Thoughts by: Matthew Deery
The Minnesota Vikings did not waste time this past Sunday letting their rival Packers know who the best team in the NFC North really is. Not a great start for Vikings fans when first quarter miscommunication between Favre and the Center John Sullivan gave the Packers the football deep in Minnesota territory. Fortunately this was the Vikings first half defense which did not allow the Packers any breathing room and only allowed Green Bay to gain 2 yards. This held the Packers to a field goal, their only points of the first half.
Percy Harvin, enter stage right. What can I say about this kid that I haven't already? Vikings fans have become so accustomed to watching Percy do whatever he wants on the football field. His game is starting to resemble greatness similar to that of our monster running back.
After the Packers put the game's first points on the board Percy wasted no time dashing Packer fan's euphoria about their small lead by taking the ensuing kickoff 77 yards all the way to the Green Bay 14 yard line.
For all the people who said Childress and Bevell call a dangerously conservative game plan (me), prepare to get your mind blown. Childress decided to go for a 4th and 1 on the Packers goal line. Big pay off because AP punched it in for the 1 yard score.
Surprisingly, this was not the only time Childress went for it on 4th in this game. The second time around the Vikings failed to get the 1st down, but gutsy on Childress's part. I commend him for it. A touchdown in the second situation would have put the Vikings up 24-3 in the first half. That is what I like to call going for the jugular; my hat is off to you Brad.
The Packers next three drives after the Vikings touchdown gained a total of 7 yards. This can be accredited to the Vikings relentless pursuit of Aaron Rodgers by sacking him 3 times on those possessions.In the first half the Minnesota defense looked decisive in pass coverage, tackled well, and got pressure by rushing only four lineman. The only good trend to carry into the second half however, was the four man pressure. The pass coverage was still decent in the second half, but not shut down like the first half. I expected the Packers to be able to move the ball through the air on our already weakened pass defense (but for the second straight week the Vikings coverage held their own) because Ryan Grant obviously could not run the rock on the Vikings defense.
Honestly, you have to expect a smart and strong armed quarterback like Rodgers with two top tier wide outs and a strong supporting WR core to have success and score against any defense. Need proof? Check Greg Jennings 4th quarter touchdown with a Vikings defender draped all over him. The Vikings secondary did fine work Week 8 against the potent Packer passing attack.
After Percy Harvin hauled in his 3rd receiving touchdown of the year on a 51 yard strike to put the Vikings up 24-3, the Packers went on to score 17 unanswered points. This put the score at 24-20, way too close for any Minnesota fan who was enjoying a comfortable football game.
The Vikings defense is going to get chewed out when they sit down and watch game film of the second half with their coaches. The defense went from a solid all around first half to forgetting how to wrap a guy up and tackle. I could not believe all the extra yards the Packer players were getting after contact. In football lingo, we call that YAC (yards after catch). Credit to the Packers for fighting for those extra yards, but shame on the Vikings for giving up so much more ground with poor tackling. Even Chad Greenway's dynamite first half was tainted by some ugly tackling. I hope the coaching staff stresses the importance of sure tackling over the Bye Week.
If Viking ineptitude becomes a reoccurring theme I am going to post a weekly Idiot of the Week. The winner for Week 8 is Brian Robison. He receives the award for picking up a squib kickoff and fumbling because the Packers are terrified of Percy Harvin. Does Robison think he has a #12 on his jersey?
This play happened just after the Vikings defense held Green Bay to another field goal from the Minnesota 7 yard line! I'm sure most of you can't forget Rodgers about to scramble off into the end zone when big Pat Williams grabbed the quarterback's arm out of the air and ripped him to the turf. Huge stop for the Vikings defense.
The Robison fumble from that kickoff put the defense back on the field with literally no rest on the sideline and horrible field position starting at their own 41. If anyone noticed, that was when the momentum changed and the Packers scored two straight Havner touchdowns.
Well, I am so happy to say that Brett Favre is my quarterback because it feels good having him dominate for my team rather than dominate my team like he did for 16 seasons. I used to watch Favre do this to my purple all the time when he played for the Packers. The Vikings would score, but then he would march down the field with almost disgusting ease. A fourth quarter lead never meant anything as long as there was enough time for Brett to mount a drive. He did it all the time, and I hated it, and I hated him. But now I can see how good it feels to be on the winning side of the equation. How ironic it is to have Mr. Viking killer, killing his old team with 4 touchdowns at his old stomping grounds, sacred Lambeau.
Favre responded when the Packers were within four points. He lead the Vikings deep into Green Bay territory by throwing a 3rd and 2 touchdown pass to the TE Dugan. Of course this was all set up by the 48 yard kick return from Percy when the Packers did indeed kick to him again. Idiots, they were afraid. Percy also hauled a 15 yard pass on 3rd and 7 to continue the scoring drive. Favre is so clutch. Two big time 3rd down plays on that possession.
The Packers went on to score again by moving the ball with huge passing plays and that amazing touchdown catch that will be forever featured on Greg Jennings highlight reels.
The Vikings quickly responded. The nail in the coffin for the Packers was set up by the screen pass erupted into 44 yards deep into Green Bay territory by AP. Favre then threw his 4th touchdown, this time on 3rd and 11 to Bernard Berrian. Clutch.
Game, set, match.
