New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings: Five Big First-Half Surprises

Max MinskerCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2010

Who's better?
Who's better?Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Saints came out guns a' blazin in the season opener against the Vikings, scoring on their first drive in just five plays. Drew Brees passed for 148 yards and a touchdown, and Favre posted similar numbers, but with an interception. 

There were what I believe to be four big surprises in the first half of this huge season opener.

First, Visanthe Shiancoe is the game's leading receiver. Between the Saints high-powered passing offense and Minnesota's speedsters on the outside, I'm sure no one expected Minnesota's tight end to be the games leading receiver.

Shiancoe has always been a solid red-zone target, but he isn't known for making plays in the open field. Whether or not he can repeat his performance in the second half could determine a lot about how fantasy owners view him going forward.

The second big surprise is how ineffective the Saints offense was after the fist drive.

Most of the Saints' playmakers were nowhere to be found after that great first drive. The Saints had less than 200 yards of total offense and the Vikings were able to shut them down consistently with relative ease.

The Saints only ran three rushing plays in the first half. While everyone knows the Saints love to pass—three rushes? Really?

The third big surprise was the play of Pierre Thomas. Thomas barely even got on the field in the first half, and was largely ineffective for the few plays he was in. He ended up with two rushes and one reception combining for just one total yard.

I started Pierre Thomas in three different fantasy football leagues, and I am worried about his playing time this season. Reggie Bush got significantly more playing time in the first half, but I can't imagine they will continue passing at this rate which means more rushing. Which means more Pierre Thomas. Either way, I'm surprised by the amount of touches Bush received. 

The fourth big surprise of the first half was the impressive defense played by both teams. New Orleans managed to keep both Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre in check. They even forced Favre into an interception. Peterson was ineffective for the most part, and averaged less than five years per carry. 

The Saints defense was good, but I believe the defense played by the Vikings was far more impressive. Drew Brees and the Saints have arguably the best offense in the game, and the Vikings (depleted) secondary shut them down.

They started Lito Sheppard, Antoine Winfield, and Asher Allen at corner, which would seem to be no match for the Saints' prolific offense, but they really did a nice job after that first drive. I give the Vikings credit for just not allowing the Saints to go crazy. I expected Brees to have a huge game, but we'll see how the Vikes hold up in the second half.

Finally, the last big surprise was Garrett Hartley completely botching that 46-yard field goal.

I'm going to be honest, that was hard to watch. I have him on two of my fantasy teams, and I had to cringe when he missed that one. I think I could have kicked a better field goal than that. Hell, my sister could have done better than that. Mr. Hartley, please get better. Sincerely, a disgusted fantasy owner.

These are my five big surprises of the first half. Cross your fingers for a Pierre Thomas turnaround in the second half.