Moved the ball but couldn’t finish drives. Had four “drive-killers” – one a penalty, one a dropped pass, one a botched snap and another an interception. But the one big play of the game beat a Falcons blitz to break the game open.
QB Tarvaris Jackson – Earned his first win in his third NFL start. Jackson completed 13-of-23 passes (56.5%) for 163 yards with 1 touchdown (on the 60-yard swing pass to Adrian Peterson) and 1 interception with a quarterback rating of 75.1. He spread the ball around nicely, using 9 different receivers. He had 2 catchable passes dropped, but he also had a potential interception dropped, as well. Jackson made some nice throws, showing nice zip, accuracy and timing on some quick slants inside and a 28-yard strike to Bobby Wade on a downfield crossing route. He also made the Falcons pay against the blitz on the Peterson catch-and-run. On the downside, he threw the ball late and too hard to Visanthe Shiancoe over the middle, resulting in the DeAngelo Hall interception. He had another ill-advised throwaway under pressure in which he held the ball too long and was lucky the result was as good as it was. He missed a golden opportunity when he missed Sidney Rice for a big gainer downfield, leading the rookie wide receiver out of bounds when he was open. He also struggled to provide a catchable throw to Troy Williamson who had a step on the defender deep, and to Rice on another downfield throw. Jackson has a terrific arm, but he has yet to show good accuracy on the deep ball. He also rushed 2-10, including a 10-yard scramble for a key first-down on 3rd-and-7. Despite the one interception, Jackson didn’t do anything to lose the game and generally protected the ball well; but he didn’t do anything to be personally responsible for winning, either. At this stage in his development, that’s okay.
QB Brooks Bollinger – The No. 2 quarterback for this game; he did not play.
QB Kelly Holcomb – Inactive as the team’s No. 3 quarterback.
RB Chester Taylor – Started and rushed 3-18, including a 14-yarder. Also caught 1-3 but dropped another opportunity. Taylor suffered a mysterious hip injury late in the first quarter and did not return.
RB Adrian Peterson – He returned the opening kickoff 22 yards, then spelled Taylor and eventually took over for him. Peterson’s Viking debut was a huge success. He rushed 19-103 (5.4 avg.) and turned a quick swing pass into a 60-yard touchdown. His longest run from scrimmage was 15 yards, but he consistently ran the ball hard inside. He also showed a lot of hustle pouncing on the botched snap from Matt Birk to retain Vikings’ possession. Peterson did appear to misread his blocks a couple times and was late to react on one blitz pickup, but the instant explosiveness he showed on his touchdown was exactly what he’s capable of at just about any time, as one false step or wrong pursuit angle by a defender can instantly result in a touchdown from just about anywhere on the field. With 185 total yards in his NFL debut the Vikings have to be quite pleased with their prize rookie.
RB Naufahu Tahi – With Taylor down, he had 2 carries for 5 yards from scrimmage. He also recorded a tackle on kickoff coverage.
RB Mewelde Moore – A surprise game day deactivation in favor of position flexibility and kick coverage Tahi.
FB Tony Richardson – Didn’t officially start but played a fair amount, throwing some solid lead blocks in the running game and catching 2-10 in the passing game, including a key first-down catch.
FB Jeff Dugan – He saw limited duty, primarily on special teams.
WR Troy Williamson – Started, catching 2-19, both tougher catches on short slant-type routes inside. He also picked up 3 yards on an end around. Williamson had a step on Lewis Sanders on a deep ball but Jackson overthrew him. He stuck his nose in the action blocking downfield a couple times and was deep for a kickoff return that resulted in a touchback.
WR Bobby Wade – Started; had 4 passes thrown his way. He dropped a key potential third-down conversion but made the nicest pure catch in the downfield passing game on a 28-yarder. Two other throws were uncatchable. He also returned punts 3-20 (6.7 avg.) with a long of 13 yards with one fair catch.
WR Sidney Rice – Technically started as the Vikings opened with a three-WR set. Caught 2-10; one on a 4-yard reception in which he cut off his route short of the first down, the other on a 6-yarder to convert for a first down. Two other downfield throws his direction were not catchable. Rice also made perhaps the key block downfield on Peterson’s long score.
WR Aundrae Allison – Made one nice catch, an 11-yard slant-in, where he showed quickness in avoiding the jam at the line. He also had a few more snaps on offense but did not return kicks as some expected. Allison is very quick, fast and fluid.
WR Robert Ferguson – Inactive after missing time due to an ankle injury from the team’s final preseason game.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe – Started and caught 2-18. Was also open on the interception and got a hand on the bullet from Jackson that resulted in the interception.
TE Jim Kleinsasser – Caught 1-4 and was effective as a blocker in the running game.
TE Garrett Mills – Inactive after being claimed on waivers just last week.
OLT Bryant McKinnie – Falcons RDE John Abraham gave him some trouble early, beating Big Mac twice for quarterback pressures on Jackson early in the first quarter. However, from that point on, McKinnie won the battle and Abraham was very quiet, finishing with just 2 tackles.
OLG Steve Hutchinson – Hutch was quietly consistent throughout the game, keeping Grady Jackson pretty quiet (3 tackles, all downfield) the entire game. He was solid on pass protection and made very few mistakes in the running game.
C Matt Birk – A solid all-around game with the exception of the one horrible low snap on third-and-7 that resulted in a 16-yard loss. He also missed on a stunt by DT Jonathan Babineaux that resulted in a 3-yard loss on a running play. However, Birk keyed some nice combination blocks with the guards on some of the best runs from scrimmage that went up the middle. He also showed his ability to pull and block in space on more than one occasion.
ORG Artis Hicks – He had some lapses early in the game. He was late picking up Abraham on a stunt from left end that resulted in a pressure on Jackson and he had a drive-killing holding penalty on a running play to the other side in the first quarter. Hicks was strong in the running game and pretty sturdy on pass protection the rest of the way, though.
ORT Ryan Cook – Going against the Falcons top pick LDE Jamaal Anderson most of the time, Cook had a quietly effective and virtually clean (of errors) game. Anderson made just a couple tackles beyond the point of attack against the run and was a non-factor on the pass rush, where Cook very much kept him at bay the entire game. Cook also did a nice job of finishing blocks downfield on more than one occasion. In this game, Cook and Hutchinson were probably the team’s two most consistent offensive linemen.
OT Chase Johnson – Inactive.