Hartman: Gruden calls game one of Favre's best

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 6, 2009 - 12:46 AM

The former Bucs coach, now an ESPN analyst, marveled at how quickly Favre has assimilated the Vikings offense.

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Vikings quarterback Brett Favre reaches for the hand of former teammate Ryan Grant after the Vikings defeated the Packers 30-23.

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

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Jon Gruden, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach who is now a ESPN analyst on "Monday Night Football," called Brett Favre's performance in the Vikings' 30-23 victory over the Green Bay Packers one of the best he has seen.

"I was thrilled," Gruden said. "It was an honor to be here. It's one of the great football performances I've seen."

Favre completed 24 of 31 passes for three touchdowns with no interceptions and had a 135.3 rating. "He's playing as well as I remember him playing, and it's a credit to him and the Vikings coaching staff," Gruden said.

"Remember, he's a guy that just got here. He just showed up here late in [mid-August] and they're 4-0 and they've scored [27] points or more in every one of these games. That doesn't happen often with a new quarterback."

About the Vikings defense that gave up 384 passing yards to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Gruden said:

"Well, I was surprised ... but in some ways it's good. You'll find things to work on in a win sometimes. But the pass rush was superb. They got a lot of guys involved, but uncharacteristically, they gave up some big plays in the passing game. I'm sure [Vikings defensive coordinator] Leslie Frazier will correct that."

Give Childress credit

After Monday night's football game against the Green Bay Packers, Brad Childress and the Vikings had the second-best record in the NFL over the past 16 games.

Leading the NFL during this stretch are Peyton Manning and the Colts, who won again Sunday to improve to a 14-2 record over the past 16 games.

The Vikings are second to the Colts after beating the Packers, with a 13-3 record.

The Ravens and Giants are tied for third with 12-4 records. The Falcons, who had a bye week, are fifth at 11-4.

The Vikings will play the Ravens and Giants later this season but won't play the Colts or Falcons.

You have to give Childress credit, with the Vikings' record improving in each of the three full years (from 6-10 to 8-8 to 10-6) he has been had coach.

With the kind of record Childress has posted, you wonder if the Wilf family, owners of the Vikings, is going to extend his contract. Childress' current contract runs through the 2010 season.

Kubel likes playing OF

Jason Kubel, who is hitting .300 for the Twins while leading the team with 102 RBI, credits his recent hot streak to playing right field almost every day instead of being the designated hitter most of the time. After Justin Morneau was sidelined for the season Sept. 14 because of a stress fracture in his back, Michael Cuddyer took over at first base and Kubel became the regular right fielder.

"It's definitely helped out and I've been very fortunate to be able to play every day," Kubel said. "I definitely would prefer to play on a regular basis than being the DH."

Kubel has had three two-homer games and two six-RBI games this season, both of which he accomplished Sunday in the Twins' 13-4 victory over the Royals. On hitting two home runs in consecutive at-bats against the Royals, Kubel said:

"No, it's my second [time] ever. I've come close a couple of times, it just hasn't happened too much," he said.

Kubel joined Morneau as the second Twins player to reach 100 RBI. Kubel had only 78 RBI last season.

One thing in the Twins' favor, as they face 20-year-old Tigers rookie Rick Porcello today for the right to play against the Yankees in the playoff, is that Kubel is batting .727 (8-for-11) against the righthanded starter this season.

Cuddyer stays hot

Cuddyer, who hit only three home runs last season and played in only 71 games because of various injuries, has hit 32 this season, including eight home runs in the past 19 games.

Cuddyer, who has had a hot bat since he replaced Morneau at first base, said he can't account for why his hitting improved since then. "I don't know, it's that position I guess," Cuddyer said. "I don't know, maybe it's taking a little bit of stress off my legs.

"I'm healthy, that's the main thing. My hands are healthy. Over the last year and a half, prior to this year, I didn't have good hands. My hands were weak, my hands were beat up, and the lifeline of a baseball player is your hands.

"[My] hands have been great. I went through a little bit when we played the Cubs, but got a little cortisone and it's been great ever since."

Cuddyer said he hasn't changed his style.

"No, no changes at all. Like I said, the main change is being healthy," he said.

The Twins have an $10.5 million option for 2011 on Cuddyer's contract that they must pick up within five days after the World Series, and it's an absolute cinch the team will pick up the option.

Jottings

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had averaged 113 rushing yards in his career against the Packers, but he got only 55 yards on 25 carries Monday night. The Vikings defense had equal success stopping Packers running back Ryan Grant, who had 51 yards on 11 carries.

Phil Huebner, ticket manager for the Vikings, said demand for tickets for the Packers game might have been the greatest in the history of the franchise. Huebner said 50,000 more seats could have been sold. ... The Tigers came to town Monday night and tried to get tickets for the players and other team personnel, but there were none available.

The Twins and Tigers will split the gate of close to $1 million for tomorrow's playoff game after expenses are deducted.

Delmon Young, who is being paid $1.15 million this season, is eligible for arbitration after this season. Look for Young to get a big raise after the great finish he has had. ... Twins shortstop Orlando Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 15 games on Sunday, batting .418 during that period with 19 runs, five doubles, a triple, a home run and 14 RBI.

Fortunately for the Twins, Denard Span, one of the great outfielders and hitters in the American League, is not eligible for arbitration until after the 2011 season.

Apparently Joe Crede has had his second back operation in Dallas, and word is the operation was a success. ... Boof Bonser, the Twins pitcher who has been sidelined all year after having shoulder surgery during spring training, will take part in the instructional league. He pitched one inning for the Fort Myers team in September before the Florida State League season ended. ... There is a good chance Jake Mauer, who was manager of the year for the Gulf Coast League Twins at Fort Myers, will be promoted to a higher league.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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