A whole lot of Packers fans watched Brett Favre perform on "Monday Night Football" and were overcome by waves of nostalgia.
I no longer consider myself a fan -- it's an occupational hazard from spending more than two decades in sports media -- but, I felt it, too.
Decked out in Vikings purple and performing before a shrieking throng in the Metrodome, Favre shredded the Packers defense and led his team to a 30-23 victory that was far more convincing than the final score indicates.
Favre, who turns 40 next week, completed 24 of 31 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns. Across Wisconsin, Packers fans were overcome by wistful, painful memories of the days when Favre did that to opponents of the green and gold.
Not me. I was transported to the less-than-magical season-ending games Favre and the Packers played from 1993-95.
Those were the years that an upstart Green Bay team, led by Favre, saw its playoff hopes extinguished at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. I remember those games because the Cowboys clearly had more talent than the Packers. Favre would do everything in his power to help his team -- often making out-of-control mistakes that hurt the effort -- and the situation seemed a tad hopeless.
In assessing Favre's performance in those games, compared to what was usually flawless play from Cowboys counterpart Troy Aikman, some fans wondered if he the tools necessary to be a championship-caliber quarterback. Others would say, "Well, if Favre had a supporting cast like Aikman's ... and make comments about the offensive line, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, etc. ..."
That's kind of how it seemed for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Monday night.
"Give Rodgers a running back like Adrian Peterson..."
"If Rodgers had that kind of time.... "
The Packers' offensive line, weakened by an injury to Chad Clifton, was no match for Minnesota's defensive line. Heck, Vikings' end Jared Allen was too much for Green Bay's entire unit.
The line will get plenty of attention this week. Aaron Rodgers will get ripped for holding the ball too long. But, the O-line was not the sole reason the Packers lost this game. The play of safety Derrick Martin, filling in for Atari Bigby, was sub-par. The defense stymied Adrian Peterson, the Vikings' standout running back, but put no pressure on Favre, who went through his progressions and rifled pinpoint passes around the dome without breaking much of a sweat.
A long time ago, my colleague at the newspaper, Cliff Christl, told me about the importance of playmakers in the NFL -- guys with the talent to make game-changing plays in crucial situations.
The better team won this game.
At present, the Vikings have more playmakers than the Packers. And, it's not even close.
Here are some other observations from the sofa:
- Packers tight end Jermichael Finley enjoyed the best game of his career (six catches, 128 yards). His colleague, Donald Lee, dropped what should have been a touchdown pass.
- Rodgers was sacked eight times, with 4 1/2 credited to Allen. It'll be hard to blame him if he flinches during the bye week.
- Did you notice how Favre referred to Rodgers as "their quarterback" during a postgame TV interview? He called him "Aaron" later, but that was noteworthy.
- Packers rookie linebacker Clay Matthews made the play of the night when he swiped the ball from Peterson and streaked in for a touchdown. The highlight prompts an uncomfortable question for the Packers personnel department: How many memorable plays has A.J. Hawk made in his career?
- General manager Ted Thompson had to feel a sense of regret on Monday. Not for Brett Favre, but for Derrick Martin. The guy was awful and the Packers could have used Tony Moll, who was traded to the Ravens for Martin at the end of camp. Thompson probably shouldn't have cut Anthony Smith, either.
- Favre has beaten all 32 teams in the NFL. He's the only player to do so. Of course, not many players can say that they've faced all 32 teams.
- The injury to kick returner Will Blackmon looked serious. Blackmon has had trouble staying on the field.
- Several players wore pink shoes, gloves or armbands in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
- The Packers incurred some costly penalties, including two holding calls on kick returns. Arguably the two costliest fouls were Brandon Chillar's 15-yard taunting penalty and a questionable pass interference flag on Charles Woodson. Both led to touchdowns.
- What was with that "Wildcat" formation the Packers tried?
- Speaking of coaching, what were the Vikings thinking throwing a 50-yard incompletion when they should have been running out the clock?
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.