DETROIT (AP) — Brett Favre stood on the sidelines for the start of a game for the first time since 1992, rubbing his salt-and-pepper beard in frustration because his body couldn’t take another pounding.
The New York Giants made sure his replacement struggled early and often.
Brandon Jacobs ran for a go-ahead touchdown midway through the second quarter, Eli Manning threw a lead-padding TD just before halftime and Ahmad Bradshaw added a 48-yard run to help the Giants beat Minnesota 21-3 Monday night.
“Seems like I been hurt a lot worse,” Favre said. “I can’t believe something like this hasn’t happened before.”
Favre’s NFL-record streak of 297 straight starts ended because of his banged-up right shoulder and numb hand in a game moved from Minneapolis because the Metrodome roof collapsed under heavy snow early Sunday.
“He was having trouble with the numbness,” Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier said.
Frazier acknowledged that putting the 41-year-old Favre on injured reserve, ending his season and possibly his career, is possible.
“That may be a possibility, but I’m hoping not,” he said.
The Giants sacked Favre replacement Tarvaris Jackson four times, knocking him out of the game late in the third period and again in the final seconds.
New York (9-4) moved back into a first-place tie with Philadelphia in the NFC East. Minnesota, which went to the NFC title game last January, (5-8) was eliminated from the playoff race.
The game was switched from Sunday afternoon when the Giants couldn’t get to Minneapolis because of the severe weather, then was moved to the Detroit Lions’ indoor stadium with a steel roof. The Vikings were technically the home team at Ford Field — which was adorned with their logo at midfield and “VIKINGS” in the end zones — but they didn’t have much of an edge.
“The whole thing is bizarre,” Vikings radio analyst Pete Bercich said.
Nothing, though, was more odd than seeing Favre watch a game.
He stood on the sideline, trying to tutor Jackson at times, and sporting a purple knit hat, short-sleeved black shirt with a long-sleeved white shirt underneath, and black warmup pants.
The game drew an announced crowd of 45,910 — there seemed to be at least 10,000 more people in the 65,000-seat stadium late in the first half — and some fans made the trek to see Favre.
Even though most got in for free, they left disappointed, especially if they were rooting for the Vikings.
Manning, whose brother, Peyton, now has the longest starting streak for a QB at 205 games, said he was shocked when he found out Favre was inactive.
“You don’t know if this is the end for a guy who has done so much for the NFL,” Manning said.
Whether Favre plays again for Minnesota in his 20th NFL season is uncertain. It appears his third return from a brief retirement will be the end — and he might not finish out the schedule.
“I am not going to play again if I can’t feel my hand,” Favre said.
New York has won three straight and eight of 10 games, improving its chances for a wild card if it doesn’t finish ahead of the Eagles, who it hosts Sunday.
Minnesota entered the game with a two-game winning streak and flickering hopes of salvaging what has been a miserable season.
Jackson got off to a good start, completing his first two passes for 8 yards each, but didn’t do much to help his team for the rest of the night.
“Very pleased with the way the defense bailed us out after two early turnovers,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
Jackson wasted an opportunity to show his coaches and teammates he can be counted on to fill in for Favre for a game and perhaps in the future.
He completed just 12 of 22 passes, threw an interception directly to linebacker Keith Bulluck, and fumbled a shotgun snap he was able to recover. Another shotgun snap got away and he recovered it near the goal line, seemingly getting a break from the officials on what appeared to be a safety.
While Jackson didn’t have the benefit of a running game — Adrian Peterson was held to 26 yards on 14 carries — Manning relied on a one-two punch that pounded the Vikings all night.
Jacobs ran for a season-high 116 yards and a score and Bradshaw had 103 yards rushing, including the 48-yarder that was his longest run in two years. Bradshaw left in the fourth quarter with a wrist injury.
Manning bounced back from throwing a second interception in the opening minute of the second quarter and was 22 of 37 for 187 yards and a TD, a perfectly threaded pass to Kevin Boss. That put the Giants ahead 14-3 with 3 seconds left in the third quarter.
Hakeem Nicks caught seven passes for 96 yards.
Jackson limped off the field with 16 seconds left in the game, giving rookie Joe Webb another opportunity to take snaps after getting drafted in the sixth round to play wide receiver. Webb, who had played in one game without throwing a pass, completed two of five passes.