Textbook. That's exactly the way this great playoff win over the Green Bay Packers started out, as the Minnesota Vikings offense opened with a 68-yard touchdown pass to Moe Williams on the third play of the game for the longest playoff reception by a Vikings running back. The neatest part was the outstanding block downfield by Marcus Robinson. Textbook execution.
Then the defense came on and did something that it's been missing all year long — getting a quick three-and-out. And the best part of that three-and-out stand was that on second-and-8, Kenechi Udeze and Kevin Williams stretched the run laterally and got assistance from linebacker Chris Claiborne, who filled the gap with textbook execution to help make the big play. Three-and-out, which resulted in the Vikings getting the ball back and Daunte Culpepper completing a 20-yard pass to Randy Moss to take a quick 14-0 lead. It was said all week that the first quarter would be the most pivotal, that this would set the tempo to create tremendous percentages for the team to advance in the playoffs. With a 17-0 lead, the Vikings set the tempo.
Breaks. Finally the Vikings got a few of the breaks that they had been missing week in and week out, those that have been mentioned in VU's "Turning Points" in most of the Vikings' eight losses. The easiest example is when the Vikings led 17-10 and missed a 27-yard field goal and, instead of the game turning into a 17-17 tie, on the next play the defense came up with a huge interception by Brian Russell, which gave the ball to the Vikings and enabled them to take a 24-10 lead with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Nate Burleson one play later.
And then finally, at the end of the first half, Packers quarterback Brett Favre threw for a touchdown that was called back because he was over the line of scrimmage and the resulting penalty was this: Loss of down (on a third-down play) and a 5-yard penalty. How big was a 5-yard penalty? By moving the ball back that 5 yards, Ryan Longwell's field goal attempt was missed to the left, but had that penalty not been marked off the field goal would have been good.
Finally getting the breaks has to tickle every Minnesota Vikings fan, but seeing the defensive line and linebackers playing with such confidence and consistency was the greatest part of my day. And hearing the confidence the offensive players have in Culpepper is giving that unit a mental edge that allows them to turn negative thoughts into an attitude of hope, an attitude that helped them come out quickly in Green Bay and will give them an edge in Philadelphia as the Vikings try to continue an underdog playoff run.
Lurtsema's Reaction: Breaks and Execution
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