In the wake of two embarrassingly lopsided losses, interim coach Leslie Frazier isn't giving up on Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings.
Frazier said he wouldn't put Favre on season-ending injured reserve with a concussion and wouldn't rule out the 41-year-old quarterback returning to the field before the season is over.
"He's proven time and time again that he's capable of coming back and playing," Frazier said Tuesday.
Favre made a surprise start against the Chicago Bears on Monday night, two days after he was ruled out with a sprained right throwing shoulder. He threw for 63 yards with one touchdown and one interception before he was knocked out of the game in the second quarter on a sack by Bears defensive end Corey Wootton.
Frazier said it was unlikely Favre could recover from the concussion in time to play Sunday at Philadelphia -- "When you look at the history (of players with concussions), it's rare when guys seem to come back on a short week," he said -- but he wouldn't rule out a return for the season finale Jan. 2 at Detroit.
Favre has said several times this will be his last season, and Frazier said the veteran doesn't want to go out watching from the bench.
"He doesn't want to let his teammates down," Frazier said. "He really wanted to play in front of the home fans last night for maybe the last time. That was important to him. I think more than anything he likes to compete, and the fact that we've got two ballgames left, he's a guy who loves his teammates and loves to play. I think that's what motivates him more than anything."
Frazier also said there is a chance that All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson will return Sunday.
"He is improving. We'll see how he's doing day to day," Frazier said. "We'll be cautious regarding Adrian, making sure he can do the things he needs to do."
If Favre can't play, rookie Joe Webb will be the starter with recently signed veteran Patrick Ramsey as the backup. The Vikings also signed Rhett Bomar off the New York Giants' practice squad as insurance, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Coming in for Favre against the Bears, Webb completed 15 of 26 passes for 129 yards with two interceptions and a 13-yard touchdown run. The Vikings turned the ball over five times in the 40-14 loss that dropped them to 5-9, assuring them of their first losing season since 2006.
It has been an epic fall for Minnesota, which was one play from going to the Super Bowl last season and brought everyone back for one more run.
But everything that could go wrong has gone wrong in 2010. Favre has been injured, ineffective and the subject of an NFL investigation into inappropriate texts he allegedly sent while with the New York Jets two years ago. Wide receiver Randy Moss returned in a trade with the New England Patriots and was released less than a month later. Coach Brad Childress was fired midseason. The veteran team has been ravaged by injuries to stars Peterson, Sidney Rice, Steve Hutchinson and Percy Harvin.
Oh, and the Metrodome's roof collapsed, forcing the Vikings to move one home game to Detroit (a loss to the Giants) and another one (the loss to the Bears) outdoors at the University of Minnesota on a cold, snowy evening.
"I don't know what else could happen this year," rookie running back Toby Gerhart said. "It's been a crazy year. You've just got to push through it and keep playing."
Perhaps worn down by all the drama, the Vikings have been outscored 61-17 in their last two games as they stagger toward the finish of this monumentally disappointing season.
"I experienced the best of football last year and the worst of it this year," Harvin said after the loss to the Bears. "It'll definitely be a year to chalk up not as something to remember, but to remind us how quickly things can turn south if we don't continue to stay focused. It's a great lesson for us, and I'm going to keep working hard and give it everything I've got."
Frazier and most players insist they haven't given up this season, that their effort in practice and in the games has been satisfactory, but the results have not.
The final two weeks of the season aren't unimportant. Jobs are on the line. Frazier is auditioning to have the "interim" removed from his title, and the Vikings could have as many as 17 players become free agents at the end of the season, including Rice, linebacker Chad Greenway, defensive end Ray Edwards and kicker Ryan Longwell.
The Vikings finish the season at Detroit (4-10) and could wind up last in the NFC North for the first time in 20 years.
"We all have jobs we're fighting for. That's just the business of the NFL," Greenway said. "Coach Frazier certainly is in that position. The whole coaching staff. We have a ton of free agents. We don't want this to happen like this. We're working as hard as we can. Obviously, we want to play better, and that's just the facts."
Note: Safety Madieu Williams also sustained a concussion during Monday's loss.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.