CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It was supposed to be a night when the Minnesota Vikings celebrated a division title and inched closer to the best record in the NFC.
Instead it was night of dropped passes, missed tackles, poor protection – and a dustup between Brett Favre and the coach who worked so hard to bring him back from retirement.
After the Carolina Panthers dominated the fourth quarter Sunday night in a 26-7 win over the Vikings, Favre acknowledged he had a “heated discussion” with coach Brad Childress.
Favre claimed the coach wanted to take him out of the game to avoid taking any more hits from Julius Peppers and the Carolina defensive line.
The Vikings (11-3) clinched the NFC North title hours earlier when Pittsburgh beat Green Bay.
“Brad wanted to go in a different direction. And I wanted to stay in the game,” Favre said. “It’s not 70-6, but we were up 7-6. I said I’m staying in the game. I’m playing.”
It didn’t work out well, with the Panthers outscoring Minnesota 20-0 in the fourth quarter.
Surprisingly, the best quarterback on the field wasn’t the 40-year-old Favre, but Matt Moore. In his third start for the injured Jake Delhomme, Moore threw for a career-high 299 yards and three touchdown passes.
Steve Smith caught nine passes for 157 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown pass and a long catch and run set up the clinching score. Jonathan Stewart added 109 yards rushing and a TD on 25 carries, snapping Minnesota’s streak of 36 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.
The Panthers (6-8), who were officially eliminated from playoff contention a night earlier, were the more energized team. They harassed Favre all night, sacking him four times.
Childress apparently wanted to protect his QB. Favre would have nothing of it.
“No way being up 7-6 and getting banged around a little bit would I consider coming out,” Favre said.