In his first two games after returning from hip surgery, Rice quietly caught four passes for 76 yards. But on Sunday, he gathered in a 31-yard touchdown over two Bills defenders, made a diving 6-yard touchdown reception and finished with five catches for 105 yards.
It was not only a reminder of the kind of play Rice made routinely during his breakout season in 2009, but also a good encapsulation of what the Vikings missed during the first nine games of the season. In many ways, their struggles started when Rice couldn't overcome the injury during offseason rehabilitation and eventually was forced to have surgery in late August.
Who knows how the Vikings' season would have gone if Rice's ability to turn bad throws into great catches had been available from the start.