First, I want to answer a couple of questions you may have.
First, following the National Anthem players from each team walked onto the field and gave each other a “one finger salute.” The gesture was meant to illustrate how every player, regardless of team, is united as a member of the NFLPA in the looming labor battle.
Second, you may have noticed that the Vikings were wearing their home uniforms while the Saints were in white. The home team gets to choose which uniforms they want to wear, and while they normally wear the dark ones, the Saints elected to wear white for this game.
With that stuff out of the way, here is some of my initial reaction to the Vikings 14 – 9 loss to Saints.
The Pass Offense
Brett Favre looked like a 40 year old guy that hasn’t had enough time to get on the same page with his pass catchers. He went 15 of 27 for 171 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
Visanthe Shiancoe was playing like a guy that wants to be paid like a top-5 tight end, which indeed is exactly what he wants. Shiancoe led the team with four catches, 76 yards, and a touchdown Thursday night.
The second leading pass catcher was Adrian Peterson who had three grabs for 14 yards. Running back Albert Young was the only other Vikings player to have multiple catches, notching two grabs for 11 yards (one 13 yarder, and one that went for a loss).
So, it should be pointed out that all of the Vikings wide outs had only one catch a piece.
The passing offense was by far the most worrisome part of this team, particularly since the offensive line was actually able to give Favre some fairly consistent protection.
The Run Offense
Adrian Peterson had 57 yards on 13 carries (4.4 yard average) in the first of the game, and was running with a scary intensity. It felt like he was close to bringing one to the house, but more importantly, the effectiveness of the run was able to counter the Saints quick-to-score offense by controlling the clock and resting the defense. On one drive, the Vikings offense had the ball for nine minutes and 25 seconds.
For unexplainable reasons, the running game was almost completely abandoned in the second half, despite a relatively close score. In the second half, Peterson only ran the ball six times, gaining 30 yards (5 yard average).
Albert Young was unimpressive on the ground as he ran three times for two yards.
The Run Defense
After only running the ball three times in the first half, the Saints unleashed Pierre Thomas in the second half of the game and he proved to be quite efficient. He ended the game with 71 yards on 19 carries (3.7 yard average) and a one yard touchdown.
It became painfully obvious that the WilliamsWall was getting simply beat by the Saints talented interior line, and the offense having three and done drives never gave the duo a chance to catch their breath. Chad Greenway (nine tackles) and EJ Henderson (eight tackles) were able to keep the Saints running attack from breaking any huge plays, but the overall effort did not look like the defensive line we ave grown used to seeing.
The Pass Defense
The first thought that comes to my mind: “It just looked different.”
Asher Allen and Lito Sheppard are relatively new contributors for the Vikings secondary, and Husain Abdullah came out of nowhere to win the starting strong safety spot. (FYI: Childress said at his presser after the game, with no question, that Abdullah is this team’s starting strong safety even when Sanford gets 100% healthy.)
It wasn’t always pretty, but I have to admit that the Vikings secondary held their own pretty well provided that they were playing a very potent offense and didn’t receive much help from the pass rush.
The starting defensive line was completely owned by that O-Line all night long, and that proves to be true when you see that Jayme Mitchell was the only Vikings to get a sack tonight.
There are things to work on here, but there are positives here as well. Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin will eventually be healthy and able to contribute, which can only help.
In the end, this game is one of 16, and the Vikings have a long road ahead of them with plenty of tough teams. More efficiency in the passing game and intensity on defense will go a long ways towards beating our next opponent, the Miami Dolphins.