Minnesota's Brett Favre threw three touchdown passes but Dwight Lowery's interception return score with 90 seconds to play gave the New York Jets a 29-20 victory over the Vikings.
In a Monday night game that stretched into Tuesday morning thanks to a 45-minute delay at the start because of a lightning storm, it was National Football League all-time passing leader Favre who provided an electrifying finish.
"I'm disappointed. I was thinking we were going to win," Favre said. "There are some things I have to do better." A day after his 41st birthday, Favre fought through tendinitis in his throwing elbow and connected on touchdown throws of 11 and 34 yards to Percy Harvin and 37 to fellow legend Randy Moss in their first game as teammates. "Brett Favre is an amazing competitor and a tremendous quarterback," Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
Moss joined the Vikings last week after being traded from New England amid reports of conflicts with other players while a scandal erupted around Favre, who is accused of sending lewd e-mails and messages to a former Jets employee. Favre said he was never distracted by the off-field issues. "No different than any other time. I concentrated on this game. I gave it my all. It wasn't good enough," Favre said. "I played as hard as I ever have. I prepared as well I ever did. I was focused on the New York Jets."
Moss, who made four catches for 81 yards, said the entire team backs Favre. "I know he has a lot on his plate. He has a lot of things going on," Moss said. "But we're going to stick by him. Simple as that." With the Vikings trailing 22-20 and needing to move half a field to set up a potential winning field goal, Favre misfired and Lowery returned a pick-off 26 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.
"That's a heck of a win," Ryan said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game. Our challenge was to keep digging, dig deep and find a way to get it done. I'm proud. We didn't know how we would do it but we got it done." Nick Folk kicked five field goals for the Jets, who improved to 4-1 after their fourth win in a row, all without a turnover, while Minnesota fell to 1-3 after losing a match of teams that were a win shy of last season's Super Bowl.
"It was ugly at times but me hanging in there and us maturing enabled us to get a win," said Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Lightning bolts forced spectators to leave their seats for cover and sent players off the field and into the locker rooms until the danger passed. The Vikings struggled for most of three quarters in wet and miserable conditions against an aggressive Jets defence before Favre, who fumbled for his 161st career time to match an NFL record, found his magic once more.
Favre, who spent a season with the Jets between his first and second failed retirements, connected with Harvin on a 34-yard touchdown pass with 12:47 to play to pull the Vikings within 15-13, but a two-point conversion pass failed. The Jets answered with their first touchdown, Shonn Greene capping the New York march with a 23-yard touchdown run, and a conversion kick put the hosts ahead 22-13 with 4:30 to play with the Vikings needing two scores to win.
Favre responded by moving Minnesota down the field 54 yards in 81 seconds and found Harvin in the back of the end zone on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 3:09 to play, pulling the Vikings within 22-20. "They could be down 100 points and he would give them a chance," Sanchez said. The Jets botched a chance to run out the clock late and the Vikings got the ball back with 1:48 to play, setting the stage for Lowery's heroics.