a second time and having 12 men in the group. Coming out of a timeout, coaches should have made sure the players knew who should have been on the field.
An assistant coach must count the players before they leave the sideline. With all 12 men in the huddle penalty, the ball went back five yards to the New Orleans 38, which would have been a 55-yard field goal.
Even before the penalty, Longwell’s longest field goal of the 2009 season was 52 yards, and he only made two field goals of 50 or more yards all year. both field goals also came at home.
the last time longwell had a 55-yard pass was in 2007. instead of trying to get a closer field goal attempt on first and second down, the vikings coaching staff became extremely conservative.
yes, favre could have tried to run instead of throwing the ball through his body (which led to the interception). but you have to remember that favre had been battered throughout the game and had a bad ankle.
Minnesota’s defense didn’t make a play in overtime
the new orleans saints had 13 offensive possessions before overtime. only four were for scores. seven possessions resulted in clearances. Even if you subtract the two, at the end of half possessions, it still means New Orleans kicked seven of eleven possessions.
When the Saints won the coin toss to receive the kickoff in overtime, the Vikings only had to stop to give their offense a chance to win the game. New Orleans’ overtime possession was a perfect storm.
The Vikings starting team allowed the Saints to get a good return to put the New Orleans in decent field possession. Minnesota’s defense then let the Saints’ offense go on an 11-play drive before kicking the game-winning field goal.
new orleans offense was able to get two first downs due to vikings defensive penalties. the first was a defensive holding penalty and the other penalty was a 12-yard pass interference. Minnesota’s defense also allowed a first down on a fourth down by Thomas.
Even after Favre’s interception, the Vikings still would have had a chance to win the game if their defense had stopped. Minnesota’s offense never got a chance to get on the field in overtime.
The Vikings did not receive breaks from the referees in extra time
Although Minnesota’s defense was unable to get off the field in overtime, there were some incomplete calls in the overtime period.
Vikings received a defensive holding penalty that gave Vikings a first down. Earlier in the game, the Saints almost ripped Visanthe Shiancoe’s jersey off in the third quarter on a pass from Favre that put the Vikings at the one-yard line that wasn’t even called.
There was also a pass interference penalty that put the Saints in field goal range in overtime. it could be argued that the pass was uncatchable or even that there was good coverage on the play.
There were 12 plays in overtime. of those 12 plays, three were reviewed by the replay booth (per overtime rules). In the three repetitions of the extension, the chant on the field was confirmed in favor of the Saints.
To break it down by cheap seats, there were 12 total plays in overtime. of those 12 plays, the referees participated in five of them.
One would think that almost 50 percent of overtime plays come down to a call from the umpires that one would have gone the way of the Vikings. Minnesota couldn’t even get a break on penalties or replays, costing their defense a chance to get off the field.
did brett favre’s interception cost the vikings a win in the nfc championship game? No. His interception cost Minnesota the chance to attempt a long field goal that wasn’t a game-winner in regulation.
Minnesota had five total turnovers. To say that the last turnover was the one that cost them the game is laughable.
in fact, it is absolutely wrong to blame this loss on favre’s last pass. with kickers from the field scoring less than 60 percent of their kicks, a 55-yard kick would have been iffy at best.
chances are longwell would have missed that kick and the game would have gone to overtime anyway. still, remember that the Vikings’ defense never gave the offense a chance to take the field in overtime.
favre never had a chance to redeem himself in overtime. If you don’t like Favre, you’re a Green Bay fan, or someone in the media who just wanted to blame Favre anyway. you will take the last step from him as the reason the vikings lost.
The Vikings found a way to lose this game as a team with a bit of bad luck on the part of the referees. on the other hand, most people will believe what they want anyway.
The truth is that Favre was not the only Minnesota player who participated in this loss.