Once again, it's time for a review of how the Vikings did in the red zone against their most recent opponent. And, as always, this Red Zone Review is sponsored by Comcast, home of the Red Zone channel, the best way for you to keep up with all the scoring action in the NFL each and every weekend. We all know that red zone success is one of the keys to being successful in the NFL, and nobody is more successful at bringing you every score every week than the Comcast Red Zone channel.
So, how did the Vikings do against the St. Louis Rams in the red zone? Pretty darn well, to be honest.
Viking red zone trips - 4
Viking red zone scores - 4 (4 TD)
Red zone touchdown percentage - 100%
Yep, it doesn't get a whole lot better than that, does it?
The Vikings showed the Rams that they meant business from the opening drive, as they took the ball and moved 80 yards in nine plays on their first possession. Brett Favre went 4/5 on the drive, including a big third down conversion to Percy Harvin for 22 yards that moved the Vikings into St. Louis territory. Favre's four completions netted the Vikings 66 of their 80 yards on the drive. The rest of the yardage was taken care of by Adrian Peterson, as he carried four times for 14 yards on the drive, including the capper on a five-yard touchdown run around the left end. The scoring drive for the Vikings took four minutes and 43 seconds off of the clock.
The Vikings' next four drives resulted in a three-and-out, an interception by Rams' rookie MLB James Laurinaitis (after the Vikings turned the Rams over in the red zone), a 47-yard Ryan Longwell field goal, and a drive that took the game to the end of the first half with the Vikings leading 17-3.
The Rams received the ball first in the second half, but went three-and-out, giving the Vikings the ball back at their own 10-yard line. From there, the Beloved Purple put together an outstanding drive, covering the 90-yard distance in just three minutes and 44 seconds. The big play of the drive came when Favre found Sidney Rice deep down the right sideline. Rice managed to fight off Rams' defensive back Bradley Fletcher and haul in the Pass from Favre for 47 yards down to the St. Louis 17. Two plays later, Favre dropped back to pass and lofted a rainbow over the middle to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who made the catch for a 13-yard touchdown and a 24-3 Vikings' lead. Favre went 3/3 on the drive for 72 yards, Peterson had three carries for 15 yards, and Chester Taylor chipped in with a three-yard rush.
After a three-and-out on the next Minnesota drive and another turnover for the Rams in the red zone. . .this one an interception by safety Tyrell Johnson. . .the Vikings took over at the St. Louis 20-yard line. After a 34-yard pass interference penalty on Rams' CB Ron Bartell put the Vikings into St. Louis territory, Adrian Peterson took care of most of the rest, carrying the ball five times and gaining 19 yards, including a seven-yard scoring run to make the score 31-3 in favor of Minnesota. Favre completed three of his four other passes on the drive for 27 yards. The drive took nine total plays and 4:48 off the clock.
The Rams got a touchdown on their next possession to narrow the gap to 31-10. After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, the offense was led onto the field by Tarvaris Jackson and Chester Taylor to start their drive from the 20. Jackson, much like Favre before him, moved the Vikings down the field, with a huge play coming from an unexpected source. Naufahu Tahi, the fullback whose pass catching skills have been the subject of a few laughs here over the years, took a pass from Jackson on 3rd and 1 from the Vikings' 29 and rumbled his way down the field for a 32-yard catch and run to put the ball into Rams' territory. Jackson then proceeded to hit Chester Taylor on another short pass with big results, as #29 took the ball down to the St. Louis 3. Two plays later, Taylor burrowed his way into the end zone from a yard out, making the score 38-10 and setting the final margin of victory.
While the Vikings went 4/4 in the red zone last week, the Rams went 0/3 and turned the ball over all three times, two on lost fumbles and one on the interception by Tyrell Johnson. For the year, the Vikings' defense has been very stingy in the red zone. In fact, here's the red zone success rate for Vikings' opponents this season.
Cleveland - 2/2 (1 TD, 1 FG)
Detroit - 2/2 (1 TD, 1 FG)
San Francisco - 2/3 (2 TD)
Green Bay - 1/2 (1 FG)
St. Louis - 0/3
That gives the Vikings' opponents 13 red zone possessions in the first five games, but those have only resulted in four touchdowns and three field goals. On just about half of the red zone possessions the Vikings' defense has faced, their opponents have come away with no points at all, including all three times against the Rams.
As far as Minnesota's offense, they've put points on the board in all 15 of their red zone trips, coming away with 12 touchdowns and three Ryan Longwell field goals. Their last eight trips into the red zone. . .their last score against Detroit, all three red zone trips against Green Bay, and all four possessions against St. Louis. . .have ended in touchdowns. That's a big part of why the Vikings are 5-0 on this young 2009 season.