By Larry Fine
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) - The New York Jets held off a second-half comeback by Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings to claim a 29-20 victory Monday and take sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
Cornerback Dwight Lowery clinched the win when he intercepted a Favre pass intended for tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and ran it back 26 yards for a touchdown with 1:30 left in the game.
The start of the game was held up for 45 minutes because of lightning, but once play began there were few fireworks, just solid play by New York on offense and a suffocating defense that threw a rude first-half homecoming party for Favre.
The veteran quarterback had been at the Jets in 2008 before joining Minnesota.
New York led 9-0 at intermission and 12-0 in the third quarter thanks to four field goals and had dominated on defense, before Favre began to find the range.
The 41-year-old threw three touchdown passes but came up short as the Jets added another field goal by kicker Nick Folk and a crucial touchdown on a 24-yard burst up the middle by running back Shonn Greene with 4:20 left in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota had the ball on the 19-yard line with 1:38 to go, trailing 22-20, when Lowery stepped in front of Shiancoe to put an end to the Vikings' hopes.
"It was a great football game but I just wish we had won," Favre said. "We are 1-3 right now, which is disappointing. I think anyone who has seen this team play can see that we should be 3-1 or 4-0."
Favre reached two milestones and extended his own NFL records as he surpassed the 70,000-yard mark in passing and notched his 500th career touchdown pass with a 37-yard connection to his new wide receiver Randy Moss, who joined Minnesota five days ago after a trade with New England.
After Folk's fifth field goal made it 15-7 near the end of the third quarter, Favre struck again at 12:47 of the fourth by hitting Percy Harvin for a 34-yard touchdown connection that made it 15-13.
Minnesota gambled and failed on a two-point conversion attempt.
New York responded with their best drive of the night, as quarterback Mark Sanchez hit receivers Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery to open the field for running back Greene, whose touchdown capped a six-play, 66-yard drive and gave the Jets a 22-13 lead.
Favre, however, was not through and the rifle-armed quarterback found Harvin in the back of the end zone for an acrobatic 11-yard TD grab, making it 22-20 with 3:09 to go before Lowery's interception and touchdown.
Sanchez completed 21-of-44 passes for 191 yards, while Favre, who also lost two fumbles in the game, was 14-for-34 for 264 yards.
(Additional reporting by Julian Linden, Editing by Steve Ginsburg and Peter Rutherford)