It's that time of the week where we take one last look back at the Vikings' previous performance and review exactly how they did in the red zone against their last opponent. In order to do that, we need to move into everybody's favorite segment here at DN, the Vikings' Red Zone Review. As always, the Vikings Red Zone Review is brought to you by the good folks at Comcast. Comcast brings you the NFL Red Zone channel every week, and it's your way to keep in touch with all the biggest plays from every NFL game week in and week out. It's great for fantasy players, or for the late games when you're not sure which game you want to view while celebrating the Vikings' latest conquest. The Red Zone Channel is your season ticket for every single NFL game, and nobody brings it to you like the folks at Comcast.
So, how did the Vikings do in the red zone against the Cincinnati Bengals? Well. . .not to spoil anything, but they did pretty darn good.
Vikings Red Zone scores - 4 (3 TD, 1 FG)
Red Zone touchdown percentage - 75%
Once again, the Vikings converted all of their red zone possessions into points, which is always what you want to see from your offense, obviously. Minnesota's first three possessions ended with a punt, Brett Favre's sixth interception of the 2009 season, and a 44-yard Ryan Longwell field goal on a possession where the Vikings didn't reach the red zone. On their fourth possession, however, turned into the Adrian Peterson show, which is generally a good thing for the Minnesota Vikings. The drive started at the Minnesota 43-yard line, and two quick carries for #28 picked up 14 yards and moved the ball into Cincinnati territory. After an incompletion that was sandwiched between two false start penalties, Favre hit Peterson on a pass for 28 yards to the Cincinnati 11 and Minnesota's first trip to the red zone on the afternoon. The drive then came down to a third down from the Cincinnati 9. Favre took the snap, pump faked a defender out of his shoes, rolled to his right, and found Sidney Rice in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown strike to put the Vikings ahead 10-0. The drive moved 57 yards in 7 plays, and took 2:46 to complete.
After the Bengals responded with a red zone possession of their own. . .one that led to their only touchdown of the afternoon. . .the Vikings took over again at their own 24. Favre quickly found Visanthe Shiancoe for 6 yards, and another 11-yard jaunt for Peterson set up a fresh set of downs. Favre continued mixing in different receivers, as he proceeded to complete passes to Bernard Berrian and Greg Lewis as the Vikings moved down the field. He even picked up a rare (for Favre) rushing first down with a 4-yard sneak on 3rd and 2. However, the drive stalled in the Bengals' red zone, and Ryan Longwell came in for another field goal, this one from 23 yards out to make it 13-7, Vikings. That drive went 71 yards in 14 plays, taking 3:21 to complete.
Longwell capped the first half scoring with another field goal that came as a result of Antoine Winfield forcing Bengals' running back Brian Leonard to fumble as the Bengals tried to do. . .something. I don't think anyone's really sure. But, in any case, the field goal was good from 44 yards out, and the Vikings took a 16-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Minnesota took the ball to start the second half, and rather than airing another episode of the All Day with Adrian Peterson, they decided to go with a showing of All Night with Chester Taylor instead. AP had a co-starring role in this one, however. . .in fact, Taylor and Peterson combined for all 60 yards the Vikings gained on that drive. In fact, here's how the drive went, play-by-play.
Peterson carry for 2 yards
Peterson carry for 3 yards
Taylor 6 yard reception
Taylor carry for 5 yards
False start on Jim Kleinsasser
Encroachment on Cincinnati
Taylor 26 yard reception
Taylor carry for 17 yards
Peterson carry for 5 yards
Peterson carry for 2 yards
Peterson carry for 1 yard and the touchdown
Yep. . .the only skill position players that touched the ball for the Vikings on their opening drive of the third quarter were Favre, Taylor, and Peterson. That's still pretty good. The 1-yard touchdown run for Peterson also gave him a tie for the Vikings' single season record for rushing touchdowns with his 13th of the season. The 60 yard drive was accomplished in 10 plays, and it took 6:20 to complete, putting the Vikings ahead 23-7.
The Bengals would eventually add a field goal early in the fourth quarter to make the score 23-10, and after the subsequent exchange of punts the Vikings decided it was time to put things away. Starting at the Minnesota 33, Favre decided to mix things up a little bit by getting the ball to Sidney Rice to pick up a first down. A couple of plays later, a 19-yard completion to Berrian moved the ball into Cincinnati territory. A 9-yard pass to Berrian and an 8-yard carry by Peterson put the ball into the Bengals' red zone again at the 16-yard line. After Sidney Rice got the ball down to the 4, Peterson finished things off with two more carries and what turned out to be a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Vikings ahead 30-10. The touchdown was Peterson's 14th rushing TD of the year, giving him sole possession of the Minnesota Vikings' record for most rushing touchdowns in one season. Congratulations to the best running back in the National Football League on his accomplishment!
With their numbers from the Cincinnati game, the Vikings have ventured into the red zone 49 times in the 2009 season. In those trips, they've scored 27 touchdowns (55.1%), put 16 Ryan Longwell field goals on the board (32.7%), and failed to score on only six occasions (12.2%). Their opponents, on the other hand, have breached the Minnesota red zone 30 times, with the Vikings allowing 12 touchdowns (40%), giving up 12 field goals (40%), and holding the opponent scoreless 6 times (20%).
Here's hoping that the Vikings' numbers on both sides will continue to improve this Sunday night as they travel to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers.