Sunday, November 30, 2008

Trailing Clouds of Heaven: Vikings 34, Bears 14

Viking-Bear Box Score

There was the obvious five play sequence that turned the game entirely.  The Bears had 1st and goal at the one, and the Vikings stopped them on four straight plays.  Then Gus Frerotte dropped back behind perfect pass protection and found Bernard Berrian on busted coverage for a 99 yard touchdown pass.  That defensive goal-line stand and subsequent 99 yard touchdown pass were memorable and beautiful.

And a lot of praise should be given to the Viking offensive line.  The Vikings rushed for 178 yards, but what really stood out to me was the pass protection.  Gus Frerotte was consistently given a great pocket and time to deliver good throws.

This was the Vikings' best win of the season.  They finally combined good offensive and defensive games (special teams could use improvement, but didn't badly hurt).  Jared Allen had three sacks and the Vikings had three interceptions.  The Vikings had big plays running the ball, but also made a lot of positive plays in the passing game.

I will say that I don't know what is served giving Adrian Peterson a bunch of extra carries at the end of the game; if you're going to conservatively run the ball and take the field goal, Chester Taylor (or for that matter, Naufauhu Tahi) would be just as effective, saving unnecessary hits on AP.  

AP is the league's current rushing leader (1,311 yards), and no Viking has ever won a rushing title.  He's also just 210 yards behind Robert Smith's single season franchise record.

The Vikings are now in great position to win their first NFC North title.  Kevin Williams and Pat Williams may be suspended for the rest of the regular season (today on CBS, Charley Casserly said he's never encountered a situation involving banned substances in which the players weren't suspended), but the Vikes are 7-5, and next play the 0-12 Detroit Lions (whom they should be able to beat without any defensive tackles).  Their remaining games are at Phoenix, home for Atlanta, and home for New York.  For the Vikes to win the division, they'll definitely have to earn it with at least one late-season win against a quality opponent.  But they can do it.

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