Halftime: Vikings 17, 49ers 3
September, 23, 2012
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Some thoughts on what was clearly the best half of football the Minnesota Vikings have played in two years:
- I really mean that. From an across-the-board perspective, the Vikings couldn't have possibly hoped to play better against arguably the NFL's best team. Quarterback Christian Ponder has accounted for two touchdowns, the defense has rattled quarterback Alex Smith and the Vikings' special teams has contributed as well.
- Ponder completed 11 of his first 15 passes and has made two really nice plays to account for touchdowns. He disregarded a blitzing safety on a fourth-down bootleg to find tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 1-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. And in the second, he pulled down the ball after seeing tight end John Carlson and dashed up the middle for a 23-yard scoring run. Finally, he got the Vikings in position for place-kicker Blair Walsh's 52-yard field goal with a key third-down completion on the run to tailback Toby Gerhart. Overall, the Vikings have had four possessions and scored on three of them, including drives of 82 and 80 yards. Remember, this is all against a defense that shut down the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers and the Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford in successive weeks.
- Walsh has now kicked a 50-plus yard field goal in each of the Vikings' first three games, a franchise record. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Letroy Guion blocked David Akers' 43-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.
- Linebacker Chad Greenway has led a sure-tackling defense that has looked nothing like the passive group that muddled through the Vikings' first two games. Greenway has two sacks and eight total tackles.
- For reasons that are unclear, the 49ers have thrown more than twice as often as they've run the ball. They're not a pass-first team, even if the Vikings pass defense is a tempting target. Smith has completed 13 of 19 passes for 90 yards. He hasn't thrown an interception but certainly looks out of sorts against a nice mix of base rushes and blitzes from the Vikings. He's had receivers open, but the rush has caused him to miss a few targets -- including receiver Randy Moss in the end zone before the blocked field goal.