So the regular season has begun. By now, you probably have all heard about two or three things related to the game: A.)Percy Harvin gave the Vikings possibly their best start to a season in franchise history with a 103-yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown ( during which he also knocked one of the top kickers in the game out for the season--next time you'll know your role Nate Kaeding), B.) Donovan McNabb and our passing game compiled a whopping 39 yards, and C.) the game ended after 3 encroachment penalties, including ones on back-to-back snaps. I first cannot describe the great mood I was in on Sunday. I rarely take the initiative to start boozin' when I am alone, but the return of NFL football en masse was enough to get me pounding down some brewskies in excitement. By the end of a great first half by the Vikes, my mood definitely hit it's peak for the day. Up 17-7, we looked in good position to walk out of week 1 undefeated. Yes, the Chargers shot themselves in the foot with unnecessary penalties occasionally and missed a sure touchdown pass as King Laserface Phillip Rivers floated one just out of the reach of one Vincent Jackson, but the boys were playing good defense, tackling well and getting some strong pressure at times on the QB. The second half was absolutely mind-numbing. I really can't even tell you what I was watching. Swing pass, swing pass, 10-yard in to Gates. Repeat as necessary. The offense showed me nothing. I'm not even positive they ever came on the field, to be honest.
Things I Liked:
The 1st Half. - It started out great. Unreal even, I might say. Percy took that ball to the house and it was just the greatest way I've ever gotten to start out a Vikings season. Then, we stopped the Chargers and forced a 3-and-out. Donovan McNabb's interception was a great play by Shaun Phillips, but it must have been telegraphed or something because they were all over that play. Adrian busted a huge run and showed why he is worth $40 million in guaranteed money. Jared Allen got a half sack, defended one pass and intercepted another (yeah, I know he did that in the second half, but whatever sue me) as well as Antoine Winfield picking Rivers off at the end of the half. Basically, our stars came out to play. Unless you count Donovan as one of our stars.
Special Teams. - As mentioned earlier, Percy housed the first kickoff and took out Nate Kaeding in the process. Noice. Chris Warcraft had a couple nice punts as well, and we made the kicks we took. Also, they didn't get much of anything on any of their returns.Everson Griffin may be one of our new coverage teams studs. I'd love to see an athletic 270-pound dude gunning downfield with nothing but complete and utter destruction of the return man on his mind for the whole season. Overall, good day for the special teams unit.
Things I Didn't Like:
The 2nd Half. - Pretty self-explanatory if you watched the game, any highlights of the game, or even read a single sentence about the game. We did absolutely nothing on offense in the second half. Where were our receivers? If the Chargers were so good at stopping AP every time on the ground in this half, were they at the same time also blanketing our receivers? Because the only open person I saw all day was Michael Jenkins in the 1st half (nice 1st career TD as a Viking, BTW). I predicted Percy Harvin would be a beast this season. Going strictly off of memory, I don't think he had a single catch in the second half. 2 catches for 7 yards is NOT beast mode, Percy. This guy has the potential to be Wes Welker with better speed and running abilities. Figure out a way to get him open.
Our O-line played great in the first half for the most part, but in the second half it collapsed. Sure, D-Mac didn't have a lot of time back there, but that doesn't excuse his performance. It was so terrible I can't even pinpoint why. During the telecast, the announcers never really referred to any great pass coverage that was being played, so I can only wonder why it was that we seriously couldn't even complete a pass. Bill Musgrave, Leslie Frazier, SOMEBODY, please figure out how to get more than 39 yards through the air next week or not only will it be the end of the Donovan McNabb era soon, it will be the end of yours as well. Our defense played valiantly, but when you put them out there for nearly 2/3 of the game against one of the best, if not the best quarterback in the league (also the leader of last year's #1 offense), what do you expect? 24 points probably should have been 34,37 or 41 in my calculations between the missed Jackson TD pass, the 4th-and-20 that could've been 3 had Norval known more about his own punter, and the forced INT at the end of the 1st half. I give credit to the defense, but understand the result should have probably been uglier than it was.
Not Having #93. - K-Will, please come back soon. After the final drive on which three, count 'em, three encroachment penalties occurred, I was ready to run to San Diego and choke out Letroy Guion with his own used game sock. Our run defense was alright, but that's because teams choose to pass against us instead, because it has been so much more effective. We missed Kevin Williams on that last drive especially, when everyone in the building knew the run was coming. We also missed him for the rest of the game, where we got no pressure on Philip Rivers up the middle without blitzing. Having good rushing ends is great and all, but without a stout pass rusher in the middle, that QB can simply step up in the pocket and let those ends rush right past him. With Big #93 coming up the gut, that option ain't always available. You can also bet that he would've never committed such egregious penalties in crunch time the way Guion and Fred Evans did, either. By the way, is Letroy still on our team? Benny Sapp got cut for giving up one pass. If this were the Dolphins, and thank God we aren't, he would've probably gotten axed in the middle of that drive. Thanks for nothing.
Honestly, this game was not fun to watch. I am looking forward to our next game, the home opener against Tampa Bay! Keep in mind, this team that we almost just beat is a lot of pundits' favorite to go to the Super Bowl, and had the #1 offense and defense last season. So don't go burying the Vikings this quickly just because of a god-awful half. The Bucs lost to the Lions last week at home, with the Lions actually making quite a few mistakes from what I've read. This is a game that the Vikings should win if they expect to be in the playoffs. 0-2 is a hole that we do not want to see the bottom of, and the home opener needs to be a victory if we are going to get off to the start we want. I think the Vikings get a little redemption and pull it out to the tune of 27-17. Til then, have a good one people.