Before I get to the positive aspects of this game, let's get this out of the way. I have no idea what possessed this coaching staff to keep Favre on the field and blocking when the offense is running the Wildcat. I cannot even fathom the reasoning behind doing so. There was no harm done the first time the Vikings ran the Wildcat -- but in the third quarter, Favre was split out wide and made an illegal block on Eugene Wilson
with his throwing shoulder.
Are Chilly and Bevell kidding us? This guy is fragile when he's not throwing blocks on defensive backs. Again, I don't know what they could have possibly been thinking when having Favre blocking for the Wildcat, but that cannot happen again. Consider putting Jackson in the game -- he's a good fit for the Wildcat. This coaching staff took an absurd and unnecessary risk in this game, and obviously, there's no reason for Favre to be making blocks like that.
OK, moving beyond that single play in the third quarter, Favre's performance in Houston was hardly perfect and wasn't particularly memorable (aside from his block on Wilson). But he played well. After just over two quarters of play, he had completed 13 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown.
The offensive line was largely to blame when things went wrong for the passing game. Favre was often under pressure but he resisted the temptation to make ill-advised throws. Indeed, the old gunslinger only came close to getting a pass intercepted on one or two occasions during his playing time. But he was knocked around too much.
If you blinked during the second game of the preseason, you might have missed Percy Harvin's debut with the Vikings. However, he saw quite a bit more action this week, taking a reverse, returning two kickoffs, catching three passes from Favre, and debuting the Wildcat. Childress promised a Percy Harvin sampler coming into this game and he delivered. Harvin nearly broke the opening kickoff for a big gain (right before Adrian Peterson broke a 75-yard touchdown) and he slipped away from two defenders after making one of his three receptions.
Granted, Harvin came under a bit of criticism at some points during the game. He caught a ball on third down just inside the sticks, bringing up fourth down. It was a rookie mistake -- he just needs to be more aware of where the sticks are. Favre also targeted him with a nice throw when he was single-covered in the endzone. Harvin should have caught it but was inches short of making the grab. Another rookie mistake, and not a big deal.
As if anyone needed a reminder, Peterson gave everyone a refresher on why he's the best running back in the NFL -- and he didn't wait long to do so. And as if anyone needed a reminder, Chester Taylor gave everyone a refresher on why he's a tremendous pass-catching back. Speaking of Eugene Wilson, Taylor humiliated him with a nasty cut near the end of the first half -- and finished the play in the endzone for a 28-yard touchdown.
The sloppiness of the game was a major disappointment. Double-digit penalties for the Vikings in this one, and that's gotta drive Chilly absolutely nuts. Way too many unforced errors.
Things looked good on the defensive side. To be fair, the Texans pieced together a couple of good drives in the second quarter, with the most impressive lasting 11 plays and going for 71 yards. That's how you move the ball against this defense -- you piece together a bunch of short-gainers. Matt Schuab's completions on that drive went for nine yards, 11 yards, seven yards, 15 yards, and seven yards. He was extremely effective. But the Texans offense was shut down for the previous four drives, and the Vikings deserve credit for that.
The big story, though, is #4's performance in Houston. As was the case last week, he took too many hits. Houston put the pressure on, and although Favre avoided any big mistakes and made many smart decisions with the football, his protection simply must improve. He also threw one too many blocks. Don't let it happen again, Chilly.