My throat was scratchy when I woke up Monday. It seems that during the bye week my football cheering screams got out of practice. I spent my time speaking in dulcet murmurs at baby showers and my vocal chords got lax. However, it seems that relaxing and getting slightly out of practice was not solely a fan phenomenon during Sunday’s Minnesota Vikings victory over the Detroit Lions.
Coming off of an emotional victory against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, the Vikings had a bye week to kick back, relax, and recuperate from eight-weeks worth of wear and tear. In theory, they were supposed to come back refreshed and continue to play like they would become NFC north champions again. In reality, they may have been well rested, but they also seemed sloppy. How sloppy? The Vikings had 13 penalties for 91 yards. But, sloppiness aside, the Vikings hustled and hurried with moments of absolute brilliance to pull off another win, bringing their record to 8-1.
The Vikings defense maintained steady, demoralizing pressure on Detroit’s rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford. This kid had purple shirts rushing through his porous offensive line all afternoon. It’s a tribute to his ability to run and scramble that he was sacked only three times. Considering the sacks, tackles, and hurries he faced from the Vikings front four, I was impressed that he was able to complete 29 of 51 passes for 224 yards and no interceptions. Given an offensive line that is slightly more solid than Swiss cheese, there is no telling how dangerous Stafford will become, especially if the chemistry he’s developing with his receiver Calvin Johnson continues.
The Vikings defensive man of the hour was Ray Edwards. He was responsible for two sacks and five tackles. The only blight on Edwards’ afternoon was a penalty for roughing the passer that eventually resulted in Detroit’s sole touchdown of the game. Edwards’ was called for helmet-to-helmet contact on Matthew Stafford when he leaped over Maurice Morris to avoid a chip block. Coach Childress was so displeased with the call that he (again) called Mike Pereira, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, to make his feelings known before the post-game press conference.
The Vikings offensive play-calling must have been getting tired of being referred to as “boring” and “plain vanilla” in the press because they decided to try some razzle-dazzle. It didn’t work well. A bad pitch from Adrian Peterson to Percy Harvin on a reverse got the Vikings their first fumble of the game. After that, the razzle-dazzle was shelved in favor less interesting plays with a history of working.
The second fumble of the game was the result of a disgustingly good defensive play from Detroit cornerback Phillip Buchanon. Buchanon turned what looked like a touchdown run from Adrian Peterson into a turnover recovered in the end zone. Coach Childress wasn’t a fan of the calling on this play either, suggesting that Buchanon’s move bore a striking resemblance to an illegal horse-collar.
Apart from the two fumbles, Adrian Peterson had a good game, rushing for 133 yards, but Sidney Rice was the offensive story of the day. I would like to take this opportunity to state that I was saying Sidney Rice was beginning to bear a very favorable resemblance to Randy Moss weeks ago. However, it probably is a more convincing statement after he beasted his way to a 201-yard game. I don’t know if it is Brett Favre’s confidence in him that has helped Rice have a breakthrough season, but whatever it is, I hope it continues.
The Vikings came away with a convincing win against the Lions, only slightly marred by all the opportunities they gave the Lions to come back. Despite their record, you could see flashes of the talent developing in the Lions. Against tougher teams with good offensive chemistry (like the New Orleans Saints), it is going to be much harder for the Vikings to win if they give up 91 yards in penalties. I suspect that my cheering scream is going to get a work out in the next few weeks.
*This blog is also posted at vikingsmix.com under the name Skol Girl where you can find news stories and blogs about Minnesota Vikings football, a must for serious Vikings fans. Check it out.