Six months after Favre began a brief retirement, he made a stirring debut Sunday as Broadway Brett. But in the final minute the Dolphins marched down the field while Favre’s New York Jets clung to six-point lead.
What was he thinking?
“Don’t score,” he said.
“It was shaky, but it’s a good start,” Favre said. “It’s a win, and you can never question a win.”
Favre hardly looked like the retiring type, raising his arms to signal a touchdown, then leaping and skipping to the bench, where he vaulted into the arms of two teammates. That was after he threw a 56-yard touchdown pass on New York’s second series.
He later improvised on fourth down for a 22-yard scoring pass, and finished 15-for-22 for 194 yards and his 161st victory, extending his NFL record for starting quarterbacks.
Favre said the game left him glad he’s still playing at age 38, and after 16 seasons in Green Bay, he feels at home with his new team.
“I know I made the right decision,” he said in his Mississippi drawl. “I’m a New York Jet. I don’t know about a native New Yorkian, or however you say it. Hey, I’m happy to be a Jet.”
For the Dolphins, the loss marked a disappointing start to the Bill Parcells era, and it was painfully reminiscent of last year’s 1-15 team. Parcells took over last December, but despite turning over more than half the roster and hiring Tony Sparano as coach, the Dolphins gave up too many big plays and sputtered on offense until their frantic late rally.
“If we had made just one more play, we could have won the game,” receiver Greg Camarillo said. “That’s what hurts.”
Pennington, playing against the team that released him in favor of Favre, drew boos early before finishing 26-for-43 for 251 yards.
“I just hate losing,” Pennington said. “I hate it as bad as you can imagine. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Jets or anyone else, a loss hurts bad.”
New York’s Dwight Lowery batted away a pass by Pennington in the end zone on fourth down with 9 minutes left, but the Dolphins kept coming. They converted a fourth-and-7 during a 53-yard drive that ended with Pennington’s 11-yard touchdown pass to David Martin, making it 20-14 with 3:27 left.
After New York punted, the Dolphins started from their 39 with 1:43 left. They reached the Jets 18, but when Pennington tried to hit Ted Ginn Jr. in the corner of the end zone, Revis had position and made a one-handed interception.
That clinched the Jets’ fifth consecutive win over their AFC East rivals.
Favre was traded to New York after his decision to delay retirement led to a messy divorce with the Packers. The Jets hope Favre can transform a team that went 4-12 last year into a playoff contender, and it didn’t take long for him to make an impact.
Wearing his familiar No. 4, Favre went deep on the first play of the Jets’ second possession. Jerricho Cotchery caught the long pass at the 5 and scored to complete the 56-yard play. At the other end of the field, Favre celebrated like a rookie.
Cotchery said he wasn’t surprised Favre hit him in stride.
“After working with him for a month, nothing surprises me about the guy,” Cotchery said.
With the score 7-all and Jets kicker Mike Nugent nursing a thigh injury suffered in the first quarter, the Jets decided to go for a touchdown on fourth-and-13. Under heavy pressure, Favre shrugged off 305-pound defensive end Randy Starks, and as he was sandwiched by two defenders, he threw a dying-quail pass that found an open Chansi Stuckey for the go-ahead touchdown.
“He’s a miracle worker,” Dolphins fullback Boomer Grigsby said. “He threw that thing in the air and God said, ‘Brett Favre will have a touchdown pass.’ And he did. That’s Brett Favre being Brett Favre.”
The game was a sellout, but there were more than 15,000 empty seats. … The Jets’ Thomas Jones scored on a 6-yard run to match his rushing TD total of last year. … Of Pennington’s 26 completions, 20 went to running backs or tight ends. … Miami tackle Jake Long, the first overall pick in this year’s draft, drew penalties for tripping and holding.