NFC North: Matt Hasselbecj
October, 7, 2012
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on a dominating 30-7 performance Sunday at the Metrodome:
What it means: The Minnesota Vikings are 4-1 and tied for the NFC North lead with the Chicago Bears. The Tennessee Titans put on a listless and punchless performance, but the Vikings pounced and never let up in an impressive outing. Through five weeks, the Vikings have already exceeded their 2011 win total.
HarvinWatch: We discussed the MVP candidacy of receiver/running back/return man Percy Harvin last week, and Harvin did nothing to remove himself from the conversation Sunday. He scored two touchdowns, one on a 4-yard dive at the goal line and the other on a 10-yard reception in which four Titans defenders missed opportunities to tackle him. You'll see the latter play on highlight videos all week. Overall, Harvin caught eight passes for 108 yards, including a 45-yarder that set up his first touchdown, and added 8 more yards on two carries.
PonderWatch: Quarterback Christian Ponder threw his first two interceptions of the season, on his final pass of the second quarter and first pass of the third, but rebounded well from that point. After the second interception, Ponder completed 11 of 12 passes for 100 yards, including the score to Harvin and a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Defensive dominance: Through three quarters, the Vikings limited the Titans to 96 total yards and five first downs before the game turned into a hurry-up situation. Anyone who watched the Vikings slog through the 2010 and 2011 seasons can see this group is playing with more confidence and aggressiveness, especially in contesting passes. Unofficially, the Vikings batted down or tipped away nine of Matt Hasselbeck's 43 throws. They also sacked him twice and hit him five times, unofficially.
SmithWatch: The defense hardly missed a beat after losing safety Harrison Smith to ejection in the second quarter. But will Smith incur an NFL suspension for shoving aside an official who was trying to back him away from a scrum? That has yet to be determined. It's difficult to know exactly how rookie Robert Blanton played in his place, but the Titans finished with seven points, so ...
What's next: The Vikings will visit the Washington Redskins next Sunday. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered a concussion today, calling into question whether he will be available to start against the Vikings. Griffin tweeted Sunday evening that he thinks he will be ready to play.