FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A woozy Brett Favre sat on a cart headed to the locker room at Gillette Stadium and wondered "what in the world am I doing?"
It was only a passing thought, but with a cut chin, two fractures in his left foot and tendinitis in his right elbow, the 41-year-old quarterback raised a good question.
"Taking a seat at the end of the game is new for me," Favre said Sunday after Minnesota's 28-18 loss to New England, a game that ended while he was in the locker room getting stitches.
Until he was hit by Patriots defensive tackle Myron Pryor while throwing a pass midway in the fourth quarter, Favre was doing what he usually does: playing hurt, trying to lead his team to victory in his NFL-record 292nd consecutive start.
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, who said he needed eight stitches to close the wound. "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."
"Nobody knows my body like me," Favre added when asked if he would be ready for next Sunday's game against Arizona. "There were plenty of times I should've been knocked out and wasn't. I should be ready to play next week.
"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.
Tarvaris Jackson replaced Favre and immediately threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Naufahu Tahi. Jackson completed a 2-point conversion pass to Percy Harvin, bringing Minnesota within 21-18.
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 appeared to have no trouble with his foot, though. 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.
The interception wasn't Favre's fault – Harvin bobbled it directly into the arms of Patriots rookie Devin McCourty. Favre even gave chase, sort of, on the 37-yard runback, falling over two other players when McCourty was tackled. Favre slowly stood up and walked to the sideline, looking weary and every bit his age.
Of course, this is a guy who has had all kinds of drama accompanying many of those 292 starts. So seeing him behind center from the outset was anything but surprising.
Seeing a woozy Favre leave on a cart was stunning.
"I didn't think it was too bad until I saw him unbuckle his chinstraps and it was leaking pretty good," Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said.
Early in the second quarter, Favre handed off to Peterson for a 1-yard dive that capped a 76-yard touchdown drive. Favre, holder of virtually every significant passing record, looked spry while hitting Harvin for 21 yards on the drive.
Oddly, moments before the TD, Favre took a hit to the helmet by Patriots linebacker Gary Guyton that helped set up the score. He got up slowly, checking his head to see if there was any blood, then called the next play.
Favre completed his first four passes for 40 yards and was 11 for 13 for 121 yards through the first half. But the second half was ugly for Minnesota – just as much of the season has been for the Vikings (2-5) and their embattled QB, who had taken every snap this year.
The Vikings couldn't afford to fall further behind in the NFC North, but with Green Bay (5-3) beating the Jets, they did. Favre, who nearly led the Vikings to the Super Bowl last season, finished 22 for 32 for 259 yards. He also was called twice for grounding.
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.