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."
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.