The Vikings suffered one key injury Sunday, but they are expecting to get back star receiver Randy Moss. Find out which players have rising stock and which ones are falling for both the Vikings and the Jaguars.
What's better than snapping a three-game losing streak? Snapping a three-game losing streak and having your best player on pace to return after missing essentially the past five games because of an injury.
That's what the Vikings have to look forward to this week against Jacksonville. WR Randy Moss
, who strained his right hamstring on Oct. 17 at New Orleans, looked "extremely good" in a 30-minute workout with head trainer Chuck Barta.
"Will Randy be 100 percent? No," Vikings coach Mike Tice
said. "But he looks very good right now. The key will be how he feels when he wakes up (Tuesday) morning. We pushed him pretty hard today."
If Moss wakes up with swelling and stiffness, he probably won't return until the Chicago game next week. If he doesn't experience a setback, he will start against Jaguars, probably in a three-receiver set.
Moss has missed the last three games entirely. He tried to play in the preceding two games but lasted only a total of 11 snaps and did not catch a pass.
The Vikings were 2-3 without a healthy Moss. But the offense averaged 22.8 points without him.
"You know Randy was watching that," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan
said. "He sees them doing it without him, and he wonders what they could do with him. That'll be fun."
One of the key decisions in Sunday's game came when Lions coach Steve Mariucci accepted an offensive pass interference penalty on Marcus Robinson on a play in which the Lions stopped RB Onterrio Smith for no gain on third-and-2 from the Lions 5. The Lions led 19-15 with 6:51 left in the game. Mariucci said afterward that he accepted the penalty because he thought the Vikings would go for a first down. He wanted them to kick a field goal. Little did he know, Tice was prepared to kick the field goal on fourth-and-2. "The field-goal team was getting read to run out there," Tice said. "It's led by Cory Withrow, and he's very enthusiastic. I didn't want those guys to come on the field and show our hand. (Mariucci) chose to take the yardage, and I was going to take the field goal there."
RB Moe Williams, 30, battled ankle, calf and quadriceps injuries from the start of training camp until about two weeks ago. He's definitely back in what could be the final stretch run of his NFL career. Williams converted two third downs running and one receiving and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. "Moe, he's like an uncle to us," said RB Onterrio Smith. "We might vote for him for president in a couple of years. He's just one heck of a leader."
A lot was being said about the defensive adjustments that were made at halftime of Sunday's 22-19 victory over Detroit. After gaining 162 yards (128 rushing) and 11 first downs in the first half, the Lions were held to 51 yards (18 rushing) and two first downs in the second half. "Yeah, we made some adjustments, but the main thing is we wanted to win at all costs," middle linebacker E.J. Henderson said. "Every week is a must-win. But this was a must-must-win to get us back on track."
RT Nat Dorsey has what the Vikings believe is a sprained right rotator cuff. He could miss Sunday's game against Jacksonville and possibly the game at Chicago the following week. He underwent an MRI Monday, which seemed to indicate news that was better than expected.
OT Adam Goldberg replaced RT Nat Dorsey (sprained right rotator cuff) in the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Lions. Goldberg became the fourth player to play right tackle for the Vikings this season. Starter Mike Rosenthal broke his foot and was lost for the season in Week 2. Adam Haayer started the following week and was ineffective. He was replaced early in the game by Dorsey. Goldberg, a second-year pro who spent last season on the Vikings' practice squad, missed the block that led to a safety on his second play of the game. But he regrouped and was more efficient the rest of the game.
LB Rod Davis was the Vikings' special teams player of the week. He had five tackles on special teams, a week after being deactivated on game day because of poor study habits.
CB Derek Ross, the player who almost recovered the fumbled kickoff return late in the Green Bay loss two weeks ago, was a game-day inactive against the Lions. The Vikings believed his poor coverage enabled the Packers to break off two long kickoff returns. That theory was tested when Detroit's Eddie Drummond opened Sunday's game with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
CB Antoine Winfield has a season-high three interceptions. He had only six career interceptions with the Bills before this season.
The Jaguars, noted for their comebacks, are now having trouble holding the lead.
"In the fourth quarter, we had five series on offense. We were only able to generate two first downs and no points. Anytime you have that many series, you need to be able to close out the game," coach Jack Del Rio said after they blew a 15-10 lead in the fourth quarter against Tennessee.
It was the second consecutive week the Jaguars couldn't close out a game in the fourth quarter with the lead. Against Detroit, they lost a 17-0 lead in the fourth quarter, but won in overtime.
Although the team appears to lack a killer instinct, Del Rio seems to think the problem is simply making plays.
Of the killer instinct factor, he said, "I think we had killer instinct when we were winning. I don't buy into all those characterizations. I think that makes for good story writing, but I think we've shown the ability to function well in high pressure situations. We just did not get it done Sunday."
The Jaguars weren't able to run or throw effectively in the final period. They tried running LaBrandon Toefield and Greg Jones on consecutive plays on second-and-1 and didn't gain a yard. They tried running Fred Taylor on the first two downs on another series and got only three yards.
But when they tried to throw after falling behind 15-10, Jimmy Smith dropped a pass that might have gone for a touchdown and Reggie Williams fell down on another one that could have been a long gain.
Del Rio, though, isn't the type of coach who'll publicly call out the players.
"You know how I feel about my relationship (with the players) and my approach. I believe that it's about team. When you don't have success and you don't win, then that means the coaches need to coach better and the players need to play better," he said.
The loss to the Tennessee means the Jaguars have an uphill climb as they try to make the playoffs. They've got the eighth-best record in the AFC at 6-4 and only the first six teams make the playoffs.
"My approach in terms to the playoffs and those types of things is that our goal has been from day one to make the playoffs," he said.
Although they wouldn't make the playoffs if they started today, he said, "They don't start today. There's a lot of football left."
But with games at Minnesota and home against Pittsburgh coming up and a December game at Green Bay on the schedule, the odds are against the Jaguars.
QB Byron Leftwich hopes to return to practice Wednesday and play against Minnesota. Although coach Jack Del Rio said he "appears to be on track to play," he said the Jaguars will "know more as it gets closer to Wednesday."
TE George Wrighster, who has missed six games with a back injury, hopes to return to practice this week.
G Vince Manuwai suffered a sprained ankle against Tennessee and his condition will be updated later in the week.
QB David Garrard is probably headed back to the bench after going 1-1 in two starts while Byron Leftwich was sidelined with a sprained knee.
DE Greg Favors, a former linebacker filling in at defensive end, had a safety and another sack and five tackles against Tennessee.