MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Brett Favre jogged onto the turf to a chorus of cheers and a hero’s welcome — the kind of reception he’s grown used to over 18 brilliant seasons in his Hall of Fame career.
There was one major difference this time around.
Those cheers were coming at the Metrodome.
Favre made his debut for the Minnesota Vikings in a preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, going 1 for 4 for 4 yards in a 17-13 victory on Friday night.
The game capped a whirlwind week for the 39-year-old quarterback. On Monday he was throwing to kids at a high school in Mississippi, still in retirement and starting to be called “Coach” by the teenagers who were catching his passes.
On Tuesday, he flew to Minnesota to sign with the Vikings, his mortal enemies during 16 record-setting seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
By Friday, Favre was playing in a real game, starting for the Vikings and looking every bit as rusty as one would expect a soon-to-be 40-year-old who was sitting on a tractor last weekend.
Vikings fans may not have forgotten about the beatings Favre handed their favorite team over the years. But it was clear on Friday night that all is forgiven.
Purple Favre jerseys were all over the Metrodome, and flashbulbs accompanied a roar when he joined the huddle for the first time as a Viking in the first quarter.
“With all the attention, it’s hard not to feel like you don’t have to live up to this hype. Not that I don’t want to do that, but the most important thing is to lead this team to victory somehow, someway,” Favre said. “I definitely didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot by fumbling snaps. I wanted to call the plays right, get in and out of the huddle, be as smooth as possible.”
He didn’t manage a first down in two series of work, completing only one pass to rookie Percy Harvin before giving way to Tarvaris Jackson. But he made no major mistakes and absorbed a couple of big hits as he looked to start getting back in the groove of being an NFL quarterback.
Still, his presence in a Vikings jersey and getting cheered in the Metrodome made the exhibition game feel like some sort of alternate universe.
“For us, it’s still a little surreal,” receiver Bobby Wade said. “We’re still trying to process it.”
Jackson has probably had to make the biggest adjustment. Five days ago, he was competing with Sage Rosenfels for the starting job. Now he’s trying to earn a spot as Favre’s backup.
He responded in impressive fashion, completing 12 of 15 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns, including a 64-yarder to Darius Reynaud.
“I’m not going to say it wasn’t hard,” Jackson said. “But I just tried to stay focused on what I had to do and stay focused on the goal at hand. Just tried to go out here and get better.”
New Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel had plenty to work on as well. He was acquired in a trade with New England in the offseason and signed a $63 million contract, but new coach Todd Haley has been frustrated so far with Cassel’s progress.
After going just 2 of 5 for 15 yards in his debut last week, Cassel led the Chiefs on two scoring drives. He threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe early in the second quarter against Minnesota’s second unit. Cassel faced plenty of pressure, taking three sacks, and finished 9 for 14 for 99 yards.
“I thought the quarterback play across the board was better,” Haley said. “All three quarterbacks looked like they had a handle on what was going on.”
For Favre, getting the first game out of the way after a hectic week was a relief. He’ll get two days off, then get back to familiarizing himself with his new teammates and finding his niche in the offense.
“I talked to numerous guys on the sideline tonight, and during the week,” Favre said. “They all said, ‘We just want you to come in and be the leader you have always been. Don’t feel like you have to do everything.
“And they are right. I’m trying to kind of purge myself of all of that.”
Cowboys 30, Titans 10
At Arlington, Texas, Tony Romo looked right at home in the first game at the nearly $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium, going 18 of 24 for 192 yards.
The Cowboys (1-1) gained 249 yards and 17 first downs in the first half. Marion Barber capped a 15-play, 90-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown and Felix Jones had the go-ahead score on another 1-yard run with 1 second left in the first half.
Tennessee (2-1) went three and out on its first three drives, then Kerry Collins threw a 17-yard TD pass to Justin Gage that put the Titans up 10-7 with 59 seconds left in the first half.
Falcons 20, Rams 13
At St. Louis, the Falcons’ starters were flawless and the Rams starters had no answer, not even against the second-stringers.
Michael Turner accounted for all but 12 yards on the opening 77-yard drive and Matt Ryan was 7 for 8 for 81 yards with a touchdown pass in two series before he, too, called it a day.
Steven Jackson had three carries for 10 yards in one series for the Rams (1-1), a bust in new coach Steve Spagnuolo’s first home game as head coach in a half-empty Edward Jones Dome.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.