Quarterback Brad Johnson exited the Metrodome as the Vikings' winning starting quarterback for the first time in seven years after an efficient, if unspectacular, performance. Plus, get the notes and trends of the game from more than two dozen game-day notes that help explain how the Vikings achieved their 27-14 win.
In the minutes following the Vikings' 27-14 win over the Detroit Lions
, quarterback Brad Johnson
was asked when the last time was that he left the Metrodome floor as a winning quarterback. Johnson hesitated a few seconds before giving an honest answer.
"I don't know," Johnson said with a shrug. "I know it's been a long time."
Seven years and two months to be exact. Johnson's last home start for the Vikings was Sept. 6, 1998, when he completed 15 of 25 passes in a 31-7 win over Tampa Bay. Sunday, he completed 15 of 22 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns to give the Vikings a much-needed win that moves them into second place in the NFC North with a tie-breaker advantage over the Lions.
It was a complete team victory for a Vikings team that ran 35 times and threw 22 times – averaging 4.7 yards per rush attempt and 6.1 yards per pass attempt. While Johnson didn't need to throw much in the second half because the Vikings were protecting a large lead, his effort didn't go unnoticed by his teammates.
"We needed to get a rhythm going and were able to mix the run and the pass well," offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie
. "We were beating them off the snap and we had a lot of plays where they were guessing. We kept them off-balance the whole first half and it showed."
With the win, the Vikings improve to 3-5 and have a date with the New York Giants
next week at the Meadowlands. With some newfound momentum, it's a matchup the Vikings are looking forward to.
"Everybody pulled together for this win," Bennett told VU. "We had to come together as a team to get things right and everybody did that. This is the kind of game we've been waiting for."
Former Vikings coach Jerry Burns became the 14th member of the Vikings Ring of Honor Sunday. He joined Jim Finks, Bud Grant, Alan Page, Jim Marshall, Fran Tarkenton, Paul Krause, Carl Eller, Ron Yary, Korey Stringer, Mick Tingelhoff, Cris Carter, Bill Brown and Fred Zamberletti.
Bennett topped the 100-yard mark for the ninth time in his career – moving him into third-place all-time after moving past former Vikings great Bill Brown. Robert Smith holds the team record with 29, followed by Chuck Foreman with 17 100-yard games.
Earlier in the game, Bennett set another Vikings milestone. With his 106 yards Sunday, he now has 2,878 yards rushing for his career – the fourth-highest total in team history, passing Terry Allen (2,795). Next in sight is the original Vikings featured back, Tommy Mason, at 3,252.
The touchdowns scored by Nate Burleson, Ciatrick Fason and Michael Bennett were the first for each player this year. Shockingly, through eight games, no Vikings player has more than two touchdowns.
Johnson did a solid job of spreading the ball around – nine different players caught passes.
Vikings tight end Jermaine Wiggins remains the team's leading receiver with 36 catches, but had just one reception for 11 yards Sunday and has yet to score his first TD in 2005.
The maligned Vikings defense took another step forward in stopping the run. The Lions ran 20 times for just 58 yards – an average of just 2.9 yards a carry. Lions starting RB Kevin Jones, who has averaged just three yards a carry, saw his average dip even farther by rushing seven times for just 15 yards – a 2.1-yard average.
Chris Kluwe continued his solid and consistent play. He punted five times for a 46.8-yard average.
Antoine Winfield stepped up with a huge game, having 11 tackles – including eight solo tackles.
After the Vikings gave up 33 sacks in their first seven games, Johnson was sacked just three times – two of which he said were coverage sacks that he should have thrown away.
Mike Tice wasn't completely happy with his team's performance – the offense converted just three of 12 third-down situations.
Joey Harrington dropped to 0-6 all-time vs. the Vikings with six TDs and 13 interceptions.
Tice improved his head coaching record to 7-0 vs. the Lions.
Lance Johnstone got a sack in the third quarter to give him 37-1/2 for his career. That moved him into 10th place all-time for the Vikings, passing former Viking Gary Larsen (37) to move into the top 10.
In the first half, the Vikings had 18 passes and 17 runs – giving themselves better pass-run balance than they've shown all season.
The Vikings held a huge rushing advantage in the first half, gaining 100 yards on 17 carries – as opposed to 32 yards on 13 carries for Detroit.
The Vikings reversed one of their ugliest trends of the season by scoring 21 points in the second quarter. Prior to Sunday's game, the Vikings had been outscored 94-10 in the second quarter.
Detroit's woes in the second quarter continued. Thanks to being outscored 21-7 in the second quarter, Detroit has now been outscored 89-38 in the second quarter.
Johnson finished the first half with a quarterback rating of 119.7 – as opposed to 45.2 for Joey Harrington.
The Vikings scored three touchdowns in the span of seven offensive plays in the second quarter.
From the "Gone but Not Forgotten" Department came this: On his touchdown reception in the second quarter, Nate Burleson celebrated by doing the trademark Daunte Culpepper roll.
The Vikings' 10-0 lead in the second quarter was the first time the team had a double-digit lead since the New Orleans game in Week 3.
The Vikings dominated the first quarter on the ground. Johnson completed three of his four passes thrown, but gained just eight yards. Most of their damage was done on the ground, as the team rushed nine times for 84 yards – including 62 yards for Michael Bennett on six carries and 22 yards for Moore on two carries.
The Vikings and Lions combined for just 37 yards passing in the first quarter, while rushing for 102 yards.
The Vikings got penalized by an obscure special teams rule that cost them a ton of yardage in the first quarter. With the Lions' second drive of the game dead, punter Nick Harris launched a 60-yard punt. But a holding penalty was called as the kick was in flight and was assessed at the point the Vikings caught the punt – their own 6-yard line. The end result? A punt from Detroit's 34-yard line turned into Vikings ball at their own 3-yard line. The good news? It was the only penalty on the Vikings in the first quarter.
On the first offensive drive of the game, the Vikings sought to establish the run and did so in the big way. On his only carry of the drive, Mewelde Moore took a sweep for 13 yards. After Moore went out with an elbow contusion, Michael Bennett came in and had runs of 11, 6 and 10 yards.
For the first time in three home games, the Vikings introduced their offensive starters during pregame lineup announcements. Although Mike Tice denied that the team didn't introduce out of the potential fear that fans might boo Daunte Culpepper, in the previous two games the team opted to announce the defense vs. New Orleans and the cheerleaders vs. the Packers. The biggest ovation was reserved for Brad Johnson, who got a loud ovation from a crowd that, at the time just minutes from kickoff, was only about half full.
The attendance at Sunday's game was 63,813 – the 80th straight Metrodome sellout.