It’s much more fun to talk about the Vikings after a win, even an ugly win like this one.
Adrian Peterson. Man. What a stud.
160 yards rushing on 23 attempts with two touchdowns and five catches for 30 yards, making it 190 yards of total offense on the day.
Peterson would’ve had about 45 more rushing yards had two plays not been called back due to penalties on Bernard Berrian and Ryan Cook. And he might’ve had another touchdown and plenty more receiving yards had he caught the swing pass that went right through his hands. There was a lot of green in front of him and he had a blocker downfield.
The 80 yard touchdown run was, of course, a thing of beauty. [WATCH.].
Peterson not only had the patience to let the play develop, the quickness to slice through the hole, and the strength to stiff-arm the last remaining tackler, he also had the breakaway speed he was missing last year. Last year, he would probably have been caught from behind on that play.
But it’s not just that Peterson has got his groove back running the ball. He’s finally becoming a better overall back.
While not textbook, he’s become much better as a blocker in pass protection, as he was on a catch by Greg Camarillo.
He has not given up the ball on a fumble this season.
He’s becoming a smarter back, too. On a play that was designed to go downfield, Peterson stayed in to help in protection. But with no one open and the pocket collapsing, Peterson noticed his quarterback was in trouble, found some open field to get open, and caught an outlet pass that turned a nothing play into a nice gain.
Percy Harvin. Finally, we got a receiver making a significant contribution to the game whose name wasn’t Visanth(e) Shiancoe. Harvin had six catches for 62 yards and caught up to the overthrown pass from Brett Favre on his touchdown.
Though it looked like broken coverage on that play, you could also see the influence Visanth(e) Shiancoe is having in the passing game. On that play, the safety bit up to cover Shank on a curl route when he should have fell back to cover Percy. [WATCH.]
His well-executed end around was negated by a phantom holding call on Hank Baskett.
Ryan Cook. After losing starting center John Sullivan, who aggravated the calf injury that kept him out of preseason action on the first play of the game, Ryan Cook came in and played a fantastic game.
It used to be, whenever Cook’s name was mentioned, it was accompanied by hands thrown up in the air or a roll of the eyeballs. Not yesterday. The guy rocked.
You gotta wonder what the fact that “backup” center Jon Cooper being inactive Sunday means. Do the coaching staff have any confidence in Cooper, especially considering how guard Anthony Herrera had auditioned at the spot during the preseason.
Bryant McKinnie: Did you hear Kyle Vanden Bosch‘s name called once during the broadcast yesterday? I didn’t.
With the exception of a few minor lapses, McKinnie had a dominant game.
McKinnie was quoted saying the key to his dominance was matching Vanden Bosch’s intensity. You just wish he’d do that every week.
Nafahu Tahi. You know how I’m always hatin’ on Tahi? Well, I gotta say, by his standards, Tahi had a hell of a game. Sure, he had a whiff or two and he didn’t sustain one block that Jimmy Kleinsasser would and which would have sprung Peterson for a longer gain, but I kept finding myself in the strange position of throwing a “good block” Tahi’s way more often than not.
Greg Camarillo. Though he’s not been much of a contributor on offense, it looks like he’s got some return ability. We know this: They guy is not fast but it does appear he’s got enough shake and bake to make something happen in the return game. Camarillo had two nice punt returns called back due to penalties by Jasper Brinkley and Jamarca Sanford.
Chris Kluwe had a fantastic game and his role will loom large at least until we get Sidney Rice back because we’ll likely be playing close games where field position will matter a great deal. Of his five punts, Kluwe pinned the Lions down inside their 20 four times.
Three and out: The Vikings defense did not allow the Lions to march down the field and score on their first offensive possession, nipping that troubling trend in the bud.
The Run Defense kept Detroit’s exciting rookie Jahvid Best to 26 yards.
Chad Greenway. Greenway was everywhere! He lead the team with nine tackles. He recovered the fumbled punt that lead to a Vikings touchdown. He burst into the backfield to tackle Jahvid Best for a loss. He pressured Shaun Hill into an incompletion.
Most impressively, though, was a third and ten play in the fourth quarter where the Lions called a screen. Though the announcers gave all the credit to Jimmy Kennedy for his pursuit from behind (which was good), it was Greenway who made the play by shedding two blockers to get to the ball carrier and prevent a first down conversion.
