Vikings' D-Line Out To Disrupt Favre

When Brett Favre looks at videotape of the Minnesota Vikings defense, he sees a defensive line that is reminiscent of the ol’ Purple People Eaters. And when one of those front four, massive run-stuffer Pat Williams, looks at film of Favre this season, it’s as though the clock has turned back a bit, too. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Vikings Game Center


When Brett Favre looks at videotape of the Minnesota Vikings defense, he sees a defensive line that is reminiscent of the ol' Purple People Eaters.

"They're good, man, they're good," Favre said. "Their front four guys, first of all, are as good as any we'll play. That's no joke."

And when one of those front four, massive run-stuffer Pat Williams, looks at film of Favre this season, it's as though the clock has turned back a bit, too.

"He looks like he's in his eighth season right now," Williams said of the 17-year veteran quarterback. "He looks great out there. He looks like he hasn't lost a step. He's throwing the ball very hard right now and very crisp."

It's a matchup that's all the more intriguing with Favre on the verge of breaking the NFL's touchdown pass record. Needing just one TD toss to top Dan Marino's all-time mark of 420, Favre is up against a defense so disruptive it has recorded 11 sacks and returned two interceptions and one fumble for touchdowns in the season's first three games.

With the Packers struggling to run the ball this season, and the Vikings once again near the top of the league in rushing defense, success for the Packers will likely come down to what Favre can accomplish through the air with pressure in his face.

And from Minnesota's point of view, if the Vikings can disrupt Favre enough, it will have a major impact on both the game and the record books.

"You always hate to be on the end of the record that's established," Minnesota head coach Brad Childress said. "I think it would maybe be more of a source of pride if we could help him tie the record for most career interceptions with George Blanda."

While now equal with Marino in touchdowns, Favre stands just two interceptions from Blanda's all-time mark of 277. He's done an admirable job of approaching that dubious distinction slowly this year, with just two interceptions so far in 2007 and none in his last six quarters, during which he's thrown six touchdown passes.

The hot streak has prompted many to say Favre is toning down the risk-taking this season, managing Mike McCarthy's version of the West Coast offense better by taking the shorter throws and not gambling down the field.

While there's some truth to that, Favre isn't totally buying it.

"Everyone's on this Brett Favre bandwagon now, 'Boy, he's playing the game differently' and all these things," Favre said. "I don't see it that way."

That's because even though the statistics might indicate he's playing differently, the reason for his improved numbers, Favre said, is that the Packers have spent the first three games either ahead, tied, or trailing by only a few points, and he's right.

Of the 180 minutes in the three games, the Packers have trailed for a total of just 25 minutes and 15 seconds, or less than one of the six halves of football. They've never been down by more than one score, and they've been down by more than four points for only 4 minutes, 27 seconds, when they trailed San Diego 7-0 in the first quarter last Sunday before a field goal made it 7-3.

"We had a chance from the first snap to the last snap, it was never down by 14 or 17," Favre said. "If it's 0-0 in the third quarter, you don't have to take a gamble, but if you're down 17 points in the third quarter, at some point you have to start taking a shot."

Favre hasn't been forced to take those shots yet this season, but to say he's playing the game differently isn't accurate in his mind. He's playing the way the game situation dictates he should play, and he's always done that.

"I'm looking at the scoreboard for the most part saying, 'OK, we're in this game,' and that said, it's OK to punt, OK to take a checkdown," Favre said.

"I know we're struggling running the ball and more is expected of the passing game, but I don't think I'm going into the game with every dropback going, 'Don't turn it over, don't turn it over. Don't throw it down the field.' I'm just playing the game."

{sportsad300}Having to play it Sunday against a defensive unit like Minnesota's, with the touchdown record at stake, the noise at the Metrodome a factor, and the fast start to his team's season on the line against a division rival, ... perhaps there's no better test when it's still September and in the early stages of the season to see just how on top of his game Favre is.

"We have to protect the football," McCarthy said. "We can't have any negative plays. Those are the things that they're accomplishing. Their safeties have as good hand-eye coordination as anyone we'll see. When they get their hands on the ball it's an interception.

"It's a good group. There will be a ton of energy up there. I think it will be an excellent contest."

Favre knows it too.

"Defensively, that's all I watch, but I think they're playing excellent football," he said. "We've got our work cut out for us."

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