Sunday, December 14, 2008

Vikes win Card game

OK, who all started Tarvaris Jackson in their fantasy league? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Exiled to the sports bar, the Vikings/Cardinals game was on the same TV as the Kansas City/San Diego game, which ran forever. I tuned in just in time to see a 3rd and 14 play (great) and see T-Jack drop back (uh-oh), heave a ball down the right sideline (going to be in the third row), which floats down to Bernard Berrian (great coverage, he'll never get it), who hauled it in (he'll go out of bounds), who then took it in for the touchdown (uhhh....).

What the hell do I know?

The game went pretty much exactly as I called it on Thursday, and Arizona was good enough to comply with our plans. The Cardinals completely ignored the run (seven called runs) while the Vikings played the pass and pressuring Kurt Warner (who was sacked four times and knocked down about 20 times) while running the ball down Arizona's throat all day long, to the tune of 44(!) runs for 239 yards. Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor combined for 231 yards and a 6.1 yard-per-carry average.

What I didn't expect was the good performance by Tarvaris Jackson. I'm not completely ga-ga over four TD passes -- the passes to Taylor and Sidney Rice were nondescript enough -- but the other two were beautiful. The two TD passes to Berrian and Bobby Wade couldn't have been thrown any better and while they required a nice play by each receiver to go for six, those are passes T-Jack simply doesn't make last year (or earlier this season). Again, 11 for 17 for 163 yards aren't eye-popping numbers, but T-Jack played basically error-free football, the kind he needs to play if he's going to be the Vikings quarterback going forward.

And you know, that might not be a bad thing. Not if he plays like he has the last game and a half and the Vikings commit to the run while playing good defense. That's a recipe for "Uh oh, NFC, watch out for the Vikings."

Now the Vikings are in the catbird's seat with regards to the NFC North. At 9-5, they still own a one-game lead over the 8-6 Bears, but they also own the tiebreaker with the Bears. That means they will win the division unless the Vikings go 0-2 down the stretch and the Vikings go 2-0. I can't believe I'm saying this, but...

Go Pack, go! Beat those Bears!

In the larger picture, the Vikings are in good position to secure the #3 seed in the NFC, now holding a one-game advantage over the 8-6 NFC West champion Cardinals, as well as the head-to-head tiebreaker. And, if things break incredibly well -- if the Vikings finish 2-0 (11-5) and the Carolina Panthers finish 0-2 (to also go 11-5), the Vikings would own tiebreaker over the Panthers, thanks to their victory over Carolina earlier in the season.

But that's all a ways off. Right now, let's just revel in the fact that the Vikings went into Arizona and emerged with their playoff dreams intact. Take that, Nate Poole.


Cdub said...

I think you gotta give more credit for the Sidney Rice pass-TD. He was covered, and they announcers said if Tjack had led Rice it would've been picked. Instead, he threw the ball to the spot that only Rice could catch it and hit him right in the chest. That's not a throw I've seen Tjack make, and a gutsy throw at that.

Let's hope this guy keeps his confidence, because boy he is just dangerous enough for this offense to work when he has it.

Jason said...

After seeing it again, I'll agree that was a well-placed pass to Rice. But I would have been fairly certain even T-Jack makes that play four out of five times. It's the accuracy and touch on the deep balls that really, really impressed me.

TBird41 said...

Vikings can get a bye if they go 2-0 and the loser of the Carolina-Giants game loses in Week 17 as well. If they beat the Falcons and the Panthers win, they control their own destiny when it comes to a bye.

Honestly cannot say I saw that one coming.