Before we move along to tomorrow's matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, it's time to take one final look back at last week's 27-10 victory over the Detroit Lions. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for another installment of the Vikings Red Zone Review. Comcast brings you the NFL Red Zone channel every week, and it's your way to keep in touch with all the biggest plays from every NFL game week in and week out. It's great for fantasy players, or for the late games when you're not sure which game you want to view while celebrating the Vikings' latest conquest. The Red Zone Channel is your season ticket for every single NFL game, and nobody brings it to you like the folks at Comcast.
What kind of performance did the Vikings put together in the red zone last weekend? Let's have a look and find out.
Vikings Red Zone trips - 6
Vikings Red Zone scores - 4 (2 TD, 2 FG)
Red Zone touchdown percentage - 33%
Not the finest red zone performance the Vikings have put together this season, but it was good enough to get the job done.
The Vikings took the opening kickoff and immediately began moving downfield. Brett Favre was on early, connecting on a 12-yard pass to Bernard Berrian, a 13-yarder to Visanthe Shiancoe, and a 20-yarder to Sidney Rice. The pass to Rice set the Vikings up at their own 11-yard line, but after an 8-yard run by Adrian Peterson, a false start penalty on Jim Kleinsasser and a couple of misfires left the Vikings to settle for a 22-yard Ryan Longwell field goal to give themselves an early 3-0 lead. The Vikings' drive went 66 yards in 10 plays, taking 5:42 off of the clock.
After the Lions missed a field goal on their next drive to set the Vikings up at their own 38, Minnesota went to work again. Peterson carried the ball twice for 15 yards, and Favre found Rice on two different plays for a combined 30 yards, moving the Vikings to the Detroit 17-yard line. Then, on a play that looked to be pretty well-blocked, Peterson botched a pitch on a reverse to Percy Harvin, and the ball found its way to the turf. Defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill jumped on the loose ball for the Lions, and the Vikings' red zone efforts were thwarted in short order by the Lions' defense. The play call wasn't THAT bad, but the pitch by #28 was horrible. Ah, well. . .I'm sure the next time that play is called, the execution will be better.
Minnesota didn't see the red zone again until near the end of the first half, though they did score another touchdown on yet another Adrian Peterson "Holy cow, how did he do that" run to put themselves up 10-0. After another big pass to Rice for another 43 yards and a shorter completion to Shiancoe, the Vikings were inside the Detroit red zone again. The Vikings got down to the Lions' 8-yard line, and when faced with fourth and one and with unlimited weapons at their disposal, the Vikings tried to convert by. . .handing the ball to Jeff Dugan? (Actually, Dugan has been pretty good in one yard to go situations, but pretty much all of those came on third downs.) So, the Vikings had another unsuccessful red zone sojurn, and went into the locker room leading 10-3 when they could have had a lot more.
After the Lions fumbled on their first offensive play of the second half, the Adrian Peterson show started again, as he took the ball from the Lions' 28 and rumbled all the way to the 1-yard line, setting the Vikings up in the red zone again with first and goal. Peterson ensured that there would be no further drama, as he gained that one yard on the next play. The Vikings scoring drive went 28 yards in 2 plays, taking only 22 seconds of game time to accomplish, all of it gained by the best running back in the NFL.
To the Lions' credit, they responded to that score by putting up their only touchdown of the game, and the only trip they would make into the red zone on the afternoon, aided by a questionable call on Ray Edwards that negated a Minnesota fumble recovery. After a few punts were exchanged, we moved on to the fourth quarter of play, and on the first play of the quarter, Favre unleashed another huge bomb to Rice for 56 yards and another trip to the red zone at the Detroit 4-yard line. After a run by Peterson lost four yards, Favre rolled out to his left and found Jeff Dugan on a crossing route in the end zone, and Dugan made up for his earlier problems by hauling it in for an 8-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-10, Vikings, and effectively put the game out of reach. That Viking drive went 61 yards in four plays and took only 2:03 to complete.
The Vikings' final red zone journey was set up by another "holy cow" moment, this one supplied by Percy Harvin. Your 2009 Offensive Rookie of the Year took a short pass from Brett Favre, bounced off a Lions' linebacker, and turned what initially looked to be a 3-yard hitch into a 40-yard catch-and-run. A 21-yard pass to Shiancoe put the Vikings into the red zone. Unfortunately, the Vikings couldn't do anything else with it, and had to line up for a Ryan Longwell field goal try from 35 yards out. Longwell made it, of course, because. . .say it with me. . .that's what Ryan Longwell does. That drive moved 71 yards in eight plays, and gave us our final score of 27-10 in favor of the Beloved Purple.
The results of the game against the Lions mean that the Vikings, through nine games, have made 37 trips into the red zone this year. In those 37 trips, they've come away with touchdowns on 19 of those (51.3%), tacked on 12 Ryan Longwell field goals (32.4%), and failed to come away with points on six trips (16.2%). Their opponents, on the other hand, have entered the red zone 23 times, and have come away with 10 touchdowns (43.5%), seven field goals (30.4%), and have gotten nothing on six occasions (26.1%). Here's hoping that the Seahawks will give us a chance to improve our numbers both offensively and defensively.