Notebook: Tale of Two Youngsters

The Vikings had a rookie and a second-year player at two of the most critical skill positions on offense. The rookie was steady while the second-year player had the worst statistical game of his young career. Plus, get notes and quotes on the defensive playmakers and more.

In the NFL, plans are only temporary and circumstances often conspire to make an audible necessary. Such was the case with rookie running back Adrian Peterson and second-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.

Jackson was drafted with the intention of slowing developing the former Division I-AA quarterback, but by the end of his rookie year he was the starter – a role he continued as the team started its 2007 season. Peterson was drafted with the intention of splitting carries with starter Chester Taylor, but by the second quarter of the season opener Taylor was on the sidelines with a hip injury and Peterson was carrying the bulk of the rushing attack.

Those two roles continued in the Vikings' second game, a 20-17 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

"Before the game, I was interested in seeing a road game with a young quarterback, a road game with a young running back," head coach Brad Childress said. "I was looking to see some consistency from game one to game two. Unfortunately, we took a step back in terms of the 12 penalties that we had."

The penalties weren't the only thing that limited the Vikings offense to 192 gross yards passing. Jackson had his worst outing as a professional, throwing four interceptions, no touchdowns and registering a paltry 26.4 passer rating.

"You saw the game - but I didn't play very well. I turned the football over four times. You don't want to do that," he said. "The defense kept us in the game even though we had four or five turnovers. We just have to cut those out. I pride myself on taking care of the football. I didn't do a very good job of that today."

Childress agreed.

"You're not going to win many on the road when you turn it over five times. They had 17 points off of turnovers, and the final score was 20-17. We had seven (points) off of one of their turnovers. Not a good formula for winning on the road," he said.

Meanwhile, Peterson continued to show that he can produce when used. He accounted for more than one-third of the Vikings' total offense with 66 yards rushing on 20 carries and 52 yards on four receptions.

While he averaged only 3.3 yards per rush, the Vikings continue to discover that he can be one of their biggest playmakers when he gets the ball in space. He took one short pass for 24 yards to the 1-yard line, setting up the only offensive touchdown of the game. He also finished the game with the highest average yards per catch – 13.0 – for the Vikings.

"First of all, I'll say that he's a great back," said Lions linebacker Ernie Sims. "I watched him in college, and I admire his running style. But it all is attributed to staying in our gaps and doing our job. We were talking about him the whole week, how good of a running back he was, and we game-planned for him. The game plan was for everybody to do their job. If you filled your gap, he won't have any big explosive plays. That's exactly what we did. We went out there and did our job."

While Peterson accounted for almost two-thirds of the rushing attack and one-fifth of the passing attack, Jackson ended up leaving the game after the first play in overtime with a groin injury that he said was re-aggravated at that point.

"It happened early in the game, but you try to push through it. On the last play, it was aggravated again," he said.

WILLIAMSON GONE, TOO

Wide receiver Troy Williamson opened the game returning kickoffs, but that duty also eventually did him in. He bobbled his first kickoff return, but he made up for it with a 56-yard return early in the second quarter before suffering a hamstring strain.

Rookie Aundrae Allison took over those duties and returned his only kickoff 60 yards.

PURPLE PENALTIES

The Vikings only had four penalties for 35 yards in their season opener, but going on the road changed all of that. In Detroit, the Vikings were assessed 12 penalties for 96 yards.

Penalties wiped out the team's effort to score just before halftime. On the first play of that drive, Mewelde Moore had a 40-yard gain called back on a hold by Matt Birk. After Moore converted the first down, Ryan Cook was flagged for holding (he also had two false starts), and one play later, Bryant McKinnie had a false start. In eight snaps, the team had accumulated three penalties.

SECOND-HALF PRESSURE

The Vikings had four sacks against the Lions, but three of those came against backup J.T. O'Sullivan.

Ray Edwards continued a strong start to the season with 1½ sacks in Detroit, an additional two quarterback hurries, a pass defensed and a fumble recovery that he advanced nine yards for a touchdown.

"I got upfield, Kevin (Williams) got up and got the ball real good, and I saw that the ball came out," Edwards said. "I swooped around him, picked it up and scored, pretty much. Kevin, he does a great job getting off the ball. It's a great play by him and lucky I was there to pick up the fumble and score."

Edwards said it was the first touchdown he had scored since he was a tight end in high school.

Kenechi Udeze and Pat Williams each had a sack, and E.J. Henderson split a sack with Edwards. The Vikings forced three fumbles and recovered two of them to go with their three interceptions.

Safety Darren Sharper had two of those interceptions, the 45th and 46th of his career.

"We knew that they'd try and stretch the field, get the ball down the field. They want to try to work the ball deep to short," Sharper said. "They've got big, tall receivers that like to go up and get the football. Whenever you're playing against a team like that, I'm always, and the rest of our secondary, gets excited because we know we're going to get some opportunities to make plays. And we made some plays today. We just didn't make enough to get the victory."

BUILT FORD FIELD TOUGH

Lions coach Rod Marinelli seemed to really appreciate the toughness that quarterback Jon Kitna showed in returning to the game after Edwards provided a hit that took him out of the game. It appeared Lions trainers were working on his back and looking for signs of a concussion. He returned after about two quarters of sitting out.

"This game was about toughness, toughness. It's what I've been talking about all this time, toughness," Marinelli said. "I can't explain it to you if you don't understand it. Character, I've been saying it from day one, and a bunch of men, we're going to play one snap at a time, and it's called team. It's called a team, and that's what I'm trying to do. That's what these men are trying to do, that's what these coaches are trying to do. There's nothing else to say."

And then Marinelli used this old Mike Tice line.

"This is a tough town, and they got a leader on this football team that is tough. It represents this city."

The Associated Press reported Kitna's injury as a concussion, and considering the league's cautionary approach on concussions, it was risky territory for the Lions to allow Kitna back into the game.

"I don't know exactly how I got hit or if it was that I got driven to the turf and it just knocked me woozy for a while. The rest of the second quarter, things started to get better. In the third quarter, after halftime, I was really feeling pretty good," Kitna said. "I didn't have any concussion symptoms or anything like that. I didn't have a headache. I shook my head and didn't feel any pain. I wasn't sensitive to light. I knew all our plays and I knew what to do when they were running their defense.

"I didn't want to be pressing to get back in there because I know (the medical personnel) need to be smart and they need to do their job, but I was just saying, 'I'm good, you guys can run tests on me. I know what's going on and I feel fine. I have no problems, no symptoms at all.' Finally, I talked to Coach (Mike) Martz and told him, and he said it's up to the doctors. I went and talked to the doctors and told them 'I'm fine' and they told me I was good to go."

Kitna said the last concussion he had was in 2000 and he couldn't remember anything but basic plays at that time, leading him to believe he didn't have a concussion on Sunday.


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