NFC North: Scott Player
With a big assist from ESPN Research, I'm working on an interesting post for later today that will summarize and contextualize most of the inanity from Minnesota's wild 30-27 victory Monday night at New Orleans. For now, let's catch up on postgame reaction from the press box and the Vikings' locker room.
Vikings coach Brad Childress threw punter Chris Kluwe under the bus for kicking twice in the second half to Saints punt returner Reggie Bush, who returned both for touchdowns. According to Childress, Kluwe had been instructed to punt out of bounds both times.
Here's what Childress said about Kluwe, courtesy Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
"Both of those kicks are supposed to be out of bounds, and when you say to somebody kick the ball out of bounds, that's what you expect to happen. That's what I expect to happen with a professional football kicker."
Asked if Kluwe is struggling with directional kicking, Childress -- quite amazingly after such a big victory -- said: "You know what? If he can't do that, I'll find someone that can kick the ball out of bounds."
Meanwhile, receiver Bernard Berrian admitted he ran the wrong route on a 33-yard touchdown reception in which he nearly collided with teammate Aundrae Allison. According to Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune, Berrian was supposed to run a post-corner route but broke off the pattern when he saw the ball in the air.
There were plenty of other heroes for the Vikings. Cornerback Antoine Winfield returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown, forced a fumble after sacking Saints quarterback Drew Brees, made three tackles behind the line of scrimmage and batted away a key pass.
Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press had the line of the night, writing: "The Vikings' most consistent play was to say, 'Yes, Mr. Referee, we'll take the penalty.'" That was Powers' way of suggesting the Saints did as much to lose this game as the Vikings did to win it.
Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune praised quarterback Gus Frerotte for saving the Vikings' season.
We'll have more on this game later Tuesday and I'll plan to cover Childress' scheduled news conference at team headquarters.
Surfing around the rest of the NFC North:
- Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports the Packers worked out four punters on Monday, including former Pro Bowler Scott Player. The workouts suggest the Packers are close to dumping incumbent Derrick Frost.
- Packers coach Mike McCarthy didn't mince words about the performance of mainstay left tackle Chad Clifton: "Chad didn't have a very good day" Sunday against Atlanta. Coaches are upset with his fundamentals, according to Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- McCarthy also is disappointed in the Packers' run defense, writes Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal. "They need to keep the game in order, and it starts with stopping the run, and we're not doing a very good job of it," McCarthy said.
- The Chicago Bears expect defensive tackle Tommie Harris to play Sunday at Atlanta, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times. Harris returned Monday from a one-game suspension.
- Rookie defensive tackle Marcus Harrison has been a pleasant find, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
- The Detroit Lions are planning another offensive shift: Coach Rod Marinelli is paring down the playbook. "I feel like we're a little bit scattered right now," Marinelli said Monday. Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press has details.
- Marinelli is sensitive to suggestions that he won't use his young players, writes John Niyo of the Detroit News. Marinelli, correctly, attributes that sense to an illogical public outcry for second-year quarterback Drew Stanton.