The Vikings are back to .500, and back into a tie for second place in the NFC North. The first half looked like the Beloved Purple might turn this game into a blowout, but the Texans, to their credit, gave them a run after subbing in a new quarterback and figuring out how to get the ball to guys not named Andre Johnson.
Like I said in the game thread. . .Bernard Berrian is officially worth the money. He now has 621 receiving yards, four touchdowns, and is averaging over 20 yards a catch. At one point in the first half, Gus Frerotte had 143 passing yards. . .Berrian had been on the receiving end of 104 of them, with his 55-yard grab to open the game and his TD catch with the Madden '09-esque spin move that covered 49 yards. As of now, here are the receivers that are averaging more than Berrian's 20.7 yards/catch:
Derek Stanley (1 catch)
Robert Meachem (8 catches)
Devery Henderson (18 catches)
Miles Austin (10 catches)
Johnnie Lee Higgins (8 catches)
That's it. Berrian now has 30 catches on the year, and is the only WR with that many catches averaging more than 20 yards/pop. Barring an injury, he's a lock to go over 1000 yards, and is going to get a lot of TDs, too.
Speaking of free agent acquisitions showing up. . .Madieu Williams looks like he might have been worth the wait. He led the Vikings today with 8 tackles, had a very athletic interception in the end zone, and played a very solid football game all-in-all. Since I think this is Darren Sharper's last year in Minnesota, it will be interesting to see the tandem of Williams and Tyrell Johnson at safety in the near future.
Oh, and that Jared Allen guy is still pretty good, too. He was credited with two sacks today (although I thought he had three. . .doesn't a forced fumble on the QB count as a sack?), which gives him 7 on the season. He led a defensive line that was getting outstanding pressure on the Houston quarterbacks for most of the day. Speaking of which, Ray Edwards is now only 21 sacks away from breaking Michael Strahan's regular-season record. Way to go, Ray!
Overall, the Vikings defense racked up six sacks (if Allen is given credit for the one he should be given credit for), forced two fumbles, nabbed two interceptions, and only allowed 14 points. . .remember, Houston's only TD of the first half was a gift from Frerotte and Berrian.
Then there's Adrian Peterson. The best running back in football had 14 carries for 35 yards in the first half. He wound up with 25 for 139. Seriously, teams will eventually learn that it's rare to keep this guy down all game long. They just haven't learned it yet, that's all. Some of the runs he put together today were breathtaking.
Now, the bad stuff. . .does any team get lit up by backup quarterbacks more horribly and more frequently than the Minnesota Vikings? After doing a decent job against Matt Schaub in the first half, the Texans turned to Sage Rosencopter Rosenfels, and he proceeded to shred the Vikings for 224 yards and two touchdowns (to go along with the aforementioned Madieu Williams INT) in one half of football. That's unacceptable. At no thyme should Sage do that to anybody.
(See what I did there? That's comedy, damn it!)
Oh, and I know the Vikings did a decent job against Andre Johnson today. . .they held a guy that had gone over 130 yards in 4 consecutive games to four catches, 62 yards, and a late touchdown. . .but as we've seen on numerous occasions over the past few years, the Vikings can't cover tight ends to save their souls, as Owen Daniels went off for 11 catches and 133 yards.
I don't know how much of this is due to the loss of E.J. Henderson, because Napoleon Harris looks like as much of a stiff in coverage as he ever was, but at some point the Vikings' defensive schemes have to take that position into account. It's been a LONG time since we had a truly great coverage linebacker in Minnesota. I love our LB corps, but the tight end is playing a bigger role in this league, and the Vikings need to realize that.
Other than that, there weren't a lot of things to complain about. Enjoyable game all around, particularly for we fans of the Beloved Purple. Big thanks to the Texans fans that were here over the course of this week, and I'm sure that Tim will have his take over at Battle Red Blog here shortly, if he hasn't already put one up while I've been typing this. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday night, folks!