While special teams deservedly gets the most ink for the Vikings' win Sunday against Carolina, wide receiver Troy Williamson was a big part of the team's offense in the second half. Plus, get 25 notes that help detail the Vikings' home win.
In football, timing is everything and the Vikings' first two heart-stopping wins of the 2006 season would both serve as a testament to that. It's not always how you start that matters, it's how you finish.
So it was for Vikings wide receiver Troy Williamson
. In the first half of Sunday's game, Williamson was invisible. Not only didn't he catch pass, he wasn't even targeted. Where in the past, a wide receiver like Randy Moss
would stew and get in a funk over it, Williamson understood that the Panthers defense was dictating that he not be a hot read.
"The kind of coverage they had was taking away most of the routes I was running," Williamson said. "I didn't get frustrated with it, because Brad wasn't supposed to go to me in those situations. They changed things up in the second half and that got more opportunities for me to do something."
Those opportunities came in the second half, as Williamson caught six passes for 102 yards, including a huge 30-yard reception in overtime on a third-and-10 play that got the Vikings into Carolina territory and set up the game-winning field goal.
It marked the second straight game that Williamson has led the Vikings in receiving yardage, which is starting to give the impression that the Vikings may have known what they were doing when they made him the seventh overall selection in the 2005 draft.
"I've been waiting for my chance to contribute," Williamson said. "I've had the chances to do that this year and want to keep building on it. Anything I can do to keep that going and keep us winning, I'll do whatever I can."
Chester Taylor once again proved to be a solid workhorse back, carrying the ball 24 times for 113 yards. As with his first game of the season vs. Washington, his production increased in the second half, when he rushed 12 times for 63 yards.
After Travis Taylor was the only Vikings wide receiver to catch a pass in the first half of the game, the only wide receiver other than Williamson to catch a pass in the second half and overtime was Billy McMullen, who had one catch for 12 yards.
One of the more interesting battles of the game was between Fred Smoot and Carolina wide receiver Drew Carter. From the opening drive of the game, they were jawing with one another and it rarely seemed to stop as the game went on.
Coach Brad Childress was high in the praise of Chris Kluwe, who had a subpar week in the opener against Washington. He averaged 46.3 yards on seven punts and dropped two punts inside the 10-yard line.
The Vikings defense held the Panthers under 300 total yards, holding an impressive 365-271 edge in total yardage. The Vikings finished the game with 140 yards rushing and 225 yards passing, while the Panthers had 107 yards rushing and 164 yards passing.
On their final six drives of the game, the Panthers never had more than one first down. They finished the game with six drives that went three-and-out.
The Vikings dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for 37:40, as opposed to 29:55 for the Panthers.
Julius Peppers wasn't on the winning side of the game, but it wasn't his fault. His finished the game with eight tackles and three sacks, also getting ahold of Brad Johnson when he completed an improbable 30-yard pass in overtime to Williamson.
Napoleon Harris had one of biggest days of his pro career, posting 10 tackles and one sack – the sack coming on a blitz from the Vikings 1-yard line in the third quarter that forced Carolina to settle for a field goal instead of a potential touchdown that could have given them a 17-6 lead.
The Vikings' problems with penalties continued this week, as they were hit with nine penalties for the second straight week.
On the fourth-quarter touchdown pass by Ryan Longwell, he became the first kicker in Vikings history to throw a touchdown pass.
Peppers made his presence felt on the Vikings' first drive of the second half. He sacked Brad Johnson for a 13-yard loss that killed their first drive and then blocked a 51-yard Ryan Longwell field goal attempt.
Antoine Winfield was injured on the opening kickoff of the second half, suffering a shoulder injury. He did not return to the game for most of the third quarter and remained in the same spot on the Vikings bench for almost the entire period.
The Panthers dominated the second quarter, outgaining the Vikings 128 yards to 69. As a result, the Panthers held a yardage edge at the half – 169 yards (46 rushing, 123 passing) to 154 for the Vikings (65 rushing, 89 passing).
Individually, Johnson completed 6 of 11 passes for 91 yards in the first half, with his favorite target being Travis Taylor with three catches for 65 yards. Chester Taylor had 12 rushes for 50 yards in the first half. For the Panthers, Delhomme was 8 of 16 for 123 yards, with Keyshawn Johnson leading the way with three catches for 72 yards. DeAngelo Williams led the Panthers with 27 yards on six carries and 18 yards on two receptions.
Aside from Travis Taylor, no other Vikings wide receiver had a reception in the first half.
The difference DeAngelo Williams made in the Panthers offense was evident almost immediately. After plodding through their first two drives with Deshaun Foster as their primary running back, Williams gave the Panthers an immediate spark. On his first two plays – the final play of the first quarter and first play of the second quarter – Williams had a 19-yard run and a 16-yard reception on a screen pass.
The Vikings dominated the first-quarter statistics thanks to a long opening drive. The Vikings finished the first quarter with 85 total yards (32 rushing, 53 passing), while the Panthers had 41 yards (24 rushing, 17 passing). Of that total, almost half (19 yards) came on the final play of the quarter.
Individually in the first quarter, Chester Taylor was the dominant runner, picking up 27 yards on eight carries. Johnson was 3 of 6 passing for 55 yards and Travis Taylor was the leading receiver with one catch for 36 yards. For Carolina, DeAngelo Williams had one rush for 19 yards, Jake Delhomme was 2 of 5 passing for 17 yards and Foster had one catch for 17 yards.
For the second straight week, the Vikings took the opening kickoff and turned the drive into points – capping an 11-play drive that took 6:32 off the game clock and ended with a 27-yard Ryan Longwell field goal.
The Vikings sent a clear message early that their intent is to use Chester Taylor as a workhorse. On the first drive alone, Taylor had seven carries – one of which was negated at the goal line when Artis Hicks was called for a holding penalty that moved the ball from a potential touchdown to first-and-goal from the 17.
The Panthers' injury woes were evident on the pregame inactives list. Part of the deactivations included the switching of positions on the team depth chart. Of the five starting offensive linemen on the depth chart only one – right guard Evan Mathis – was playing where he was scheduled to play.
The Vikings' captains for Sunday's game were Darren Sharper, Matt Birk and Richard Owens.
Among the inactive players were Tarvaris Jackson, Ciatrick Fason and Anthony Herrera for the Vikings, and WR Steve Smith, LB Dan Morgan, center Justin Hartwig and running back Nick Goings for the Panthers.
The paid attendance Sunday was 63,623 – the Vikings 87th straight sellout since the 1998 season.