Sunday, November 15, 2009

Trailing Clouds of Heaven: Vikings 27, Lions 10

ESPN Box Score

I'm starting to dread these Lion games: there just isn't an upside. We shouldn't have to sweat so much in a game when the Vikings score on their first drive and hold the lead the entire game. We shouldn't have to sweat a game when the Vikings have 492 yards of offense and win by 17. Yet due to fumbles (2), penalties (13 for 91 yards), and red zone struggles (2 for 6), that's what happened. Eventually, the Vikes proved the superior team and finished their drives: they did in the second half what they should have been able to do in the first.

And now the Vikes sit at 8-1. We still get to sing "Skol."

Sidney Rice
Rice was a star with 201 yards receiving, and I'm trying to figure out why he's so successful catching deep passes. He's often open downfield, but with a defender right near him, and he's generally in good position to make a catch 40+ yards downfield look easy, when really it is not.

Part of it is his own skill: he's physical, he runs routes well, he has good hands, and he has good instincts adjusting to the deep balls.

But I also think he benefits from his fast teammates: while Rice is undoubtedly the Vikings' #1 WR this season, defenses still need to account for the speed of players like Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, and Bernard Berrian. That leaves it difficult to double cover Rice, and I think opponents aren't always putting their best cover man on Rice. He's made more big plays in the passing game than any other Viking this season, but because Peterson, Harvin, and Berrian can burn opponents, they can't focus on Rice.

Brett Favre helps a great deal too. On several of his deep passes to Rice, Favre has moved around to buy time, and his downfield passes to Rice have been remarkably accurate. I think Favre also does a good job at subtle but important things. If the defender covering Rice is on his inside, Favre throws it slightly to his outside. Favre's play-action is effective, and he looks off safeties well. He's helping get Rice in a position to make a play, and throwing the ball where he can make a play.

Rice is doing a spectacular job making plays downfield. It's not easy to catch a pass 40+ yards downfield with a defender right on him. He's finishing plays, and he might become the first Viking with 1,000 receiving yards in the Brad Childress era.


  1. Anonymous8:07 PM

    Good overall win. I will take it. It was not as close as the score indicated, however, the fumbles and penalties definately made the game a bit too traumatic for us old timers.

    Farve was really good and it was great to see A.P. make some hay.

    My one major complaint is the penalties and the total lack of imagination on 3rd and 1, seemingly every week.

    Penalties show a lack of discipline and should not be tolerated as much as Childress seems to allow. The one thing I hated about Dennis Green's teams here, was the fact that they commited so many silly penalties over and over again, every week.

    League statistics will attest to the fact that penalties will eventually kill you. They are not a good habit to get into.

    Finally, our offensive line is like 5 huge road graders and they know the snap count. I would love to see them put someone on their back once in awhile. We have been stymied on 3rd and short several times this year already, again, that is a terrible habit to get into.

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  3. Anonymous1:31 PM

    One thing I've meaning to ask here...

    Is it just me, or has Access Vikings at the Star Tribune website become about worthless? It used to be appointment viewing for me, something I'd check out everyday. Now I check it out maybe a couple times in a week, and never find anything I really need to read. Like right now, all I check it out for is injury news (namely, Antoine Winfield).

    I don't know why exactly, but Access Vikings doesn't do anything for me anymore. I was wondering if that's the case for anyone else.

  4. I also rely less on the Strib Vikings page than I used to. I don't know if it's simply the new layout or that the content is changed--or even if it's just that mid-season there is so much more news I'm not so desperate to read anything Purple.

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