Brett Favre talked his way back into the starting lineup, hoping a snowy Monday night game would be just the setting he needed.
The 41-year-old got the hometown crowd roaring when he led the Minnesota Vikings to a touchdown on the opening drive, and all the ingredients were there for one last memorable Monday with Favre.
"I knew it was the last home game," Favre said afterward. "This also may seem kind of crazy, but I was looking forward to playing in a blizzard."
Instead, his surprising return ended all too quickly. Bears defensive end Corey Wootton slammed the quarterback to the frigid turf in the second quarter. Favre watched the rest of a 40-14 loss from the bench, his night, and perhaps his career, ended by a concussion.
Favre shrugged off a sprained right shoulder to start the game on Monday night, receiving a thunderous ovation from the crowd when he was introduced. Favre said he wanted to play one more time in front of the Vikings fans who have come to embrace him in his two seasons in purple.
"It made a lot of sense that, if this were the last game, to play it here in front of our fans," Favre said.
He went 2 for 2 on the opening drive, throwing a 23-yard touchdown pass to Percy Harvin to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead. Favre leaped on to guard Ryan Cook's back in the end zone to celebrate, but the fun ended quickly in the second quarter.
Wootton beat Bryant McKinnie off the left side and flung Favre to the turf. The quarterback stayed motionless for a few seconds before slowly rising and walking off with his head hung down. Favre's face was streaked with material from the artificial surface and he appeared dazed as he put on a jacket on the sideline.
He finished 5 for 7 for 63 yards with a TD and an interception. Favre has said several times this year that this will be his last season, and only two games remain, at Philadelphia and at Detroit. He didn't rule out playing again this season, but didn't sound as if he had much left, either.
"My last pass was just as much fun as my first one," Favre said.
Favre wasn't supposed to even suit up at all, after being declared out Saturday on the official injury report. But the Vikings upgraded him to questionable Monday after he woke up feeling better and wanted to give it a try.
"I assume 'out' means that," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "You learn something new every day."
The Vikings notified the NFL and the Bears of his status change, and league spokesman Greg Aiello said there is nothing in the rules that prevents a team from changing a player's injury report designation.
"If a player's medical status changes during the course of the week, the club must update his playing status accordingly prior to the game," Aiello said. "That is what the Vikings did when Brett's status changed today."
He came out for warmups wearing a black ski mask, and after making some throws with flakes falling around him, he was announced as the starter. Favre had his NFL-record starts streak end at 297 games last week against the Giants.
Speaking before the game, Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "We don't allow people to play games with the injury list. They have to be legitimate medical injuries."
Favre was originally hurt when he was blindsided by Bills linebacker Arthur Moats and drilled into the turf on his first pass of the game on Dec. 5. He did not throw a pass in practice all week and rookie Joe Webb was set to start.
But Favre can never be counted out, especially on Monday nights. He's had some of his greatest performances on the NFL's biggest regular-season stage, none more notable than when he threw for 399 yards and four TDs in a Monday night win at Oakland — the day after his father died of a heart attack.
"Just watching the way he came out and performed, the way he took command of our team in our huddle, just convinced me during our warmups that it was the right thing to do," interim coach Leslie Frazier said. "Because our players really fed off the energy that he brings, the leadership that he brings."
After that opening drive, a brief glimmer of hope.
"I think everybody in America who was watching was thinking, 'Here we go again,'" Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell said. "You expect the best from him because he's given us no reason not to expect that in situations like this."
The Vikings and Bears played at the University of Minnesota's outdoor stadium because the Metrodome's roof collapsed last weekend after a heavy snowstorm.
Favre's 20th NFL season has been one of his toughest. In addition to the streak ending, Favre has 19 interceptions, third most in the league, and his 69.6 quarterback rating was good for 30th before the game started.
"I wouldn't trade it, this season, last season, the 20 years, for anything," Favre said.
Favre is also the subject of an NFL investigation into allegations that he sent inappropriate text messages and photos to a game-day hostess when both worked for the New York Jets in 2008. Goodell said he is still evaluating the findings and hoped to make a decision before the end of the regular season.
Favre said the two met briefly before the game, but declined to discuss specifics.
"I'm still following up on some of the information, making sure that we've been thorough," Goodell said. "We want to be as thorough and serious about it and reach the right conclusion."