Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Third and one: Vikings
By Kevin Seifert
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
After Minnesota’s 30-23 victory over Green Bay, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:
- We spent plenty of time last month discussing the Vikings’ (very) short passing game as quarterback Brett Favre grew into his new job. In Week 2 at Detroit, for example, Favre threw only one pass that traveled longer than 10 yards in the air. So it’s only fair to measure his progress in the downfield game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Favre threw 12 passes that traveled beyond the 10-yard barrier Monday night, completing seven for 169 yards. That included two touchdowns: 31 yards to Bernard Berrian and 14 yards to Sidney Rice.
- By the end of the year, I wonder if the Vikings will consider themselves fortunate (and a little more cash-flush) that free agent receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh spurned them in free agency in favor of Seattle. His decision helped spur the Vikings to draft Percy Harvin, who has emerged as a Rookie of the Year candidate. And more important, it left open the opportunity for Rice to grow into the type of possession/red-zone role the Vikings once imagined for Houshmandzadeh. Rice has caught a touchdown pass in each of the past two games, and his 14 receptions so far is one less than he caught all of last season.
- We’ve also criticized the Vikings special teams for its tendency to give up touchdowns. (It’s nine in the past 20 games, if you’re keeping track.) But Monday night, the Vikings were mostly brilliant. Punter Chris Kluwe landed four of his five punts inside the 20-yard line, and Benny Sapp made a diving play to keep one of them from bouncing into the end zone. Jaymar Johnson, meanwhile, filled in for punt returner Darius Reynaud and ripped off returns of 24 and 18 yards.
And here is one question I’m still asking:
Should Adrian Peterson get in touch with Tiki Barber? With the help of New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, the former Giants tailback solved a fumbling habit by changing they way he gripped and clutched the ball. Peterson has fumbled 15 times since the start of the 2007 season, most by any running back over the stretch. He has some of the strongest hands of anyone you’ll ever meet, so that’s not an issue. There has to be a technique or fundamental change that he could make to limit fumbles. Clay Matthews’ strip and subsequent 42-yard return for a touchdown seemed to impact Peterson’s game. He managed 11 yards on 13 carries thereafter.