Sunday, October 18, 2009

6-0...but just barely

At the start of the season, you might have thought the over/under for the game to be around 30, but I wouldn't be shocked if each team managed 30 points.

I said that yesterday, but I wasn't hoping it would turn out quite like that.

At the start of the season, I thought our defense would win games for us and that Brett Favre would lose them, but I'm turning nearly a full 180 on that assessment. I continue to be amazed by Favre's play, especially his affinity for Sidney Rice, who had a career-high 117 yards receiving on Sunday. And Adrian Peterson was his usual excellent self, bracketing his performance with a pair of good runs in the first and final Vikings scoring drives and finishing with 143 yards on 22 carries.

But what in the name of Carl Eller and Joey Browner is happening with the defense?

We can now officially dismiss the notion that the Vikings' mediocre defensive numbers (14th in yards/game and 9th in points per game) is due to the team giving up chunks in garbage time or with backups in the game. This weeks excuse du jour will be the absence of Antoine Winfield. Karl Paymah certainly looked overmatched and Tyrell Johnson rarely provided any help at safety, but Winfield alone couldn't have made every play. The disastrous fourth quarter, which nearly cost the team the game, was a study in missed tackles, bad downfield coverage, and inability to get off blocks. The final tally: 385 passing yards for Joe Flacco, 194 total yards for Ray Rice, and three Baltimore TDs in just over five minutes.

Rice's numbers are especially galling. Except for his two touchdown runs of 22 and 33 yards, he was completely bottled up, with eight other carries for 22 yards. For a while, it looked like the old Vikings rushing defense was back. Then, suddenly, big holes materialized and Rice strode virtually untouched into the end zone.

Now, the Vikings, who have played all three of their home games against teams with winning records and have squeaked out wins against all three (3 points vs. S.F., 7 points vs. Green Bay, and 2 points vs. Buffalo) have their next two on the road against 4-2 Pittsburgh and 3-2 Green Bay (which will likely be 4-2 after a road trip to Cleveland next week). Both teams have their flaws, but both also like to throw the ball. Let's hope Winfield (not to mention Peterson and Percy Harvin) comes back soon.

1 comment:

rakeback said...

Brett Favre looks primed to make a run at another Super Bowl and with a 6-0 record, 110 qb rating, and 70% completion percentage, he has to be in the top 3 in the MVP race so far!