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Vikings Have A Halloween Nightmare

Well, I have to be honest, I wasn’t one bit surprised to see the Vikings lose to the Patriots today.  I was already looking beyond this game, thinking about the very good possibility that the Vikings go 7-2 from here on out and still possibly make the playoffs.

What I didn’t expect to see was Brett Favre add a completely new injury to his running tally, the run defense completely getting destroyed, and Randy Moss getting shut down by a passing defense that has been very leaky all year and came into this game quite injured.

Here are some quick hits:

Brett Favre And The Passing Game

Brett told the media in his post game conference that he had to get eight stitches in his chin after being knocked out of the game and will probably undergo concussion tests.  There seems to be little doubt, however, that Favre will be under center at the start of next week’s game against Arizona.

Favre didn’t make any huge mistakes this game.  He had on interception but it was a combination of a slightly off-target pass, a bobbled catch from Harvin, and heads up play from the defender.  Otherwise, Favre looked conservative but consistent in his 22 of 32 performance for 259 yards.  Before getting cracked on the chin, Favre’s various injuries may have kept him from continuously airing it out, but otherwise they appeared to be a non-factor.  His biggest hindrance was certainly some questionable play out of his receivers.

The offensive line held their own against the Patriots for the most part.  Harvin’s bobbled catch that led to a pick wasn’t the only time a receiver let Favre down, however.  Harvin also ran an inexplicably short route on a third down completion that came up just short.  Randy Moss stopped playing after drawing an interference penalty even though he appeared to have a somewhat easy touchdown grab available to him.  Bernard Berrian also dropped a key pass which was nearly ruled a fumble.

Randy Moss made it known prior to the game that he wasn’t happy that Brad Childress and Visanthe Shiancoe made it public knowledge to what extent he was helping the Vikings prepare for his former team.  After the game, he seemed to imply that the Vikings did ask for his help, but that they didn’t listen to him, which contributed to the loss.

He also made it known that he misses New England and disagreed with Childress’ decision to go for it on fourth down from the one yard line at the end of the second half.  Moss also will talk to the media, but plans on answering questions that are asked by by only one person, himself.  For real.

Adrian Peterson and The Run Game

The Vikings running game got off to a hot start after handing the ball off to Peterson a lot in the first half.  Once again, despite the close game, the Vikings really kept the ball out of Peterson’s hands later on.  In the first half, he had 18 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown.  He ended with 25 carries for 92 yards.  Despite good running in the first half, Peterson never had a carry for 10 yards or longer.

The Vikings also inexplicably, again, gave Toby Gerhart an entire drive with Peterson standing on the sideline.  Gerhart ended the game with two carries for no yardage.  I have to be honest in that I don’t see Gerhart as a huge upgrade to Peterson when it comes to pass blocking, and keeping your best offensive weapon on the sideline for extended periods of time is insanity.

Granted Percy Harvin suffered an ankle injury early in the game, but the Vikings didn’t have him carry the ball once in this contest, despite the success he saw in this area last week.  Gerhart’s performance and the coaches’ unwillingness to use Harvin more often shows that the Vikings could sure use a scat back in this offense.  Darius Reynaud could have come in handy in a game like this.

In the end, the Vikings run game had an unsuccessful outing on Sunday because of one play.  On fourth and goal from the one, at the end of the first half, the Vikings need to depend on their blocking and power running to punch the ball in the end zone but they came up short.  The decision to go for it isn’t totally unreasonable, but the choice to simply take all your receivers off the field and reveal exactly what you are going to do is a questionable call.

The Vikings longest run of the day was 33 yarder out of Tarvaris Jackson near the end of the game.


The Defense Takes A Step Back

Honestly, giving up 28 points to the Patriots isn’t too ridiculous.  However, the manner in which the Patriots got those points is downright embarrassing.

The Vikings went a third game in a row without registering a single sack.  The pressure was there more consistently today, causing Kevin Bacon Tom Brady to panic multiple times.  Unfortunately, Brady panicking wasn’t always a bad thing for the Patriots.

On two key plays, Brady was able to scramble and make things happen.  The first was on a play where he was completely surrounded but managed to squirt out and hit Brandon Tate, who had about eight steps on a bewildered Asher Allen, for a 65 yard touchdown pass. 

The second was in the fourth quarter when the Vikings had the Patriots in a third and long situation.  Brady again was feeling pressure from a Chad Greenway blitz, but he threw across the field and hit Danny Woodhead about 10 yards short of the first down.  If Asher Allen could make a textbook open field tackle then the Vikings could maintain hope.  Instead, Allen blew his chance and Woodhead ran for the first, essentially ending the Vikings hopes.

Allen wasn’t the only defensive back to give up big chances at big plays.  Madieu Williams had an early pass in his hands for an interception, but it went through his hands and a surprised but focused Brandon Tate was able to make the catch for a big gain.  This play gave the Patriots new life and they ended up scoring on a three yard run from Danny Woodhead.

While a better pass rush could help make the defensive backs look better, it is obvious that the Vikings have made little progress in making their secondary a solid unit.  Drafting the inconsistent Asher Allen (third round, 2009) and the injury prone Chris Cook (second round, 2010) have had trouble establishing themselves as dependable starters and free agent acquisition Lito Sheppard has been inactive with a hand injury after having a terrible outing against the Cowboys.  Cedric Griffin’s injury has been a major blow to this team.

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