NFL Nation: Visnathe Shiancoe

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
The illegal crackback block Brett Favre put on Eugene Wilson was dangerous for Wilson and the quarterback himself.



Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

HOUSTON -- Earlier Monday, I was pretty direct in decrying Brett Favre's crackback block in the third quarter of an otherwise admirable performance in Minnesota's 17-10 preseason victory over Houston. And even now, I can't see the wisdom in throwing your 39-year-old body -- illegally, I might add -- at the knee of an opposing player during a Wildcat play.

But we're all about free speech here on the Black and Blue blog, so it's only fair to give Favre a chance to explain himself. Speaking to a small group of reporters late Monday night, Favre said his "intentions were not to be cheap" and said he was trying to protect teammate Percy Harvin from getting hit. On the play, Favre turned back toward the line of scrimmage and upended Texans defensive back Eugene Wilson.

"Believe me, I hope [Wilson's] OK," Favre said. "I hope it didn't look as bad on film as it may have seemed. But my intention, believe me, was not to hurt anyone, including myself. Percy was running my way. I was out there. There's going to be those people who say you should have done nothing, [just] get out of the way ... ."

Hello!!!!

"... But I think had I not blocked anyone and just gotten out of the way, and Percy gets hit and gets hurt, I think it looks worse."

I suppose this is part of the package you get with Favre. He's going to lead a textbook two-minute drill, as he did at the end of the first half Monday night. He's going to expertly find an outlet receiver against a blitz, helping his team to a 28-yard touchdown play. And then he's going to bust his chest out for a moment, draw a silly penalty and then deftly attribute it to locker room camaraderie.

Depending on how much cynicism you view Favre with, you might point out that he decided to "protect" Harvin only a few days after ESPN's Adam Schefter reported his arrival had caused a schism in the locker room. I asked Favre what the crackback rule was for quarterbacks, and his answer was accurate based on my read of the NFL's official rule book: "You can't go upfield and then come in and crack back. But it's OK outside the box to go low."

Favre admitted he "was not thinking about" the technicalities of the rule in the heat of the moment. I don't know if he intended to throw that block as a rite of passage into the locker room. But you're welcome to draw that conclusion if you wish.

At least one of his teammates appreciated it. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, for one, warned future opponents to keep their "eyes on a swivel." (Personally, I'm a sucker for mangled metaphors.)

Wilson, by the way, said after the game that he is not seriously injured. He said he was surprised that Favre delivered such a "tough blow" but that it was time to move on. Asked what he would say to Favre if he had a chance, Wilson said: "What was up with that? Seriously, what was up with that?"

The play capped off another day of drama for Favre, who earlier hinted in an ESPN production meeting that he might have suffered a cracked rib during his Aug. 21 debut against Kansas City. Favre admitted Monday night that "I really don't believe" the rib is cracked and hasn't had any tests to make a final determination.

"It doesn't feel great," he said, "But I think I'll be fine. ... I haven't got an X-ray yet. But say it shows there's a crack. There's nothing you can do about it. You can play with it."

That seems especially true after he completed 13 of 18 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. Or maybe that's just me. In either case, it's time to wonder whether Favre is done for the preseason.

Coach Brad Childress wouldn't tip his hand, saying he'll decide this week if Favre will play Friday night against Dallas. Favre said he has always been an "advocate for playing" but joked some of his teammates might put him in a "choke hold" if he pushed too hard to play, forcing them to suit up as well.

Even if he does play Friday, it isn't likely to be for long. So for me, Monday night was Favre's biggest day of the preseason. And without question, he took a step forward -- and has several more big steps to take.

"I know I'm up against the clock," he said. "We start playing next week for real. We've got to get it together pretty quickly."



Adrian Peterson talks about his 75-yard touchdown run and the Vikings' 17-10 victory.

A 99-yard cushion

December, 1, 2008
12/01/08
2:12
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

MINNEAPOLIS -- Please, just be in the right spot.

That thought looped through Gus Frerotte's head Sunday night during that seemingly interminable period in the second quarter. Frerotte was waiting to find out if a once-in-a-career pass would succeed or fall to the ground. The defensive alignment was ideal, the safety took a pump fake, the cornerback picked his poison and Minnesota's top receiver was open for a momentum-changing, 99-yard touchdown.

 
 AP Photo/Tom Olmscheid
 Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Bernard Berrian heads for the end zone on a 99-yard touchdown catch.

All Frerotte had to do was get it there.

"All the years that I have played, you get those calls a lot," Frerotte said. "You're throwing the ball out of the end zone. We're trying to go deep, but if it's not there, you check it down. But it was just one of those things. ... I'm just saying to myself, please just be in the right spot. You let it go and put some air on it. It ends up being perfect."

Indeed. Frerotte and receiver Bernard Berrian hooked up for the 11th 99-yard pass in NFL history, a well-called and perfectly executed play against a defense stacked for a running play. The score gave Minnesota a lead it never relinquished in 34-14 victory over Chicago, a game that left the Vikings in sole possession of first place in the NFC North.

How did the Vikings' big-play receiver get so open in that situation? Here's a look at the most interesting play of the NFL weekend, based on interviews with the participants:

(Read full post)

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