When Tarvaris Jackson is getting some third quarter playing time, and it's not because Brett Favre has been knocked out of the game, you know the Vikings have controlled the game and are winning convincingly. That was the case this afternoon, as the Vikings dominated the Seahawks in the first half and cruised to an easy win.
Sure, there were a few early stumbles, and the game remained scoreless after the first quarter. And for such a decisive win, Adrian Peterson's production was surprisingly limited by a Seattle defense that was committed to stuffing the run. But Brett Favre delivered one of his most efficient performances since becoming a Viking, completing a combined 19 passes to Visanthe Shiancoe, Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice. And the defensive effort by the Vikings was tremendous. The numbers tell the story of just how good this team was on defense.
The Vikings finished the game with 28 first downs; the Seahawks managed just 10, and many of those came after the result of the game was no longer in doubt. Seattle went 1/10 on third downs, but even more importantly, they finished the game with four rushing yards on 13 attempts. Their leading rusher, Justin Forsett, finished the game with nine rushing yards on nine attempts. If you want to see the story of this game, just look at the box score.
Matt Hasselbeck was fairly productive -- when Seattle actually had the ball. And the Seahawks didn't have the ball for long. The Vikings offense was on the field for over 42 minutes, finishing within striking distance of possessing the football for 75% of the game. Such dominance in a team's time of possession would normally imply an outstanding performance on the ground, but today, Favre was brilliant in controlling the tempo of the game.
If anything, Adrian Peterson's performance was below-average (by his standards). 24 carries for 82 yards, and he had a number of carries that either went for no gain or actually lost some yards. Seattle was completely focused on stopping the run, but they paid the price in the form of Favre's 213 yards and four touchdowns. This game just displays that teams need to pick their poison when facing the Vikings: Concentrate resources on stopping Adrian, and they risk Brett having a big day through the air. You can either get beat on the ground by the most exciting running back in the game, or you can get beat through the air by an MVP candidate. Your choice.
And on that note, I should add that the MVP chant was loud and clear at the Metrodome today. We knew Brett would be a great addition to this offense -- but I doubt anyone anticipated Brett being so efficient.
After Sidney caught a jump ball in the endzone from Favre, the win was sealed and T-Jack entered the game for about a quarter of playing time. Aside from a pass that probably should have been picked but somehow ended up in the hands of Sidney Rice, the mistakes were few and far between for Action Jackson. His final stat line: 6/8, 77 yards and a touchdown. He picked up right where Favre left off, in terms of running an efficient offense, controlling the ball, and controlling the pace of the game. Tarvaris did a nice job out there.
The 9-1 Vikings are at home against Chicago next weekend -- the 10-0 Saints are at home against the Patriots next Monday. The race for homefield has accomplished the unthinkable: We'll become Pats fans next week.