EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Brett Favre pushed all the distractions aside, added to his lengthy list of career milestones and got the Minnesota Vikings back in the game.
The record-breaking quarterback just couldn’t pull off another classic comeback.
Favre had an interception returned 26 yards for a touchdown by Dwight Lowery with 1:30 left, and the New York Jets overcame a milestone night by their former quarterback for a 29-20 victory on a rain-soaked Monday night.
“I thought we were going to win this football game,” Favre said.
Now, the 41-year-old is left wondering if an even bigger punishment is in store from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
He finished 14 for 34 for 264 yards for the Vikings (1-3) hours after he reportedly 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.
“I said what I had to say,” Favre said, refusing to answer questions about the situation. “I’m disappointed we lost this football game.”
Neither coach Brad Childress nor Favre would discuss what the quarterback said to his teammates in that meeting.
“That’s between me and my teammates,” Favre said.
Brushing off those issues, he became the first NFL player to throw 500 touchdown passes and eclipse 70,000 career passing yards. But two early fumbles — he passed Warren Moon for the most in league history — helped put the Vikings in a 12-0 hole.
“I don’t think anyone wanted to win this game more than him,” wide receiver Percy Harvin said. “He was well prepared, so I don’t think any of that outside stuff had anything to do with how he played.”
Nick Folk kicked five field goals for the Jets (4-1), two after fumbles by Favre.
“That’s a heck of a win,” New York coach Rex Ryan said.
Favre, who played for the Jets during the 2008 season and was greeted with hugs by New York general manager Mike Tannenbaum after the game, threw three touchdowns, including two to Harvin. The second — an 11-yard pass — brought the Vikings within two points with 3:09 left in the game.
“We were brilliant in the first half and we knew you have to play four quarters,” Ryan said. “This guy is as good as it gets.”
The Vikings had the ball with 1:43 remaining and poised for a winning drive — until Favre’s last big mistake sent Minnesota to its seventh consecutive loss to New York.
“I think everyone who watches us play sees flashes of a team that can be 3-1, 4-0,” Favre said. “Not that we’re not capable. We’re very capable.”
Favre also played through some mild tendinitis in his throwing elbow, clutching his arm at times.
“This is probably the worst it’s felt in four games,” he said. “I missed some throws the last drive I think I make in my sleep.”
The game marked the Vikings debut for Randy Moss, who finished with four catches for 81 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
With the Jets leading 12-0 and the Vikings facing third-and-17 from the Jets 37, Favre reared back and lofted the ball perfectly into Moss’ hands in the back right corner of the end zone with 2:10 left in the quarter. Favre zipped down the field and jumped into Moss’ arms in the end zone to celebrate.
“When I threw that touchdown to Randy Moss, I had been thinking about that for eight to 10 years,” Favre said.
Moss, acquired from New England last Wednesday, was defended mostly by Antonio Cromartie despite the return of Darrelle Revis from a strained left hamstring.
“I’m definitely happy to be back home,” said Moss, who spent his first seven seasons with Minnesota. “I thank the people for the phone calls, the letters and everything for me coming back home, but I don’t think that it means anything when you lose.”
Less than 5 minutes after connecting with Moss, Favre hit Harvin for a 34-yard touchdown that made it 15-13. But Favre’s tying 2-point conversion try was intercepted by Cromartie in the end zone.
Shonn Greene’s 23-yard touchdown run with 4:30 left in the game gave the Jets a 22-13 lead that appeared to seal the victory, but Favre still had plenty of time.
“We just hung in there to the end,” Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said. “I don’t think we win this game last year.”
New York’s offense struggled for the first time since Week 1, failing to get much going — other than field goals — until late. Sanchez was 21 of 44 for 191 yards, and still 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 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.
“We did surrender some points and there were some things we could’ve done better,” Lowery said. “But, when it comes down to it, we just have to make a play.”
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)