I apologize for the tardiness in getting this up here, folks. Had a lot of stuff going on after yesterday's game, and haven't been able to get it on the site before now.
As I mentioned in the Game Thread comments early on yesterday, just after the Vikings had scored 14 points in the game's first 95 seconds and people started talking about a blowout. . .these are the Vikings. The Brad Childress Vikings. The Brad Childress Vikings don't "blow teams out" with any sort of regularity. The modus operandi of the Brad Childress Vikings is to play teams close, slug it out until the end of the game, and hope that either a) your team makes a big play, or b) the other team commits a massive screw-up.
But, yesterday afternoon, the Jaguars seemed bound and detemined to get blown out, and the Vikings. . .for once. . .happily obliged.
The game started off with a play that I don't think I've seen before in my years of being a football fan. David Garrard lined up in the shotgun, called for the snap, and Jags' center Brad Meester snapped the ball. . .approximately 6 inches or so. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, Garrard was about 7 yards behind Meester at the time. The Vikings' Napoleon Harris alertly pounced on the fumble, sprinted 26 yards, and the Vikings had a 7-0 lead a whole 13 seconds into the ball game.
After a Jacksonville fumble on the ensuing kickoff, the Vikings found themselves with first and goal on a run by Chester Taylor and an end-around by Bernard Berrian. Then, Frerotte handed the ball to Taylor again, and Taylor put on the most beautiful move executed by a Vikings' running back since Adrian Peterson humiliated Kenoy Kennedy at the Metrodome last season, and the Vikings were up 14-0. As you can see by the final score, that turned out to be all the points Minnesota needed. . .but not after making things a little more interesting than they needed to be.
The Vikings were outgained by the Jaguars yesterday by a count of 321 yards to 226, and Maurice Jones-Drew put together what has got to be the quietest 113-yard receiving performance the league has seen in a long time. I know I had to do a double-take when I looked at the box score. Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor, considered by some to be the best running back duo in the league not comprised of backs named "Adrian Peterson" and "Chester Taylor," combined for 24 yards on 9 carries. David Garrard did throw for 317 yards, but only one of those passes found the end zone, and two of them found the hands of Minnesota defenders. He was also sacked four times, a component that was missing in the Vikings' 19-13 loss to Tampa Bay.
The Vikings won despite another lackluster performance from Gus Frerotte. . .and "lackluster" is being generous. Don't get me wrong. . .I'm sure that Gus is a fine human being, and he's a very scrappy competitor and all that. But you'd think that a guy that's been in the league for as long as #12 has would know that there are times when nothing's happening that you need to take the ball and throw it into the fifth row of the stands rather than do something crazy with it. Crazy things like. . .I don't know. . .throwing across your body while rolling out and overshooting your closest target by 10 yards en route to throwing an INT. Or rolling out on 1st and goal from the 2 and losing 10 yards on a sack rather than throwing the ball away.
The latter of those two incidents brings me to my Brad Childress complaint from yesterday, and an illustration of why this team rarely blows anybody out, despite all their talent. The Vikings lined up on that series with 1st and goal at the 2-yard line. They have the best running back tandem in the league on the sidelines. They have a huge offensive line that had been getting good push on the entire series.
Why on earth, then, would you call a designed rollout for a guy with very limited mobility in that situation? Why would you just not slam Peterson and/or Taylor into the line anywhere between 1 and 4 times, take your touchdown, and be happy that you've put the game away?
At times like this, Childress reminds me of a guy that's playing video games with his little cousin. You know that if you're playing your little cousin and you start winning by too many, he's going to start whining and crying and throwing things. . .so you start calling plays and doing dumb things to try to let him at least get close again. He doesn't have any killer instinct at all. He gets his foot on a team's throat, and is content to let them back up again. At some point, this really needs to change. This team has too much talent to try to go the distance in a slugfest every week. . .it would be nice for the Vikings to not just knock a team down early, but then jump on them and continue pounding away until their opponents just lose their desire to fight back.
Other than those two minor quibbles, there's not a lot to be sad or angry about with yesterday's game, and there's never any need to apologize for a win. The Vikings are 6-5, and will spend this week in no worse than a first-place tie in the NFC North. They also have a HUGE game coming up in prime time on Sunday night against the team they're currently tied with, the Chicago Bears. Every week for the last few weeks has been the biggest game of the year for the Beloved Purple, and Sunday night's matchup is no different.
While the Vikings prepare for that, they also await word from the league office about the fate of Pat and Kevin Williams. . .a decision that will have a massive impact on the final five games of the regular season. Whatever happens over the course of this week, we'll be here to talk about it, even over this holiday week. Continue enjoying the rest of your evening, ladies and gentlemen, and GEAUX SAINTS!!