If teams have an answer for this offense, we have yet to see it.
Adrian Peterson's numbers lagged once again this afternoon. He finished the evening averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, and if you take away his longest run (15 yards), the picture becomes grimmer for Peterson. Oh yeah, he also coughed up a fumble that brought a premature end to the Vikings' opening drive of the game. And oh yeah, he coughed it up again in the second half as the Vikings were driving in Chicago territory -- but the Vikings retained possession after a Brad Childress challenge. All told, this is a game that Peterson needs to immediately forget.
But Brett Favre made up for it. And then some.
Favre is clearly having one of the best seasons of his career -- and many analysts are calling it his best ever. Anyone of the opinion that Favre is playing his best football yet certainly got plenty of ammunition from today's game, as Favre controlled the Chicago defense. When the first half had reached its conclusion, he had gone 20/31 while racking up 256 passing yards and three touchdowns. He hardly slowed down in the second half, finishing the game near the 400-yard mark through the air.
He's throwing a lot of passes for a 40-year-old arm to handle. But he's holding up remarkably well. And the impact he's made on three guys -- Shank, Harvin, and Rice -- has been MVP-worthy (particularly his impact on Rice's production). Predictably, those guys posted big numbers this afternoon. But Bernard Berrian and Chester Taylor were also key receivers for Brett, and five receivers (Shank, Harvin, Rice, Berrian and Taylor) finished the game with five or more catches. A first in franchise history, if you're keeping score at home.
Last week, we saw the efficient Brett Favre as he picked apart the Seattle defense and finished the game with a completion percentage near 90%. This week, we saw the more explosive Brett Favre. And yet, he remained accurate (you could count his poor throws on one hand), his interception mark for the season remains at three, and the Vikes did a good job of controlling the time of possession battle -- in spite of Adrian's slippery hands.
Of course, there was a smattering of other concerning issues that occurred on the offensive end. Too many penalties for my liking -- Big Mac was nailed for an ineligible man downfield penalty that nullified a touchdown near the end of the first half (though the Vikings scored two plays later), and the Vikes' first offensive drive of the second half turned into a penalty fest. Four penalties on that drive, including another one that nullified a touchdown -- though in fairness to Bernard Berrian, who was called for holding, it was a questionable call.
On the defensive side, the Vikes had some trouble handling Jay Cutler during the early stages of the game. He was throwing for a high percentage and had some time to throw the ball -- but as the game went along, the pressure gradually became more intense until it became suffocating. One drive in particular stands out. Chicago briefly showed some life to start the second half, as a long kickoff gave the Bears the ball inside the Vikings' 10. Here's how the ensuing drive unfolded: Forte runs for no gain, Cutler gets sacked for a loss of two yards, Jared Allen draws a false start from Orlando Pace, and Fat Pat sacks Cutler for a loss of five yards. Robbie Gould nailed a field goal to salvage a disaster of a drive, but the defense was dominant. Matt Forte was a complete non-factor.
The Vikings even finished the game with a couple rare interceptions -- one coming from Cedric Griffin in the endzone, the other coming from The Mullet. Jared hilariously threw the ball forward after making the pick, so he made a boneheaded play mere seconds after an awesome play. No harm done, though.
One more downside of the game before I get back to the positives: The kickoff coverage gave up some big returns. Danieal Manning had a 44 yard return, and Johnny Knox was responsible for the 77-yard return that I referenced earlier.
But Favre's outstanding performance easily overshadows any of the concerns surrounding penalties or the kickoff coverage. He's spreading the ball around effectively, he's making his receivers better, and he's absolutely killing teams that make stopping Adrian Peterson their top defensive priority. How well did he play today? The old man came 10 yards shy of setting a career high for passing yardage in a single game. That's how well he's playing. An offensive showcase this evening, as the Vikings finished with 527 total yards of offense.