|Brett Favre had never beaten the Cowboys in the postseason until yesterday when he threw four TD passes, a personal high in the playoffs. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)|
Rollicking Vikings roll with Favre (4 TDs)
MINNEAPOLIS - “This is what I came back for.’’
For the adrenaline rush. For the in-your-face touchdown. For another shot at the Super Bowl.
Brett Favre wanted all of it, and now he’s got it.
Four - count ’em, four - touchdown passes from Minnesota’s 40-year-old quarterback sent the Vikings to the NFC Championship game with a determined 34-3 rout of the Dallas Cowboys yesterday.
“Probably the most fatigued I got today was celebrating,’’ Favre said, smiling.
The Vikings (13-4) will take on the Saints (14-3) next Sunday in New Orleans, with the winner going to Super Bowl XLIV in Miami - the only reason Favre put retirement on hold for a second straight season.
Favre found Sidney Rice for three scores and put an exclamation point on the final one when his fourth-and-3 pass from the 11 was caught in the end zone by Visanthe Shiancoe after the two-minute warning.
Never in 22 previous playoff games had Favre thrown for four scores, and never before had he beaten Dallas in the postseason after losses to the Cowboys ended his first three playoff experiences with Green Bay.
Favre finished 15 of 24 for 234 yards without a turnover, high-fiving anyone in reach and rapidly pumping his right arm after each score.
“I feel like I’m playing the same way. I have the same enthusiasm,’’ Favre said. “As long as I’m out there, the enthusiasm and the passion that you see is real. And I know the guys feed off of that. Fans enjoy that, because it is real and genuine.’’
Favre even added another accomplishment as the first 40-year-old quarterback to win a playoff game.
“Today was like this season: It’s been wonderful,’’ said Favre, whose only championship came 13 years ago with the Packers.
The Vikings, who were idle last week while the Cowboys whipped Philadelphia, were bothered by all the people picking Dallas to win.
“All of us felt it quite palpably,’’ said Vikings coach Brad Childress.
Fans, too, remembered Drew Pearson’s alleged push-off in that 1975 playoff game and the Herschel Walker trade that fueled the Dallas dynasty of the ’90s. So maybe this game meant a little more to the guys in purple than simply moving on to the league’s semifinals.
Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking balked at the late touchdown, confronting Childress on the sideline.
“I think it was totally classless and disrespectful,’’ Brooking said.
Childress and Favre both chalked it up to staying aggressive to the end.
“That wasn’t rubbing it in. It’s just taking care of business,’’ the coach said.
Ray Edwards led the Minnesota defense’s harassment of Tony Romo, who sat stone-faced on the bench between possessions in the second half after a three-turnover game against one of his childhood favorites.
“Any time you come in with the expectations and goals we set and don’t accomplish them, No. 1, it’s frustrating,’’ Romo said.
Romo was sacked six times, three by Edwards, lost two of his three fumbles, and threw an interception right to Ben Leber deep in his own end late in the third quarter to set up a field goal.
After gaining 118 yards in the first quarter, the Cowboys managed only 130 the rest of the way and were kept out of the end zone.
“It’s like the elevator falling from the top. It’s tough when it’s over. If you don’t win it all, you have not reached your goal,’’ coach Wade Phillips said.