MINNEAPOLIS -- Brad Johnson's honeymoon in Minnesota is
Once the darling of Vikings fans, Johnson was booed through the
second and third quarter and serenaded with chants of "We Want
Jackson! We Want Jackson!" as the offense continued to struggle in
a 26-13 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday.
After yet another three-and-out late in the third quarter, coach
Brad Childress yanked the proud veteran from the lineup and
inserted rookie backup Tarvaris Jackson to thunderous cheers and a
It was a difficult exit for his teammates to watch in what could
have been the last time the 38-year-old Johnson took the field in
"You hear that as a player, it's not right," receiver Travis Taylor said of the boos. "When Tarvaris came into the game they
started cheering, and maybe rightfully so on their end of the
stick. But at the same time, as players and fellow teammates, you
don't want to see someone have to go through that."
It was far from Johnson's worst game this season. He was 10 of
17 for 96 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, and a
quarterback rating of 94.2 that was nearly 10 times better than his
10.3 stinker against the Bears two weeks ago.
But with Johnson unable to get the Vikings going and the Jets
ahead 19 points in the third quarter, the crowd had seen enough
from the player hailed as a savior last season for leading the team
to a 7-2 finish.
"There was certainly enough blame to go around today," center
Matt Birk said. "It was a little disappointing. I feel for Brad
because I have the utmost respect for him and what he's
Birk might be on to something there. Vikings receivers rarely
gained separation from defensive backs on Sunday and Johnson was
under pressure from the blitz-happy Jets all afternoon.
He was sacked three times and also seemed a bit handcuffed by
Johnson's last play of the game came on third-and-2 from the
Minnesota 30. The Vikings broke the huddle with only one receiver
split wide and tight end Jermaine Wiggins was the only player more
than 4 yards beyond the line of scrimmage after the snap.
Johnson's heave to Wiggins fell harmlessly incomplete, a
head-scratching call for an offense that has had trouble moving the
ball consistently all season.
"It's not like he was playing bad," Taylor said. "You have to
look at some of the plays that were happening on the field. The
quarterback always gets the most blame, unfortunately."
Johnson declined comment as he left the locker room after the
game, and Childress inserted Jackson with 25 seconds left in the
"I thought we needed a spark," Childress said. "I didn't
think we played considerably well around Brad today, whether it was
running the football or protecting him. Somebody had to make plays
around the guy."
The fans were borderline tasteless in their revelry, actually
cheering loudly when Jackson eluded a sack and threw the ball away
in a blatant shot at Johnson's lack of mobility.
Jackson played fairly well in the first extensive action of his
career. He was 14 of 23 for 177 yards and one touchdown, but threw
a costly interception in the end zone as he tried to rally the
Childress did not say who will start on Thursday night at Green
"We'll just see who gives us the best chance to win," he said.
Jackson was conflicted after the game, saying he enjoyed the
chance to play but also felt for Johnson, who has been a trusted
mentor to Jackson in his first season.
"It's very hard. I don't want to see that happen," Jackson
said of the boos. "Sometimes fans don't understand there's more to
being a quarterback than just throwing touchdowns. He's a leader of
the team and he's still going to lead the team. It's hard for me to
just hear the fans do him like that."