GREEN BAY, Wis. - Brett Favre jogged out of the tunnel in a purple helmet. He might as well have been wearing a black hat.
No, Favre didn’t seem to relish playing the villain in his return to Lambeau Field. But it was going to take more than a chorus of boos to throw him off his game.
For the second time in less than a month, Favre sliced up his former team and stuck it to the franchise that cast him aside as the Minnesota Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers, 38-26, at Lambeau on Sunday.
Despite being jeered repeatedly by Packers fans who once cheered his every move, Favre completed 17 of 28 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns without an interception.
“Packer fans cheer for the Packers first,” Favre said. “I know that. But I hope that everyone in the stadium watching tonight said, ‘I sure hate those jokers on the other side, but he does play the way he’s always played.’ ”
High-stakes, emotional drama aside, this much is clear: The Vikings (7-1) took a firm grip on the NFC North standings.
But given the raw tension between Favre, the Packers’ front office and the fans who felt betrayed when their favorite player came out of retirement – again – to join their biggest rival, cornerback Charles Woodson acknowledged the game was significant beyond the division standings.
“I think it was disappointing for a lot of people,” Woodson said. “It’s just a loss, but I think a lot of people really wanted this one bad. We let a lot of people down today.”
Under less dramatic circumstances, rookie receiver Percy Harvin would have been Sunday’s star after catching five passes for 84 yards and a touchdown and returning five kicks for 175 yards.
But Harvin didn’t mind yielding the spotlight to Favre.
“He’s played this game a long time, he sees a lot of stuff that a lot of quarterbacks can’t see,” Harvin said. “And he can make a lot of throws that a lot of quarterbacks can’t make. With us being explosive, to add him was like a blessing in disguise.”
The Vikings’ defense roughed up Favre’s successor, Aaron Rodgers, sacking him six times.
But with the Packers (4-3) on the verge of getting routed, Rodgers rebounded with three second-half touchdowns as Green Bay cut the deficit to 31-26.
A few of those crunching hits left Rodgers limping at times, but he said he’d be fine.
“I’ll be OK in a couple of days,” said Rodgers, who threw for only 38 yards in the first half but finished with 287 and three touchdowns. “This one will hurt for a couple of days, though, physically and mentally.”