NFL Nation: Vikings-Saints rapid reaction 2010 Week 1

Rapid Reaction: Saints 14, Vikings 9

September, 10, 2010
9/10/10
12:32
AM ET
NEW ORLEANS -- Let's hit some hot spots here:

What it means: The Minnesota Vikings fell to 0-1, obviously. But I think this game should relieve some concern about the cloud of drama that hovered over the team all summer. The Vikings withstood the New Orleans Saints' early emotional surge, held a 9-7 halftime lead and really made the Saints work hard to win their home opener.

Big revelation: Receiver Sidney Rice's hip surgery opened up the question: Where would quarterback Brett Favre look in key passing situations? Thursday night's game revealed that, in essence, he's most comfortable with three pass-catchers: tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, receiver Percy Harvin and running back Adrian Peterson. That trio accounted for more than half of Favre's 15 completions. For reasons that must be explained, Favre didn't seem to have much of a connection with erstwhile No. 1 receiver Bernard Berrian, who finished with one reception for 3 yards. That's not going to cut it if the Vikings are going to adequately replace Rice.

Injury of note: Left tackle Bryant McKinnie was taken off the field in the fourth quarter with what was reported to be a finger injury. That must have been one major finger injury. His departure forced the Vikings to shift right tackle Phil Loadholt to left tackle and insert Ryan Cook on the right side. Loadholt committed a key holding penalty on his first series in the new position, and Favre had happy feet thereafter.

Critical call: With 14:51 left in the game, Vikings coach Brad Childress challenged an incomplete pass to tight end Jim Kleinsasser on third-and-7. I thought replays clearly showed the ball bounced before Kleinsasser grabbed it. Perhaps Childress was attempting to give his defense some extra time to rest before coming back on the field. Regardless, the Vikings had one less timeout to work with while trying to regain possession at the end of the game.

What's next: The Vikings have nine days to prepare for their next game, the Sept. 19 home opener against the Miami Dolphins. Players probably will have the weekend off.

Rapid Reaction: Saints 14, Vikings 9

September, 9, 2010
9/09/10
11:34
PM ET
NEW ORLEANS -- Let's hit some highlights:

What it means: It was only one game and it was by no means pretty. But the Saints got a victory against a quality team. Yes, they have plenty to work on, but they gutted this one out. If there really was a Super Bowl hangover, then this was a game they easily could have lost.

What’s next: It’s not an easy road for the Saints. They have a road trip to San Francisco for a Monday night game and a Week 3 home game with Atlanta. We’re going to know a lot about the Saints’ chances of repeating within the first three weeks.

Tomorrow's Talker: The Saints only ran the ball three times in the first half. They started running a lot in the second half, maybe even too much. The Saints need to remember last year when they had a better formula for balance. They’re a passing team, no doubt, but they must have a healthy dose of the running game to keep defenses honest.

Trending: Minnesota tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was open all night. That’s not a good sign for the Saints, who have Tony Gonzalez and Kellen Winslow in their division. The loss of outside linebacker Jonathan Casillas for the season is a bigger deal than a lot of people realized. The Saints don’t have any outside linebackers who are really strong in pass coverage.

What I liked: Sean Payton’s ability to be flexible. Yeah, it took him some time to decide if this was a night for the offense to run or pass. But he played it smart in the fourth quarter and protected a lead without taking any dramatic chances.

What I didn't like: The run defense. Yes, Adrian Peterson is a great back, but so are DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Michael Turner. The Saints will face Carolina and Atlanta twice each this season. You can bet John Fox and Mike Smith were taking notes on the New Orleans run defense.

Rapid Reaction: Saints 14, Vikings 9

September, 9, 2010
9/09/10
11:30
PM ET
NEW ORLEANS -- Let's hit some hot spots here:

What it means: The Minnesota Vikings fell to 0-1, obviously. But I think this game should relieve some concern about the cloud of drama that hovered over the team all summer. The Vikings withstood the New Orleans Saints' early emotional surge, held a 9-7 halftime lead and really made the Saints work hard to win their home opener.

Big revelation: Receiver Sidney Rice's hip surgery opened up the question: Where would quarterback Brett Favre look in key passing situations? Thursday night's game revealed that, in essence, he's most comfortable with three pass-catchers: tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, receiver Percy Harvin and running back Adrian Peterson. That trio accounted for the more than half of Favre's 15 completions. For reasons that must be explained, Favre didn't seem to have much of a connection with erstwhile No. 1 receiver Bernard Berrian, who finished with one reception for 3 yards. That's not going to cut it if the Vikings are going to adequately replace Rice.

Injury of note: Left tackle Bryant McKinnie was taken off the field in the fourth quarter with what was reported to be a finger injury. That must have been one major finger injury. His departure forced the Vikings to shift right tackle Phil Loadholt to left tackle and insert Ryan Cook on the right side. Loadholt committed a key holding penalty on his first series in the new position, and Favre had happy feet thereafter.

Critical call: With 14:51 left in the game, Vikings coach Brad Childress challenged an incomplete pass to tight end Jim Kleinsasser on third-and-7. I thought replays clearly showed the ball bounced before Kleinsasser grabbed it. Perhaps Childress was attempting to give his defense some extra time to rest before coming back on the field. Regardless, the Vikings had one less timeout to work with while trying to regain possession at the end of the game.

What's next: The Vikings have nine days to prepare for their next game, the Sept. 19 home opener against the Miami Dolphins. Players probably will have the weekend off.

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