Notebook: Jackson shows highs, lows

Tarvaris Jackson encapsulated his entire career in Sunday's game, showing arm strength, scrambling ability and a propensity for interceptions. He did show one new trait – the ability to rebound from an early and costly interception. Plus, Harvin stays home, the defensive gets opportunistic and other notes from the Vikings' 38-14 win.

Tarvaris Jackson has been booed off Mall of America Field before.

On Sunday, he entered the game to cheers, heard boos after the first of three interceptions but ended up leaving with a 38-14 win and more cheers. Such is life as an erratic Vikings quarterback.

"I don't want to get involved in that anymore. I used to care, but I understand that it isn't always going to be like that," Jackson said about being cheered. "I just go out there and try to be my best every time I get a chance to. Whether people cheer or not, I play my heart out."

The Vikings needed Jackson Sunday after Brett Favre was knocked out of the game on his first series with a sprained sternoclavicular joint in his throwing shoulder. What the team got was the best and worst of Jackson.

In his second series he threw an interception that was returned 40 yards for a touchdown to put the Vikings in a 7-0 hole. It didn't stay that way long.

Jackson rebounded to lead the offense on four straight touchdown drives, but he wouldn't have always been able to rebound from an early interception quite so easily.

"Not bringing anything bad up, but I have watched Brett throw interceptions and come back in and play great. So, that is one thing I have learned from him," Jackson said of playing behind the NFL's all-time touchdowns and interceptions leader. "It seemed like he kind of throws the interception and blocks it out of his head. I'm sure it bothers him a little bit, but he keeps playing and he comes back and makes great plays after throwing interceptions. That's one thing that I have learned from him, just by watching him."

Jackson also has a new set of circumstances under which to work. He is still running Brad Childress' offense, but he's no longer under Childress. With Childress fired two weeks ago and Leslie Frazier promoted to interim head coach, the Vikings offense has had a different feel the last two weeks.

Jackson had a different feeling as well when he returned to the sideline after his first interception.

"Les came to me and was like, ‘You got to put that behind you and just keep going. As a matter of fact, the next play is going to be a pass,'" Jackson said. "So we came out next drive and called a pass play, the completion to Sidney (Rice). That was it. We started over and started putting points on the board."

Jackson ended up finding Sidney Rice five times for 105 yards and two touchdowns. It turned out to be Rice's 2010 coming-out party after being sidelined for the first nine games following hip surgery on Aug. 23.

Players saw Jackson react differently after his interception as well.

"Tarvaris just shook that off, man. Short-term memory in this business," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "I was actually talking to you about this earlier; you don't want to let that last play to mess you up on the future plays."

Jackson needed that attitude two other times. He finished the game with three interceptions and two touchdowns and admitted he didn't have a great game, but it was easily enough against the Buffalo Bills and it turned out to be enough to raise questions about whether Favre would be the starter next week against the New York Giants if he is healthy enough to make his 298th consecutive regular-season start.

Frazier said Favre is the starter if healthy.

"I couldn't even tell you. You already know that Brett is going to push to play. He's a warrior. I tip my hat off to him. It's his 20th season and he's still out here fighting, with his body already banged up and stuff. We already know he's going to push, but in case he's not ready, I'm going to be ready and play a little better than I played today.

"…You know the type of player he is. He's played 15,000 games straight now. Probably 15,001 next week."


The Vikings were without three receivers on Sunday. Percy Harvin stayed at home with complications from migraines, Greg Lewis didn't play while continuing to recover from a concussion suffered last week and Hank Baskett was inactive.

Harvin left Wednesday's practice when the migraine came on and then missed the rest of the week.

"I talked with him to get a feel for where he was. We've had a good week of practice with the guys that were in there," Frazier said. "It's important for us at this stage to figure out what we can do to help Percy. I feel bad for him. It's tough when you experience what you experience from a health standpoint. We're going to try to do whatever we can to help him because he wants to play. He wants to be out there on the field, but it's out of his control."

Harvin visited with doctors on Friday and Frazier said he told Harvin to stay home from the game on Sunday.

