Sunday, November 04, 2007

Trailing Clouds of Heaven: Vikings 35, Chargers 17

Vikings-Chargers Box Score
Vikings-Chargers Play-By-Play
Vikings Chargers Game Center (with highlights)

Special. That's what this is. Special. I feel lucky to be in attendance at the game featuring Adrian Peterson's record 296 yard performance. Today was probably my most thrilling day as a Viking fan. The energy in the stadium was palpable. The appreciation of the crown for Adrian Peterson was sincere. Whatever else happens to me as a Viking fan, I'm going to always remember standing in the Metrodome giddy with excitement watching Adrian Peterson bust through and around and past the Charger defense again and again and again.

His day featured long runs, such 64 yard and 46 yard touchdown runs. His day featured speedy runs around the edge. His day featured powerful churning runs through the middle. There were cutbacks. There were moves. There was speed. There was Peterson, an incredibly intelligent and instinctive open field runner that does a spectacular job using downfield blockers and cutting the right way to use them.

Brooks Bollinger to Sidney Rice, 40 yard touchdown
When Bollinger let the pass go, I looked down to Rice, running toward the end zone. He had beaten his defender and was open. As has happened several times this season, I expected the pass to land just in front of the open receiver, or to float just too far out of bounds. But it was on target, and Rice scored an energizing touchdown to give the Vikings a lead they wouldn't give up.

E.J. Henderson
There's nothing secret about the Viking run defense. Pat Williams and Kevin Williams are incredible defensive tackles who simply don't allow space up the middle. And E.J. Henderson is playing Middle Linebacker like a Pro Bowler, which I can only hope he'll be this season.

Henderson has been a dominant football player this season. He makes plays all over the field, showing strength, toughness, speed, and agility. We're lucky to have #56 in the middle. Two years ago linebacker was, in my opinion, the team's biggest weakness. With Henderson anchoring the middle, it's now one of the team's strengths. Watch him: he's a dominant football player.

The Chargers looked like a bad football team.
Coming into the game, J-Rod and I talked about how no matter what, we'd be watching really talented players like Philip Rivers, Ladanian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, and Shawne Merriman (whom of course we'd be rooting against). But they did nothing. Rivers was really bad, often badly inaccurate. Gates was completely shut down (1 catch for 10 yards). Tomlinson was completely unproductive and unimpressive. Merriman was a non-factor.

But this Charger team didn't really look like a good team at all. Today, at least, they couldn't run, couldn't pass, and got trounced defensively. During the first half, as the Vikings repeatedly stopped the Chargers on 3rd down, I lamented that the offense wasn't taking advantage of the defense's good work against a good offense. In the second half, the offense was very good (mostly thanks to Adrian Peterson, but Chester Taylor made solid plays and Brooks Bollinger was an effective QB), but the Charger offense continued to suck.

Before the game
J-Rod and I walked around the outside of the Metrodome, and who do we see walking around alone? Zygi Wilf. We wondered why he was just walking around pretty much by himself.

But we saw something even more special: the Kensington Runestone. The Runestone, real or fake, is now the Vikings' good luck charm. They should ask to bring it everywhere they go.

Thrilling Game
For a close, exciting game, the Metrodome crowd really gets into it, and this game gave us a lot of really exciting plays. The Vikes had good kick return and a good punt return, a 40 yard TD pass and many, many incredible plays running. We were completely incensed by the 109 missed field goal return before the half. We saw many great stops from the Viking defense, including a wonderful tip by Dwight Smith that surely saved a long TD pass. There was a lot of excitement, and the crowd was juiced. Good times.

OK, Minneapolis, I think I've figured you out. I now know a quick way to get out of you. No big deal.

Last Thoughts
It's a thrill that the Vikings won. It's a thrill that Adrian Peterson had a record day (according to the PA, Peterson is the first RB to rush for 200+ yards twice in the same season--and he's done it in his first eight games). It's a thrill that the offense and defense gave us great plays and overall solid performances. For today I'm not going to talk about the problems, and I'm not going to look ahead yet.

