FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- As always, Brett Favre was behind center when the game began. But this Sunday, he didn't make it to the end of Minnesota's loss at New England.
And it had nothing to do with his damaged left foot.
Instead, the 41-year-old quarterback was in the locker room getting stitches in his chin Sunday as the Patriots finished off the Vikings 28-18.
"Taking a seat at the end of the game is new for me," Favre said. "Like I have said all along, it has been so long since I haven't played that I expect to play. I don't expect to get eight stitches in my chin -- that is a first time.
"I guess what I am trying to say is that I don't expect to get hurt but when I do, I expect to bounce back."
That will have to come next week against Arizona, and Favre fully expects to be in the lineup for his 293rd straight start. He did, however, have a moment of doubt while he sat on a cart, woozy as he headed to the locker room at Gillette Stadium.
"Going into the tunnel on the cart, I thought to myself for a brief second, `What in the world am I doing?"' Favre admitted. "But there is nothing like competing. But, then again, there is nothing worse than losing."
While the Vikings (2-5) are losing their way out of the NFC North race -- Green Bay's win at the Jets lifted the Packers to 5-3 -- the Patriots (6-1) have established themselves as the class of the AFC. They dominated the second half Sunday with Tom Brady pulling off some magic by connecting with Brandon Tate for a 65-yard touchdown on a broken play.
Brady completed 16 of 27 passes for 240 yards, including an ad-libbed touchdown pass to Tate that gave New England the lead for good with 8 minutes left in the third quarter.
It was the first TD catch of Tate's career.
"Brandon had just wheeled and went up the sideline and made a great play to uncover," said Brady, who did a pirouette before letting the ball go. "I just caught a glimpse of him as I turned out of it and threw it up there."
BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored two touchdowns -- the first multi-TD game of his career -- getting his first on a 13-yard run to make it 21-10. Favre then drove Minnesota to the New England 3 yard-line before he was flattened by defensive lineman Myron Pryor.
Tarvaris Jackson relieved him and threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Naufahu Tahi on the first play, then hit Percy Harvin for the 2-point conversion that made it 21-18. But Brady engineered a 13-play, 80-yard drive, with Green-Ellis getting cartwheeled into the end zone to make it 28-18 with 1:56 left.
Green-Ellis ran 17 times for 112 yards to give the Patriots their fifth straight victory.
"Coach always says six games gets you nothing in this league, which is true," Brady said. "So we've won six games, (but) if we have six wins at the end of the year, then we haven't done anything."
The Vikings aren't even on pace for six victories. And their quarterback couldn't be more banged-up.
Favre, who holds nearly every significant NFL passing record, has a cut chin, two fractures in his left foot and tendinitis in his right elbow.
He stayed on the ground momentarily after Pryor's hit. He even tried to get up while holding his bleeding face, but quickly sank to his knees. Vikings trainers rushed to Favre, helped him from the field and placed him on a sideline training table where staff members held a towel to his chin.
"My chin is numb right now," said Favre. "I don't want to make a big deal out of it."
Asked if he might have a concussion, Favre said, "I remember everything -- unfortunately. But I'll be fine."
"After 20 years, I still feel I can play at a high level," he said.
Vikings coach Brad Childress said Favre actually needed 10 stitches, and praised Favre's durability.
"He's got pretty good recuperative skills," Childress said. "He's a tough guy."
Favre did not appear bothered by two fractures in his left foot that initially jeopardized his availability Sunday. He said it was "touch and go" before the game if he would play, but there he was, behind center as he always has been since 1992.
But not at the finish.
Favre has both a stress fracture and an avulsion fracture in the foot. The avulsion fracture in the heel bone is where a fragment has been torn away by a tendon or ligament. He injured his ankle and heel in last week's loss at Green Bay. But after a week of treatment and even some practice time Friday, he was in the starting lineup Sunday, a few days after Childress said he would consider starting Jackson if Favre was hobbled.
"My prayers were answered," Favre said. "I wanted a chance to play ... not play to just play, one play to get a start. To play well enough to give us a chance to win."
Favre played well in the first half, but an interception in the third quarter catapulted the Patriots to victory.
Former Patriot Randy Moss had just one catch for 8 yards in his first trip back to Foxborough since he talked himself out of town on Oct. 6. After the game, he talked with Belichick on the field and the two shared a long hug.
"I miss every last helmet in that locker room," he said. "Coach Belichick gave me a chance to be a part of something special, and I take that to heart."
There's more to Favre's headline-grabbing persona this season, too. The website Deadspin reported weeks ago that Favre sent lewd photos and inappropriate text messages to a New York Jets game hostess in 2008 when Favre played for the team. The NFL is investigating and the woman, Jenn Sterger, has not yet spoken to league investigators, although her manager and her lawyer have said she might do so soon.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)