The Vikings set a franchise record with their consistent lack of sacks lately. Just as surprising and damaging was the defense's inability to stop the run late in the game. Plus, get more than 30 notes that help tell the tale of the game.
The Vikings set a huge negative team milestone Sunday when they once again didn't record a sack.
The team has just six sacks through seven games and has none in the last three. At no time in franchise history has the team gone three games without getting a sack, according to the FOX broadcast statisticians.
It's even more curious considering they led the league with 48 sacks last year.
Just as harmful on Sunday was the Vikings' inability late to stop the run.
"I think they got a little bit of their counter game going inside," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "You know, pulling the linemen and then obviously that kind of broke our back."
There will be plenty of controversy surrounding the decision to go for a touchdown late in the first half from the 1-yard line. Coming into the game, Adrian Peterson had been a perfect 7-for-7 in third-and-1 situations, but had already been stuffed once earlier in the game to end the streak. The Vikings tried the right side and it was a disaster. Phil Loadholt was pushed backward, Ryan Cook did nothing, Naufahu Tahi clogged the running lane and Peterson pinballed off Tahi and Loadholt before being brought down. The decision could have given the Vikings a 14-7 lead with the knowledge they would get the ball to start the second half. Monday morning QBs will say you take the points on the road and don't risk it.
"The big thing was to be aggressive," Childress said. "Seven points was huge there and obviously they kneeled down to come out of the half, to get out of the half. But we thought we had a good play called there and thought we had it blocked up pretty good and gave ourselves a chance. And we're gonna need seven points there, we thought, as opposed to those threes."
Brett Favre set yet another milestone Sunday, throwing his 10,000th career pass – a completion to Percy Harvin.
With the win, Tom Brady has won 24 straight games at Gillette Stadium and has won 19 of his last 20 regular-season games against the NFC.
The Vikings got in the red zone four times, coming away with two touchdowns and field goal and a turnover on downs. The Patriots got in the red zone three times and scored three touchdowns.
The goal-line stand against the Vikings late in the first half was the first time all season a New England opponent got in the red zone and didn't come away with points.
The Vikings dominated in most statistical categories (at least early in the game). The Vikings finished with 410 total yards (285 passing, 125 rushing), while the Patriots had 362 yards (240 passing, 122 rushing).
The Vikings defense had been among the best in stopping opponents on third downs. The Patriots converted six of 11 chances, while the Vikings made good on just four of 11.
The Vikings ran 13 more plays than the Patriots (67-54).
The Vikings special teams did an excellent job of limiting the Patriots in the return game. Only one punt was returned for four yards and Brandon Tate averaged less than 15 yards per return on four kickoffs. He came into the game averaging 31.7 yards per return.
On the flip side of that, the Patriots did everything they could to keep Percy Harvin from getting a head of steam going. Despite having Stephen Gostkowski, one of the league leaders in kickoffs for touchbacks, they kicked out of bounds once, dropped one on the 20 that Harvin caught on the fly and dropped one that Jim Kleinsasser fair-caught. It was only late, when Harvin was waiting on the 15-yard line, that the Pats kicked deep.
The Vikings held the ball for 35:08 of the game, showing that, at times, time of possession can be meaningless.
Favre had one of his best statistical days of the season, completing 22 of 32 passes for 259 yards, one interception and a passer rating of 80.1 – well above his season rating. Jackson came in to complete four of six passes for 36 yards and a TD, for a passer rating of 122.2.
Tom Brady wasn't spectacular, but effective. He completed 16 of 27 passes for 240 yards (an amazing 15 yards per reception) and a touchdown for a passer rating of 100.8.
For most of the game, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that Adrian Peterson would get his fourth 100-yard game. But, while his carries dried up (he finished with 25 carries for 92 yards and a TD), BenJarvus Green-Ellis became the first runner this year to top 100 yards rushing against the Vikings, carrying 17 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
In the first half, Green-Ellis had four carries for four yards. In the second half, he had 13 carries for 108 yards and two TDs.
In the first quarter, Peterson had 13 carries for 59 yards. In the final three quarters combined, he had 12 carries for 33 yards.
Peterson didn't have a carry of longer than nine yards in the game.
Percy Harvin recorded the second 100-yard game of his career, catching six passes for 104 yards. Toby Gerhart (5-67) and Peterson (5-50) were next in line. Randy Moss caught just one pass for eight yards.
