EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Brett Favre was at his dazzling best after a miserable start that put the Minnesota Vikings in a hole.
There would be no classic comeback this time, though, for the record-setting quarterback.
Hit hard early and often by Rex Ryan’s physical defense, Favre nearly led the Vikings back with a milestone night, but Dwight Lowery returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown with 1 minute, 30 seconds to go as the New York Jets beat the Vikings, 29-20, on Monday night in a game that was delayed 45 minutes by lightning.
With the New York Jets (4-1) lacking fireworks early, they depended on five field goals by Nick Folk, two after fumbles by Favre, and now the 41-year-old quarterback is left wondering if an even bigger punishment is in store from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Favre threw for 264 yards on 14-for-34 accuracy for the Vikings (1-3) hours after he apologized to teammates for the distraction caused by an NFL investigation into allegations that he sent racy messages and lewd photos to a Jets game hostess in 2008.
He became the first NFL player to throw 500 touchdown passes and for 70,000 yards, but the two early fumbles against his former team helped put the Vikings in a 12-0 hole.
Favre threw three touchdowns, including two to Percy Harvin — the second cutting the Vikings’ deficit to two points with 3:09 remaining in the game. Favre and the Minnesota offense had the ball with 1:43 to play and poised for a winning drive — until Favre’s last big mistake.
He connected with new teammate Randy Moss from 37 yards out late in the third quarter to cut the Jets’ lead to 12-7. Favre zipped down the field and jumped into Moss’ arms in the end zone to celebrate the score.
Less than five minutes later, Favre hit Harvin for a 34-yard touchdown that made it 15-13 with 12:47 to go. But Favre’s tying two-point conversion try was intercepted by Antonio Cromartie in the end zone.
Shonn Greene’s 23-yard touchdown run with 4:30 to go gave the Jets a 22-13 lead that appeared to seal the victory, but Favre still had plenty of time to try for a comeback victory.
The game marked the Vikings debut for Moss, who finished with four catches for 81 yards, including the touchdown, while being defended mostly by Cromartie despite the return of Darrelle Revis from a hamstring injury.
Adrian Peterson ran for 88 yards on 18 carries for Minnesota.
New York’s offense struggled for the first time since Week 1, failing to get much going — other than field goals — until late.
Mark Sanchez completed 21 of 44 passes for 191 yards. He hasn’t thrown an interception this season, although he came close a few times.
Santonio Holmes played his first game with the Jets after being suspended the first four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He finished with three catches for 41 yards.
LaDainian Tomlinson had another solid game for the Jets with 94 yards rushing on 20 carries.