Monday, September 18, 2006

The Morning After...

Another solid win for the Vikings in Week 2. The Panthers were a VERY popular pick to represent the NFC in this year's super bowl, 8 of the 12 ESPN "experts" had them winning the NFC and 2 had them winning the championship. Well, Chris Gamble better work on his punt return throw back if they plan to win any big games on the road this year.

In all seriousness this was another well played game by the Vikings as a team and winning games vs. good conference opponents are the games we'll look back on in December and be very thankful we came away with a W. We have now beat 2 teams that are expected to be in that mix of teams vying for a playoff spot. Beating them will only help in tie breakers for wild card or home field. Essentially we have a 3 game lead on Carolina and Washington. The Vikes can start airing their "it's not too late to get post season ticket priority" commercials any day now.

A month ago many would have looked at the first 5 games of our schedule and said 1-4 maybe 2-3 heading into the bye. Well things are now looking like 4-1 maybe even 5-0 before we take on Seattle and New England. This week vs. the Bears is another monster game for the purple.

My game balls go to...

  • Ryan Longwell - for accounting for all of our points this week. 4 FGs and a passing TD.
  • Napoleon Harris - I am a huge Napo skeptic, but he was huge this week accounting for 10 tackles and a big red zone sack.

Offense (B) - Chester Taylor looked very good and Brad was as gutty as I've ever seen him. But the O-line was dissapointing. It is easy to put it all on Marcus Johson and the right side of the line, but Hutch was beat once and McKinnie was beat a couple times that I saw. In their defense this is hands down the best D-line we'll see all year, but Brad has to be pretty bruised today. The offense failed to score any points, had stupid penalties twice in the red zone and performed an abysmal 2-15 on 3rd down. With that said they got it done when they had to and had a nice drive in OT to secure the win.
QB (B+) - Brad had Julius Peppers in his face on virtually every play and still managed to complete 61% of his passes and post 243 yards.
RB (A-) - Taylor looked pretty good in my opinion. Much better rushing average this week and put up 113 while making guys miss once he got into space. Taylor is the best rushing threat we have had a few years.
WR/TE (B) - Williamson had the best game of his young career as he continues to look like a favorite target of Brad's. The rest of the crew was very quiet, someone needs to step up as a possession receiver so Troy can get downfield.
OL (C-) - I will grant that this D-line was very good if not the best in the League, but if you want to be considered one of the best O-lines you need to perform better than this against elite competition. Part of the blame has to be on the coaching staff for not giving better help toward Peppers, but this group could have done better.

Defense (A) - The defense came up big again this week. In the 2nd half we held Carolina to 102 yards, 6 points and came up huge in the OT period with a big sack (ruled imcomplete pass) on 3rd down to force the punt. We also forced 2 red zone FGs giving us 5 big red zone stops on this short season.
DL (B+) - I was hoping for this group to dominate the game more with the Panther's injuries on their O-line, but all in all these guys came up big. Both Williams boys made some big plays in the backfield and as a group they put serious pressure on Delhomme in the 4th qtr and OT.
LB (A+) - Napolean Harris finally had a breakout game. Defensive player of the game (for MN) with a huge red zone sack and 10 tackles. EJ had 5 tackles but had a couple nice coverage plays that will not show up in the stat book.
DB (B+) - Smoot and Smith both supported the run defense well and the group as a whole allowed only 164 yards passing (41 in the 2nd half). Keyshawn had a pretty good game with 5 catches for 106 yards, but I'd like to see how many times he was thrown to.

Special Teams (A+) - Good teams will have their special teams win about 1 game per year for them. No doubt that ST won this one for us. Recovering the Gamble fumble, Longwell creating a QB controversy, Longwell connecting on 4 FGs including the game winner again and Kluwe redeaming himself with a 46.3 punt average after 38.0 last week.

Coaching (A) - Once again we looked prepared and ready for the game. Opening drive was crisp and should have resulted in 7 points were it not for a stupid holding penalty inside the 10. The preparation for and execution of the fake FG was a much better gameplan than a reverse punt return. And the level of calm and poise of the entire team that elevates as the game progresses is encouraging.

Now it is on to the Bears. This will be the 1st of 3 games vs. Chicago this year, the winner of this game should decide who will host the other in the NFC Championship game!!

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