MINNEAPOLIS had a sideline view of Minnesota’s best game of the season.
The have experienced all kinds of setbacks, dropoffs and letdowns since losing the NFC championship game in overtime in January, and Favre’s sprained shoulder was the latest addition to the list.
For once, the Vikings — who have found a groove under interim head coach Leslie Frazier — were good enough to overcome that.
Tarvaris Jackson threw two touchdown passes to Sidney Rice in relief after Favre was hurt on the first series, Adrian Peterson ran for three touchdowns on a sprained ankle and the Vikings rolled over the 38-14 on Sunday.
“We looked like what most people expected going into this season,” said Frazier, 2-0 since replacing the fired Brad Childress.
The Vikings took a 38-7 lead early in the fourth quarter on Peterson’s 43-yard run, right after Jared Allen smacked the ball out of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s arm to force the fourth of five Bills turnovers. It was that kind of afternoon for Frazier and the Vikings (5-7), who have struggled to recapture last year’s form on both sides of the ball.
“There’s not many games left for me either way,” Favre said. “I would like to see it through. I would like to play. It’s what I came in here for.”
Favre was diagnosed with a sprained sternoclavicular joint in his throwing shoulder. The SC joint is located where the collarbone meets the breastbone. An X-ray showed no broken bones, and he is expected to have an MRI on Monday. If Favre can play, though, Frazier left no doubt about whether is NFL-record streak of 297 straight starts would continue.
“If Brett’s healthy, Brett’s our quarterback,” Frazier said. “Tarvaris did a great job. Nothing against Tarvaris. We can win with Tarvaris.”
They did against the Bills, for sure, despite Jackson’s three interceptions.
Drayton Florence, who picked off the errant pass by Favre that floated in the air when he was flattened by a crushing hit from Arthur Moats, jumped on an out route later in the first quarter and returned the first of Jackson’s interceptions 40 yards for the game’s first score.
Jackson came right back, though, and led the Vikings to touchdowns on their next four possessions. He credited Frazier for encouraging him when he came off the field following the first mistake.
“After we scored he came to me on the sideline and said, ‘That’s the way you’re supposed to play,'” Jackson said.
Will he get another chance?
Favre has become sort of a medical marvel for healing quickly from a litany of injuries over his 20-year career and playing through plenty of pain, but the 41-year-old quarterback acknowledged the uncertainty of a condition he’s never experienced before.
“I’ll take it day to day,” Favre said. “I’m no overly concerned right now. I’m just going to see what the MRI says.”
Jackson just smiled.
“Brett is going to push to play Sunday,” he said. “You know the type of player he is. He’s played 15,000 games straight now. Probably 15,001 next week.”
Although the Bills (2-10) have been vastly improved over the last month or so, they reverted to early season form and suffered another blowout. They turned the ball over five times and had three personal-foul penalties.
“Can you regroup from something like that? We’ve got a home game in front of our fans next week,” coach Chan Gailey said. “We’ve got to get ourselves ready.”
Fitzpatrick has injected some much-needed life into the Bills offense, with a couple of 300-yard, four-touchdown games since replacing Trent Edwards as the starter in September, but he managed just 9 yards passing in the first half. Allen led a fierce pass rush that has been missing from much of the season, and the Bills lost two offensive linemen — Geoff Hangartner and Kraig Urbik — to knee injuries that will likely keep them out the rest of the year.
“It’s very disappointing,” safety Donte Whitner said. “We knew it was going to be a hostile place to play. We knew that Leslie Frazier had them playing like they thought they would be playing when they first started the season. We knew that we were in for a battle. We didn’t expect to come out and be beat the way that we were beat.”
NOTES: Hangartner’s injury forced the Bills to use three centers. Urbik moved over from right guard, and left guard Andy Levitre filled in at the end. “That’s always a challenge, any time you have to move guys around and play people in different spots,” Gailey said. “But we had done decently with that group last week so I didn’t expect anything different this week.” … The Vikings left three key starters on the inactive list, left guard Steve Hutchinson (thumb), receiver Percy Harvin (illness) and defensive end Ray Edwards (ankle). Rookie Joe Webb, usually the third quarterback, was on the active 45-man list for the first time but a hamstring injury in the first quarter ruined his chance to get some time with the offense. “I don’t know if I’m letting any secrets out of the bag, but we had a package for him,” Frazier said.