One man's account of the start of the Favre/Moss era AND the start of a new-found respect for ESPN. OK, maybe just the start of the Favre/Moss era.
9:15 p.m.: And after a 45-minute weather delay we have a kickoff. Good thing, because the announce crew was getting a little loopy trying to kill time. Look at this exchange at 8:56 p.m.:
Mike Tirico: Coach Gruden, you spent three years in Green Bay with Brett in the early 90s. I know it's been nearly 20 years --
Jon Gruden: And he's the one with the gray hairs!
(Monster fake laugh from the guys.)
MT: But I guess what I was trying to get to was this: I have no idea if you were a peeker in the locker room. Let's assume you were -- are the photos on Deadspin a match?
JG: I don't know about peeking or not, Mike, but I'll tell you this: Brett Favre always goes after it. The guy is one in a million.
Ron Jaworski: They made no footage available at NFL Films, Mike, and I begged Steve Sabol to give me any shower B-roll he had.
MT: OK … let's go to Suzy.
9:16: And of course the first play from scrimmage is a double-reverse with Moss completing a pass to Favre for a first down.
(Wait, called back. Favre ineligible downfield. A Brad Childress team with an early penalty?)
9:17: How do they CGI Frank Gifford into that pregame package every week? Best use of the deceased since the Nat King Cole duet with his daughter.
9:18: Vikings -- one play from scrimmage, three penalties. Three and out.
9:22: Mark Sanchez's first pass of the game is a bullet to Braylon Edwards for 22 yards. This is why nobody knows anything when it comes to the NFL. After the first six quarters of the season Sanchez was the worst QB in the league and there was talk of bust and Mark Brunell and all that stuff. But a couple of (very good, admittedly) games and it all changes. Look at what Don Banks of SI (one the best football writers on the planet) wrote about Sanchez a couple of days ago when he ranked the top 10 future NFL Power Brokers …
"This one admittedly requires a little projection on our part, but if you don't think the guy they already refer to as "the Sanchise'' has the potential to grow into an NFL power broker, then you haven't been paying attention. For one, star quarterbacks in the NFL always have a chance to turn into a face-of-the-league type. (See Peyton Manning, Michael Vick, Brett Favre, etc. ...) Sanchez still has to produce and win big, but he's in New York and he's telegenic, and that gives him a big head start in terms of establishing a legitimate power base."
9:28: I can't believe I'm watching Antonio Cromartie shut down Moss again. They just showed a replay of Moss jogging and avoiding contact with Cromartie on his second play from scrimmage. I bet Belichick watches that play more times than Jim Garrison watched the Zapruder film.
9:32: After another three-and-out from the Vikings, the Jets are running LT down the field. Three carries for 33 yards and it's first-and-goal with six minutes left in the first quarter. Is it too late to take back my "I'd rather have Kevin Faulk than LT" stance that I went with all offseason?
9:35: 3-0, Jets. Just heard the Deion Branch news. Why not? For a fourth -- that's basically a Maroney-for-Branch deal. Absolute no-brainer. And he doesn't have a beard.
9:40: First target for Moss, one-on-one with Cromartie and it's underthrown badly. Man, Favre looks awful. Toss in a near-pick on the next play and this is getting ugly. At least the Sterger mess takes away from how terrible he's been on the field this year.
9:44: Gruden just called Ray Edwards the "Rodney Dangerfield" of the Vikings defense. I'm guessing that's not in reference to his character in "Natural Born Killers."
9:48: ESPN doesn't care -- even with the delay a zillion people are going to watch this game -- but this has been a brutal first quarter. Lousy QB plays, six penalties, a couple of dropped passes.
9:50: The Terminator with a catch to end the first quarter. 3-0, Jets. So far the Moss reunion in Minnesota has been about as successful as the last 30 TV series that starred Jimmy Smits (no one gets more chances -- he's the Norv Turner of actors. I love Smits but it might be time for dinner theatre with Joanna Kerns).
9:54: Jets back in Vikings' territory a couple of minutes into the second quarter. Santonio Holmes with his first catch -- hate to write this but I'm thinking he'll be a bigger addition than Branch will be in New England. Holmes had 79 catches for 1,248 yards last season -- both more than Branch in the last two seasons combined.
9:57: Randy Moss made his last catch on September 26 -- the Red Sox were still mathematically alive at the time.
9:58: Just showed footage of Favre getting key to the city when he was traded to the Jets. Which do you think Drew Bledsoe feels stranger about -- his key to the city of Buffalo or his Super Bowl ring?
10:01: This Jets defense is scary good -- another three and out for Vikings. Favre belted by Jim Leonhard on third down inside own 10-yard line.