IMPORTANT THINGS FROM THE GAME:
#1 Brett Favre is obviously the man. He not only has led the Vikings to a 7-1 record, but his stats against his former team are the most impressive. Favre has thrown for 515 yards, 7 touchdowns, and no interceptions vs. Green Bay. Talk about a slap in the face, huh Packer fans? I think Favre's most impressive stat of the season are his 3 interceptions. Remember that 2 of those interceptions were caused from tipped passes. Who would have thought that Favre could still be a dominant Quarterback without throwing interceptions. It is wonderful to see Brett embrace a more conservative role at his position and still dominate. Favre is 4th in the NFL in passer rating only behind #3 Drew Brees, #2 Peyton Manning, and guess who at #1? Yes sir, Aaron Rodgers. Just if the Packers could keep him from getting sacked.
#2 Favre going back and winning at Lambeau should be the headline, but all fans who watched the game know the real story. Percy Harvin = Offensive Rookie of the Year. For those faithful readers, you know that I predicted Percy winning this award Week 1. Now it is almost a certainty. He could break his leg tomorrow and still win. It is nice to see Percy get some national recognition (see ESPN's story here) which now would be impossible to avoid after what he did to the Packers. Percy had 5 receptions for 84 yards and 1 touchdown, on top of the 175 return yards he racked up. That is 259 total yards for Week 8! It is hard to believe we have a player on offense that is as dangerous as #28.
#3 Chad Greenway had a monster game at the Linebacker position. Despite Greenway having a less impressive second half, his first half work was enough to warrant him getting props from yours truly. He had 11 total tackles, 10 of them solo. Chad's most impressive play of the game came when he dove from out of the play to bat down a pass from Rodgers just as it was about to reach the waiting arms of James Jones on a 3rd down play.
#4 Aaron Rodgers was bombarded by our defensive line in Week 8. The Vikings took Rodgers to the turf for 6 sacks giving them a total of 14 sacks in their two meetings with the Packers. This time around was even more impressive than the first. The Packers obviously stressed the importance of protecting Rodgers in their game planning for this week but still could not protect their Quarterback. Jared Allen got 3 sacks, which gives him 7.5 against the Packers this season and also put him at #1 in the NFL at 10.5 total sacks. Ray Edwards continued to enforce his will with 2 sacks while Big Pat Williams flattened Rodgers for the other sack. The most important stat Vikings fans should pay attention to is that all these sacks came from our defensive line. The first game the Vikings had blitz too much to get pressure on Rodgers. Week 8 the Vikings rushed four and still were in Rodgers jollies.
#5 How many times was Favre sacked during the two match ups vs. Green Bay you ask?? How does ZERO sound?? Gotta protect the old man.
#6 Favre continues to use all his weapons in the passing game. Bernard Berrian looked solid after re aggravating his hamstring last Sunday. His best catch came when he willed himself into the end zone to put the ice on Sunday's NFC North Battle.
Sidney Rice has his quietest game in a few weeks, but still worked in 4 catches for 40 yards. Shiancoe caught his 6th touchdown of the season too making him #2 in touchdown receptions for a TE. Our passing game is a thing of beauty.
#7 Last but certainly not least is the man known as "The Diesel." He showed he will not be stopped by the Packers and their 3-4 defense. Last week I predicted 100+ rushing yards, he finished with 97. He made up for those 4 yards by taking his only reception 44 yards down the field to set up the Vikings final touchdown. He played very well, but he is yet to have his best game.
In my opinion AP is still dancing at the line of scrimmage too much. I think his game is better served when he hits the holes running hard, but he is still dominating none the less.
4 IMPORTANT THINGS FROM WEEK 8:
#1 The New Orleans Saints are not unbeatable. In their MNF match up the Saints squeaked out a win vs a tough Atlanta squad, an Atlanta squad the Minnesota Vikings are much better than. The Saints are considered by most the best team in the NFL at 7-0 and have looked impervious to anything NFL teams threw at them in the first part of the season. Well I had my first hard look at the Saints on Monday, and they are beatable...very beatable.
The Falcons had a chance to go ahead of the Saints in the 4th quarter if it wasn't for a beautiful defensive play from Johnathan Vilma where he tipped a possible touchdown pass into his teammates hands for a Saints interception. The Vikings have a defense that compares to the Falcons, but I would give the edge to the Vikings defense because of the pressure we can put on opposing Quarterbacks. That is the way to beat the Saints, pressure Drew Brees.
Our offense is just as powerful as the Saints. We could go punch for punch with them on the offensive side. The Saints have a soft defense that cannot stop the run, intercepts a lot of passes setting up their offense for scores, and gives up tons of points. As I stated above, Favre doesn't throw interceptions or get confused by defensive schemes. We have the best running back in the NFL. We score a ton of points. Advantage Vikings.
#2 The undefeated Colts are beatable too. The scrappy 49ers defense gave the Colts high powered offense a lot of trouble. The Colts only scored 18 points. I also cannot believe the Colts defense has given up the fewest points in the NFL with 91. But honestly the Colts have played one of the easiest schedules with their only real competition coming from the 49ers and I would even say the Dolphins too. Thankfully the Colts have a tough four weeks approaching with match ups against the Patriots, Ravens, and two against the Texans.
#3 The Dallas Cowboys and Phildelphia Eagles have emerged in the NFC East. Both had convincing victories over their competition this weekend. The Eagles victory much more impressive as they stomped the slumping Giants. What happened to the Giants? They have not even been compettive in their match ups during their three game losing streak. The best part about the Eagles and Cowboys...they play on Sunday night for sole possession of first place in the difficult NFC East.
#4 The RAMS won a game! Some guy said the Rams were as bad as last years 0-16 Lions, and this proves they are not. Steven Jackson rolled through the, well Lions defense to win the game in the 4th quarter. With a beast like that in your backfield,, no NFL team could go win-less.