EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Brett Favre addressed his teammates before the game amid all the distractions.
Hours later, the record-breaking quarterback put all that aside and nearly led the Minnesota Vikings to another of his classic comebacks. The New York Jets would have none of it.
With Favre trying to rally his team, Dwight Lowery returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown with 1:30 left as the Jets beat the Vikings 29-20 on Monday night.
“Disappointing, I suppose,” Favre said. “I was expecting we were going to win this football game. It was a great football game and I wish we would have won it.”
Nick Folk kicked five field goals for the Jets (4-1), two after fumbles by Favre.
“That’s a heck of a win,” New York coach Rex Ryan said.
Now, the 41-year-old quarterback is left wondering if an even bigger punishment is in store from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Favre finished 14 for 34 for 264 yards for the Vikings (1-3) hours after he reportedly apologized to teammates for the distraction caused by an NFL investigation into allegations that he sent racy messages and lewd photos to a Jets game hostess in 2008.
“I said what I had to say,” Favre said, refusing to answer questions about the situation. “I’m disappointed we lost this football game.”
Brushing off those issues, he became the first NFL player to throw 500 touchdown passes and for 70,000 yards. But two early fumbles against his former team helped put the Vikings in a 12-0 hole.
“I don’t think anyone wanted to win this game more than him,” wide receiver Percy Harvin said. “He was well prepared, so I don’t think any of that outside stuff had anything to do with how he played.”
Favre, who played for the Jets during the 2008 season, threw three touchdowns, including two to Harvin. The second — an 11-yard pass — brought the Vikings within two points with 3:09 left in the game.
“We were brilliant in the first half and we knew you have to play four quarters,” Ryan said. “This guy is as good as it gets.”
The Vikings had the ball with 1:43 remaining and poised for a winning drive — until Favre’s last big mistake sent Minnesota to its seventh consecutive loss to New York.
“I think everyone who watches us play sees flashes of a team that can be 3-1, 4-0,” Favre said. “Not that we’re not capable. We’re very capable.”
Favre also played through some mild tendinitis in his throwing elbow.
“This is probably the worst it’s felt in four games,” he said. “I missed some throws the last drive I think I make in my sleep.”
The game marked the Vikings debut for Randy Moss, who finished with four catches for 81 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
With the Jets leading 12-0 and the Vikings facing third-and-17 from the Jets 37, Favre reared back and lofted the ball perfectly into Moss’ hands in the back right corner of the end zone with 2:10 left in the quarter. Favre zipped down the field and jumped into Moss’ arms in the end zone to celebrate the score.
“When I threw that touchdown to Randy Moss, I had been thinking about that for eight to 10 years,” Favre said.
Favre also became the first to reach 70,000 yards passing on the drive that cut the Jets lead to 12-7.
Moss, acquired from New England last Wednesday, was defended mostly by Antonio Cromartie despite the return of Darrelle Revis from a strained left hamstring.
Adrian Peterson had 88 yards on 18 carries for Minnesota.
Less than 5 minutes after connecting with Moss, Favre hit Harvin for a 34-yard touchdown that made it 15-13. But Favre’s tying 2-point conversion try was intercepted by Cromartie in the end zone.
Shonn Greene’s 23-yard touchdown run with 4:30 left in the game gave the Jets a 22-13 lead that appeared to seal the victory, but Favre still had plenty of time to try for a comeback.
“We just hung in there to the end,” Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said. “I don’t think we win this game last year.”
New York’s offense struggled for the first time since Week 1, failing to get much going — other than field goals — until late. Sanchez was 21 of 44 for 191 yards, and still hasn’t thrown an interception this season, although he came close a few times.
Santonio Holmes played his first game with the Jets after being suspended the first four for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He finished with three catches for 41 yards.
LaDainian Tomlinson had another solid game for the Jets with 94 yards rushing on 20 carries.
Folk’s fifth field goal, a 31-yarder, made it 15-7 with 49 seconds left in the third. The score was set up by Brad Smith’s 86-yard kickoff return.
“You have to hunker down and bear through those things and we did that tonight,” said New York’s Jason Taylor, who had one of four sacks of Favre. “We were mentally tough enough to do that.”
Notes: The Jets improved to 5-0 at home against the Vikings. … The last time the Vikings beat the Jets was in 1975, when Bud Grant was Minnesota’s coach. … Jets LB Calvin Pace had 1½ sacks in his regular-season debut after missing the first four games with a broken right foot.