After going a long stretch without allowing a 100-yard receiver, despite playing guys like Marques Colston, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Miles Austin, the Vikings have done it the last two weeks – to Green Bay's James Jones last week and Brandon Tate (3-101-1) Sunday.
It was a big day for the linebackers – New England's Jerrod Mayo led all tacklers with 14 tackles (seven solo) and Chad Greenway paced the Vikings with 11 tackles (eight solo).
It may not have seemed like much at the time, but the touchdown the Vikings scored at the start of the second quarter to take a 7-0 lead was the first time all year the Vikings scored first in any game this season. Their opening advantage lasted all of 4 minutes, 32 seconds before Brady and the Patriots tied the score. They repeated the feat by scoring on the first drive of the second half to take a 10-7 lead. The lead held up for 1 minute, 34 seconds before the Patriots scored a touchdown to take their first lead of the game – an advantage they wouldn't give up.
Looking for individuals to throw under the blame bus? Madieu Williams and Asher Allen will have a very hard time during film session. Williams dropped an easy interception that he deflected and was caught for 32-yard gain that led to the Patriots' first touchdown, whiffed on the long touchdown by Tate and was buried when asked to provide safety help on the game-clinching touchdown by Green-Ellis. Allen was little better, losing contain with Tate on the long touchdown and blowing a tackle on Danny Woodhead that would have forced the Patriots to punt from midfield leading by just three points with 3:45 to play. Because he got the first down (on a third-and-13 checkdown), the Vikings had to burn all their timeouts, and, by the time the offense got the ball back, the Vikings trailed by 10 points.
Bill Belichick may have over-coached the situation late in the game that could have cost him dearly. With the Vikings out of timeouts with 3:20 to play and the ball on the 1-yard line, Belichick had Brady essentially take a knee twice to get the clock down to the 2-minute warning. If the third-down run from outside the 2-yard line didn't work, the clock would likely wind down to about 1:10, but the Vikings would have still had 70 seconds trailing by six – where a touchdown could win the game. Arrogant or brilliant? Seeing as Green-Ellis scored on the third-down play, brilliant seems to have the edge.
Patriots rookie Devin McCourty may have made the play of the game in third quarter. Favre threw a ball into the wind that Harvin had to adjust to. As he was pulling it in, McCourty slapped the ball, which spit out between Harvin's hands like a seed and McCourty has the presence of mind to snatch the ball out of the air and return it the Vikings 37. Four plays later, New England cashed in to take a 21-10 lead and blow the game open.
With 9:33 to play in the third quarter, the Vikings had held the ball for almost 25 of those 35 minutes, run 43 plays to just 22 by New England, had more plays in New England territory (26) than the Patriots had plays run and had outgained New England 257-107. Yet, they led just 10-7.
With 4:13 to play in the third quarter, the Patriots had just four snaps on the Vikings' side of the 50-yard line. They had a 14-10 lead. Four plays later, they doubled that total to eight and had a 21-10 advantage.
The Vikings offense was able to sustain drives despite not getting much in the way of scoring. The Vikings had the ball 10 times in the game and six drives of seven or more plays, including drives of nine, nine, 11 and 12 plays.
In the first half, Peterson ran 18 times for 68 yards. As a team, the Patriots ran nine times for nine yards. Things got much better for them in the second half.
Favre had a 105.5 passer rating in the first half. He completed 11 of 13 passes and the only two misfires were a high throwaway in which he didn't have a receiver open in the end zone and an intentional grounding call.
Harvin injured his ankle in the first quarter and things looked serious as he was helped from the field – much in the same way as seeing a closed-eyes Favre leaving on a cart later. But, clearly, Harvin returned. His status when the adrenaline wears down and the tape comes off will need to be monitored early in the week.
Wind was a big factor in the game. The Vikings won the coin toss and deferred, taking the wind advantage in the first half. In a move oozing of confidence, the Patriots chose to go into the wind in the third quarter with the Vikings getting the opening kickoff and play for the wind advantage in the fourth quarter.
There were rumors Favre would take a pain-killing injection in his ailing ankle before Sunday's game, but he didn't.
For those wondering why the Patriots were wearing the old-school jerseys Sunday, the organization was celebrating the 25th anniversary of the New England team that went to the Super Bowl to get crushed by the Bears and the team donned the throwback uniforms in celebration.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.