(I'll give Favre this -- the guy doesn't bitch his receivers or O-Line out when it's going wrong. He's getting the crap kicked out of him and there's no pouting or waving his arms around. Peyton Manning -- who gets hit about once a Presidential Administration -- was a disgrace in the Chiefs game. He sold all his receivers down the river at least once, it was the Greatest Hits from 2003 all over again.)
10:06: Vikings defense bailing out the offense -- another stop. Still only three points scored with 9:30 left in the first half and the Vikings have exactly one first down.
10:11: Favre with a nine-hopper to Percy Harvin on third-and-seven -- this game should be 17-0 Jets.
10:12: I can't believe this is the same guy that led me to buy 28 pair of Wrangler Jeans.
10:14: And if you are keeping score Rob Ninkovich still has two more catches than Moss over the last seven days -- and that's with a bye week tossed in.
10:16: Fourth time Jets are in Minny territory -- if this is a 3-0 game at halftime the Vikes would have to be thrilled.
10:20: Nick Folk with a 53-yard FG -- 6-0 Jets. The fact that Tirico/Gruden/Jaws haven't mentioned the Favre-Deadspin story as a possible reason for his hideous performance is getting suspicious.
10:23: We have a Moss catch -- five yards for a first down. Let the record show that Moss dropped faster than Michael Spinks vs. Tyson to avoid contact after the grab. Vikings with a little momentum for the first time tonight.
10:25: Until Favre fumbles on the very next play and the Jets recover. Camera showing Favre's thumb -- which is better known as, "The one you hit the send button with after taking pictures of your junk."
10:27: Fifth time in Vikings territory for Jets.
10:29: Two-minute warning -- Vikings have 52 total yards of offense and are 0-5 on third down.
10:30: Just flipped over to TBS and the bottom of the ninth for Giants-Braves. Brian Wilson has stolen Jack Shephard's fake beard from "Lost" Season 5 finale.
10:32: Insane downpour all of the sudden at Meadowlands. Here comes one of my favorite routines -- when the announcers pretend that they are somehow in the middle of the weather instead of in a heated booth with 50 assistants.
10:35: LT looks like he did four years ago -- another first-down and the Jets have 1st-and-goal at the three with 34 seconds left.
10:36: LT is at six yards a carry and it's Andy Dufresne raising his arms in glory kind of rain -- let's throw the ball three times in a row from the Vikings three-yard line! Well, who can forget all those great throws Sanchez made in the rain while at USC? Bad series for Brian Schottenheimer. Another Folk FG and it's 9-0 Jets.
10:40: Favre takes a knee and we go to the half (which means only one thing in ESPN world -- fresh 1970s music references for highlights from 30 hours ago!). Again, this should be a 24-0 game. The Vikings score first in the second half and it's going to up to Sanchez to make a few plays.
10:52: Quick halftime aside on the Branch trade: Great he's back and I think he'll help even as a No. 3 type -- but this isn't going to be a Moss replacement. I'm sure he'll try on every snap and there will be no drama, but let's be fair: Branch has 29 career TD catches in 104 games, or 21 fewer than Moss in his 51 games with the Pats. This is still a weaker team than it was before the Moss trade.
10:56: The Jets with a quiet three and out to start the second half as the rain has moved out. Can Favre -- who is a neck brace away from being Steve Grogan in 1991 at this point -- make something happen?
10:58: Again, another Favre fumble, this time losing the ball in a simple hand-off exchange with Adrian Peterson (who is killing my fantasy team tonight). I almost feel bad for the guy. This is Willie Mays with the Mets or De Niro in "Showtime" with Eddie Murphy.
11:02: And the Jets have to kick another field goal. Wow -- six trips into the Vikings side of the field and no touchdowns, Where is Dustin Keller tonight? His third drop -- this is a guy that caught 36 passes in the second half of the Pats game. Folk again and it's 12-0.
11:08: To be fair, this is the best game I can recall a QB playing four days after pictures of his genitals were shown on Deadspin.
11:10: OK, it's a three-and-out for the Vikings, but they did pick up seven yards and Favre didn't fumble. Progress. I smell a 16-yard drive the next time out.
11:14: Is this really happening? The Jets continue to ignore the running game (makes sense -- only have 108 yards on 23 carries) and keep throwing in lousy weather with a lead. Three and out (which I have copy and pasted 300 times tonight) and Sanchez has thrown the ball 33 times.
11:18: With 5:38 left in the third quarter the Vikings have six punts and three first downs.
11:19: Favre with a deep ball to Moss that floated like it was Wilson getting away from Tom Hanks.
11:21: Favre does a nice job moving away from rush and completes a pass to Moss. Cue dual love songs from Jaws and Gruden. Best duet since "Almost Paradise."
11:24: The 'Ol Gunslinger with a 22-yard completion to Harvin to move to the Jets 30-yard line. Gruden sounds like my brother did in 1988 when we were 30 seconds away from getting on Space Mountain for the first time.