Adrian Peterson, dynamic football player, rushed for a record 296 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead the Vikings to a 35-17 home win. He's indescribably good: so often, the Metrodome crowd was in awe that he was able to do it again. He just kept on making plays, spectacular, wonderful, jaw-dropping plays. I don't even have adequate words for the way it just kept happening. He just kept getting around the corner, kept getting first downs, kept making us cheer and shake our heads in amazement. The league's new phenom, and possibly the best running back in the league right now, wears purple. Let's just smile and appreciate the thrill.


  1. Anonymous8:13 PM

    AP is not the first RB to rush for (2) 200 games, but he is the first ROOKIE to do it. Dont know if the PA announcer got it wrong or if that part was just missed.

  2. I think the PA guy steered me wrong, but maybe I misheard it. If I had thought about it, I would have realized how unlikely it is that nobody ever ran for 200+ twice in a season. Some of the great RBs (Simpson, Tomlinson, Sanders, Brown, Dickerson) probably did it three or four times in a season.

  3. Anonymous11:58 PM

    Hey, I was proven foolish, and am glad that it happened! My critical analytical error was to forget that Ted Freakin' Cottrell now coordinates the defense in San Diego. What a moron. I am usually reluctant to harp on playcalling, because it's usually overrated, and you can't see enough on t.v. to really grasp the passing game.
    In this instance, however, those factors don't apply.

    Dallas and Philly had success by putting nine or even ten defenders close to the line of scrimmage, with eight usually in the box. Ted Cottrell, football genius, presumably saw those films, and responded by, for instance, on A.P.'s first long touchdown, by having eight guys pretty close to the line of scrimmage, but only SIX guys anywhere close to the box! With Adrian Peterson in the backfield! And Brooks Bollinger behind center! Aye. Yi. Yi.

    The game was filled with similar alignments from Cottrell, defensive sage. Even in the first half, I often couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was if the Chargers' defensive coordinator hadn't bothered to watch any of the Vikings game films from this season.

    Pacifist, you noted that E.J. Henderson was far less effective two years ago. Guess what the Chargers' current defense has in common with the 2005 Vikings' defense?

  4. Anonymous7:07 AM

    i think the chargers are a pretty good team with a bad coach and that leads to inconsistent football. not taking anything away from adrian peterson or your defense. i'm just saying i don't think the chargers are bad. i think adrian peterson, tho, is probably good enough that you have a legit shot to win any week as the old lions always had a legit shot to win with barry. needless to say i'm a little sad i won't get to watch the game next week as evidently washington vs philly is the more compelling match up.


  5. The SD coaches are to blame for a lot yesterday. Defensively they gave up 378 yards rushing and 528 total offensive yards, which is obviously awful. But offensively, I would argue their plans were just as bad.

    They allowed the Vikings to completely eliminate Antonio Gates, one of the unique offensive players in football.

    Even though Marion Motley blocking for Jim Brown couldn't gain yards up the middle against the Viking defense, most of the runs went...up the middle. They might have exploited the edges with Tomlinson, particularly on Greenway's side.

    Though the Vikings have the lowest ranked pass defense in the league, were without their best corner, and were starting a rookie and second year CB, the Chargers kept trying gimmicky screens rather than lining up and throwing against them (though as we saw throughout the game, with poor pass protection, inaccurate passes, and drops, maybe the Chargers really just are a bad passing team).

    They had two illegal formation penalties, which really has to come down to coaching.

    It was bad coaching on both sides of the ball.

    A commenter a few weeks ago suggested that a reason for AP's long runs is the eight-man fronts, because if he gets past that, there aren't many defenders there and he can just outrun them. And since the Viking O-line is opening massive holes, and Peterson is capable of making linebackers miss and just letting DBs bounce off of him, that could explain some of his success on long runs. When Peterson is hot, I wonder if defenses shouldn't keep a safety somewhat back to try and stop him. Obviously they'll have more success if they try to smother the run at all, but with this Viking offense, it's the long Peterson plays that just kill defenses.