Yesterday afternoon, the Vikings and Lions engaged in one of the worst-played football games that you're going to see outside of a Pop Warner league. 10 total turnovers, 19 total penalties (12 on the beloved Purple. . .at least one of which was complete garbage, but more on that later), one of the worst damn announcing crews I've ever had the displeasure of listening to. . .it was all a pretty painful experience.
And yet, despite Tarvaris Jackson's four interceptions and all the penalties and everything else, the Vikings were still approximately 3" away from starting the season 2-0. Not that winning a game like yesterday's would have made me feel any better about the team's performance at Ford Field yesterday, but regardless of how it looks or how it comes about, Monday is always better after a Vikings' win than it is after a Vikings' loss.
So, in light of this, I'm going to borrow an idea from the website of a friend of mine. Now, when analyzing the game, we could use "Good/Bad" or "What Worked/What Didn't Work" or any of the boring, mundane standards that have been done before.
Not here, boy.
With this Game Review Thread, I would like to introduce what I call the "Scarlett/Rosie Scale" for things that were pretty about this game and things that were downright ugly. If I really need to detail which is which. . .well, just leave. Now. Before you hurt yourself or somebody around you.
The rest of the league can have their Tommie Harrises and their John Hendersons and their Shaun Rogerses and everyone else. . .for my money, there isn't anyone in the NFL that plays the defensive tackle position better than Kevin Williams
. A week after an incredibly athletic interception to score the Vikings' first points of 2007, he set up the tying touchdown yesterday by blowing by Damien Woody and pouncing on J.T. O'Sullivan as he attempted. . .well, I'm not sure what he was attempting, and it really didn't matter. O'Sullivan fumbled, and Ray Edwards jumped on the loose ball to pull the Vikings even with the Lions. On what was a relatively rough day for the Vikings' defense, #93 showed that he's the best in the NFL at what he does, and I'll argue that with anybody that wants to argue.
And you know. . .as good as Kevin Williams was yesterday, Tarvaris Jackson
was that bad. Yes, I know it was his second ever start on the road as an NFL quarterback. Yes, I know the Lions came after him relentlessly all day long. The thing is that the Falcons came after him all day long in Week 1, too, and Jackson showed SO much more composure against Atlanta than he did against Detroit. It's like we were watching two different quarterbacks. My friend Adam called me up after the game and said, "It's like he's been taught that if he's in trouble, he should just close his eyes and throw it." That's exactly what a couple of his interceptions looked like.
With that said, I still have faith in #7, and I think I can confidently say that he won't play another game that bad all year. He's a young quarterback, and ups and downs are to be expected. I just don't think that many people expected this to be one of the "downs." It wouldn't surprise me to see him balance this one with an "up" when we don't expect one.
You know, for a guy that every Green Bay fan I know tells me is too old, too slow, can't cover anybody, and can't tackle anyone. . .ol' Darren Sharper
seems to do alright for himself, doesn't he? Of the Vikings' five turnovers yesterday, #42 was directly responsible for three of them (his two interceptions and forcing a Roy Williams fumble late in the game that was recovered by Minnesota). He now has 50 career interceptions, and still has the most of any NFL player since 2000. I just hope that when he enters the Hall of Fame (and he'll get in at some point, I think. . .he's still got a few years left in him) he goes in as a Viking.
Tarvaris Jackson wasn't the only person to blame for the offensive problems yesterday. The playcalling, whether it was Darrell Bevell
or Brad Childress
or Floyd Schnelker or whoever was responsible, was atrocious. For example, in the first half of yesterday's game, the Vikings had three different drives where they found themselves in a 3rd and short situation (1 or 2 yards to go). The results?
3-1-DET 25 (9:29) 7-T.Jackson pass short middle intended for 40-J.Kleinsasser INTERCEPTED by 75-S.Cody (42-G.Alexander) at DET 22. 75-S.Cody to DET 20 for -2 yards (19-B.Wade).
3-2-MIN 42 (4:24) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete short right to 82-T.Williamson (25-F.Bryant).
3-2-MIN 22 (3:45) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete short left to 82-T.Williamson.
Yes, you've got a young quarterback, a left side of the line making a combined $100 million, and a dynamic young running back, and you're throwing the ball in critical third down situations. Eminently logical.
Yes, I know the Vikings' offense has been accused of being "boring." Well, you know something? Sometimes "boring" works just fine. Third and short, hand the damn ball to Adrian Peterson. . .or Chester Taylor. . .or Mewelde Moore. . .or Naufahu Tahi. . .or anybody, really.
It won't be often that I'll give Miss Johansson's company to a member of the opposition, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the performance of Jon Kitna
in yesterday's game. Now, I've given Kitna more than his fair share of crap on this site, and he's pretty much deserved most of it. . .but I'll be damned if that boy wasn't absolutely king-sized on Sunday afternoon. Coming back from the shot he took when his team needed him most showed what kind of heart the guy has. Make no mistake. . .this wasn't Brett Favre going into a game against coaches and doctors orders to throw a TD pass a couple of years back. Favre's always been a gloryhound. . .Kitna doesn't strike me as that kind of guy. He patiently waited on the sidelines, got checked up on, waited until he was medically cleared, and went back into the football game to lead his team. Kudos to Jon Kitna on a truly outstanding performance.
Bear in mind, I'm not going to blame the officiating
for the loss here. . .there were plenty of opportunities for both teams to capitalize on in this game, and neither of them did so. But one particular sequence just irks me to no end. On 3rd and 22, Spencer Johnson got to J.T. O'Sullivan right as O'Sullivan released a pass and took him to the turf. The pass was well incomplete. . .but that didn't matter, as the referees flagged Johnson for a late hit anyway. This led to the other play in that sequence, where O'Sullivan lobbed one up into the end zone for rookie Calvin Johnson, who committed one of the more blatant push-offs I've seen since Michael Irvin was still in the league, and nothing was called. Granted, there's a very good chance that Johnson comes down with that ball in a jump situation anyway, but still. . .I'm not sure why the referee felt compelled to keep the flag in his pocket for that one. The officiating was crappy on both sides, but that one particular sequence of plays angered me more than the others.
And as long as we're here, let's talk about the crappy announcing crew that Fox stuck us with, too. The biggest goof was at the end of the game when they said that the Lions were nearly into chip shot range for Jason Hanson. The problem? With where the Lions were at that time, it would have been a 56-yard attempt. How the hell do these guys define "chip shot," exactly? I know the Vikings aren't going to get a lot of high-profile announce teams this year. . .but good lord, have some kind of standards, Fox.
After everything that happened yesterday, there are a few things I'm sure of.
-Tarvaris Jackson won't play another game that bad all season
-We should go into the bye week at 3-1
-The pass defense will tighten up
-Chester Taylor will get healthy and start seeing the field more, increasing the number of things the Vikings can do offensively
That's the post-mortem on yesterday's game, folks. Continue enjoying your Monday to the fullest extent possible.