Brett Favre couldn’t wait to get off the sideline in what was likely the final game of his 20-season career.
The three-time MVP quarterback, who was inactive with a concussion, was on the field briefly as his Minnesota Vikings teammates desperately tossed laterals to each other before running out of time and hope as the Detroit Lions won 20-13 Sunday.
When the game ended, Favre jogged diagonally across the turf — waving once toward Detroit’s sideline — and up a ramp toward the locker room.
So long, Brett.
“I would have liked to have played,” Favre said. “The wise choice was not to play. I was OK with it.”
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The Vikings (6-10) closed out a lost season by putting Favre on the inactive list and with rookie Joe Webb making his second start.
The Lions (6-10) tripled last season’s win total by closing with four straight victories in their best finish since 1995.
Minnesota opened the season with Super Bowl hopes, but week after week of team turmoil took its toll, especially on the 41-year-old Favre.
He sustained a series of injuries and wound up sitting out 2½ of the Vikings’ final three games. Adding to his misery, Favre was fined during the final week of the regular season for failing to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation of inappropriate messages and lewd photos he allegedly sent to a former Jets game-day employee.
The Vikings also fired Brad Childress during the season, finishing with Leslie Frazier as interim coach, had a failed reunion with Randy Moss and two home game were moved because snow collapsed the Metrodome’s roof.
Favre walked onto the Ford Field turf about 40 minutes before kickoff, looking much like he did Dec. 13 in the same stadium where his NFL-record, 297-game starting streak ended because of a banged-up right shoulder and numb right hand in a game against the New York Giants in the first of two relocated games.
He was wearing a purple knit hat, short-sleeved black shirt with a long-sleeved white shirt underneath and black warmup pants and was willing to talk to anyone who crossed his path.
Favre and Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham chatted on the sideline, then Frazier and Vikings owner Zygi Wilf gave him a hug near midfield before Lions president Tom Lewand had an audience with the idle QB for a few minutes.
He swung his arms, clapped his hands and shuffled his feet while watching Webb warm up and spent much of the game talking to recently signed signaler Patrick Ramsey.
Sometimes, though, Favre stood by himself and simply looked bored as a witness to a sport he played with so much joy and success since 1992.
When Favre went off the field at halftime, Lions safety Louis Delmas hugged him from behind and Favre put his arm over Delmas’ shoulder as they shared a few words.
Webb flourished in his first start Tuesday night, leading the Vikings to a win on the road against playoff-bound Philadelphia, but struggled against Detroit’s relentless pass rush.
Webb was 20 of 32 for 148 yards with an interception, an ill-advised pass across the field in Detroit territory, that led to the Lions taking a 3-0 lead on Dave Rayner’s career-long 55-yard field goal.
The Vikings were held scoreless until defensive end Jared Allen, dropping into coverage, returned an interception with 6:03 left in the third quarter.
Webb helped them pull within three early in the fourth.
Maurice Morris scored on a 4-yard run with 9:29 left to give the Lions a 10-point cushion that the Vikings cut to seven on Ryan Longwell’s 48-yard field goal with 1:55 left.
Nate Burelson, who caught a TD pass against his former team, recovered an onside kick that allowed Detroit to run almost all the time off the clock.
The Vikings got the ball back with 10 seconds left and they made several laterals, trying to force OT.
Favre, who inched onto the field when time ran out but the final play was still ongoing, dashed for the exit in what wasn’t the way he wanted to go out.
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