Vikings advance with 34-3 win

Published 8:36 am Monday, January 18, 2010

The now-annual waffling over retirement has made Brett Favre the butt of so many jokes, but seriously — his performance this season for the Minnesota Vikings has been as masterful as ever.

Favre couldn’t resist putting retirement on hold for a second straight season, to satisfy the craving of that irreplaceable adrenaline rush of winning a game when it really counts — and to chase the championship he hasn’t had in 13 years.

He got a little bit closer with this clutch effort.

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“I guess that’s what they expected when they talked about getting me,” Favre said.

Four touchdown passes by Minnesota’s 40-year-old quarterback, a personal playoff game record for the NFL’s all-time leading passer, sent the Vikings to the NFC championship game with a determined 34-3 victory over Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

The Vikings (13-4) will take on the Saints next Sunday at New Orleans (14-3), with the winner going to the Super Bowl in Miami.

“This is why I came back,” Favre said.

Favre found Sidney Rice for three scores and put an exclamation point on the final one when his fourth-and-3 pass from the 11 was caught in the end zone by Visanthe Shiancoe after the 2-minute warning. Never in 22 previous playoff games had Favre thrown for four touchdowns, and never before had he beaten Dallas in the postseason after losses to the Cowboys ended his first three playoff experiences with Green Bay.

Favre finished 15 for 24 for 234 yards without a turnover, slapping fives with anyone in reach and rapidly pumping his right arm in celebration all afternoon. Favre even added another accomplishment as the first 40-year-old quarterback to win a playoff game.

“Probably the most fatigued or tired I got today was celebrating,” he said with a smile.

All those big-game ghosts that Romo was supposed to have gotten rid of in last week’s win over Philadelphia came back and haunted the Cowboys again.

“Any time you come in with the expectations and goals we set and don’t accomplish them, No. 1, it’s frustrating,” Romo said, taking a long pause. “Right now, it’s just hard to think the season is over.”