"I told him I'd call him after the game. I owe him a phone call," Frazier said. "Hopefully when we get together tomorrow with our doctors and with him we'll have a better idea what's going to happen."

Rice said he received a text from Harvin before the game.

"(He) told me he was going to need us to step up for him, that he was going to be down," Rice said. "That's exactly what we did. Three receivers the whole game and Bernard (Berrian) and Greg (Camarillo) did a real good job."


While Favre and Jackson threw four interceptions between them, the Bills returned the favor with fumbles. The Vikings forced five fumbles and recovered four of them, putting together one of their most opportunistic defensive performances of the season.

"As far as turnover-wise, pressure, as far as our whole complete game, probably so," defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. "I think we've had some other games this year where we played good early, but we didn't get the turnovers and it ended up costing us. Today, it showed up on the field and it looked real good."

Linebacker Ben Leber and defensive end Brian Robison were the big benefactors. Robison recovered two fumbles, the first time he could ever remember having that many in a game, and Leber recovered one and forced one.

It got so ridiculous for the Bills that when they were at the 1-yard line looking poised to score their first offensive touchdown, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick dropped the snap and Leber pounced on it.

"Sometimes you just fall into some plays," Leber said. "I think our guys up front made him a little bit nervous because they had been getting after him, and they got off the snap pretty good there and disrupted the play. The ball's just sitting right there, so it was easy pickings."

The Vikings entered the game second-to-last in turnover ratio. Because of the four interceptions, they only won the turnover battle by one. The Bills had four lost fumbles and threw one interception; the Vikings didn't fumble but threw four interceptions.

"It was great. Anytime you can create that many turnovers, the scoreboard should look like that," said cornerback Antoine Winfield, who nearly scored a touchdown on the Vikings' only interception of the game. "Our offense was working hard, Adrian (Peterson) running hard, Sidney making some good catches, but everything was clicking."

Defensively, the Vikings were hot because of the pressure they got on Fitzpatrick. Whether it came on blitzes or pressure from the front four, the pass rush was effective.

Jared Allen got the Vikings' only sack, but between him, Robison and Williams, the Vikings hit Fitzpatrick five more times and he was clearly feeling the pressure even more times than that. It even felt like more sacks to Vikings defenders.

"Is that (one sack) all we had? It seems like we had a lot more than that," Leber said. "It looked like a ton of pressure. Jared made a lot of plays, B-Rob (Robison) stepped up and got to the quarterback a bunch. Our whole front four played really well. I'm actually surprised that we didn't have more than one credited sack."


  • Besides the sprained SC joint in Favre's throwing shoulder, the Vikings suffered a few other injuries. Tyrell Johnson hurt his foot while playing on special teams and quarterback/receiver/return man Joe Webb hurt his hamstring while playing on the punt return team in the first quarter.

  • The Vikings entered the game down several players to start. In addition to Harvin staying home because of his migraines, left guard Steve Hutchinson saw his streak of 123 regular-season games come to end because of a fractured thumb suffered against the Redskins and left defensive end Ray Edwards was out with a sprained ankle suffered in Washington. Wide receiver Greg Lewis was also inactive because of a concussion suffered last week, leaving the Vikings with only three full-time receivers (Rice, Bernard Berrian and Greg Camarillo).

    "It was real tough, especially when we found out Hank (Baskett) wasn't going to be dressing," Rice said. "So we had three receivers the whole game, so you definitely had to have your mind right before the game. In the first quarter, I felt like I had played the whole game so we'll see how my body's going to react tomorrow."

  • Safety Madieu Williams was benched to start the game because he was late for the team bus following the Vikings' win over Washington. Johnson made the start in Williams' place and played one series before Williams was put back in the lineup.

    "I violated team rules and I was late for the bus and consequently Coach Frazier notified me that part of the punishment was that I wouldn't be able to start," said Williams, who had a lot of friends and relatives attending the Redskins game. "There's rules and regulations and I'm aware of it, just like everybody else. You have to abide by the rules. I was late and I received punishment."

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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