My initial thoughts after the Vikings surprise victory last night…
I WAS DEAD WRONG
Wow. Based on the Vikings’ performance during their past two games, I absolutely thought the Vikings were going to be lead to slaughter last night, especially given that the Eagles had engineered a postponement to give themselves better field conditions.
Okay, I’ve got no proof of that (but Pro Football Talk does, sorta) but there were no football reasons why the game should’ve been postponed and the fan safety argument was complete bullshit. What does seem fairly obvious is that blizzard conditions would tend to level the playing field for both teams and, with the winds gusting up to 40 mph, force a ground game approach that would benefit Adrian Peterson and the Vikings.
The Eagles rely on their explosive passing game to take big leads early; that would’ve been tough to do playing Sunday night.
Even under those conditions, though, I thought the Vikings would lose. With a clear field and 32 degrees, I thought the Vikings would get blown out.
This is a whole lot more fun than losing, isn’t it? So, happily, I couldn’tve been more wrong.
Where has this defense been all my life??
The Vikings attacked Michael Vick and the Eagles with a vengeance last night and it worked beautifully. The constant and varied blitzes kept Vick from having the time to go downfield and, when he did, from being comfortable doing so.
I think there were two plays during which Eagles receivers had the Vikings safeties beat and Vick couldn’t connect on either of them because of pressure.
Speaking of which, there’s a reason the Vikings didn’t get beat deep once: Madieu Williams was not active.
He wasn’t there to play out of position.
He wasn’t there to take a bad angle on tackle attempt.
He wasn’t there to spot the other team a touchdown or two.
It is remarkable the Vikings won in light of this stat only: Four dropped interceptions. Granted, the one Chad Greenway had a chance at was exceedingly difficult, but if you don’t count that one, it’s still three chances to shut down a high powered offense that the Vikings secondary could not capitalize on.
Lito Sheppard and Frank Walker–two players with a few years under their belts–could not catch the ball when it was thrown directly to them!
Second-year guy Jamarca Sanford missed a tougher but still completely makeable INT, as well.
All three of those potential interceptions had one common theme: Basket catches. Each player tried to Williamson the ball, they tried to catch it with their bodies rather than their hands and as a result, they had no control over the ball when it arrived.
This has happened to the Vikings All. Season. Long.
Can we please send our entire secondary–and throw in the linebackers while we’re at it–to Cris Carter‘s camp during the offseason so they can learn how to catch?
It is a crime that Antoine Winfield didn’t get selected to the Pro Bowl this season because he has been the one consistent player on this defense. He’s made plays all season long.
If last night’s game was played before the final vote, I suspect he would’ve gotten in. But he deserved it even absent yesterday’s performance.
The official line on Winfield’s game is eight tackles, one assist, two sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, a fumble return of 45 yards, and a touchdown.
Not bad for a day’s work but it doesn’t come close to illustrating just how large a role he played in last night’s win.
YOUNG JOE WEBB
After a shaky beginning last week against the Chicago Bears, Joe Webb seemed to settle down and improve over the course of the game.
Last night, he didn’t have a shaky start but he did improve over the course of the game. And that’s two positives he can hang his hat on.
Oh, yeah, there’s also some clutch passes we rarely saw out of Tarvaris Jackson. With Jackson, you hoped for improvement from game to game but didn’t often get it. With Webb, we’re seeing improvement over the course of a game.
Jackson was never able to throw an accurate long ball: We saw Joe Webb connect with Percy Harvin last night for 46 yards to start the second half.
One of the most important stats for a quarterback is third down efficiency; last night the Vikings converted six of thirteen third down opportunities. Pretty good for a rookie quarterback on his first NFL start.
The most important third down conversion and the most impressive was during the drive following Michael Vick‘s touchdown run in the fourth quarter. While it’s always desirable to answer a score with a score, it is especially important to do so against Vick and the Eagles, who have proven over and again their ability to come from behind late in the game to steal a victory.
On third and eleven with 8:23 remaining in the game, Webb hit Percy Harvin with a perfectly placed ball over the middle for 19 yards and a first down to keep the drive alive which, three plays later, would result in an Adrian Peterson touchdown run for the final score and Webb’s first victory, 24-14.
While there’s plenty of room for improvement, there’s a lot to be excited about with Young Joe Webb.
Adrian Peterson is the Vikings sole representative for this year’s Pro Bowl.
He’s certainly deserving, but as mentioned above, so is Antoine Winfield and Chad Greenway and Chris Kluwe.
Sadly, Pro Bowl snubs are the reward for losing teams.
Quarterback Brett Favre will be fined but not suspended by the league for the Sterger texting incident. More interestingly, Pro Football Talk points out the media pissing match over credit for breaking the story.