In the quarterback competition, Sage Rosenfels has won the first round decisively. That much was decided tonight, as Rosenfels played two drives and couldn't have performed much better than he did. Tarvaris Jackson, meanwhile, treated Vikings fans to a rough couple of quarters -- which were somewhat salvaged by an impressive performance on the ground from Albert Young but will still be remembered for T-Jack's stumbles.
Of course, the disclaimers: The Colts were playing without a single starter in the secondary, and they've never been a team terribly interested in winning preseason games. As a result, saying that this game somehow ended the quarterback competition would be a mistake. But Rosenfels nevertheless pulled ahead tonight.
Rosenfels was getting the ball out of his hands quickly, taking good care of the football while throwing four of his 10 completions to Visanthe Shiancoe. This is undoubtedly the start of a trend, as Shiancoe was a big, dependable target for Rosenfels throughout the first quarter. He caught everything Sage threw his way.
Also notable is the fact that the Vikings converted on a pair of fourth downs while Rosenfels was in the game. One came courtesy of Adrian Peterson, but the other was a 17-yard strike to Shiancoe that took the Vikings into the redzone. It's just one of the plays Sage made that T-Jack likely wouldn't have. Rosenfels threw three incompletions and made only one mistake: Throwing to a double-covered Bobby Wade on third and short to start the second quarter. That incompletion brought up fourth down and was Rosenfels' final play of the game.
T-Jack entered and was tough to watch. First play: Ball slips out of his hand. That really represents the contrast between these two quarterbacks. Sage exits the game after near-perfect execution for two consecutive drives. He and Shiancoe had a great rhythm going. Then T-Jack enters the game and makes mistake after mistake.
In his defense, he was playing with the second-teamers while Sage was playing with the starters. He clearly wasn't comfortable with the guys who surrounded him out there, likely as a result of not having practiced with them too much. I should also note that T-Jack's third quarter performance was better than his second quarter performance.
But the fact remains: T-Jack just wasn't making good throws. He was having difficulties staying poised while under pressure, and several of his throws were either thrown behind or far beyond his intended target. He didn't lose the quarterback competition tonight, but he's on thin ice after this game and has some ground to make up.
It will be telling when the roles are switched next week, and Jackson plays with the starters while Rosenfels gets the backups. Indeed, another sub-par performance from T-Jack could bring the competition to a virtual conclusion.
That will be the headline from the game: Rosenfels excels while T-Jack stumbles. But the performance by the first-teamers on defense shouldn't be overlooked. For the brief period he was on the field, Peyton Manning was battered by the defensive line. Ray Edwards, Jared Allen, E.J. Henderson and Fred Evans all took part in the sack-fest, but the true credit goes to an excellent performance by the secondary. Manning just didn't have any options out there.
The lack of Percy Harvin was disappointing -- a shoulder injury kept him out. Aside from the quarterback competition, the way Harvin is utilized by the coaching staff is on the short list of things to watch this preseason. We didn't get any answers tonight but will hopefully get a taste of Harvin next week.
Best news of the night: Everyone stayed healthy. Berrian got nicked up, but his leg appears to be OK. Rosenfels came up limping after taking a hit early in the game, but he walked it off. Avoiding key injuries is obviously the biggest concern for any team during the preseason -- and so far, so good for the Vikings.
Update: Well, maybe I spoke too soon. Zulgad noted late Friday night that Berrian gingerly made his way from the locker room to the team bus, despite Chilly downplaying the injury.