MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The record is his, for now, and Brett Favre can return his focus on two other numbers: 4-0.
To hear him tell it over and over, this is all he has ever worried about: helping Green Bay win.
Favre became the NFL’s all-time leader in career touchdown passes with a couple of vintage third-down zingers Sunday, and the Packers stayed unbeaten with a 23-16 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
He also went interception-free against a defense determined to make him the league’s all-time leader in that category. Favre remained three picked-off passes away from topping George Blanda on the career list.
Former teammate Darren Sharper had one in the first quarter that was wiped out by a penalty. He congratulated Favre after the game that left the frustrated Vikings 1-3. The Packers joined the Dallas Cowboys as the NFC’s only undefeated teams.
Favre was the obvious difference in the decision over pass-deficient Minnesota.
“He’s making all the proper decisions. You don’t see him making some of the decisions he made in the past,” Sharper said. “They’re putting a lot on him, throwing the ball a lot, and he’s not making too many bad throws. He’s playing at the MVP level that he has played at before.”
Kelly Holcomb is, well, not quite in Favre’s class.
He threw a touchdown pass to Sidney Rice with 1:55 left to pull the Vikings within seven, and a nearly disastrous fumble gave Minnesota a chance to tie it.
Favre’s handoff to Ryan Grant wasn’t clean, and Chad Greenway fell on it at the Minnesota 46. But Holcomb’s tipped pass from the Packers 34 was intercepted by Atari Bigby, with the Vikings screaming unsuccessfully for an interference call on Charles Woodson.
“They can’t blatantly hold you,” Holcomb said.
Minnesota also argued at another crucial point that Korey Hall fumbled when Antoine Winfield hit him hard out of the backfield. Greeenway picked up the ball and would’ve scored an easy touchdown, but the incomplete pass ruling was not allowed to be challenged by coach Brad Childress.
“I’m not in the business of being a referee, but it seemed like he caught and turned,” Greenway said.
Ultimately, the Vikings had bigger concerns. Holcomb went 21-for-39 for 258 yards, but those numbers were boosted by the late rally.
Adrian Peterson rushed 12 times for 112 yards and had a 51-yard kickoff return in the second half, and Chester Taylor ripped off a 37-yard run, too. All they had to show for all that in the first 58 minutes was Ryan Longwell’s three field goals.
“I’d be lying to say we’re not disappointed,” Peterson said.
Winning for the fourth time in the last five meetings here, Favre went 32-for-45 for 344 yards. Green Bay is 4-0 for the first time since 1998.
“He cares about the record, but it’s not the most important thing,” defensive end Aaron Kampman said. “He cares about winning. That’s when you know you have a special teammate.”
The Packers don’t really have a running game this season. Punter Jon Ryan had the longest carry in the first three quarters, a 7-yard dance on a called fake that made several Vikings miss and extended the opening drive of the second half.
“We’re in a throw mode right now,” Favre said.
Minnesota can sure run the ball, thanks to Peterson, the rookie with the quick moves and the power to run right through the secondary. The Vikings have a stout defense, too, especially against the rush.
But for the second straight season, that’s not leading to success.
The Packers, led by Kampman, applied a strong, steady rush, but Holcomb didn’t show much poise in the pocket. He threw balls into the line, held onto others too long, and nearly had multiple interceptions.
As if Green Bay needed more reason to appreciate Favre.
“I’m so glad we won the game. There was so much emphasis on this record and not the game itself,” he said. “Everyone’s like, ‘What are you going to do? Are you going to have a big celebration?’ Put yourself in my shoes. I want to help this team win. I do not want us to get blindsided by this record and what we’re actually here for.”