PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus — A year ago Brett Favre started slowly after joining the Vikings late and it didn't matter as Minnesota cruised past a woeful Cleveland team in its opener. This time, however, Favre's decision to arrive late definitely hurt his team as the Vikings lost to the world champion Saints. Favre often looked as if he was not on the same page as his wide receivers and the stats supported that. He completed 15 of 27 passes for 171 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a 71.7 passer rating. The only player Favre seemed to be in sync with was tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who caught four passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. No wide receiver caught more than one pass. Greg Camarillo, Percy Harvin, Greg Lewis and Bernard Berrian were targeted a combined 12 times but had only four receptions.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus — The Vikings made a surprising decision to go away from the run game in the second half after having success with it in the first. Adrian Peterson finished with 87 yards on 19 carries, but 57 of those yards and 13 of the carries came in the opening two quarters. The Vikings' run-to-pass ratio in the first half was 17 to 15 but that changed to six to 12 in the second. Peterson did see some time on third down, something that didn't happen much when Chester Taylor was around, and backup Albert Young got only three carries for 2 yards. Percy Harvin also rushed once for 2 yards. Rookie Toby Gerhart, a second-round pick, did not play because of a knee injury.
PASS DEFENSE: B — Despite having only three healthy cornerbacks dressed, the Vikings were able to do a nice job against Drew Brees. The Pro Bowl quarterback threw for 237 yards and a touchdown, but that score came on New Orleans' opening drive when Brees completed three of four passes, including a 29-yard touchdown that went to Devery Henderson and came at the expense of cornerback Asher Allen. Allen started at the right corner but the Vikings went nickel much of the game and moved Allen to the left corner in those situations with Lito Sheppard on the right and savvy veteran Antoine Winfield matching up against the slot receiver. Strong safety Husain Abdullah got his first career start and appeared to hold up just fine.
RUSH DEFENSE: B — The Saints accumulated 79 yards on 25 carries with almost all of it coming in the second half. New Orleans only attempted three rushes in the first half but then ran the ball 22 times for 70 yards in the second. The Vikings have one of the NFL's top rushing defenses and for the most part they were solid on Thursday. The Saints were able to gain 31 yards on their 11-play drive that ended with a Pierre Thomas 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C — Nothing special here. Bernard Berrian, who had some success on punt returns in 2008, only had 2 yards on two returns and muffed one that he recovered. Percy Harvin was able to return kicks and averaged 20.5 yards on two runbacks. Ryan Longwell made a 41-yard field-goal attempt but his extra point try late in the second quarter after Shiancoe caught a touchdown pass was blocked. Longwell also is back handling kickoffs after Rhys Lloyd failed to make the roster coming out of the preseason. Longwell did not have a touchback on three kickoffs but his first kick to open the game did go 2 yards deep into the end zone.
COACHING: C — The decision to go away from the run game in the second half was surprising, especially as Saints coach Sean Payton made the adjustment to try to balance his offense by running more. Childress also was unsuccessful on a challenge of a pass that he thought tight end Jim Kleinsasser had caught early in the fourth quarter. That cost him a timeout he could have used later in the game as the Saints ran out the clock. The bottom line, however, was that if Favre had a better game the Vikings would have won.
Grading the game: Saints
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