With 4:39 left on the clock, Minnesota trailed Arizona by 14 and the Brad Childress era seemed to be coming to an end for the Vikings. But the players did not quit and quarterback Brett Favre saved his best for last, bailing out the team and saving the coach.
In one of the most memorable Favre comebacks, he took command from that point in the game, completing his final seven passes. He led the team to two quick touchdowns, getting the game to overtime, and then putting them in field goal range for Ryan Longwell's 35-yard winner.
"His play today is the reason you send a plane down to pick him up and bring him back for the team," Longwell said following Favre's performance.
At 41, Favre put up a career-high 446 yards passing. It was only his only his second career 400-yard game and it marks the fourth best total in Vikings history -- so much for all of the injuries impacting Favre.
What made this performance one of the best I've seen in a long time is that the supporting cast around Favre was not healthy or even the most talented. Wide receiver Percy Harvin was impressive on a gimpy ankle, but each and every time he got off the ground, he limped badly back to the huddle. Fellow receiver Bernard Berrian came back to life, catching the ball well and running hard after the catch, as the Vikings had their way with the poor tackling of the Cardinals secondary. Favre was masterful using eye contact with various receivers to alert them he was going their way to take advantage of the defense despite whatever play was called in the huddle. The result was big plays. (The Vikings should get a huge lift next week as WR Sidney Rice looked close to being able to play watching him in pre game warm-ups. He actually moved better than Harvin).
This was a group effort, a total team commitment to winning and they never gave in to all the adversity. We know the team is unhappy with Childress, but they buried those differences for the greater cause of winning. With Favre leading the way, the team kept fighting. Favre's ability to lead makes him unique, makes him special and makes him a lifesaver for Childress.
Without Favre, Childress would not have gotten an extension last year. That commitment of significant dollars kept Childress around after he acted alone and released Randy Moss. Favre then went out Sunday and kept the Vikings' season alive with a victory over the Cardinals. Without it, Childress' tenure in Minnesota might have come to an end.
As one person close to the organization told me as we watched Harvin limp through his pre-game work: "Favre will get Harvin to play, don't worry about that." Therefore, no matter what is going on in the locker room as it relates to Childress, as long as Favre is playing, the team will keep playing.
We all know Favre is not perfect. He is careless with the football and takes too many chances. However, the team adores him as they look to him for leadership and truly believe he can lead them to victory. He is the glue that keeps the locker room focused on the game and Childress in place as the coach. Kind of ironic that the player the coach called out a few weeks ago saved his job.
» The Raiders are for real, not because of their 5-4 record, but more to do with their willingness to keep competing in spite of falling behind the Chiefs in the fourth quarter. They showed toughness and resolve in coming back to win, which will benefit them in the last seven games. The Raiders are 3-0 in the AFC West and two of those victories have come at home. To take the division title, they will need to win some tough road games. But with this win, they will know they have the ability to keep fighting.
» How about those Brownies? They dominated the Patriots and used the power of running back Peyton Hillis to control the game. Cleveland is the best short-yardage team in the league. When the Browns can stay in third and short, they can keep the ball -- they held it for 38:08 on Sunday -- and are tough to beat. More importantly, they do not beat themselves. As the weather in the Midwest gets worse, the Browns will be tough to handle because they are physical and play extremely hard.
» Eagles quarterback Michael Vick returned from injury and looked extremely good. In fact, he threw as well as I have ever seen him. Vick moved around and led the Birds to their 12th victory after a bye in the Andy Reid era. Vick did not do it alone, however, as the defense played its best game. I am starting to think the Eagles and Giants might be the two best teams in the NFC, especially when Vick is under center.
» Does it matter what targets Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has at his disposal? Without Malcom Floyd or Antonio Gates, or even Vincent Jackson, Rivers had four touchdowns passes and helped the Chargers get a much-needed road win against the Texans. Rivers connected with Seyi Ajirotutu for two touchdowns and 111 yards -- not bad for a college free agent from Fresno State who was on the practice squad to start the season.
» I knew Cowboys owner Jerry Jones could not continue to watch the mess that he and others created. I say this with all due respect, as I have been on some bad teams with no chance to win, but instead of looking forward to Sundays you regret them because you know things can only get worse. The Cowboys have shown no pride, no caring and no fear of losing their jobs. Therefore, they gave no effort. We all knew Wade Phillips wouldn't be the coach next year. There is an old saying in coaching, you are either coaching it, or allowing it to happen. The same applies to Jones as he allowed it to happen. Phillips behaved as if he wanted to be put out of his misery, so Jones did just that.
» I love Houston Chronicle writer John McClain and follow him on Twitter. He is not shy about expressing his views on the team he covers. On Sunday, he proclaimed the Texans' defense as the worst in NFL history. He might be right, but the one thing I do know, the Texans lack toughness and are too soft to think they can compete for a championship. It has gotten to the point where I am sick of writing about their lack of toughness. Until they get tougher mentally and physically as an organization, they will be a fun team to watch, but never a good one.
On the lookout
The Falcons won another home game, and are now 17-1 with Matt Ryan at quarterback in home games and 17-3 under coach Mike Smith. But this Thursday night, in the first game of the season on NFL Network, the Falcons will get their true test in determining if they are for real. Even though the matchup is in Atlanta, the Ravens present a problem for the Falcons because they are physical, hard to run the ball against and can rush the passer. The Falcons had their way with the Buccaneers because they could run the ball effectively.
Off the beaten track
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was far from perfect, but improved as the game went along and helped earn a comeback victory. Sanchez can get away with being inaccurate if, and only if, he makes big plays down the field, which is what he did against the Lions. He averaged 8.6 yards per attempt en route to his first 300-yard game.
» Bad offensive lines do not travel well, and sometimes they do not play well at home. That was the case for Seattle's line. Credit the Giants for dominating in a tough venue. Their defensive line is back to making a difference. ...
» Packers safety Nick Collins is going to be light in the wallet this week and should get a suspension because his hit on Roy Williams was exactly the kind of hit the league is trying to eliminate. ...
» Chicago actually converted third downs and won the turnover battle against Buffalo, which is why the Bears won. The Bears have to win with their red-zone defense, their kicking game and not making mistakes with the ball. Their margin for error is small. ...
» Miami did not force Baltimore to punt, thus allowing 60 combined completions and rushes, which is enough to win any game. ...
» The Buccaneers cannot rush the passer, or stop the run, a bad combination for any team trying to be the best in the NFC. ...
» The Colts and Packers are similar in that they have lost so many skill players that it makes their once-explosive offenses very pedestrian. The Colts' lack of talent at receiver exposes a lack of talent on the offensive line, particularly at tackle. ...
» I think Peyton Manning has been hit more this year than any time last year. Teams are no longer scared to attack the pocket, in part because they feel they can cover the wide outs. ...
» Monday is the last stand for the Bengals. They have to win and keep pace with the rest of the AFC North. Not sure they have the right team to be able to beat the Steelers, who even though they are without Aaron Smith, should be able to control the line of scrimmage. ...
Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi.