MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—If Green Bay was going to beat Minnesota, Brett Favre was going to have to throw the ball to his own team, not the other guys.
Favre followed through on the plan, making sure to savor a hard-to-come-by win at the Metrodome and cautiously ponder the progress made by his rebuilding Packers.
Favre threw two touchdown passes without a turnover and Donald Driver had a career-high 191 yards receiving in a 23-17 victory over the Vikings on Sunday.
“I thought he made great decisions,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said, praising Favre’s performance with Minnesota’s league-best rushing defense holding down Ahman Green (22 carries, 55 yards).
The Packers (4-5), who have won three of their last four games, were boosted by a strong pass rush and even better pass protection. Favre completed 24 of 42 passes for 347 yards and no interceptions.
“At least for another week it gives us a little hope,” said Favre, who improved to 5-10 against the Vikings in their noisy dome.
Brad Johnson went 18-for-30 for 257 yards, one touchdown and two turnovers for Minnesota (4-5), which lost its third straight game after again struggling in several areas.
“They made some clutch plays. It’s amazing to watch Favre convert some of those third downs,” said Johnson, sounding a bit envious of his opponent’s success.
Vikings coach Brad Childress, who was upset with some of Johnson’s on-field choices in recent weeks, directed his criticism at the rest of the struggling offense.
“We need to play better around Brad Johnson,” Childress said, asked whether his quarterback’s limited mobility was a factor in the turnovers and Green Bay’s four sacks. “Again, I’m not going to stick that on him. Are there plays that maybe he would have liked back? Sure there are, but I think basically those other 10 need to play around him better.”
The Vikings (4-5) had three first downs on that desperation drive, the only time they were able to move the chains after halftime without the help of a penalty. They recovered the onside kick, but Artose Pinner was whistled for being offside.
Johnson briefly sparked the offense with consecutive first-half drives that ended in touchdowns by Billy McMullen, but after the break it was more of the same. Bethel Johnson’s kickoff return for a touchdown was called back by an illegal-block penalty on Pinner, an inauspicious start to the second half.
Johnson, who lost a first-half fumble on a blind-side sack, saw an overthrow on second-and-1 at his 30 intercepted by Patrick Dendy with less than eight minutes left.
Favre was clearly having a lot more fun, as the television analysts remind viewers so many times. After his third-and-goal pass was turned into a 5-yard score for Herron in the first quarter, Favre leaped into his receiver’s arms and patted him hard on the shoulder.
Driver has consistently hurt the Vikings over the years with his speed over the middle, especially on the artificial grass here. He burned Dontarrious Thomas on a crossing pattern right before halftime, racing 82 yards untouched for a huge score to give the Packers a 17-14 lead.
Favre ran as hard as he could to keep up, picking up his favorite receiver when he finally reached him and lifting him onto his shoulder.
“I love that guy,” Driver said. “I know what he’s thinking. He knows what I’m thinking. That’s a great combination. When it’s all said and done, I’m just glad I’ll be a part of his legacy.”
Minnesota scored on a 40-yard reception by a wide-open McMullen and after forcing a three-and-out went ahead 14-10 by covering 82 yards on the next possession. The Vikings even scored in the red zone, where a 4-for-18 touchdown conversion rate was the worst in the league coming into the league.
Johnson threw short on third-and-10 at the 16 to Taylor, who wiggled through the defense but lost the ball at the goal line on a jarring hit by rookie A.J. Hawk. McMullen was in perfect position, though, and pounced on it for just his third career score.
But that was all the success Minnesota could muster.
“We have to cut out the stupid stuff,” Hutchinson said. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot.”