PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus — Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger combined to complete 13 of 22 passes for 158 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Jackson started but was knocked out, literally, late in the second quarter after he was hit following a 10-yard scramble. Bollinger entered in relief for the second consecutive game because of injury and was solid. He hit on seven of 10 passes for 95 yards, with his biggest completion coming on 40-yarder to rookie Sidney Rice that went for a third-quarter touchdown and gave the Vikings a 21-14 lead. Coach Brad Childress said Jackson, if healthy, will get the start Sunday at Green Bay. Bollinger, though, might deserve a shot to see what he can do. The offensive line also deserves mention after giving up only one sack.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A-plus — Hard not to give this grade after super rookie Adrian Peterson rushed for an NFL single-game record 296 yards on a season-high 30 carries with three touchdowns. Peterson's first score came on a 1-yard run, but the next two went for 64 and 46 yards. The Vikings established a team record with 378 yards on 43 carries; that included a 60-yard performance by veteran Chester Taylor, who had only nine carries and is on the brink of becoming a forgotten man in this offense. The Vikings offensive line of LT Bryant McKinnie, LG Steve Hutchinson, C Matt Birk, RG Anthony Herrera and RT Ryan Cook also deserves credit for opening the holes that Peterson is so capable of finding. Peterson has now rushed for more than 100 yards five times this season and more than 200 yards on two occasions.
PASS DEFENSE: B — Minus veteran CB Antoine Winfield (hamstring), this unit actually had one of its best games of the season. In part because of regular pressure put on Chargers QB Philip Rivers, the Vikings surrendered only 197 yards through the air. The Vikings hadn't given up fewer than 200 yards passing in a game since Week 1 — Atlanta had 169 yards through the air — and had been victimized for more than 300 yards in three of the previous four games. Rookie Marcus McCauley, demoted out of the nickel package only a week earlier, replaced Winfield and played well. So did nickel back Charles Gordon, who had an interception. Opposing tight ends had made life miserable for the Vikings but Minnesota held Pro Bowl TE Antonio Gates to only one reception for 10 yards.
RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus — No surprise, this unit again was very, very good. Standout RB LaDainian Tomlinson had only 40 yards on 16 carries, a 2.5-yard average, and the Chargers accumulated only 42 yards on 20 attempts. That was the fewest yards given up by Minnesota in a game this season. LB E.J. Henderson had a dominant game, especially against the run. The Williams Wall of Kevin and Pat Williams also was very active.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D — P Chris Kluwe struggled for much of the day, but this grade really was dragged down by a mishap at the end of the first half that could have proven disastrous. K Ryan Longwell attempted a 57-yard field goal that fell just short of the goal post. The Chargers had put CB Antonio Cromartie in the end zone to return the ball if that happened, and Cromartie grabbed the ball 9 yards deep in the end zone. He then proceeded to weave down the right side for a 109-yard score that put the Chargers up 14-7 and left the Vikings red faced. The return accounted for the longest play in NFL history. With Bobby Wade hobbled by an injury, Mewelde Moore was used on punt returns and averaged 59 yards on four runbacks. That included a 42-yard return that set up Adrian Peterson's 46-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Rookie Aundrae Allison averaged 40 yards on two kickoff returns.
COACHING: B-minus — The Vikings have finally realized that in order to win games, they must get the ball in Peterson's hands as much as possible. Peterson lost his third fumble of the season Sunday, but it doesn't matter. This kid's mistakes are far offset by his ability to make huge plays. If Peterson isn't used in the proper manner, coach Brad Childress could be looking for a job after the season. But if Peterson continues to get the ball, odds are good Childress will be back. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier deserves mention for a game plan that put pressure on Rivers and caused havoc for the San Diego offense.
Grading the Game: Chargers
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