Since we're going to be, as the kids say, waiting all day for Sunday night, let's kill some time by taking a final look back at the Vikings' complete and utter domination of the Chicago Bears by reviewing their performance in the Red Zone. And, 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.
What kind of performance did the Vikings put together in the red zone last weekend? Let's have a look and find out.
Vikings Red Zone trips - 6
Vikings Red Zone scores - 6 (4 TD, 2 FG)
Red Zone touchdown percentage - 66%
A pretty good performance for the Vikings in the red zone last week, but it still could have been better.
After an Adrian Peterson fumble halted a promising opening drive, the Bears and Vikings exchanged three and outs, and the Bears punted again, pinning the Vikings on their own 4-yard line. From there, the Vikings offense went to work. Brett Favre converted a big third down when he hit Sidney Rice for 14 yards on 3rd and 6. He continued to spread the ball around, hitting Chester Taylor twice for 27 yards out of the backfield. Peterson mixed in a 15-yard run and an 8-yard run, and Favre converted another big third down by hitting Bernard Berrian to take the Vikings down to the Chicago 6. After some questionable play calling, including Favre taking a 14-yard sack on first and goal from the 1 (following a Chicago PI penalty in the end zone), the first play of the second quarter saw Favre drill a bullet to the 2009 Offensive Rookie of the Year. . .that's Percy Harvin. . .and the Vikings went up 7-0. The Minnesota drive went 96 yards in 13 plays, and took 6:52 to complete.
After the Bears managed to luck their way into their one touchdown drive of the afternoon, the Vikings went to work again from their own 20. Harvin didn't get to return the kickoff because of a touchback, so the Vikings let him start the drive off with a 35-yard run to put the ball into Chicago territory. Favre then hit Berrian for 7, Rice for 11, and Harvin for 4 to move the ball to the Chicago 10. After a three-yard run by Peterson, Favre rolled to his right, dumped one off to Chester Taylor, and #29 did the rest as he dove into the end zone for another Minnesota touchdown. The extra point put the Vikings up 14-3. That Minnesota drive moved 80 yards in 8 plays, taking 4:06 off the clock.
The Bears fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which the Vikings turned into a 52-yard Ryan Longwell field goal. On the Bears next drive, Chicago's awesome, incredible superstar quarterback Jay Cutler threw a pass that got picked off by Cedric Griffin. The Vikings couldn't take advantage, and punted the ball back to Chicago. Cutler's second INT of the afternoon came on the subsequent drive, on a pass that was deflected by E.J. Henderson into the arms of Jared Allen. The Vikings started out at their own 30, and Favre immediately hit Visanthe Shiancoe for 21 yards to move the ball into Chicago territory. He then hit Berrian twice for 16 yards, and then lofted a beautiful pass to Rice, who got pushed out of bounds at the Chicago 2. After a touchdown pass from Favre to Shiancoe was nullified for Bryant McKinnie being downfield, Shank managed to get the touchdown anyway, as Favre found him on third and goal from the 6 for the score. The drive moved 70 yards in 7 plays, and only took 40 seconds to accomplish. It also put Minnesota ahead 24 to 7 as they went to the locker room.
After a Chicago field goal gave the Bears their final points of the afternoon, the Vikings took over at their own 33, as the Bears decided they were too scared to kick to Percy Harvin. Harvin again made them pay for it, catching passes of 12 and 22 yards from Favre to move the ball into Chicago territory. After a fumble by Peterson that was correctly challenged by Childress, Favre hit Shiancoe for 19 yards, and appeared to have another touchdown pass to Chester Taylor that was taken off the board by an unnecessary holding penalty downfield on Berrian. From there, the flags started to fly, and the referees desperately tried to level the playing field for the completely overmatched Bears. After all was said and done, the Vikings had to settle for a 37-yard Ryan Longwell field goal to make the score 27-7. The 12-play, 48-yard drive took 4:59 off of the clock.
Big third down conversions were the story of Minnesota's next drive, as Minnesota started from their own 27. You know it's going to be a productive drive when even Naufahu Tahi gets into the business of converting third downs, which he did with an 8-yard reception. On the next third down, Favre hit Bernard Berrian for 18 yards. Then, on another third down play, Favre found Percy Harvin for an outstanding 31-yard catch that put the rookie over the 100-yard mark for the first time in his young career. Unfortunately, the drive stalled when the Vikings reached the 2, and they had to settle for a 20-yard Longwell field goal. The drive needed to eat up the clock, and the drive did just that, as they took 7:36 to move the ball 71 yards in 13 plays. It also made the score 30 to 7 in favor of the Vikings.
Favre only completed one pass on his final drive of the afternoon, hitting Berrian again for eight yards. The rest of the drive was the Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor show, as the best 1-2 running back tandem in the NFL combined for 35 yards on 6 carries on the drive. A big pass interference penalty aided the Vikings as well, giving them 25 yards and putting the ball deep into Chicago territory. Harvin even mixed another carry in for 10 yards, and that one put the Vikings inside the Chicago red zone again. To cap off what had been a fairly tough afternoon, Peterson walked in from five yards out for a touchdown. Chris Kluwe, unfortunately, bobbled the hold on the extra point, so the final margin of victory for Minnesota ended up being 36-10. The final Viking drive went 68 yards in 8 plays, taking another 5:09 off of the clock.
So, to update our tally, for the season the Vikings' offense has entered the opposing red zone on 43 occasions. They've come away with 23 touchdowns (53.5%), 14 Ryan Longwell field goals (32.5%), and have only come away scoreless six times (14%). The Bears only entered the red zone once. . .and they were lucky to have that many. . .and managed one field goal. So, the Vikings have allowed their opponents to enter the red zone 24 times this season, allowing them to score 10 touchdowns (41.7%), as well as eight field goals (33.3%). On six occasions (25%), Minnesota's opponents have left the red zone empty-handed.
Here's hoping that the Vikings can improve on all of those figures during Sunday night's clash with the Arizona Cardinals.