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Brett Favre throws four TD passes in Vikings' rout of Cowboys

Minnesota Vikings' Brett Favre (4) drops back to pass with Dallas Cowboys' L.P. LaDouceur applying pressure during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Minnesota Vikings' Brett Favre (4) drops back to pass with Dallas Cowboys' L.P. LaDouceur applying pressure during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya - ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 18, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS -- The comeback, the second version of it, has qualified as a success. Quarterback Brett Favre zipped his passes and pumped his fists and raised his arms for post-touchdown celebratory dashes up and down the field all afternoon at the Metrodome, and he and the Minnesota Vikings secured a spot in the NFC title game by beating the Dallas Cowboys, 34-3, in a surprisingly lopsided conference semifinal Sunday.

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"This moment was really special, regardless of age," Favre said. "I probably appreciate it maybe a little more than the other guys in the locker room. . . . I enjoyed every minute of that game today."

Favre and the Vikings had little trouble ending the season of a Cowboys team that even Favre said should have been considered the favorite entering this game because of its recent run of success. Favre threw four touchdown passes, three of them to wide receiver Sidney Rice, and the Minnesota defense harassed Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo into a miserable, three-turnover day.

"We're really not concerned about what people say about us or think about us," Rice said. "We know what we have to do, and we came out and showed people today."

The second-seeded Vikings will play the top-seeded Saints on Sunday in New Orleans in the NFC championship game, putting Favre one win from a return to the Super Bowl. This is the sort of glorious exclamation point to his career that Favre envisioned but couldn't achieve last season with the New York Jets in his first post-retirement return to the NFL. He has made it happen with the Vikings after retiring a second time and then un-retiring again, and Sunday he won a playoff game at 40.

"I was actually thinking about it" on Saturday night, Favre said. "I know when I look back on my career, I will remember what the 40-year-old year was like, no doubt. But I was trying to remember what the 30-year-old year was like, and I couldn't. It must not have been that good. But I feel like I am playing the same way. I have the same enthusiasm."

Favre had so much fun -- saying that "probably the most fatigued I got today was celebrating" touchdowns -- that Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking followed Favre toward the Vikings' sideline to scream his complaints at one point. That mattered little to the Vikings, who were back in top form after struggling during one December stretch in which they lost three of four games.

"No one is more surprised than me the way that game unfolded," Favre said. "Sure, I hoped we would win but I didn't think it would be as convincing."

Favre threw touchdown passes of 47, 16 and 45 yards to Rice, and added an 11-yarder to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe in the game's final two minutes. Favre was sacked three times but didn't throw an interception.

The Cowboys couldn't keep up as Romo was sacked six times. He had three fumbles, losing two of them, and threw an interception. The Cowboys also watched Shaun Suisham miss two of his three field goal attempts, and gave a pitiable performance just when the club seemed to have figured out how to win games that matter.

"We've got to protect our quarterback better than we did in this game, certainly," Cowboys Coach Wade Phillips said. "They played awfully well on defense. They've done that at home. They were undefeated at home. They still are."

The Cowboys had been winning in large part because Romo had cut back on his risk-taking and had reduced the number of mistakes he was making. But he was under nearly constant pass-rush pressure Sunday, and began committing turnovers again.


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