Jets Win Fourth Straight, Spoiling Favre’s Return

New York JetsThe Jets and Minnesota Vikings endured two lightning delays before the first snap on Monday night and finished the strangest of slugfests early Tuesday morning. In between, Brett Favre made history, Randy Moss made his Vikings’ debut and Darrelle Revis made his return to the Jets defense.

Eventually, the Jets sauntered into their locker room soaked but satisfied, their 2008 season under Favre a memory that grew more distant Monday. The Jets outlasted the Vikings, 29-20, with a coach, Rex Ryan, and an offense filled with skill players who arrived after Favre departed, inside their new stadium, which Favre himself helped fill.

This marked the Jets’ (4-1) fourth-consecutive victory, each captured in very different fashion: the comeback against New England, the shootout against Miami, the domination of Buffalo, the narrow escape here.

“We’re right on schedule,” Ryan said. “We want to have the best record in the N.F.L., and we’re right on pace.”

After the game, linebacker Bart Scott stood at his locker, still trying to make sense of what happened Monday night. He asked for the time and found out the clock had reached 1 a.m. He tried to remember a game like this: with five Nick Folk field goals, with another Favre comeback and a more recent Favre controversy, with the Jets backup cornerback Dwight Lowery making the interception that sealed this game in the fourth quarter.

The moment that summed up this game for Scott took place late in the second quarter, when another downpour hit, somewhere between biblical and torrential, and lightning cracked in the distance. Scott sat next to linebacker Jason Taylor, and Scott said Taylor told him two of his friends had previously been struck by lightning (Later, Taylor declined to elaborate.)

“I can’t remember anything like this,” Scott said. “That had to be the weirdest game ever.”

Before it even started, the Jets were ushered back into the tunnel, back into their locker room. Unlike baseball players, their football counterparts are not accustomed to delays, be they lightning or otherwise.

The Jets passed the time by listening to the iPod of receiver Braylon Edwards, which he placed on a giant speaker in the middle of the locker room. Edwards played the climactic speech from Al Pacino in the movie on “Any Given Sunday,” which is all about fighting for the last inch, until the final seconds.

By the time this game ended, the message seemed appropriate. Quarterback Mark Sanchez had completed fewer than half his passes, and he needed 44 attempts to gain 191 yards, yet the Jets won, because of Folks (made field goals from 25, 53, 22, 34 and 31 yards), because of LaDainian Tomlinson (94 rushing yards), and because of Shonn Green (23-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown scamper), among many, many others.

“Everyone on this team has to contribute,” Taylor said. “It’s going to take everybody to get accomplished what we want to accomplish.”

For Favre and the stagnant Vikings’ offense, the first sign of a pulse came late in the third quarter. Favre passed a once unfathomable 70,000 career passing yards on that drive, then lofted a perfect fade to Moss, who caught in stride the 37-yard touchdown. This marked Favre’s 500th career touchdown pass.

In the first half, both Edwards and Tomlinson individually gained more yards than the Vikings offense, but once Favre started rolling, a comeback seemed highly possible, if not imminent. Favre threw three touchdowns, all in the second half, the last an 11-yarder that Percy Harvin caught as he placed the tips of his toes down in the back of the end zone. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie intercepted the two-point conversion, and Lowery later iced the game with a 26-yard interception returned for a touchdown.

“I don’t think we win this game last year,” Sanchez said.

Half a season’s worth of storylines crowded into each other before kickoff, the most unexpected of which proved to be the weather. Lightning caused a 45-minute delay, and following several downpours, the Jets kicked off at 9:15 p.m.

The N.F.L.’s equivalent of a lightning rod, Moss made his return to the Vikings on Monday. New England traded Moss back to Minnesota earlier in the week, just in time for the return of Revis, who further injured his hamstring on a Moss touchdown catch in Week 2 and only returned this week.

Besides Revis-Moss II, Favre came back to face the team that rented him for the 2008 season, Jets linebacker Calvin Pace (broken foot) and receiver Santonio Holmes (suspension) made their 2010 debuts and a national television audience saw the Jets featured in a night game for the third time in five weeks.

Favre turned 41 on Sunday, yet he received an unsympathetic homecoming. Fans booed heartily as he jogged onto the field. They held signs alluding to recent Deadspin reports – of Favre sending lewd pictures to a female sideline personality while under the Jets’ employ – that spoke not to the birthday boy, but of his birthday suit.

They remembered the 2008 season for promise unfulfilled, for Favre and all the surrounding fanfare, for an 8-3 start that fizzled into an epic collapse and culminated in then-Coach Eric Mangini’s pink slip. For Favre and the Jets, three words sum that season: torn bicep tendon. Early January vacation works, too.

ESPN reported Monday that Favre broke down in the Vikings’ locker roomand apologized for becoming a distraction. Jets fans just booed louder.

Afterward, Favre stood behind a curtain, before entering an interview room jammed with reporters. He seemed stoic. Asked directly if the allegations against him were true, Favre answered, “If you want to talk about what happened in the football game, I’d love to.”

Asked if he was embarrassed, Favre added, “I’m embarrassed we lost this football game.”

It was that kind of Monday, strange and surreal and ultimately soaked. For the Jets, as they head first to Denver and then into their bye week, lightning had struck, both before this game and early into this season. Weird never felt so satisfying.

Posted by: nytimes.com

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