11:27: Well, I guess it was going to happen. Great throw by Favre over the top to Moss, hitting him in stride for the TD. 500th TD pass for Favre, who runs over to Moss and does the whole act we've seen, well, 500 times. Credit to Moss, who almost looks embarrassed.
11:30: 80-yard kickoff return for Brad Smith to the Vikings' 20-yard line, I'm thinking the Jets should just take three knees and kick the FG.
11:31: Shows what I know. The Jets picked up a whopping six yards to set up a 31-yard Folk FG. This is shaping up to be one of those games the team with no business winning steals one.
11:34: The good news is I finally have some new material for that Nick Folk montage video I was going to upload to YouTube.
11:38: Uh-oh, a couple of Peterson runs and the Vikings are at the Jets 25-yard line. I'm just waiting for another Moss TD catch.
11:40: Moss picks up an offensive pass interference, taking Cromartie down to save a possible INT. As subtle as Shatner and Zmed during any "T.J. Hooker" episode.
11:42: As much as I've been killing Favre tonight I have to give him credit for a brilliant TD pass to Percy Harvin (Revis covering) on 3rd-and-19 to cut the lead to 15-13. And it was the safety following Moss that opened the middle for Harvin on the play. Not sure you'll be seeing that level of respect for Deion Branch or Brandon Tate.
11:45: Too early (12:50 left) to be chasing points, but Brad Childress is a dope. Two-point attempts fails. Remember that play if the Jets score a TD to go up nine and the Vikings don't the the time to score twice.
11:47: By the way, if the Jets had scored just two TDs in the seven times they have been in Vikes territory those Favre TD passes would have been garbage time specials and not reasons for Gruden to sound like half a stalker on national TV. I think he keeps checking his phone in hopes of a text.
11:52: Sanchez has been pathetic in this second half -- just missed a wide-open Keller on 3rd-and-4 with 9:45 left in the fourth quarter. At the very worst a conversion moves the clock for a couple of minutes. Now the Vikings go for the lead, starting at the Jets 10-yard line.
11:54: Mike Tirico trying to tie in the game after Favre's dad died with tonight and Dong Gate. Even for ESPN that's a little much.
11:57: Best Favre throw of the night -- just missed Moss on a 60-yard deep ball. Cromartie was beaten and a better QB might get that ball in Moss' hands. Not that Moss walked away from a guy that would have made a better throw in that spot or anything.
12:00 a.m.: I have to admit, I would have felt bad after all the years of wishing if Stuart Scott had actually been hit by lightning tonight.
12:02: Three first downs from the Jets after Vikings punt -- now 1st-and-10 from Minny 38 with 4:46 left. Really good teams put this team away (and kick a field goal to cover the spread -- not that it matters, of course).
12:05: Shonn Greene with a TD run to put the Jets up nine with 4:37 left -- and that's why you don't go for two points with 13 minutes left in the game. Good job by Gruden, who was all over Childress the second the Jets scored.
12:08: New York in prevent defense and the Vikings move down to the Jets five-yard line in 90 seconds. If only someone could come up with a witty way of saying what a prevent defense really does.
12:12: Percy Harvin -- not Moss -- is the most dangerous weapon Favre has. What a TD catch in the corner to cap an easy TD drive. Favre has a 122.1 passer rating after looking like Lou Gehrig in 1939 for the first 40 minutes of the game. 22-20, Jets.
12:17: Hey, I forgot that Mark Sanchez was brain dead. Instead of running play clock all the way down to the last second, he takes a snap a few seconds before and throws an incomplete pass with 2:04 left, basically giving the Vikings a free timeout before two-minute warning. And the Jets throw again on third down, stopping the clock again. Schottenheimer should hear it from Rex after this game, win or lose. Terrible clock management.
12:21: Favre at his own 16, has 1:50 to go 50 yards or so for a chance at game-winning FG. If he pulls this off Gruden will put on his hat and sneak onto the field Talia Shire-style.
12:25: It's always nice to see Favre throw a pick for a game-ending TD. Not the same if he doesn't do it -- it'd be like not hearing "Born to Run" when you see Springsteen. A can't-miss staple. We got the entire Favre Experience in the second half -- minus the photos of his package, of course.
12:26: First words from Gruden after the pick: "What a job by Brett Favre tonight."
12:30: Jets now 4-1 and are going to be tough the rest of the way. Sure, they were shaky tonight but think about it: Would you rather have the Jets defense or the Patriots? How about the O-Line? Or wide receivers? Or running backs? Brady and Belichick are still the standard for QB and coach, but is that going to be enough? Maybe the most fascinating season of the Brady/Belichick era continues with a Five Star Game against the Ravens Sunday.