The first half had every Vikings fan spilling their beers and screaming at the T.V. just about as often as those Tom Arnold commercials came on. After trailing by three at the half, the Vikings came out of the locker room as seemingly re-born football players. The ended up beating the Browns by quite a comfortable margin of 14 points. Lets take a look at some interesting points from Sunday’s matchup.
FAVRE ENTHUSIASM BUILDS
This wasn’t the Favre we are used to seeing. This wasn’t Brett Favre throwing forty-five passes, 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. This was a Brett Favre that kept his wits about him, did not turn over the ball, did try to dominate a game, and did not produce much in the way of highlights or lowlights.
Thus, as someone who has been dreading seeing Favre as a Viking, I must say that I was impressed with his ability to be a game manager. Now, I think the enthusiasm will continue to build over the next few weeks of a relatively easy schedule, and that some people are in for unpleasant surprises when we meet teams like the Ravens and Steelers, but right now Favre looked like he’s doing what he was asked to do.
The next thing he needs to work on is developing a better relationship with his wideouts. Bernard Berrian was catchless and Sidney Rice two grabs for 17 yards. Against more competent defenses the Vikings will need to be able and willing to stretch the field a little more than they did today.
ABOUT THAT RUN
I’ve often used the phrase “Some people where Superman pajamas, but Superman wears Adrian Peterson pajamas” and it was a particularly fitting description of his talent today. Peterson picked up where he left off… leading the NFL in rushing yards. He finished the day with 180 yards on 25 carries, a 7.2 yards per carry average, 3 touchdowns, an 18 yard reception and most importantly zero fumbles.
Peterson was a bloody mess at one point after receiving an IV, but wore down a defense until he was able to have his way with him. The highlight (below) of the day came on a 64 yard scamper in which Peterson found a crease, shook a couple guys off of him, literally stopped in his tracks to toss another guy out of the way, the stiff armed a defender, and then (again, from a dead stop) accelerated like a finely tuned Ferrari until he outran every single defender on the field. Here’s the amazing clip:
PERCY IS A QUICK LITTLE BUGGER
Did you see that Adrian Peterson run where Harvin was out blocking ahead of him? No offense to Peterson, but Harvin looked like he was running sideways faster than Adrian could run forwards. That guy is freaking quick!
Harvin ended his day with 3 catches for 36 yards and a touchdown, 2 rushes for 22 yards, and a 33 yard average on kick returns. This is as productive of a day as one would expect from a rookie wide out whose team only threw the ball 21 times. I’m excited about Harvin’s potential to spark an offense that has run a bit stagnant in recent years. He gave us continued reason to remain excited during his performance today.
E.J. IS IN PRO BOWL FORM
The Vikings missed E.J. Henderson big time last season. Today he led the team with 7 tackles. He also had 1 assist and 1 sack. The leader of the defense seemed fairly comfortable relaying the defensive play calls and also seemed in prime physical condition. This defense should be even more effective now that they have their leader back.
WINFIELD AND GRIFFIN SHINED
This offseason, Leslie Frazier commented that his starting cornerback duo was one of the best in the league. That came as a shock to some, especially since Cedric Griffin was one half of that duo. Two years ago nobody would’ve been happy to see Cedric Griffin covering Braylon Edwards one-on-one.
He did just that today, and was fairly proficient. Griffin had an interception, a forced fumble, and four tackles. Griffin also saved a potential touchdown by committing an interference penalty on Braylon Edwards inside the 5 yard line. The defense ended up holding the Browns to a field goal.
Winfield continued his hard-hitting ways by registering four tackles of his own.
DO NOT PANIC ABOUT THAT RETURN… YET
I Think many people fear that the Joshua Cribbs 67 yards return for a touchdown is a continuation of last years struggles int his area.
I personally am not convinced that is the case, however. Listen, sometimes players have very good returns, it happens to the best of us. Cribbs is an extremely talented return man and sometimes he’ll take them to the house.
I don’t think we’ll have as frustrating of a season on special teams this time around however. I saw some very encouraging plays made by the coverage team today, especially out of Onatolu, Farwell, and Brinkley. Not to mention if the offense continues to improve then there will be less punts, and thus less oppotunities for long punt returns.
The only known injury from the game at this point was to Benny Sapp. Sapp had won the nickle corner job after a solid training camp and preseason. He outplayed rookie corner Asher Allen and free agent acquisition Karl Paymah. However, he suffered an injury today that could sideline him for awhile. Make sure to check back to Vikings Gab for updated information on the injury.
I have hounded the Vikings on their penalties all preseason long. Today’s game, however, showed a marked improvement. The Vikes had 3 penalties for 38 yards, which is not too shabby. The O-Line looked far more comfy with Favre hard count, and the corners were shutting down the passing game without consistently drawing flags.