Antoine Winfield was a close second with eight tackles and one assist. He, too, was everywhere. Breaking up passes. Keeping rushes to short gains with his textbook tackles.
You can just see Winfield’s influence on his fellow corners: They all tackle just like him. They’ve all got Winfield’s signature move of getting under the defender to grab the ankles of the ball carrier down pat.
Finally, Winfield sealed the deal with the interception off the deflection to close the game.
Husain Abdullah. Abdullah had the best game of his young career. He had a great (signature Winfield) tackle on a Calvin Johnson end around. He had a big hit on Johnson later in the game. He batted away a pass intended for Tony Scheffler. And he broke up a pass to Brandon Pettigrew.
Abdullah did practically break his ankles on a juke by Jahvid Best but he wasn’t alone on the play, Ben Leber had it happen to him first.
Cedric Griffin & Chris Cook. It was great to just see the both finally on the field. Griffin had a solid though unspectacular game and the same held true for Cook, who in addition to covering Calvin Johnson, broke up a pass to Brandon Pettigrew.
Pass protection. The line let Brett Favre get nailed far too often. Again. Many hands have been wrung thus far this season over the receivers but Jeez, if the line could do a halfway decent job of protecting Favre, the receiving corps would likely look a lot better.
Phil Loadholt had another brutal game in pass protection. He should properly get credit for one of Brett Favre‘s interceptions instead of the quarterback, as it was his guy who tipped the ball as it was leaving Favre’s hand, which caused the interception.
Loadslow (copyright, @MNBooya) was also responsible for a couple false start penalties.
The Screen Pass To Toby Gerhart that was picked off by defensive tackle Corey Williams and nearly returned for a touchdown but which did lead to a touchdown. That was one of those What The Hell Were You Thinking, Favre? passes.
The pass was ill advised, to say the least.
Bernard Berrian. While he did make a catch to convert a third down, had he broken the tackle, the play would have likely been for a long gain. On Percy Harvin‘s second end around, Berrian did not block, allowing a defender to shoot through and tackle Harvin. And on the long ball, Berrian inexplicably slowed down. Had he maintained speed, he would’ve got to the ball.
It’s tough to put Kevin Williams in the Meh category but by his standards, he could’ve done better. The screen pass he sniffed out and broke up early in the game could’ve been taken to the house had he picked it off.
Later in the game, though he brought pressure, he totally whiffed on what should’ve been a sure sack.
Hank Baskett. He dropped his first pass on a quick throw at the line of scrimmage. He allowed his defender time and position to break up a long ball by waiting for the ball to come to him rather than stopping his route, jumping up and catching the ball underneath. Had he done so, he likely would’ve had a touchdown. But he did make a nice catch to convert a third down and it looks like he’ll be able to stretch the field.
6’5″, 236 LBS
You’ve got a massive receiver on your roster. He’s got three inches on your biggest corner. When you’ve thrown to him, he’s made the plays.
So why the hell didn’t the Lions go to Calvin Johnson early and often??
The Lions did the Vikings a huge favor by taking their best offensive playmaker out of the gameplan. Earlier in the game, Shaun Hill targeted Johnson on an intermediate pass and threw the ball high, where only his tall receiver could catch it, and Johnson went up and got it.
Chris Cook had no chance to contest the ball. Later, in the third quarter, for three plays on one drive, Johnson used his bulk to shove Cook at the line and gain plenty of separation to get open and catch the ball. Cook had no answer.
You may have noticed during the close up shot of Kyle Vanden Bosch on the bench that his eyes were entirely red…iris, pupils, everything.
No, he isn’t Satan’s spawn.
The red eyes are caused by sports contact lenses. They are specially-designed tinted contacts that increase contrast, making it easier to pick up a ball in the air. [WATCH.]
KEEPIN’ IT INTENSE, KEEPIN’ IT LOOSE
It was hilarious to watch Brett Favre inciting his defensive teammates as they came to the sidelines after the fight broke out between them and the Lions.
After getting in their face and egging his teammates on, Favre turned to the sidelines and slipped a sly grin to Antione Winfield, who was walking beside him. You could see Winfield’s head jerk back as he burst out in laughter.
That’s keeping it loose.