Final game analysis for the Minnesota Vikings
Pass Offense: Despite one extremely impressive drive with Jerome Simpson, the Vikings passing offense floundered. At times, the offensive line allowed far too much pressure. But even with a clean pocket, Ponder couldn't get the ball in scoring position, and the Vikings converted two of 10 third downs because of it. Wild throws, poorly placed balls and receiver miscues meant the passing offense couldn't help the Vikings out when Peterson struggled.
Run Offense: Adrian Peterson's statistics speak better to how well the Vikings ran than the actual game did—despite amassing two rushing touchdowns and 5.2 yards per carry, Peterson couldn't actually get much yardage on the majority of his runs, averaging less than a yard on every carry but the first. The line couldn't open up a lot of holes and the Vikings are clearly missing Jerome Felton.
Pass Defense: The Vikings defense had huge holes in the middle, and the Lions exploited it by passing deep at times and shallowly at other times on tunnel screens. Both plays were extremely successful, much to the Vikings chagrin. When challenged outside, the Vikings had mixed results, but penalties certainly didn't help.
Run Defense: Reggie Bush combined for over 190 rushing and receiving yards, and more of it had to do with the Vikings run defense than Bush's admittedly impressive talents. Missed tackles, missed cues and poor gap assignment was the story of the day for the Vikings run defense, and the coaching staff needs to take a close look at the linebacker situation to see if something needs to be solved.
Special Teams: The Vikings special teams unit had a mixed day. Another long field goal from Blair Walsh highlighted why he's been such a good choice for the Vikings, but the rookie punter Jeff Locke hasn't started the same ways. He started off the game with short punts and ended it by occasionally outkicking the coverage, not showing the promise he had in the preseason. While other special-teamers did well, the ambivalence of the specialists drags down their grade.
Coaching: Not having an answer to Reggie Bush is bad, but conservative and predictable play-calling on both sides of the ball is nearly inexcusable. Almost every first down started with an Adrian Peterson run and there wasn't much else left to the imagination, either. Without a respectable game plan or general success in play-to-play strategy, the coaching staff didn't avail itself well.
First-half analysis for the Minnesota Vikings
Pass Offense: Two interceptions and a dropped pick that would have gone for a touchdown highlight the Vikings pass offense, which didn't do well even without the turnovers. Slow off of his reads, Christian Ponder's decisions haven't been extraordinary, but he has had a highlight pass or two. Jerome Simpson looks much better than last year already, but was responsible for one of the picks. Nevertheless, he's been the best of the receivers.
Run Offense: Aside from one long run by Adrian Peterson, the Vikings haven't been able to run the ball very well. A combination of obvious runs, poor offensive line blocking, a learning Zach Line and a bit too much patience from Adrian Peterson has produced massive inconsistency. Nevertheless, Peterson has displayed his natural talent in his two touchdowns.
Pass Defense: The Vikings passing defense looks far worse than its already-poor statistics and only has a solid defensive line to credit for positive play, which tipped three passes and created constant pressure. Three dropped passes by Lions receivers have saved the Vikings more than their talent has, and they'll need to produce more in the second half to bring out the win.
Run Defense: A surprising showing by the Lions has produced a solid set of runs for the Lions, and the Vikings can be blamed for allowing too many holes to open up. Combining to allow 63 yards in the first half to running backs on the ground, they've only produced a few stops and allowed a goal-line touchdown to seal the half.
Special Teams: The ancillary players have been good, and the Vikings have fielded excellent gunners, but the specialists are a mixed bag. Kicker Blair Walsh has been fine in producing touchbacks, but rookie punter Jeff Locke has been producing short and returnable punts.
Coaching: While the Vikings are clearly the more disciplined of the two teams on the field, conservative play-calling on both sides of the ball has set the team back, and the coaches are lucky that the Vikings are winning at the half. Halftime adjustments and more variety in their play-calling will be the keys to returning to the field with force.
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